Red Sox Mailbag: Boston Unlikely to Participate in Albert Pujols Sweepstakes

Red Sox Mailbag: Boston Unlikely to Participate in Albert Pujols Sweepstakes Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winning baseball team in Boston. Look it up. The Red Sox are 21-20 and have six more games at home before leaving their cozy confines, giving them a great opportunity to make some strides in a jumbled American League East.

Even if they never lose a game again, chances are that readers will still have some questions to ask. And as long as they do, we will have answers to give. With that in mind, here is the latest edition of the Red Sox mailbag.

Could we see Felix Doubront up at some point if John Lackey or Daisuke Matsuzaka do not pick it up? And would they just put one of them on the disabled list to make room for Felix? Also, is it confirmed that Felix is on the DL in the minors now?
— Cody Bedell

Hi Cody, you answered one of your questions already. Doubront is on the DL with a strained groin, so he was not an immediate option when Lackey was placed on the DL on Monday. Tim Wakefield will probably take Lackey’s spot in the rotation.

As for Doubront’s status going forward, he is a great replacement option when healthy. The problem is, he has had loads of physical issues. You might recall that Doubront was shut down near the end of 2010 with shoulder problems, and then missed most of spring training with elbow tightness. Now the groin issue. He is young and talented and could very well see some action in the majors this year, so long as he maintains some degree of health.

How many wins do you think Beckett and Lester will combine for in 2011?
— John Finn Jr.

I say 34. Seventeen apiece. Mark it down.

Tony, does it look like David Ortiz will be re-signed for the 2012 season?
— Soxtober

As far as we know, there have not been any discussions regarding this. Perhaps they will take place after the season, and if Ortiz continues doing what he’s doing, he’ll have some ammunition at the bargaining table. Behind Adrian Gonzalez, and perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury, Ortiz has been the best offensive player for the Red Sox. The fact that he avoided the slow start and that he is hitting lefties — two issues that many pointed to as signs of age in recent years — will only help his cause.

What could the Red Sox do about Carl Crawford if he continues to struggle?
— Mike

Entering play Monday night, Crawford was hitting .298 (17-for-57) in May, so the April struggles seem to be a thing of the past. However, Crawford is still not drawing walks (one this month) and has yet to drive the ball at all (eight extra-base hits in first 38 games). As long as that is the case, and as long as Terry Francona sticks with Dustin Pedroia in the No. 2 spot between Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford will remain the No. 8 hitter and your left fielder every night. Simple as that.

What do you make of getting swept by Toronto and then sweeping the Yankees? It seems this year has been a year of playing poor ball against teams that might not be considered as competitive and then playing really well against so-called contenders. Do you think they have a different mindset depending on who they are playing?
— CJ

I would hope that’s not the case. Entering Monday, the Sox were 5-5 this year against teams that currently have a losing record, 11-11 against those with winning marks, and 4-4 against .500 teams. They’ve been inconsistent at times, but overall, Boston has settled right into the middle of a league and division defined by its parity.

What is up with Junichi Tazawa? I haven’t heard of that guy for awhile. I liked what I saw from him, too. Do you think he can come back and help our pitching out?
— Adam

There is news on Tazawa, who had Tommy John surgery last spring. He is expected to begin a rehab assignment Friday at Single-A Salem. Keep an eye on his progress. With the fickle nature of pitching depth, expect Tazawa, who is on the 40-man roster, to be in the picture later in the year if all goes well.

Do you see Marco Scutaro as possible trade bait to improve the catching situation?
— Worcfan

Possibly, but Scutaro is in the disabled list with a strained oblique right now. Right now, it is doubtful that Theo Epstein‘s phone is ringing off the hook for an injured 35-year-old shortstop. Also, with Yamaico Navarro wrestling with the same injury at Pawtucket, Boston’s depth on the left side of the infield is a bit lean right now. Give it some time and maybe you will hear some rumors pick up.

What is the long-term thinking on Jonathan Papelbon? I think it’s time to try to sign him to a long-term contract again. Is there any reason to think that Pap has had a change of heart and would be willing to sign before he hits free agency? I hope so. I would love to see all the bandwagoners who’ve become Papelbon haters in recent years have to eat their words.
— hankuspankus

Well, hankuspankus, I’m not so sure Papelbon needed a change of heart. He was very forceful this spring when addressing rumors of this being his final year in Boston, questioning why people would think that. Of course, with Daniel Bard in the mix and Bobby Jenks a new addition at the time, the speculation was natural.

You’re right about the haters. They’ve been there, but it’s not like Papelbon has been anything but a very good pitcher for several years. Such is the nature of the beast when you are a closer. Those haters don’t exist in the front office, though. They will weigh Papelbon’s performance this year (very good so far), his demands and go from there. Although so many seem to think he is done in Boston after 2011, I’m not so sure.

What actions will the Red Sox take to solve the power outage with their outfielders? Seven home runs so far from their starting outfield, and four of them from the least powerful.
— Lou

It is a bit concerning how little the Sox are getting out of J.D. Drew and Carl Crawford from a slugging perspective. Not that either is expected to crush 35 home runs, but having more than 15 extra-base hits out of those two would help. Only four teams in all of baseball have had a lower slugging percentage from their outfielders than Boston’s .360 mark.

I’m not so sure there any steps to take other than to keep working. Crawford is not going anywhere, nor is Drew until the offseason, in all likelihood. And neither will be supplanted by anyone in the minors. Perhaps when the weather warms they will drive the ball a bit more.

Do you think the Red Sox would try to go after Albert Pujols in the offseason as a potential replacement at the designated hitter spot?
— Doug

You never say never, but with millions recently locked up in Gonzalez and Crawford and many more committed to others, it is doubtful Boston will be a major player if Pujols decides to test the market. Also, Pujols is a very good first baseman who will want to have a chance to play the position next year and beyond. Just doesn’t seem like a great fit right now.

Why does Ron Johnson throw a ball to Adrian Gonzalez every time he steps off the field towards the dugout? Not an earth-shattering question — I’m just curious.
— Colleen

Colleen, this is a baseball tradition that goes back as long as I recall, and I’m 19 so that’s quite a long time. In all seriousness, first basemen leaving the field have taken a throw from the dugout for years. It gives Gonzalez a ball so that he can warm up the infielders at the start of the next inning. That is all.

I know it’s a bit early to be throwing around trade proposals, but it’s fun, so why not. I was wondering whether the Red Sox could trade Matsuzaka (potentially with his contract eaten), Jed Lowrie, Navarro and maybe someone else for Trevor Cahill. The A’s have a glut of pitching and need the offense. Matsuzaka may also work well with Kurt Suzuki.
— John

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Not likely. The A’s do have plenty of good pitching, but that’s what makes them a dangerous team in the AL West, and Cahill may be the best of the bunch. Oakland attempted to make upgrades offensively this offseason but remain rather weak, so perhaps they will look for an upgrade somewhere along the line. But not at the expense of Cahill. Also, as good as Lowrie has been, he won’t transform their offense.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz is tearing up the South Atlantic League and is said to be a fast riser. Where does he stand in the organization? Is he a legit prospect, and if so, what’s his projected arrival date in the majors?
— Donnie

You’re right, Brentz has been on a tear this year at Single-A Greenville. Entering Monday, he was hitting .388 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 35 games. Undoubtedly, the former first-round pick is a legit prospect and has to be turning heads at a startling pace right now. Give him this year to make his way to Portland and a full year there and at Pawtucket and you might see him knocking on the door. One thing playing against someone like Brentz is the glut of outfielders in the system, but that could clear up in the coming year or so with departures, injuries, trades, etc.

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