The Red Sox are entering a crucial portion of their schedule. There are nine straight games on the road against division rivals and 18 out of 24 games away from home overall. And whether it ends on a good note or a bad one, the Bruins’ season will come to an end soon. It’s time to start thinking baseball.
There were a few hearty souls who bravely dropped a question into the mailbag this week. We thank each of you for doing your part. Keep the questions coming, and never hesitate to send Tony Lee a line at his Twitter account. Here is his latest question-and-answer session.
With Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill out, is there a possibility that Tim Wakefield will be rotated to a starting position?
It is much more than a possibility, Ann. It is reality, and you’ve been living it for a few weeks now. Wakefield has made three straight starts and will make another Wednesday in Yankee Stadium, taking the place of Clay Buchholz, who was bumped to Friday because of a bad back. The fact that Wakefield can step out of the bullpen and into the rotation is incredibly significant. The fact that he can go 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA has made him even more valuable to a rotation that has seen its fair share of physical issues in the last month.
How is Ryan Westmoreland doing? Is he playing any games yet?
Westmoreland continues to make progress in his recovery from brain surgery last spring, but there is still some road left to travel. He is rehabbing in Fort Myers, performing more baseball activities all the time. Westmoreland, considered by many the top positional prospect in the system before doctors discovered a cavernous malformation in his brain, has yet to get into an actual game. However, he has not experienced any setbacks since beginning his comeback on the field. Let’s hope we see him in a box score soon.
Why would you pinch run for David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez and not try to steal a base or bunt the runner over? Now your two best hitters are out of the line up in the extra innings.
Hi Paul. You are obviously referring to some decisions made by Terry Francona in the wild 9-8 win over Oakland on Saturday, when the two sluggers were taken off the bases in the eighth and 10th innings, respectively.
Let’s begin with the Ortiz scenario. The only reason that was a glaring move is because Jonathan Papelbon gave up four runs in the top of the ninth inning. But you have to remember that there was no chance for a steal or a bunt or anything along those lines. Ortiz was replaced at second base by Josh Reddick with two outs in the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez ahead of him on third and the Red Sox leading 5-3. At that point you are just looking to add on some insurance, and getting someone in there who can score on a single easier than Ortiz is a good call. The batter, Carl Crawford, ended up doubling so Ortiz would’ve had enough legs to score anyway, but there are so many singles in Fenway that allow for an advancement of just one base for someone like Ortiz. Francona was simply hoping that Reddick would give the Sox a better chance to go up four as opposed to just three if there was a single to shallow center or something like that. As it turns out, that seventh run was huge. That move makes sense, even if hindsight made it look awkward.
As for Gonzalez, he was removed after singling to lead off the 10th. Obviously, Francona just needs one run to win right there. While he does so many things well, Gonzalez is perhaps the slowest man on the team. By putting Drew Sutton in for Gonzalez, it is not a signal that Sutton is going to run wild, but just that Francona is trying to take advantage of a great chance to end the game right there. If Francona had a real burner on the bench, he might try to steal a base or put on some kind of play. He didn’t. Sutton was simply a better option than the slow-footed Gonzalez to travel the remaining 270 feet in some fashion. Alas, the Red Sox failed to move Sutton past second, so that move becomes more glaring as the game drags on.
These are gambles, but Francona has to use his bench to his advantage.
With the loss of Hill and Matsuzaka, and given the productivity level of Josh Reddick when he has been given the opportunity, is there any trade value for J.D. Drew for pitching depth?
Well, there is value on the Red Sox side of things in making such a move. With Reddick and Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald and a soon-to-return Ryan Kalish, they have options in right field. However, that would require paying much of Drew’s remaining salary. Not many teams will want to take on the roughly $9 million he has left on his deal, at least not if he continues to provide little at the plate.
It’s pretty clear that the Red Sox will need better starting pitching and bullpen help. Who could they trade for before the deadline, and who would they give up?
There will be some veteran names floated about as we approach the deadline at the end of July. It’s inevitable that teams will want to unload certain players if they don’t feel as if they are going anywhere. Just glance around at teams with losing records, experienced pitchers who are not necessarily cheap and you will know who might be on the minds of the Red Sox front office.
Despite the loss of Casey Kelly, there is a nice pool of young arms in the system that can go the other way. Two very promising pitchers were taken early in the draft on Monday, adding to that pool. Young pitching talent is perhaps the most prized commodity in the game, and the Red Sox could get a necessary piece if they are willing to part with one or more of those players. Anthony Ranaudo, Chris Balcom-Miller, Alex Wilson, Stolmy Pimentel, Drake Britton and others will be asked about if the Red Sox are ever desperate.
How did Matsuzaka get injured?
Could you see the Red Sox making a play for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline if Wakefield doesn’t do good? Maybe someone like Edwin Jackson with the White Sox, or Erik Bedard with the Mariners?
It is rather obvious that the upcoming trade deadline is on the minds of many. Let’s expand beyond Wakefield. If he doesn’t do the job, and Alfredo Aceves doesn’t do the job and Felix Doubront struggles and Kevin Millwood and all the other options you have out there simply do not fill that hole, then certainly the organization has every reason to go and get another arm. Heck, even if those guys perform well there will be an effort to fortify that depth if a trade scenario can be worked out.
You mention Jackson and Bedard. The former has been with four teams in less than three years, so he travels well. And he has pitched in the AL East, so adjusting to Boston probably won’t be an issue. He is in the second year of a $13.35 million contract. As for Bedard, the Mariners have waited so long to see him do what he is doing now. He was hurt in 2008 and 2009 and missed all of 2010. That could mean two things — either they milk his current run for all it is worth in order to get some value out of the lefty, or they strike with a trade now that he has some value on the market. The fact that they are in the thick of the AL West race makes me think that Bedard could be staying put. Seattle did bring Bedard back this year with a one-year contract hoping he had something to offer.
Any chance the Red Sox sign Bill Hall to a cheaper deal now that he’s been released by the Astros? He did much better for them than he did for the Astros this year, and he could be a right-handed hitter off the bench who could provide power.
Hall was a great fit for this team last year, especially once the injuries began to pile up. I just don’t see a spot for him at the current time. There is depth in the outfield, which is relatively healthy right now. And with Marco Scutaro returning soon and Drew Sutton showing he can do the job when called upon, there are enough options in the infield.
The Red Sox loved having Hall around, so if a few injuries occur and he is still available, I wouldn’t rule out a return. Right now it’s just not a good fit.
So, Tony how ’bout them Red Sox?
— David Soolkin
I know, right? Seriously.
Since I was a little girl, I have listened to “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Fenway Park!” Now, as a grandmother, I noticed that the home games no longer start with this wonderful, vintage opening and I am very sad about it. Must everything we cherish be changed? The opening reminded me of the many games listened to on the radio with my father back in the 40s. Can it possibly be brought back as an introduction? Can you help me with this request? Can you get it done or direct me to someone who can?
— Martha Brown
Hi Martha. Thanks for the memories, or at least the opportunity to conjure up a few. I, too, recall the announcement made by Sherm Feller for nearly three decades. The great Carl Beane is the public address announcer now, and has been since 2003. I’m not sure there was ever a conscious decision to deviate from Feller’s intro, but Beane has endeared himself to this next generation in his own way. Someday a grandma may lament not hearing one of Beane’s traditional phrases.
I cannot do much more than answer your question in a public forum, but if you want to continue the noble fight, drop a line to the Red Sox general office. While you are at it, do the rest of us a favor and say something about this ongoing “Sweet Caroline” issue.
How is Anthony Ranaudo doing so far in the minors, and when do you see him up in the majors ? Is he the number one pitcher he was projected to be after his junior year in college?
— John Reiss
This question came from someone in my hometown of Burlington, Vt., so you can put a gold star next to it. Questions just seem a bit cleaner and less caffeinated when they come from the north country, don’t you think?
Ranaudo was promoted to advanced Single-A Salem just last week after going 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA for Greenville. He gave up four runs in six innings in his debut at the next level, but reportedly looked better than the so-so line suggests. There is no reason to believe that Ranaudo will not continue his progression. He could get a Double-A start or two later in the year. If not, that’s his likely home in 2012, which puts him on the doorstep to the big leagues by 2013 or so.
Why didn’t the Red Sox bring up catcher Paul Hoover? I don’t know why he is not on the Red Sox roster yet?
I cannot believe it took 60 some-odd games to get into the whole Paul Hoover controversy. I mean, what gives? Certainly, a 35-year-old journeyman catcher could be of more use to the big club than a fourth outfielder or a seventh reliever. It is imminent, Jared. It has to be.
In all seriousness, of which Jared likely had none, Hoover was only a solid veteran presence in the system before being released in May. He did his part aiding some of the younger catchers during spring training. Injuries put him on the sidelines at Pawtucket and he was eventually let go. As of right now, I’m not really sure if he is still looking for work or not.
See what I’m saying about a relative lack of good questions? We had to end on a fifth-string catcher who is no longer with the organization.
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