Red Sox Mailbag: Sox Could Consider Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier As Potential Trade Targets When we solicited questions this week, it was almost guaranteed that the two biggest topics would be right field and interleague play. Once the mailbag was dumped out, there were no surprises.

If you asked a J.D. Drew question or something about the designated hitter in National League parks, you may not see it, simply because there was no need to repeat the answer. Still, thanks to everyone who submitted a question this week. Keep them coming, and enjoy the latest edition of the Red Sox mailbag.

Jed Lowrie is hurt. Apparently, Marco Scutaro is also hurting and has trouble making a "strong" throw to first. Scutaro hasn't been hitting either. Are the Red Sox considering or should they consider bringing up Jose Iglesias? At least with him, we would improve the left side of the infield if not the offense.
— DeLaNord

Promoting Iglesias right now is not in the cards. For one, he would not improve the offense and, in fact, would probably hurt it. Iglesias is hitting .228 with three extra-base hits, all doubles. Scutaro, meanwhile, hit .400 in limited action in May and is batting .322 in June. Iglesias is a dynamic defensive talent and possibly could be an upgrade on that end, but there is no need to rush him up to spell someone like Scutaro. If an injury occurs, Yamaico Navarro would be the first to get the call.

Terry Francona's politically correct statement about J.D. Drew getting hot aside, is the $64 million dollar man done as a professional hitter? If so, what are the alternatives given Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald are even more unproductive?
— Mike Ragoza

It’s hard to say whether Drew is "done" as a professional hitter. The fact that he has 44 hits this year would suggest otherwise. That's not a hefty total, but only professionals can do such a thing. He has something left.

Drew has six hits in his last 19 at-bats, good for a .316 mark in that span, and made some loud outs over the weekend in Pittsburgh. Perhaps Francona was just blowing smoke in saying Drew has another hot streak in him, but I won't discount it just yet.

If you are looking at alternatives, then read on.

Tony, we heard a lot of hype prior to this year's draft, but very little since. Seems the Red Sox have been very quiet about any signings that may have happened. What's happening?
— Paul

The organization announced on June 17 that it had signed 12 of its selections, the highest of which was sixth-rounder Miguel Pena, a lefty who pitched in junior college this year. Also in that bunch was Travis Shaw, a first baseman from Kent State University that was taken in the ninth round. Three more players — college right-handers Matty Ott (13th round), Braden Kapteyn (15th) and Joe Holtmeyer (22nd) — were signed late last week.

Tony, do you think that American League teams should be able to use the designated hitter rule when they travel to National League parks? Now that we have Adrian Gonzalez, it prevents David Ortiz from playing every day.
— Alex

I am hesitant to say that the DH should be allowed for all of those games, but I do think it needs to be split up. Perhaps allow for one DH game a series. At the very least, do not have AL teams play nine straight games in NL parks, for that just takes them away from their game for way too long.

I will opine upon some of the interleague issues in a related answer below. Thanks for getting us started on that, Alex.

Don't you think the Red Sox need a right-handed bat to replace the unproductive Cameron and McDonald?
— John Motta

Coming into the season, the combination of Cameron and McDonald seemed like a perfect complement for the three left-handed starting outfielders. It hasn't worked out that way, and yes, there could be a need for another option on that side.

I think Cameron has not been able to fully adjust to a part-time role. That's from a physical aspect, not a mental one — his swing just seems to suffer after time on the bench.

As for McDonald, they were hopeful that when he returned from a rehab assignment in Pawtucket that he would take off, but it hasn't happened. Yes, if there are some quality right-handed bats that can play the outfield available.

Who do you think was a greater loss during these NL games, Ortiz or Carl Crawford?
— Kevin

I'm glad someone asked this. Not much attention was paid to the fact that one guy who could really help the team at this time is Crawford. Whether Gonzalez plays right or not, the outfield is weaker defensively without Crawford. We saw some of that in the finale in Pittsburgh, where Josh Reddick dropped a routine fly ball. And since they are playing tighter, low-scoring games, the Red Sox could use all the defense they can muster (one reason why the Gonzalez move to right was dangerous).

Additionally, Crawford gives the team the ability to do things on the bases, another key factor in playing in NL parks and in low-scoring games.

Ortiz is probably the bigger loss overall, simply because of his ability with the bat, but Crawford offers plenty that could've helped the team on this trip. He may return during the series in Houston.

Is interleague play in NL parks going to mess with the Red Sox offense?
— Kevin Fahey


When are Theo Epstein and Terry Francona going to realize John Lackey is not a starter any longer? He's obviously doing the same thing Barry Zito did and it's costing the Red Sox wins. I don't care what they paid him, enough is enough.
— Dennis

Some serious anger directed at Lackey right there. First off, Lackey is not doing anything to hurt the team on purpose. The fact remains that they have to get him right. Perhaps I say this too often, but he was the team leader in innings, starts and quality starts in 2010, and even if the ERA is in the mid-4s, that has value.

If the ERA is in the mid-7s, it does not, but he is a starter and needs to re-establish himself. Whether by giving him extra time between starts, lining him up against lesser opponents or even skipping him from time to time, the Red Sox will give him every chance to do so.

Keep interleague play? Keep the DH for all interleague games? How many interleague games per year and why? What would you like to change?
— Fred Swan

Fred really opened up the can, didn't he?

In the interest of brevity, I'll answer all of the questions with one simple reply. I think interleague play has a place, but should be pared down. Every team can play its "natural rival" in both parks and maybe you get one more series at home and one more on the road, if that. Eighteen games are too many, and every year we have teams and players on both sides talking about the inequities. If it is still a draw for MLB, then keep it around. But limiting its presence would do everyone a favor.

As for the DH, if there are fewer games in NL parks, this is less of an issue and things can remain status quo.

In the Reddick/McDonald debate, we've certainly begun to see that McDonald is not built to be the everyday player we saw last year. With J.D. Drew hitting himself in the face during BP, didn't Francona's mind just get made up for him regarding Adrian Gonzalez in right field?
— Adam

Well, my Skype session with Drew never got off the ground because of some technical issues, so I can't tell you how swollen that eye is right now. But with a day off, I imagine he will be able to see out of the eye by Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Mike Cameron figures to get the start against Cliff Lee anyway. Aside from this season, Cameron has hit lefties. He is 2-for-6 with a home run and a double against Lee.

Trade deadline approaching — What do you feel the Red Sox most pressing need is? Would you be content with them staying pat, and not making a major move? Do you think they should promote from within, or look elsewhere (trade/free agency) to address replacing Drew in the offseason?
— Corey Ellis

Let's address the first question, well, first. It may not excite many people but the Red Sox' most pressing need may rest in the bullpen. So much of that depends on if Bobby Jenks can stay healthy and give them what they expect. If not, I think you will see them in the market for another power arm. Then again, they may have that in Andrew Miller, who could be moved to the bullpen in time.

Regarding Drew, you'll see references to him in about half of these answers. The replacement still figures to be Ryan Kalish, but with every day that goes by and Kalish fails to get back in there due to physical issues (first the shoulder, now the neck), that becomes less of a possibility. Reddick is showing he may be ready.

Read on for more possibilities.

Why in the world would Francona replace J.D. Drew with McDonald when he has Reddick, a lefty batter who is on fire, hitting around .400? This makes no sense whatsoever.
— Paul Napolitano

Paul, appreciate the passion. It seems as if you are referring to Sunday's game, which Drew left early because of his swollen left eye. But you should recall that Reddick was already in the game in left. So, your options to replace Drew were McDonald and Cameron. Cameron is the better of the two defensively, so Francona may have wanted to keep him around in case a defensive replacement is needed in the late innings.

Lots of trade talks going on surrounding Jose Reyes and the Red Sox. With Iglesias in the minors this doesn't seem to make much sense. I'm wondering though how logical it may seem that Theo gets together with the Astros this coming week about Hunter Pence? A right fielder under team control for awhile at a cost the Red Sox could handle. He's a right-handed hitter with power and plenty of ability. Kalish is injured and may not have enough play time to compete for a spot next season. Why not use Reddick and some others as trade chips for Pence? Your thoughts?
— Jason

I love Pence, and not only because he's one of the few players on my fantasy team that offers anything substantial. He's a hard-nosed guy that is good at everything, if not great at anything. And, as Jason points out, Pence, 28, would be under team control for two more seasons before he hits free agency. He received $6.9 million in an arbitration case with the Astros this offseason, and would demand significantly more cash if he continues with his current pace (.315, nine home runs, 52 RBIs in 73 games).

The Sox could use a right-handed bat, could use production in right field and have a sudden question mark for 2012 in what is becoming a bit of a lost season for Kalish. They would have to think long and hard about bringing in Pence for beyond 2011 and blocking Kalish, but it's worth considering given the holes a guy like that could fill.

Still, you must remember that there is millions still tied to Drew and Cameron. How do you handle that situation?

Why does everyone assume that Gonzalez will play every game in the interleague series? There's a lot of talk about moving him to right, but wouldn't it be simpler to just alternate him and Papi, or at least give him a couple days off?
— Tyler

Everyone? Not everyone. Yours truly "lobbied" for Gonzalez to get one or two days off during this stretch, to never play right and to just utilize Ortiz in those seven games or so as a weapon off the bench. While Gonzalez rarely takes a day off and Francona wants him in there as much as possible, he has responded very well to the few games on the bench he has received over the years. I think that if Ortiz gets 10 at-bats or so on the trip, it won't kill him. He's made his living as a hitter. He should be able to continue to do so if there is a slight dip in plate appearances for a week.

Here's your weekly right field question. With the Dodgers not able to afford a cup of coffee, wouldn't it be worth their while to cut ties with Andre Ethier? I know he's arbitration eligible after this season, but it would seem to me that L.A. would want to rebuild with youth (and fewer dollars). Thoughts on Ethier?
— Kevin

The Red Sox and Ethier have been linked in the past, and he remains an intriguing piece. The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, a further indication that things are a mess financially. Like Pence, he's still in his 20s (29). But like Pence, he would command a lot of money after agreeing to a contract that paid him $9.5 million this year and he is showcasing a pretty solid 2011 season so far. And, like Pence, he would represent a potential departure from the Kalish/Reddick route, unless the Sox treat him as a three-month rental.

In both of these cases, with Pence and Ethier, those teams will ask for more than just Kalish or just Reddick. They will want multiple top prospects for their prized right fielders. Let's remember that the top end of the system was made a bit leaner through the Adrian Gonzalez deal. I'm not so sure that trading away three more high-end minor leaguers is the way to go right now.

Hey Tony, I'm curious about the catcher from New Zealand we signed in the offseason. Is he a realistic player in the minors, or what is his status for the Red Sox right now?
— Connor

Ah yes, Te Wera Bishop, otherwise known as "Beau." He was signed in the offseason, as you said, after emerging as a star in fast-pitch softball. Obviously, because of the newness of baseball and because of Bishop's age (he just turned 18), he is a project for now and is set to spend much of the summer at the MLB Australian Academy, where he can get used to the game. Perhaps we will see Bishop playing somewhere in the organization next season.