As we get ready for 15 hours of baseball in three nights at Fenway Park (It's the Red Sox! It's the Yankees! It's the end of any hope for a good night's sleep!), let us open up the mailbag. A nice variety of questions this week. Hope you enjoy the answers.
Why do outfielders (i.e. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford) wear a sleeve on one arm? I thought it was to keep the arm warm but they wore the sleeves in Texas, where it wasn't exactly cold.
Jacoby Ellsbury's tale began in Portland, where he did do it for warmth in the cold Maine April. As far as I know, he abandoned it at some point but had a slump, so brought it back and has been doing it since. I'm not sure if Carl Crawford had the same sort of legend, but he's been doing this since his days in Tampa.
Tony, I first want to clarify I am a huge Jason Varitek fan. Also, I believe I am not the only Red Sox fan that is pleased with the play behind the plate. What I don't understand is why are Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia splitting time about 50-50? Tek is producing much more than he was last year, but I feel that if Salty were to get more consistent starts, then he would have a much larger impact.
Terry Francona called the playing time that Jason Varitek is getting "perfect," and I think that goes for Jarrod Saltalamacchia as well. Their split is more 60-40 than right down the middle, so Saltalamacchia is getting the bulk of the starts. I understand your desire to see Saltalamacchia in there a bit more, but the share has worked out very well for both guys. Varitek will always be behind the plate for Josh Beckett starts, and because of day games after night games and other quirks of the schedule like that (doubleheaders), he is needed another day or two a week.
Do you see the Red Sox making a waiver deal for a lefty reliever?
–Dave "The Berger" Lindberg
It's quite possible, although they may press on with their internal options, which are about to increase in number. Felix Doubront was given a relief outing the other day in Pawtucket in preparation for his conversion to the bullpen as a September call-up. Maybe they figure out a way to get fellow lefties Hideki Okajima and Randy Williams onto the 40-man roster. Also, don't forget about Bobby Jenks. I know his season has been a wash up to this point, but one of the characteristics of Jenks' arsenal (when he's healthy) is his ability to get out lefties. That's a role he was seen in when the season began, and he could help cover up any shortfalls in that department down the stretch if he can make his way back.
Do you think Josh Reddick will be in consideration for Rookie of the Year?
No. Reddick brought a lot of life to a position that lacked it, and he's become a very important member of this team, but he will not take home such an honor. You're probably looking at Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer or Angels slugger Mark Trumbo. Jeremy Hellickson and Michael Pineda are in the discussion as well.
How long are the Red Sox going to stick with the six-man rotation? It seems Tim Wakefield has not been good of late and Andrew Miller has been very good. Why not just take Wakefield out of the rotation? Winning is more important than getting a 200th win.
This is one of the big questions swirling around the club right now. I would almost look at it as a 5 1/2-man rotation. The club may use the top four guys and then sub in one of the other two based on matchups and the situation with the bullpen. For instance, one of them will be needed in the weekend series against Texas, but Francona has yet to say who.
As far as what Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield have provided, be careful not to get too caught up in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mind-set. Miller looked very good his last time out and pretty good the time before, but let's see it once or twice more before we declare him a sure thing. And of Wakefield's six misses at that 200th win, the first three were quality starts, the fourth was a complete game and in the fifth he left in the sixth inning with a lead.
Stay tuned for Francona's announcement on the rotation through the weekend for an indication as to where he stands on the matter.
Hey Tony, I know I'm saying this at a time when the Red Sox have finally had success against Texas, but with all the talk about 'rest vs. win the division,' I think I am more worried about a five-game series with Justin Verlander pitching two than Texas. What about you?
One funny aspect of all this talk is that people make it seem as if it's Justin Verlander and nobody else. The Tigers are a pretty good team. They're not great, but they have a few bats that can hurt you, a very good bullpen, a manager who has been down a few roads and, yes, Verlander. I would agree that the Tigers are no pushover, but not just because Verlander can go twice in a five-game series.
Entering Monday's action, Detroit was on the verge of surpassing the Rangers in the standings, which means that the wild card team would go to Texas anyway. When are people going to recognize that winning the division does not mean an automatic date with Detroit?
Beyond Verlander, the rotation thins out, but does it thin out any more than the Rangers do after C.J. Wilson? We saw what the Red Sox did to Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando.
I think the reward for winning the division, more so than the opponent, is just being able to start out at home. Wouldn't you rather play either team, the Tigers or Rangers (or Angels), at home in games 1, 2 and 5? Playing at home is not as sure a thing in baseball as it is in the playoffs of other sports, but it matters, and if you get to the next round, you would have it there as well.
Tony, I know Ellsbury is having a career year but everyone is ready to give him Alex Rodriguez money for one good year, one injury-riddled year, and one incredible year. I also think that his lack of negotiating is problematic. Do you think that the Red Sox should trade Ellsbury if he does not sign an extension over the winter? I think teams should send a message to players that have Scott Boras and his sorry antics as an agent. Don't sign, say goodbye.
I think that's two weeks in a row with an Ellsbury trade proposal. This one is a bit different than the last, but it starts off on a bad foot. Alex Rodriguez money? I'm not at the negotiating table with Scott Boras and Theo Epstein, but I can guarantee nobody is talking about 10 years and $275 million.
Ellsbury is under team control through 2013, at which point he will be 30. People seem to be antsy over the fact that there isn't a deal in place just because he's having such a wonderful season. Even if he left town once he became a free agent, the Sox would have him through his 20s (i.e., his prime). I'm not saying that should happen, but it's just not time to panic over the lack of an extension. Also, this is what Boras does. It's not illegal, he just urges his clients to reach free agency. It doesn't always happen, as evidenced by Jered Weaver's extension in Anaheim. Give it time. Don't trade Ellsbury.
Tony, as luck would have it, my annual trip to Boston from Alabama was shared with Hurricane Irene. And despite the $100 tickets and long delays, it still was fun. One thing that wasn't was watching Darnell McDonald play right field and Mike Aviles play left field on Friday. When are we getting a right-handed hitting outfielder?
Well, let's first point out that playing the corner outfield positions in Fenway is a whole different beast, as Aviles found out in his professional debut in left field. As to your point of a right-handed bat, there's still time to add something in a late trade but there may not be as much of a need as people think. Aviles has swung a pretty good bat since coming over and while McDonald still has that ugly average when he steps to the plate, he's provided some production over the past couple of months. Since July 5, McDonald is batting .267 (16-for-60) with three home runs, three doubles, a triple, 12 RBIs and 16 runs scored. Doesn't sound like anything amazing, but he's had only 18 starts in that stretch. It is marginal production, but we're talking about a part-time contributor. Not sure you would get much more than that in a late trade.
What do you think is the biggest reason why Wakefield hasn't gotten that 200th career win he's been struggling to get for the past six starts? By the way, LOVE your blogs! They are a huge help in keeping me informed when I'm at work and miss the starts of games a couple of nights a week!
You're welcome, Dani. It's been an odd stretch for Wakefield, for lack of a better term. As mentioned earlier, he's been in position to get that personal milestone on a few occasions, but either the offense or the bullpen let him down. We don't know when that next chance is going to come, but with 23 games in the next 23 days, he probably has another shot or two, at the very least.
Do you think the Red Sox will have four players with 100 RBIs (Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Ellsbury)? I believe they've done it just twice in the history of the team (1940 and 1977).
It is possible, but Kevin Youkilis will have to go on quite a tear. He still needs 22 and remains on the disabled list for a couple of more days at least. Let's say he comes back with 26 games to play or something along those lines, he would need to drive them in at a pretty steady clip. Gonzalez already is there and Ortiz has a good shot. With 82, Ellsbury could use a three-run homer or two to improve his chances. I'll go out on a limb and say just two get there, but the club will have five at 80 or above once Dustin Pedroia gets there.
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