Red Sox Mailbag: Jacoby Ellsbury Trade Talk, a World Series Prediction and More Right Field Drama


Red Sox Mailbag: Jacoby Ellsbury Trade Talk, a World Series Prediction and More Right Field DramaThe Red Sox and Yankees are knotted up atop the American League East with just over a month to go in the regular season.

Excited yet? We are too.

We all know the Boston Red Sox philosophy of batting. Take a lot of pitches and get into their bullpen. Why do the Red Sox batters always take the first strike and get into a hole? They should at least swing away at the first pitch once and a while to keep the opposition’s pitchers guessing. Too many times I have seen the first pitch on a platter right down the middle, only to see a Red Sox batter keep the bat on his shoulder.
— Todd

Perhaps this gets magnified if and when that at-bat results in an out, but it’s not always the case that the Red Sox take too many first pitches. A quick glance suggests otherwise. Boston has had at least one player swing at a first pitch in every game and the team is batting .343 (148-for-432) with nine home runs in those situations. Taking a look at just one player, we see that Adrian Gonzalez has swung at the first pitch in 59 of his at-bats, batting .474 in those instances. In many cases, that was a “first pitch on a platter right down the middle,” which is why the average is so high. But Gonzalez is a .307 hitter after falling behind 0-1, a better mark than he has in several other counts. The team bats .314 when down 0-1.

Even if some of those numbers weren’t so impressive, isn’t it hard to argue with the team’s approach at the plate? Last time I looked, they led the majors in runs scored.

Tony, aren’t you concerned that without Clay Buchholz pitching like he did last year that we are doomed to fail miserably in the playoffs? Jon Lester is not pitching well, Josh Beckett is a stud who gets absolutely no run support and after that we have a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters. We will have to score seven runs a game to win in October!
— Winning Queensbury

Jon Lester is not pitching well? His 2.60 ERA since the start of June is cause for concern? Come on now. Let’s pull back on the reins a bit. Yes, the absence of Buchholz and the uncertainty beyond the top two can be cause for concern, but not many teams, perhaps none that will be in the American League playoffs, can boast a top two like Beckett and Lester. Be happy you have them and keep a close eye on Erik Bedard and John Lackey going forward.

Hi Tony. I was wondering, is Josh Reddick now the right fielder for the rest of the season? I hope so. He has earned it with his play and his bat. The follow-up to that: Is he also the right fielder of the future? Or does Ryan Kalish get the job and Reddick get to be the fourth outfielder? Either way I think the two of them give us young, good ballplayers to build around for the future. What do you think?
— Craig Lawson

Ah, the right field question of the week. Well, things can change, but as we sit here today Reddick will get every start against right-fielders, but Darnell McDonald has been getting his share against lefties. After a good start against southpaws, Reddick has looked bad in a few at-bats and it’s becoming more and more clear that he will sit in those scenarios. It’s somewhat of a platoon for now.

As for 2012 and beyond, much of that will have to do with what the team needs this offseason. Both players will have value on the market if Boston has to go out and get another piece. Otherwise, we could see a good old-fashioned competition for the starting spot next spring.

Watching the players bake in the sweltering heat last week made me wonder if there’s a rule against using pith helmet technology. That is covering the helmet with cloth, then dampening the cloth so the evaporating water draws heat away from the helmet.
— Aubrey Gough

Too … many … jokes.

Will J.D. Drew be on the disabled list until Sept. 1st, and then be a part of the 40-man roster? At this point in time why don’t they just release him? Obviously, they aren’t going to play him. They didn’t have a problem trying to do that to Mike Lowell last year.
— Bob Worton

There is a chance the club will wait until the beginning of next month to bring back Drew, just so it can avoid having to make any moves involving other players to get him on the active roster. Then again, Mike Aviles has an option so he could be sent down without risk of being lost. As to your point about the Red Sox being done with Drew, that’s simply not the case. He may not get many starts when he returns, but Drew could be a nice veteran presence to pair with the others down the stretch and into October.

With the A.L East being the tightest division in baseball, is there any chance of team realignment soon? If so, what are some possible moves? I know Jose Bautista has expressed interest in wanting to change.
— Pat Stamos

Realignment is one of the primary talking points of the ongoing labor discussions, and it seems to be getting favorable reviews. One scenario has both leagues doing away with divisions and utilizing one 15-team circuit with the top five making the postseason. Houston has been discussed as a team that could move from the NL to the AL to balance out the number of teams in each league. The one sticking point is that with an odd number of teams, one would need to play an interleague series at all times. That could be odd if a team like the Red Sox is taking on the Cubs in the final week of the year with a playoff berth in the American League on the line.

How many different main logos have the Red Sox had in their history and when was the last time the changed their main logo?
— Nick

This link will answer those questions better than I can.

With Carl Crawford signed for large dollars I can’t see Red Sox brass signing Ellsbury. They are very similar players. Love Ellsbury, everyone does. His stock is very high. Is it possible to trade Ells for Clayton Kershaw, post-trade deadline?
— Pete

So here we have someone wanting the Red Sox to trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Like right now. Again, trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Now.

In all seriousness, it seems to me that people are freaking out a bit too much about the pitching. The rotation is not at its best right now, that much we know. But this team still has the best record in the American League and two quality arms at the top of the rotation that I would trust any night in October. So why are we looking to get rid of a superstar talent that is under team control through 2013 just because no long-term deal has been struck? Also, remember that Ellsbury is a Scott Boras client, and Boras urges his guys to get to free agency.

With the still lingering question of starting pitching hanging around, what options do the Red Sox have? I will be the first to say I would love for Tim Wakefield to get to the magic 200 wins but not at the expense of the losses I (and the team) could do without. What are some of the prospects that might still be out there that the Red Sox can pick up?
— Victor

As your “No. 5 starter,” Wakefield has been perfectly fine. He is not an issue right now. If you really want to look beyond him and Andrew Miller and Alfredo Aceves, the next two in line for starts, you can keep an eye on Felix Doubront. However, it’s been a tough year for Doubront from a physical standpoint. He has made just one start since returning from his latest DL stint, and he was on a limited pitch count. If he can regain some of the form he flashed prior to his last setback, he could be in the mix to get a start or two in September.

What are the statistics that come into consideration when choosing a Gold Glove Award winner? Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira are so close, they each deserve one. And is there any chance at all that a Red Sox player doesn’t win the MVP award? Thanks
— Chris

Let’s begin with the first question. That depends upon each of the voters, who are a collection of coaches and managers. If you have someone like Joe Maddon crunching sabermetrics, then several categories could come into play. A coach with a more old-school approach may go with what he sees on the field and just take a quick glance at the errors column. That’s one reason the award comes under fire. It has a slightly awkward selection process. Gonzalez has been phenomenal, and is deserving of the honor in my mind, but Teixeira is no slouch.

As for the MVP, yes, there’s a very good chance a Red Sox player doesn’t win the MVP award. Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista certainly can stake their claim to the honor. Also, because of the fact that Boston has three players in the mix, the votes could very well be split among them and open the door for someone from another team to steal the lion’s share of first-place votes.

Hey Tony. I want to know if there is any rule in place that states whether or not an umpire can overrule a call. In the past few months I have seen multiple plays involving overturned calls on plays other than home runs, including last night’s Seattle game. If umpires can do this, why was Armando Galarraga robbed of his perfect game?
— Kevin

After an appeal from a manager (Eric Wedge the other night in Seattle), an umpire can ask the rest of his crew for assistance on a ruling. Those other umps cannot rule or offer any sort of judgment unless asked. After such consultation, the original umpire can make a final ruling. However, this only involves calls in which there is a question about a particular rule, but not judgment calls such as whether a runner is safe or out. That’s why the Galarraga call stood.

Do you think that the Red Sox are going to win the World Series this year?
— Robert


What do you think about next year’s rotation? Will Erik Bedard return? In the offseason, do you think the Red Sox are going to stay quiet and get a small piece or going to get a blockbuster signing?
— Patrick

The rotation is pretty much set. Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and Lackey will be here. And as much as you may not want to hear it, Daisuke Matsuzaka may be healthy in time to contribute in the final year of his contract. It’s always possible that Bedard remains in the fold, but he is basically a rental right now.

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