Red Sox Likely to Look for Bullpen Help at MLB Trade Deadline After Beginning Season With Relievers As Strength

Andrew MillerIt’s been a strange season for expectations and predictions, at least when it comes to the Red Sox. After many people thought the Sox would struggle in several areas, a hot first half instead has Boston at the top of the American League East thanks to the offense and starting pitching coming out firing.

One area that was expected to be a big positive going into the 2013 season — the bullpen — hasn’t fared as well, though. While the Red Sox have gotten a lot of good relief appearances, the constantly changing closer situation and the injury bug biting the bullpen staff has jumbled up the late innings. Now, with Andrew Miller on the disabled list for the rest of the season, the Sox are likely to be buyers at the trade deadline.

Let’s look at that and more in this week’s mailbag.

Do you think the Red Sox will go after a starting pitcher?
— Mike Berrier

I don’t think they will. Obviously, the health of Clay Buchholz will be a factor. I think they are fine with what they have in starting pitching and are built well for a playoff series. Starters at the deadline are costly financially, and you can lose good prospects by overpaying. I do think they will be in search of bullpen pieces. It is amazing how things change — the Red Sox started the season with the bullpen being a strength.

Why won’t Major League Baseball stop fan voting for the All-Star Game when good players are being left out? Home field advantage is on the line, and all top players from the first half should be there. Do you agree? What’s your opinion?
— Mike Reedy

First of all, I do not believe it should count. I am of the opinion that the entire interleague regular-season record should be the deciding factor for home field in the World Series. I like the fan element of voting, but I really like that the players and managers have a vote as well. The reason the best of the best are not all there is because every team needs at least one representative.

Will Mike Carp be a starter again this season?
— Jamie Grantham

It depends on health. His versatility at first and in the outfield gives him the chance to play somewhat more on a regular basis. If Shane Victorino is healthy and Daniel Nava continues to play well, starting time is going to be tough for him. I am amazed how many times he has appeared in a game after going awhile without a start and has had very good timing at the plate. That is hard to do.

What was your first job?
— Jonas Spry

Pacific Pizza. Marine Land. I worked in the back kitchen prepping and making the pizza.

Do you ever remember a ball actually hitting the Ladder to Nowhere in Fenway, and if so, when?
— Daniel Champagne

It’s interesting that you should ask. I hadn’t seen it before this season at any game I had ever done, but it has actually happened twice this season. There are many people that have said that if you do hit the ladder, it’s a triple, but after reviewing the ground rules, that’s a myth. The ladder is simply in play.

How do you plan on spending the off days during the All-Star Game activities?
— John ‏McFleigh

Hopefully fishing and spending time with family. I always try to jam a lot into the three days and also watch the Home Run Derby and, of course, the game itself. It’s always a welcome midseason breather.

Why aren’t we calling up Xander Bogaerts but calling up these other guys when he’s our top prospect?

A few reasons. He is not on the 40-man roster, but he also has played fewer than 30 Triple-A games. The Sox do not want to rush him. These are important development times for him. Keep in mind he has only played just more than 100 games above Single-A ball. We will see him at some point down the line.

What is your most coveted baseball souvenir?
— John ‏McFleigh

I would say a ball my dad got for me at one of the first games I ever went to at Fenway Park. It is to me, anyway.

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