Jacoby Ellsbury Dustin PedroiaWith the Red Sox more than 20 games above .500 and building themselves a bit of a cushion in the American League East, questions surrounding the team unsurprisingly have less to do with the current squad and more to do with the future.

Red Sox fans want to know how this contending club will do next year and beyond, and that starts with rising infielder Xander Bogaerts and free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury. Bogaerts has showed he can play, but whether he’ll be called upon for this season, Manny Machado-style, depends on whether the Red Sox think he’ll be able to handle the spotlight (and produce Manny Machado-style). For Ellsbury, the question continues to be whether the Sox will be ready to pay the price he commands in free agency as he drives his stock up with a hot second half.

Let’s take a look at those questions and more in this week’s mailbag.

Do you see the Sox making a big push to keep Jacoby Ellsbury in Boston?
— Tony Mollison

I think they will make an effort, but with as well as Ellsbury is currently playing, every passing day gets more difficult as the price and number of years on his potential contract goes up. It’s no secret that his agent, Scott Boras, prefers to test the open market, and Ellsbury will be a very hot commodity when the day comes. I hope the Red Sox find a way, because he is fun to watch.

When will the Sox pull the trigger on Xander Bogaerts?
— Enrique Ollero

I think they will be very slow with him. It sounds like they are making sure that he graduates from every level and are not forcing the issue. I would not be surprised to see him in September, though.

How far do you think the Sox can make it this year?
— Jason Pryor

I believe they can win it all. I think a lot depends on health and whether or not they can get Clay Buchholz back in time for a few September starts before October. I think they are deep enough and have enough offense to get it done. Again, health remains the key.

Are Kansas City ribs really that good?
— Nicholas Nelson

Yes. I have for years been a big fan of barbecue in Texas when we play the Rangers, but I got my first taste of real Kansas City BBQ, and I was very pleased. It is different, but I may like it better. I need more sampling to be sure. Sadly, that was our only trip to KC this year. It’s LC’s BBQ in KC in case you ever pass through.

Have you ever considered coming out with a book about the food of baseball’s biggest cities?
— Lesley Broff

No, but Joe Castiglione has. His book talks about all the sites and food places in each city we travel to. I agree with a great many of his choices. In his 30 years of traveling through MLB, he has pretty good list of places.

What’s your favorite place in New Hampshire? Mine is Madison Boulder.
— Jill Hebert-Thibeault

I would say the Swift River up the Kancamagus Highway — the Rocky Gorge area or Sabbaday Falls. Honorable mention goes out to Silver Lake in Madison, N.H.

Where did you go to college, and what was your major?
— John Finn Jr.

Northeastern University. Communications was my major. Minor in Sociology. I took Joe Castiglione’s broadcast course and then later interned for Joe and Ken Coleman, and Bob Starr in 1989-1990.

What other sports do you like to watch in your downtime?
— Joshua McLaughlin

I like to watch the NHL and NFL and, during the season, a lot of West Coast baseball, because that is what is on MLB.TV when I get home from our games.

What’s up with the players sporting beards this year? How come you and Jerry don’t grow one?
— Fran Irish

I did the Bruins beard-a-thon a few years ago, and it got itchy and gray and was not a good look. I think the beards on the team started with Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli, who have always sported beards, and have gradually migrated throughout.

Will you stay as a broadcaster for as long as you shall live?
— @pol_troop

I have wanted this job my entire life and hope to do this job my entire life. I have had opportunities to move over the years but have never seriously considered any of them. This is home for me and hopefully will be for my life.

What’s your favorite Dave Matthews Band song?
— @JennyMcG1411

“Two Step,” “Typical Situation,” “Say Goodbye” — changes by the day, though. Depends what mood I am in.