Boston Red Sox Q & A's
Ian Browne, a sportswriter from mlb dot com, had his monthly (bi-weekly?) question and answer column over at the MLB website.
I wanted to list a few of the questions, his answers and then my comments. Of course, they all have to do with that baseball team that plays at cozy Fenway Park, the land of the Monster. Here we go...
1) Will Jonathan Papelbon be the closer after an off year?
-- Scott W., Milwaukee
Ian.."Unless there is a drastic dropoff in Papelbon's stuff come Spring Training, I believe he will be the closer come Opening Day. Papelbon has earned the right to prove the job should still be his. And it would not surprise me one bit to see him have a bounceback season."
Me.. I agree. It's Papelbon's role to lose. If he can bring down that blown save number and become more efficient with his pitches, it'll be Bard in the eighth and Paps to close it down. I hope it stays that way.
2) Is there a chance that Crawford could land in Boston?
-- Shawn R., West Warwick, R.I.
Ian.."Sure, the Red Sox will be in the mix for Crawford. It's unclear at this point what type of contract he will get, but given his skill set, I'm sure it will be a lot of years and a lot of dollars. For months now, we've been hearing about the Angels as a possible landing spot for Crawford, so you can be sure they will one of the teams that make a substantial offer."
Me.. He would be a plus for the Boston outfield but my focus is on first base and adding another couple members of the bullpen.
3) What are the chances the Red Sox will make a run at Cliff Lee?
-- Bennett W., Arlington, Va.
Ian.."The Red Sox -- out of due diligence -- will talk to Lee just like they spoke to CC Sabathia two winters ago. However, with two aces already in the fold -- Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz -- and two pitchers who are prime candidates to bounce back from off years (Josh Beckett and John Lackey), I don't think the Red Sox will break their bank to make the type of investment that will be needed to outbid the Yankees, Rangers and other teams for Lee."
Me..Don't hold your breath. With six viable starters, Theo would be wise to use the money elsewhere, say first base (see below).
4) Tim Wakefield is my favorite Red Sox pitcher. As such, I would hope the Red Sox would do their very best to give him enough starts so that he can get closer to his goal of either attaining the same number of wins as Roger Clemens and Cy Young or surpassing it. What do you think?"
-- Carole P., Medford, Mass.
Ian.."It would be great to see Wakefield get that record or tie it, but the Red Sox can't prioritize the importance of an individual milestone over doing their very best to try to win. Maybe at the end of the day, Boston's best team for 2011 is one that has Wakefield taking a turn in the rotation every fifth day. But that is still unfolding as general manager Theo Epstein evaluates the free-agent market."
Me..I've always loved Tim Wakefield. He's a good person off the field helping so many in need and between the lines when his knuckleball is working, he's tough. Will he pitch every fifth day or as needed? That question will answer itself in time.
5) Do you think that Beckett has a chance to bounce back after a season of back woes?
-- Rosie C., Wellesley, Mass.
Ian.."If Beckett is healthy, I think he will be one of the top candidates for the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award. The last time Beckett had such a subpar season was 2006. And in 2007, he responded with a career year. Don't be shocked if a similar story unfolds this time. Beckett is one of the better competitors around, so you know that he will do everything in his power to make up for 2010."
Me.. I totally agree. There's nothing wrong with him right now. Last year it was a case of a series of nagging injuries which made his fastball less reliable. I fully expect him, barring any more injuries, to be close to 18 wins. Josh Beckett is Josh Beckett. He's had a couple off years but this year, I hope, will be different. Fingers crossed right and left, up and down.
6) Epstein has stated numerous times that he is perfectly comfortable with shifting Youkilis across the diamond to third base. Do you see the Red Sox offering a one-year, Beltre-type deal to a first baseman like Paul Konerko?
-- Kevin K., North Haven, Conn.
Ian.."I don't see any way that Paul Konerko will sign a one-year deal. Remember, Beltre was coming off the worst offensive season of his career when he signed that contract. Konerko had a monster year in 2010, finishing with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. He has put himself in position to land a nice contract, whether it is a return trip to the White Sox or with a new team."
Me..Ian is correct. 39 taters and 11 RBIs translates to huge cash. Save the money and spent a ton of it on a power hitting monster who plays first base, preferably a lefty. Oh, look at that! I just described Adrian Gonzalez. I want him in a Boston Red Sox uniform. Kevin Youkilis is perfectly effective playing the hot corner. What an infield that would be!
OK, that's it from me now. Whenever Ian Brown has a Q & A column like the one above, I do the same thing with my post. Click on the title of this missive for more Sox news and as always, BE WELL.