As we wait for the next shoe to drop on Red Sox moves, here are more answers to your questions. In the days and weeks to come, we’ll likely see the Red Sox go after another starting pitcher (the favorite choice here is Roy Oswalt), a righthanded hitting right fielder (Cody Ross would be a decent choice if his price comes down) and more bullpen help (maybe another lefty).
Q: Do you feel there will be any residual issues between Josh Beckett, the new management, and the press once pitchers and catchers report to spring training?
Mike, Troy, NY
A: Hopefully, Josh Beckett will be mature about it, be accountable and pitch with a chip on his shoulder. I think he will.
Q: My concern is with Daniel Bard starting? We saw what happened with Joba Chamberlain in New York -- why risk losing our strong presence at the end of our weak bullpen?
Michael, New York, NY
A: Well, for one thing it’s not etched in stone. It’s going to be an experiment in spring training. Secondly, when a pitcher comes to management and expresses that desire, you have to listen because to me it means he’s not focused on wanting to be the closer. And if you don’t want to be a closer, and would rather start, then you don’t have the mental makeup to want to do it. Being a closer requires a tough mentality. If you’re not into it that way, you’re not going to be successful.
Q: 1. Does Michael Bowden have a future with Boston?
2. Is there a better bargain anywhere in MLB than paying John Lackey over 15 million dollars not to pitch?
3. Is it true Terry Francona was such an unimaginative game manager that he wouldn’t even allow a bundt cake into his home?
Fred, Hope, R.I.
A: 1. He may. Perhaps starts out in Dan Wheeler’s role of mop-up, multiple innings. Bowden has a chance to win a job in spring training as a reliever.
2. I think it’s good for Lackey and the team that he’s not around this season. He needs the year to regroup physically, mentally and emotionally.
3. Francona was a good manager who won two titles. Not many managers in the history of the game will ever be able to say that.
Q: It has been said that the Sox don’t need an ace for a fourth or fifth starter. Do you think Bartolo Colon might fit the bill?
Len, Wallingford, Conn.
A: Colon could fit the bill, but after their first experience with him, the Sox will likely stay away.
Q: How do you explain the difference in execution and on the field product in Tampa Bay and Oakland? The Rays were competing in a more competitive division and have put a very productive team on the field, while Oakland has not.
Barbara, Lowell, Mass.
A: Great point. I think Tampa Bay had built up a head of steam with so many top picks when they were the doormats of the league. As I said in the Sunday Baseball Notes, I think Oakland has tried to prove a point with Major League Baseball that we can’t compete, therefore we’re trading away way our prime players. That’s the tack they’ve taken. TB also complains about not having money, but their talent is so good, they can’t help but win.
Q: Have the Red Sox and Cubs worked out compensation for Theo going to the Cubs?
Bill, Carver, Mass.
A: Nothing yet. We’re waiting. Get the feeling it may be later this winter.
Q: The Red Sox supposedly have insurance for both Dice K and John Lackey for time missed due to a substantial injury for 2012. Does any of this recouped insurance money get backed out of the team’s salary cap and help the Red Sox with the luxury tax? If it does, then the Red Sox are at a lower cap number and still have money to spend on free agent players. Can they apply to MLB for an exception?
Rob, Fort Myers, Fla.
A: Insurance money has nothing to do with the luxury tax and general payroll. It never gets calculated back into the payroll. As you know, there’s no salary cap in baseball. There’s a luxury tax threshold that is set each year. It’s $178 million this year. Lackey’s deal does provide a provision where if he has major elbow surgery, the team has an option for a sixth year at the minimum salary. Great deal if the pitcher is pitching well at the time. No exemptions or exceptions can be made to a major league baseball payroll.
Q: Couldn’t the Red Sox (or any other team) lower the amount of prospects included in a deal for Matt Garza by offering to take Alfonso Soriano as well?
Jim, Conway SC
A: Probably so. Not sure he’s attractive to a lot of teams.
Q: When estimating Red Sox salaries for 2012, is Lackey’s salary of $15.25 million included in the threshold calculations even though he probably is not going to be added to the 25-man roster and will be placed on the 60-day disabled list? It looks like the Red Sox are really sticking to the idea of not exceeding the $178 million threshold.
Gabriel, Naples, Fla.
A: Yes, it’s included. All “dead” money is included. And yes, they will bottom-line it as much as they can. They have always extended themselves if they feel they have to. They haven’t made the playoffs two straight years and that will fuel their decisions, I’m sure.
Q: I feel that pitch count resulted in the staff not being strong enough to make it through September. My physiology may be a bit rusty, but strength improves by overexertion of the muscle mass. Do we have any idea how manager Bobby Valentine or pitching coach Bob McClure approaches this problem? We know where Nolan Ryan of the repeat AL champion Rangers stands.
Bob, Rochester, NY
A: You know more about science than I do, Bob. The prevailing thought is limiting pitchers to that 100-120 range in pitches. I’m with you, I don’t see a decline in pitching injuries. Pitchers’ arms aren’t as strong as they used to be. Pitchers used to pitch with all sorts of things (like Luis Tiant) that pitchers would never dream about pitching with now.
Q: Why hasn’t Tom Brewer been added to the Red Sox Hall of Fame? He was the team’s most effective starting pitcher during the second half of the ‘50s and a fine athlete who frequently pinch-ran, fielded his position very well, and hit a little bit (.207). He has also had success as a high school coach in his native Cheraw, SC. It would be nice to see Mr. Brewer (now 81) honored while still alive.
Mac, Tallahassee, Fla.
A: Hopefully someone from the committee is reading. I’m sure his name has been considered.
Q: Will Carl Crawford overcome his Red Sox rookie jitters and play up to his capabilities?
Bill, Bonita Springs, Fla.
A: Everyone thinks his skills are still top-notch and he should rebound. We’ll see. I think he needs to be the No. 2 hitter, where he feels more comfortable. I think he’s a creature of habit and moving around the order wasn’t good for him.
Q: What do you think the odds are that the Sox actually already have their future right-fielder in-house and are quietly looking for a righthanded-hitting center fielder? Jacoby Ellsbury now has the kind of output you want from a corner outfielder, which is what I think his absence in 2010 was all about -- strengthening. This, I believe, is what the Mike Cameron experiment was all about -- not Ellsbury’s defense, but allowing him to focus on his offense.
Ray, Woodbridge, Va.
A: That would surprise me. Ellsbury was the best-rated defensive center fielder (according to UZR) and a Gold Glove winner. Don’t think he’ll be moving unless he leaves as a free-agent.
Q: Who do you think fills the closer role, and do the Sox place their bets on Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves?
Geoff, New York, Nev.
A: Obviously, Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey have to prove they can handle the late-game pressure. There are questions about Bard as a starter and possibly Aceves, who in my opinion, is the perfect reliever. As I predicted in Sunday Baseball Notes, I think Youkilis will rebound with his usual type of year.
Q: My question is about right field - why don’t the Sox take a flyer on the Cuban player, Orlando Cespedes?
Guy, Belleville, Mich.
A: They’re looking into both Cespedes and Jorge Soler, and in fact could be a sleeper on one or both.
Q: What happened to Ryan Kalish? This guy looked all-world for awhile.
Mike, Millville, Mass.
A: As you know by now, he’s out until at least June because of shoulder surgery.
Q: Now that Theo and Tito are gone, who not re-sign Manny Ramirez for cheap and let him sit out his 50 game suspension with the Red Sox? That way he will come back in clean, with a clean slate with Bobby Valentine, and if Carl Crawford doesn’t turn it around by the All-Star break, then trade him and re insert Manny back into left field.
Gordon, Margate, Fla.
A: Don’t have too many thoughts on this topic, other than to say “No chance.” The horse is out of the barn, as they say.
Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.