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Red Sox Mailbag

Ask Nick: Does Allen Craig fit in Red Sox’ 2015 plan?

Allen Craig batted .128 in 107 plate appearances for the Red Sox in 2014 after being acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline.Getty Images

Our first offseason mailbag is here and the same issues remain for the Red Sox. But it’s early. The good news is the Red Sox still have enough chips to make good deals for pitching or for hitting. They have enough financial resources to make it happen as well.

Here’s an interesting thought – it’s probably a good thing Jon Lester didn’t go deep into the playoffs because he really could have been affected by two straight years of it. So he should be somewhat refreshed heading into 2015, whether he signs with the Red Sox or elsewhere. It sure appears as though the Cubs are going hard after him.


James Shields is also a workhorse, and one the Red Sox covet. Let’s watch to see how far he gets into the postseason, and if it’s far, is that a red flag to stay away?

Some pitchers are unaffected by the workload and Shields has shown in the past it doesn’t bother him. But the older you get, the more stressful innings you accumulate and there’s more wear and tear on your shoulder and elbow.

In other matters:

■  It was good to see MLB took Red Sox chairman Tom Werner’s pace of game ideas seriously and formed a committee to possibly implement some things starting in 2015 ...

■  I foresee a big comeback year by a very hungry Shane Victorino ...

■  I like Garin Cecchini the more I see him. Already coach Brian Butterfield’s work with him has paid off defensively. He also has a lefthanded Fenway stroke and hits the other way ...

■  Catcher David Ross should do well for ESPN, but the Red Sox should re-sign him. For the number of games they need him to catch, it’s a no-brainer ...

■  I think TBS had a great broadcast team for the playoffs last year – Don Orsillo, Dennis Eckersley, and Buck Martinez. And I think they miss them ...


■  I see a Red Sox coaching change coming ...

■  A book called “Scribe” by Bob Ryan is out. It’s so good ...

■  Stop me before I hype Blake Swihart because I’m on the verge ...

■  Yes, Jon Lester’s Newton Highlands house is for sale. He can always buy a bigger, new one...

■  It was funny to watch Lester go up against the Royals. His Georgia neighbor is Royals manager Ned Yost ...

Here’s the mailbag:

Allen Craig looked depressed and sad every time I saw him at bat in Boston games. Should the Red Sox trade him?

Jack, Toronto

They won’t trade Craig. Probably hard to deal him anyway based on his 2014. The Red Sox think he’ll rebound. He’s checked out OK medically. No surgery. The Red Sox really think he just needs a normal offseason. The guy was a heck of a clutch, impact hitter in the past. Hard to believe he’s lost it.

I would like to know your reasoning for putting Allen Craig in left field for 2015. I see no reason for keeping him on the team in any position. With the number of good outfielders, he adds nothing to the team.

George, Ringoes, NJ

So you don’t think this is his aberration season? You think everything he’s done to this point is long gone and never returning? He’s under contract for two more years. So you just want to release him? I agree, his 2014 performance added nothing, but I think you’re a tad short-sighted on this one.


I see Johnny Cueto of the Reds being mentioned a lot as a potential Red Sox trade target. But why not Mat Latos instead? He’s two years younger at 26 and is a top of the rotation starter.

Jim, Westford

Latos’ name has also been mentioned. Personally I don’t think either one will be moved, but it doesn’t hurt to try and I’m sure the Red Sox will. Cueto, for me, translates better in the AL with the type of stuff he has. His stuff is dominant.

Have you heard anything about the Red Sox picking up Adam LaRoche this offseason? The Sox would have to move Mike Napoli, but you would get a power lefty whose home run totals the last three years have been 33, 20, and 26.

Tyler, Warrenton

LaRoche is a good name, but not sure about the fit. They would have to deal Napoli to do that and I’m not sure that’s in the cards. But that’s the type of lefthanded bat they need, one with power in the middle of the order. I still believe the bat will have to be at third base. Pablo Sandoval, as we’ve written here on many occasions, seems to fit best.

Who will the Red Sox go after in the 2015 MLB draft, a pitcher or positional player?

Ron, Keene, NH

You know the old line, Ron, “best player available.” If there’s a worthy slugger like a Kris Bryant type at No. 7 they’ll pounce, otherwise BPA prevails.


I’m still part of the minority that thinks Middlebrooks will eventually become the power hitter that he was supposed to be. The problem is that third base is also a good spot to add a lefthanded hitter to help balance the lineup. I’ve been warming to the possibility of adding Pablo Sandoval, especially if he finally commits to losing some weight. But with the trade chips the Red Sox have, another guy you would have to take a hard look at is Kyle Seager of the Mariners. Pedro Alvarez is also an option. What do you think?

Bob, Mountain View, Calif.

I would highly doubt you could get Kyle Seager. He’s become their face of the franchise (other than King Felix). Great name, though. As I’ve said before, Sandoval makes the most sense to me. Seems as if he’s controlled it this season. Alvarez, a former Red Sox draft pick, is really streaky for me. He wouldn’t be high on my list. I’d rather have Chase Headley. As for Middlebrooks, there’s always the chance he emerges,but I just think his time is running out here.

Everyone has a theory, but I think the entire 2013 experience (Marathon bombing, aftermath, season, playoffs, World Series, parties, parades, interviews, etc.) sapped the energy from Red Sox veterans, and they were unable to regenerate in time to be competitive in 2014. Also, I think Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts were reading their own headlines, and expected it to come easy in the bigs. True?


Rick, Princeton, NJ

Can’t argue with any of that, but even the sapping of energy shouldn’t have resulted in 71 wins and last place. That’s really sapping! I think it spoke of the fact that it was a “temporary” group of players. The perfect storm brought them together quickly, but it ripped them apart quickly too. Both Bradley and Bogaerts are great guys. I’d be surprised if they were reading their own headlines. They’re both very calm, mild-mannered guys. Sometimes you wish they both got a little bit more emotional about their lack of success. But if they were too emotional, we’d say calm down. Everyone has their own natural disposition.

Considering the mixed-bag performances of the rookies/prospects this season, I’ve reversed stances and am now all for trading pitching prospect Henry Owens to help get a decent No. 2 or No. 3 starter in return. Think about it: at his career peak, Owens will likely be a 2 or 3 at best, maybe even an ace, but that’s 3-5 years from now. That’s an eternity. So why any hesitation in trading him today to help get an established, proven 2 or 3 in return who’s ready to go right now?

Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.

I would have no hesitation in trading him for a front-line starter like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos. It would be interesting to see if the Phillies asked for him because some of their people don’t think he’s a “must-have” in a deal and are not convinced he’s going to be great. Always a tough call, but to make a deal for a good player, as I’ll say now and have always said, it has to hurt a bit. The other team has to look good to their fans and management and ownership when a deal like that is made, so you need to ask for the best prospects to justify it or you can lose your job if you’re a GM.

Why hasn’t BC High’s Alex Hassan been seeing any playing time down the stretch? He was hitting really well in Triple A through their playoffs. He had that terrible game batting in Cleveland and was never seen again. Where does he fit with next year’s team?

Smitty, Tewksbury

They wanted to see Bryce Brentz down the stretch. The poor guy always seemed to have bad timing. Shot himself in the foot in a gun accident last spring training, had all kinds of injuries, and the Red Sox never got to see him in a Red Sox uniform. He showed some power and a reason to hold on. As for Alex, they had seen him in couple of trips up to the big leagues. Not a great sample size for sure, but Hassan is likely part of some tough decisions they have to make this offseason to protect players on the 40-man roster so they aren’t exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

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