Two topics right off the bat for this week’s mailbag:
1. The Red Sox aren’t giving up on their grand plan of outbashing the opponent while getting good enough pitching to sustain a run at the division title. They have devoted too many resources to their lineup and pitching staff to do that this early. They’re not going to blow things up in a division where nobody is going to run away and hide, at least for a while.
Tweaks? Yes. One or two prospect pitchers coming up? Perhaps.
I just don’t see well-paid veteran starters getting replaced this quickly.
2. The recent injuries to Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright sustained while batting aren’t proof enough that the DH should be universal. Wainwright (Achilles’) is gone for the year, while Scherzer missed a start and spoke out for having the DH in the National League after his injury.
I’ve been a longtime advocate of employing the DH in both leagues. That usually brings nasty emails out of St. Louis, with claims that having pitchers hit is part of the tradition of the game. The DH is 43 years old. Didn’t exactly start yesterday.
So how is having the pitcher hit working out for you now, St. Louis?
“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me?” Scherzer told CBS Sports after spraining his thumb swinging a bat. “Who would people rather see — a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher?
“Those kids, they want to see V-Mart [Victor Martinez] hit,” added Scherzer, pointing out a group of children on the field at Marlins Park. “Those kids don’t want to see me hit. No one wants to see a pitcher hit. No one pays money for that.
“If you look at it long-term, I think eventually there will be a DH in the National League.”
It’s just common sense. Pitchers don’t bat even at the amateur levels anymore. They have enough trouble staying healthy while pitching, let alone hitting.
Madison Bumgarner challenged Scherzer’s assertion, asking if Wainwright had been hurt pitching, should they outlaw pitching as well? No, because pitching is what pitchers do. Scherzer tried to back off his comments but he should have stuck to his guns.
Fact is, both pitchers got hurt hitting, a completely unnecessary endeavor in 2015.
Here’s the mailbag:
When do we get off this “it’s too early to think trade” pot and go get the pitching that’s needed for a team headed toward 81-81? Phils are ready to deal Hamels and Papelbon, and Sox need both. Not in late July, but now. Give up Betts, Bogaerts, Owens, or Johnson, and Cecchini or Coyle, and Phils eat some dollars on Hamels and Paps. Replace Betts and Bogaerts with JBJ or Castillo and Marrero, and what do you really lose? Make the move(s). This isn’t panic; it’s doing the right thing.
Mike, Henderson, Tenn.
I haven’t changed my opinion on the need for an ace since the offseason. So I’m with you. Hamels is really the only guy available right now. The Red Sox believe in their rotation and I’m sure they’ll give it a lot more time than you or I would. They will also try Brian Johnson or Eduardo Rodriguez before they seek outside help.
Maybe a stupid and wild question. But, given the apparently serious weaknesses in the Red Sox rotation, might (gulp) a trade of Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and perhaps one or two minor league pitchers for Cole Hamels or a similar top pitcher make sense?
Peter, Glen Echo, Md.
Tough to deal Castillo, because he hasn’t played enough for any team to have a grasp on what kind of a player he is, plus the $72.5 million. So cross him off. The Phillies do like Bradley, Devin Marrero, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, etc. They are eager to make a deal, but now with the Los Angeles situation — where Brandon McCarthy is gone for the year — the Dodgers could be more interested in Hamels.
Thoughts: Bogaerts in a package to Philly for Cole Hamels. Move Ramirez back to shortstop and you now solve your problem in the outfield. Next year, Pablo moves to first, Ramirez can easily play third or eventually DH when Ortiz retires, and you have a great shortstop in Deven Marrero ready for the majors in 2016. I love Bogaerts but this opens up the logjam in the outfield, and we get our No. 1 guy.
If Ramirez is playing shortstop, (a) you will have no range at the position and (b) he’ll get hurt. Ramirez is 6-3, 245 pounds. He’s a left fielder, first baseman, or DH. He can no longer play shortstop unless it’s to fill in for a game or two. He got hurt playing shortstop, and that’s the reason the Dodgers had to part ways — because they believed he had to be a DH in order to play the number of games where you can take advantage of his offense. Even third base would be way too strenuous for him. As for Bogaerts, trading him for me would be an act of desperation. Keep remembering: He’s 22. Though Marrero is a nice option.
My take on the Sox rotation so far: Porcello: good. Kelly: good. Buchholz: schizophrenic (what else is new?). Masterson: unimpressive. Miley: unimpressive. It seems like Miley and Masterson have to be really on to get a decent result. There just isn’t enough “stuff” to get by when they are not perfect. In the long run, that won’t be good enough. It’s early, so hoping for improvement, but not encouraged by their performance so far.
Joe, Wantagh, N.Y.
At any given moment, it’s hard to think they’ll get better until they actually do. John Farrell is right: Six to eight starts is a good early gauge of where they might end up. So we’re getting there. They need an ace so the rest of it can fall into place better.
Since you seem to have a keen sense of smell, can you tell me if the Red Sox pitching staff stinks? Signed, a loyal Yankee fan.
Poor displaced Mark. A Yankee fan in Massachusetts. Mark got bent out of shape after I wrote that the Yankees stunk after their 1-4 start. Now that the Yanks are 12-8, they’re terrific and Mark is pounding his chest. Yes, Mark, I have written that the Red Sox starting rotation has been poor. Many times.
The Red Sox have the seventh pick in the upcoming draft. This is a great opportunity to get an amateur player who could be a game-changer. There are two pitchers who were projected to go before the Sox take their pick, but they have had Tommy John surgery. Would the Red Sox take the risk and select one of these pitchers?
Russ, Verona, N.J.
You’re referring to Mike Matuella of Duke and Brady Aiken, with Stanford’s Cal Quantrill another kid who underwent TJ surgery. The Red Sox might be able to take such a gamble, but with the seventh overall pick, they need to get it right. They do have organizational pitching, so we’ll see whether they feel they can take a chance.
You once wrote the Red Sox should have signed Josh Hamilton. What do you think of that brilliant article now?
Well, I guess after five successful, amazing years in Texas (MVP in 2010, 43 homers/128 RBIs in 2012), I should have foreseen that he would have a drug relapse and have two bad seasons with the Angels. My bad. I guess my ESP isn’t working too well.
The Red Sox were coming off a last-place finish, had traded off their stars (Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford) and silly me thought Hamilton, the best five-tool player in the game at the time, would have been a good fit. The Red Sox were right; they went with Shane Victorino.
I will say this: If the Red Sox had signed Hamilton, they would have provided him with the proper support system to deal with his everyday existence. I don’t believe the Angels did a good job with that.
Is Larry Lucchino out with the Red Sox if he takes on Olympic assignment? If he is, who do you think would be a good replacement?
Bill, San Diego
Don’t really know the answer to that, but the presumption has been yes, that it would be a full-time endeavor. Lucchino has already bought into the Pawtucket Red Sox, so it appears that, despite the comments that nothing has changed with him and the Red Sox, a lot has changed.
A good replacement? How about Dan Duquette? The current Sox ownership fired him, but Duquette knows the Red Sox, and it would keep him away from Toronto, which will likely go after him next offseason. There’s always the compensation issue, of course.
Can this lineup score enough runs to bail out the pitching staff?
Sam, Los Angeles
That’s what they’re banking on. I think they can, for the most part. I’m going to assume the Sox staff gets better and the hitting improves as the weather improves. The Sox also have a lot of options in Pawtucket. They will need a little upgrade (an ace) to their staff.
Would the Red Sox ever consider making the 6:10 starts permanent?
I think everyone would love that. The only thing I’ve noticed is the ballpark is half-empty at the start of the game. Then again, the ballpark is half-empty at the end of games. Not sure how this affects NESN ratings, either. That would have to be taken into consideration.
With Ryan Hanigan really a backup and Sandy Leon really a No. 3, will it be long before Blake Swihart sees Boston?
I can see Swihart coming up in June/July after he’s had a few games under his belt. Most scouts who watch Swihart point to the fact that his defense is just fine and ready for MLB action. He’s have the usual getting-to-know-you/game-calling issues, but he’s ready. They’ll keep him down as long as possible. The more games down there, the better, is the way the Sox brass is feeling right now.