NEW YORK - There were a surprising number of readers who weighed in on whether the Red Sox should make a bid for Jonathan Papelbon after his dugout brawl with Bryce Harper.
Most fans thought it might be a good move to bring him back.
Papelbon was never a problem in Boston. Quirky? Sure. He performed tremendously as a closer and the Red Sox let him go because they didn’t want to pay him. The Phillies did and it never worked out as Papelbon became more and more frustrated with the Phillies’ dismal play.
With one year remaining at $11 million on his contract, the incident will mean the Nationals, if they decide to move him, would have to pay some of that contract. That makes Papelbon a bargain. You would always hate to bring in a guy who has been disruptive on a team, and chemistry is important, but Papelbon’s disruptiveness stems more from the side of caring too much than caring too little.
His actions deserved a suspension, and while calling out a superstar teammate for not running out a ground ball was not his place, the fact that it irritated him that Harper wasn’t going all out, isn’t a horrible thought.
One of his best friends is Dustin Pedroia. In speaking to Papelbon at the All-Star game it seems he would be happier in Boston.
The other issue is that Koji Uehara is still here. He will presumably be the closer if his wrist heals properly. But the question of Uehara’s health is why you would bring in another closer to protect yourself.
The Red Sox need at least two more impact relievers - one being a guy like Darren O’Day whose deceptiveness would be great in the late innings, and then a guy who has been a closer, like free agent Joakim Soria, whom Dave Dombrowski traded for in Detroit. Soria performed well before Dombrowski sent him to Pittsburgh at the trading deadline.
Here’s the mailbag:
Can we believe that Travis Shaw is for real, a guy we can depend on next season?
Cam, Salisbury, N.C.
It’s a leap of faith you’d have to make. In talking to scouts about him, one thing he has is a sweet swing. Everyone I speak to about it, loves it. So if you have that foundation and you’re hitting home runs, it’s hard not to want to trust it. I think he’s somewhat of an enigma to them. The fact he didn’t hit well in Pawtucket this season is also strange considering what he’s done in the big leagues. This one is a tough call.
How much of Ben Cherington’s problems with assembling the roster were ownership driven?
Glen, Alberta, Canada
Ownership is always involved, but in this case Cherington earned much more leeway in picking the groceries after he won a World Series in 2013. He’s always loved Hanley Ramirez and was against the team dealing him in 2006 in the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell deal. In a recent conversation, he really believed Ramirez would be a huge offensive player with the Red Sox this season. He knew the defense would be an issue, but like Manny Ramirez, if he’s tearing it up offensively you take the hiccups in the field. Pablo Sandoval was also his idea and that one was hard to second guess after Sandoval’s fantastic postseason for the Giants and the need the Red Sox had for a third baseman.
All I’ve ever wanted is for Jackie Bradley Jr. to hit .250 to go with his spectacular defensive skills. But going 20-for-50 in one stretch followed by 5-for-50 is a bit unnerving. What gives?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.
Maybe this is what he is - a streaky hitter. It’s probably why it’s not a bad thing he remains a No. 9 hitter. When he’s on he gives great upside in that spot in the order. When he’s not, you hide him down there as you would a pitcher. Overall, he’s had very good production and is now showing some power, which the Red Sox really need.
Henry Owens looked great in his last start. Brian Johnson is still an unknown at this point. Do you see the Sox moving either or both of those two for a known commodity like Sonny Gray?
I just spoke to a long-time scout at Yankee Stadium about Owens and his take is, he’s a guy he would trade if he could get something more established. First of all, he doesn’t throw that hard. Secondly it’s September and we know you can’t fall in love with September performances. Yet, he looks terrific and there’ll be every temptation to keep him. My feeling is they’ll wind up dealing either Clay Buchholz (after they pick up the option) and/or Wade Miley.
You recently wrote about Chris Davis and the Red Sox. Do you think this is a possibility?
Jim, Las Vegas
Acquiring an ace and fixing the bullpen are 1 and 2 on the to-do list. If they don’t overspend on either there’d be room for a Davis deal. Dave Dombrowski loves sluggers and the Red Sox don’t really have enough power in their lineup. I get emails from people saying that Davis strikes out too much. Big deal. If he has over a .900 OPS and is hitting 45 homers and knocking in 110-120 runs., who cares about the strikeouts? Sluggers strike out. Hank Aaron is one of the few who didn’t, but we’re not talking about Hank Aaron here. We’re just talking about a guy who can hit a baseball a long way and impact the score with one swing.
What do you think the Red Sox will do with all of their starting pitchers if they go out and get an ace?
If it’s a deal I’m sure they can include one of them in it. Otherwise, it’s always a dilemma. We’re talking about a pool that includes Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, Steven Wright, Brian Johnson and Joe Kelly. Buchholz is someone who teams would want even though you may be not able to count on 20 starts from him. The $13 million option isn’t something teams would shy away from. You always want to have about eight starters available to you during the season so you need guys who have minor league options, which they do.
Is David Price a realistic option?
Gene, Portland, Maine
Can’t see why not. The Red Sox would have to spend big money and once again go against their philosophy of signing pitchers over the age of 30. But they seem very flexible with their philosophies especially after a year where they failed to secure Jon Lester. Dombrowski knows all about the parameters of what he’d be asking for. Price likes Toronto, but he’d also like the Cubs, Dodgers and Cardinals.
What do you think Deven Marrero’s future is?
Jen, New Haven, Conn.
Not sure he has one with the Red Sox. He will be trade bait I would think. He’s an excellent shortstop and now he’s showing versatility at third base. There will be a team out there that commits to him as their everyday shortstop. He can be that given his glove is really special.
The Pawtucket Red Sox situation looks like a mess. Any idea how that is going to end up?
Tom, West Newton
The Providence stadium deal is dead. Lot of missteps down here from what people tell me about the new ownership led by Larry Lucchino. People love McCoy Stadium, and the family atmosphere, free parking, wide open spaces. They didn’t want it in downtown Providence in a high crime area. And asking for taxpayer money is never good after the 38 Studios fiasco and the fact that Rhode Island doesn’t have the greatest economic outlook. They’ll keep searching for different sites, but the taxpayer burden is hard to swallow.
With Torey Lovullo performing so well as manager what will they do when John Farrell is ready to come back?
The way it looks now Farrell, who will be done with his chemo treatments in mid October, will likely go back to his job and Lovullo to his bench coach duties. That could change if Farrell himself wants it to change. The other issue here is losing Lovullo to another team. That’s a real possibility now that he’s proven what a good manager he can be.
Why would Red Sox ownership be afraid to lose Dave O’Brien but not Don Orsillo?
That was a head-scratcher. Don’t really understand it. It was simply a preference thing. Orsillo has landed on his feet with a terrific deal with the Padres and national Fox telecasts. He’ll make a lot more money, but this was his dream job and that’s gone. O’Brien is a fantastic announcer and the public will get used to him as they did with Orsillo after Sean McDonough was let go.Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.