The Cafardo Mailbag: The Super Awesome Birthday Edition

March 6th is a magical day.  No, it’s not quite as amazing as Leap Day (there isn’t an equivalent of Leap Day William after all), but it’s pretty special nonetheless.  For those of you who don’t know, some pretty important things have happened on March 6th:  the Missouri Compromise was signed into law by President James Monroe; the US Supreme Court announced it’s ruling in the landmark Dred vs. Scott case; the Oreo cookie was introduced (today is the 100 year anniversary); and the Zapruder film was shown in slow motion on TV for the first time ever.  Also, there are some pretty important people who are celebrating their birthday today:  Lefty Grove (posthumously, of course), Willie Stargell, Shaquille O’Neil, and most importantly me.* 

* Hat tip to the amazing Graham Womack of Baseball Past and Present for the heads up on Grove and Stargell. 

Yes, that’s right folks.  Today, I turned 33 years awesome.  I’m sure that’s shocking to each and every one of you to know that I’m so freaking old.  I don’t look a day over 26, and I don’t act a day over 12.  What can I say?  It’s a paradox.  Regardless, my good buddy (i.e. stalkee), Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, decided to give me a birthday present today.  Rather than forcing me to try to steal his mail, he decided shared it with me with one caveat–that I not share it with anyone until he unleashes it on the world.  I did not want to oblige, but I felt compelled based on the unwritten stalker-stalkee rule book.  I may have loose morals, but I do have some.

Alright, enough with the BS.  Let’s jump into the Super Awesome Birthday Edition of the Cafardo Mailbag!

Is there any value in having Kevin Youkilis lead off for the Red Sox in 2012?

I’m probably in the minority here, but I love the idea.  Youkilis’s .391 career OBP and 13.2% walk rate both far exceed that of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s; thus making him a more ideal leadoff candidate.  He’s a good hitter that draws a lot of walks, hits for power, and can set the tone for the rest of the lineup.  Putting him at the top, would allow Ellsbury and his new found power to drop to the number two spot where he’d be given additional chances to hit with runners on.  This would likely slot Dustin Pedroia into the third spot in the order with Adrian Gonzalez batting cleanup.  That’s a pretty devestating way to start out your lineup, don’t you think? 

Youkilis has expressed a lot of concern about hitting leadoff in the past, but I don’t think that’ll stop Bobby V from placing him at the top.  Valentine mentioned recently that he was going to try to break the players’ from having fear about hitting in certain spots of the order.  I think it’s a great idea.

What are the rules regarding the number of minor league teams an organization is allowed to have? Could the Red Sox have two or three Triple A or Double A teams, or are there restrictions?

There aren’t any limits, but why would you want more than one team in both AA and AAA?  The minor leagues are like a pyramid.  The higher up the pyramid you go, the fewer the players there are that are capable of playing at that level.  It’s baseball Darwinism if you will.  Plus, there are cost issues that go along with the structure as well.  It’s better to leave things alone as they are.

I have been having a debate with my housemates: Who is the face of Boston sports and the fan favorite? We came up with the big three, David Ortiz, Tom Brady and Paul Pierce.

Brady owns Boston, plain and simple.  That said, my favorite of that group is Paul Pierce.  Even the mere mention of him being traded makes my blood boil. 

During an intentional walk, why doesn’t the pitcher just go to his mouth four times, which is an automatic ball call for each? This way he doesn’t risk throwing the ball away and allowing the base runners to advance, if there are runners on base?

Cafardo actually explained this pretty well.  When a pitcher goes to his mouth, he’s technically balking, which would allow each runner on base to proceed to the next base.  Still, the reader has a point.  Why should the pitcher have to throw any pitches for an intentional walk?  Why not just have the pitcher, catcher, or manager, inform the umpire of their decision to intentionally walk the batter?  With all of the talk of games “being too long,” wouldn’t changing this rule help save a little bit of time?  Yes, it’s a small amount of time, but it’s time nonetheless.

* I’ve never understood the game is too long issue.  I love baseball.  I want to watch as much of it as possible.  Why would I care if it was long?  Seems like a great problem to have.

You mentioned giving Jacoby Ellsbury a “Matt Kemp deal.” Isn’t eight years for $160 million too expensive, especially with Ryan Kalish waiting (and hopefully ready) for his shot?

Yes.  8/$160M is awfully expensive.  It’s perhaps, too expensive.  That said, it’s the benchmark for elite centerfielders with speed and power.  If Ellsbury can put together another year or two like he did in 2011, he’ll definitely match, if not exceed, that amount.  I don’t know if the Red Sox will give him that kind of money, but they’ll certainly be in the running. 

Also, I don’t see Ryan Kalish’s presence being a factor.  Kalish is a nice player, but his ceiling isn’t anywhere near that of Ellsbury.

Why isn’t there an outcry from baseball writers about Chris Carpenter as compensation for former GM Theo Epstein?

I don’t understand.  You want the Boston media to complain more?  Are you sure?  These last few months of chicken and beer haven’t made you want to jump head first into a brick wall?  Look, the Red Sox got what they got.  It may not be what we were hoping for, but the compensation was both fair and significant.  Plus, we have a player to be named later coming, so that’s something as well.

With Jenks out, Wakefield retired and Lackey out, I see three openings for pitchers. My choices would be Felix Doubront, Chris Carpenter, and Vicente Padilla. Do you agree?

Doubront’s a lefty with a good arm and lot of potential.  Plus, he’s out of options.  I think the only way he doesn’t make the 25-man roster this year is if he’s either packaged in a deal later this spring, or starts slacking off like he did last year.  As for Carpenter, he still has options remaining, so they’ll probably stick him in Pawtucket unless he really impresses out of Spring Training.  Padilla probably has the bigges upside out of all of the non-guaranteed players they brought into camp, but he’s also the biggest wild card.  He’s notoriously inconsistent, and he’s known for being a bad clubhouse guy.  I think he’s really going to have to wow the Red Sox brass before he’s added to the Opening Day roster.  I think they go with Doubront, Andrew Miller, and Aaron Cook.

With all the question marks about the Red Sox’ fourth and fifth starters, why did they not consider retaining Erik Bedard ?

Durability, cost, and attitude were likely the reasons.  Bedard’s never pitched 200 innings, and has only topped 30 starts once in his career.  He’s suffered from elbow, shoulder, and knee injuries, and has the reputation of being soft.  Despite all that, he’s immensely talented.  As a result, teams were willing to spend a little extra money to take a chance on him.  Considering the budget situation, Bedard’s salary demands fell outside of the range the front office felt comfortable committing to a player with such a nebulous short-term future. 

Who is going to be the clubhouse character, the guy who loosens up the clubhouse and brings unity to the club?

I hear Josh Beckett‘s ready to step up and be the clubhouse character leader.  Word is he needs a party atmosphere to get loosened up though.

One thing I haven’t seen addressed in terms of the plan for Daniel Bard is an estimate of his innings limit.

I haven’t seen anything expressed publicly, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume his limit will be somewhere between 140-160 innings.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Red Sox skip his turn in the rotation every so often early on in hopes of conserving him for the August and September stretch run.

Have there been any significant changes to the minor league/farm organization that have hindered the Sox’ ability to develop homegrown talent?

The draft is a bit of a crapshoot.  Even the greatest scouts can slump, and even the worst scouts catch a break every now and then.  The Red Sox have drafted a lot of high ceiling players recently that haven’t worked out.  Ryan Westmoreland was one of those players, but no one could have seen his fate coming.  The good news is that things seem to be turning around.  Unfortunately, most of the high end talent is in A-ball or lower.

Why did the Sox sign Kelly Shoppach for a year at $1.35 million when they could have re-signed Jason Varitek for roughly the same money? It doesn’t make much sense when you could bring back a fan favorite for the same production, but also the familiarity with the pitching staff, rather than someone who is relatively new.

I love Jason Varitek as much as the next guy, but it was time for a change.  Pure and simple.  Shoppach can throw out runners, which is something Varitek couldn’t do anymore.  Plus, this allows Valentine to use a modified platoon situation at catcher with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  If used correctly, it could pay dividends on the offensive side of the ball. 

This offseason the Red Sox have signed many starting pitchers who have had some sort of success in the majors in the past. Having said that, why are the Red Sox not interested in Scott Kazmir? He has been a tremendous pitcher in the past, and although his velocity has dropped considerably, he is still young and could prove to be a low-risk, high-reward player.

Very simple.  I could probably throw with greater velocity and exhibit better control than Kazmir at this point.  Ok, maybe not.  The point is that whatever talent Kazmir had is probably gone.  His arm is shot.  It’s suffered through too many injuries. 

I get the Sox are trying to take a page out of the Yankees’ book by signing guys like Cook, Carlos Silva and Padilla, but Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon were once top of the rotation guys, while these guys never have been. I don’t get why they don’t go after Rich Harden and Scott Kazmir, guys with the same risk, but bigger upside.

I’ll ignore the Kazmir portion of the question since I just discussed it in the question above. 

The Red Sox actually tried to acquire Rich Harden at last season’s July 31st trading deadline.  In fact, they’d agreed to the deal in principle with the A’s, only to have it fall through because Harden failed his physical.  Earlier this winter, Harden was diagnosed with a torn shoulder capsule.  As a result, he’ll miss the entire 2012 season.  Knowing what we know now, I’m betting this is the reason the Red Sox nixed the deal. 

What are the odds of Ryan Sweeney leading off against righties with Jacoby Ellsbury in the 3-hole?

It’s certainly possible, but there are better leadoff candidates on the roster than Sweeney.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Nick Cafardo Mail Bag

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

5 Responses to “The Cafardo Mailbag: The Super Awesome Birthday Edition” Subscribe

  1. allan peakes March 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM #

    Cook,Padilla and Silva were all named to the All Star Team.

  2. Tim March 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM #

    Although infrequent, while attempting to intentionally walk a batter, there have been wild pitches, passed balls, runners stealing bases due to inattentive pitchers or fielders, or balls hit into play when the pitch was thrown too close to the plate where a batter could reach it.

  3. Sam March 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM #

    You should revisit writer's class, because You're a total waste and a lame writer, who always has to beat the drum about your little self, Oh-my birthday.Your age is a quantum leap over your IQ, cow-chip!

    • ChipBuck March 8, 2012 at 8:26 AM #

      If you don't like my writing, you don't have to read it. It's that simple. By the way, if you ever write something and post it publicly, please let me know. While we're on the subject of "writer's class" though, your comment was one giant run-on sentence. Nice work though.

    • rjs March 10, 2012 at 6:15 AM #

      The irony is that your comment is a grammatical train wreck.

      Chip, Happy Birthday buddy! Keep up the great work