Cafardo Mailbag: The Let’s Play A-Gon in CF Edition

Middlebrooks to shortstop? Dice-K has better control than Bard? Someone mentions trading A-Gon? What is wrong with this world?

Will  Middlebrooks At Bat

If you think playing A-Gon in center is a crazy idea, you’ll love the first question in today’s Cafardo mailbag…

Has any thought been given to moving Middlebrooks to shortstop (his original position) upon the return of Youkilis to the lineup? I know that this means putting Aviles on the bench, but wouldn’t this be a better move than sending Middlebrooks back to Pawtucket?

Oh no, he didn’t just ask that.  I am going to throw up a leg…and then I’m going take that leg, and beat Bob from Westfield to death with it.

Ok…not really.  I just really wanted to paraphrase one of my favorite lines from Veep, my new favorite show.  Regardless, this is a terrible idea.  Yes, shortstop may have been Will Middlebrooks’ original position, but that doesn’t mean he’d be an acceptable solution defensively.  Let’s put it this way…there’s a reason the Red Sox moved him to third base.  Likely, range, arm, agility, and build played into the move.

Furthermore, he hasn’t played a position other than third base during his entire professional career, which started in 2008.  Just as an example…  Let’s say you’ve been doing Job A for the last five years.  You’re very good at what you do, and you’re widely respected among your peers and superiors.  One day, your boss comes up to you, and asks that you return to your old job (Job B) for a short period of time.  While you may have a world beater doing Job B, that was five years ago.  You’re no longer an expert in that role.   You may have retained a fairly large amount of knowledge and skills needed for Job B, but a lot has changed.  Realistically, there’s no way anyone can expect you to perform at a high level in your new (old) role.  This is what “Bob” is suggesting (or at the very least posing the question) the Red Sox do with him.

Look guys.  I love Middlebrooks.  He’s a stud, and I believe he’ll be a very important piece to the club for years to come.  Still, he’s only 23, and has some development remaining.  He won’t continue to hit at the rate he’s been hitting all year.  He will regress.  He will struggle.  Let’s see how he reacts to struggling and bouncing back before we start talking about moving established major leaguers to the bench–even Mike Aviles.

With Adrian Gonzalez preparing to play right field in interleague games, has any thought been given to continuing this and playing Youkilis at first? Coupling Youk and Middlebrooks with Ortiz and AGon sounds great from a lineup-lengthening standpoint.

This would actually be a great combination.  Unfortunately, one of those four will have to sit because the DH isn’t in play during interleague games played in the National League.  Also, while this combo could be huge boon to the lineup, it’d be defensive nightmare on par with the Detroit Tigers.  Yikes!

What is the status update for Carl Crawford?

He’s still on the 60 day DL.  Considering the multiple setbacks he’s had, the Red Sox will probably ease him back into playing very slowly.  Honestly, that’s ok at this point.  Once Ellsbury comes back, the Red Sox will have a glut of outfielders.  Certainly, a healthy Crawford is a better option than most of his alternatives, but guys like Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney are really holding their own.

I know Daniel Bard is learning how to go deeper into games, relying on his secondary pitches and easing his fastball to 92-93 mph, but it seems he has been unable to put away batters and failing to get the strikeout when needed. Maybe if he dialed up the fastball on occasion it would actually have the effect of limiting his pitches by shortening at-bats and then extending his outings. Your thoughts?

It’s certainly not a terrible idea, but the problem doesn’t seem to be his velocity.  Instead, it’s the movement he’s getting on his pitches and his pitch selection.  Hitters are adjusting to his repertoire.  They seem to be more willing to take his four-seamer, while sitting on the slider.  It seems like Bard needs to make a few adjustments to right the ship.

Do you think the Sox will get it together and make the playoffs or do you think they’re done for this year?

This is a really tough question because there’s still so many games left to play.  On one hand, I am very pleased with the performance of the Red Sox’s offense.  They’ve been as good as advertised despite Mike Aviles batting leadoff, and Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Kevin Youkilis missing significant chunks of time.  I’m very curious to see how the lineup functions once everyone is back and healthy.  The bullpen seems to have settled in nicely after an incredibly rough early patch.  They’ve been very effective, and there are several live arms that are waiting for their shot to return to the big leagues.  If everything breaks perfectly, the Red Sox could have a very good bullpen with a couple of potential trade chips to dangle.  The rotation is the one thing that scares me.  They’ve been maddeningly inconsistent.  If the big three can get on track, I think the Red Sox can certainly make the playoffs.  If not, I don’t see how they can, seeing how deep the AL East is right now.  For instance, there are six AL teams that have a positive run differential.  Five of them reside within our division.  Unless somethign changes, this division will be a dogfight.

Everyone is pointing at the pitching staff as the primary reason for the decline of the Red Sox since last year. I believe the reason is not having catcher Jason Varitek.

I couldn’t disagree more.  While the catcher calls, sets up, and frames the pitches; the pitcher actually has to make the pitch.  Velocity, movement, and location are all reliant on a pitcher’s action.  If the pitcher can’t execute, everything the catcher does is completely irrelevant.

Once Dice-K comes back, Bard needs to move to the pen. He doesn’t have the control, repertoire, nor stamina to start, and we need a closer.

First of all, why does Bard NEED to move to the bullpen?  He’s done pretty well in the rotation.  Secondly, your comment amuses me.  Daniel Bard doesn’t have the control or stamina to start, but you think Dice-K does?  I’m not sure that’s an argument even Nick Nailor from Thank You for Smoking could win.  I’m just saying.  Thirdly, we have a closer.  His name is Alfredo Aceves, and he has a 1.29 ERA and a 16/4 K/BB ratio in the 14 innings he’s pitched since the April 21st disaster against the Yankees.  14 innings is a small sample size, but he’s done nothing in the last four weeks that suggests he’s incapable of being an effective closer.

Josh Beckett has never been one of my favorite Red Sox, but should the “nation” cut him some slack on golf gate? I seem to remember reading many Sox fans screaming for Aaron Cook to be called up, so is there a chance Beckett took one for the team here? He pitched a long outing and could be skipped (for rest) to give the excuse to bring Cook up.

Yes, we absolutely should cut him some slack.  Was Beckett a jerk during his press conference?  Absolutely.  He handled it poorly, and should not have been so defensive.  Still, he is who he is.  We’re not going to change him.  We need to accept that he’s not friendly with the media, and move on.

Also, I’d like to respond to Nick’s comment where he said, “As a firefighter wrote to me during that fiasco, if he had called in sick and was seen on the golf course, he would have been fired.”  While Nick has a valid point, there are two major flaws in his argument.  One, Josh Beckett didn’t “call out sick.”  Management and coaching pulled him from the start due to a minor injury.  Two, IT WAS A DAY OFF!  That would be like me calling in sick to my Monday through Friday government job on a Saturday or Sunday.  I’m not condoning Beckett’s actions, but the arguments being made against him are pretty flawed and unconvincing.

I think that Kevin Youkilis has become a liability for the Sox. He accused Ellsbury of dogging it a while back. I think he should be traded. Your thoughts?

I can’t say one way or another.  Like you, I don’t have any personal psychological insight into Youk’s mind, nor do I have an accurate first-hand portrayal of his teammates’ perception of him.  I will say that I don’t think this question would have been asked had Youkilis either been healthy or playing well.

What’s your opinion on this possible trade: Youkilis to the A’s for Coco Crisp?

Aside from trading one injury prone player for another, I’m not sure I see the point.  Currently, the Red Sox have Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, Marlon Byrd, Darnell McDonald, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, Carl Crawford, and Ryan Kalish on the 40-man roster.  (Am I missing anyone?)  Do we really need another outfielder?

Colin Cowherd commented that he thought the Red Sox may be the least talented team in the American League East. What do you think?

Your first problem was listening to Colin Cowherd.  Your second problem was taking anything he said seriously.  The answer is a resounding no.

Who is the player that would net the Sox the most value/help if traded? In my opinion, it’s not Youk, it’s Gonzalez. Maybe to the Braves, Dodgers or Giants? What do you think?

You’re right.  It’s definitely not Youk, and it probably is Adrian Gonzalez.  Still, I’m not sure why we’re even talking about it.  Just one year ago, we thought of him as a savior.  Now, people want to trade him?  I really wish I understood Red Sox Nation better.  Quite frankly, it doesn’t make any sense.

When are they going to fire Valentine and get someone who knows how to manage a major league team? He doesn’t protect his players, he cowers when having to face an umpire’s questionable call, his press conferences are lame – he is not the answer.

This is a tremendous Nick-baiting question.  Not surprisingly, Nick responds with “He’s been a big league manager for 16 years, so I think he knows how to manage a team.”  With all due respect to Mr. Cafardo, there are plenty of people that have been in jobs for 16 years (or longer) while being completely and totally incompetent.  Using taht line of argument is pretty lame and ineffective.

I am on record as being unimpressed with Valentine to date.  I don’t know if he is or isn’t the answer for the Red Sox.  The only thing I know is that we need more time to assess his performance.  I don’t think its fair to either assume he’s an idiot, or that he can do a job he’s done in the past.  As frustrating as his moves have been at times, I would like to see how he adjusts his line of thinking over the course of the season.

Categories: Aaron Cook Adrian Gonzalez Alfredo Aceves Boston Red Sox Carl Crawford Coco Crisp Cody Ross Daniel Bard Daniel Nava Darnell McDonald Jacoby Ellsbury Jason Varitek Josh Beckett Kevin Youkilis Nick Cafardo Mail Bag Ryan Kalish Ryan Sweeney Will Middlebrooks

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.

13 Responses to “Cafardo Mailbag: The Let’s Play A-Gon in CF Edition” Subscribe

  1. Gerry May 18, 2012 at 8:36 PM #

    Yes on all of it. Fun to read both.

    • gerry May 18, 2012 at 8:48 PM #

      Although I must admit, a few years ago, I wondered what an infield of Gonzo, Youk 2b, Beltre 3b, and Pedroia at SS when he was volunteering to move back there. Great D at the corners, still strong up the middle and sick offense. Expensive though.

  2. Alan May 19, 2012 at 3:51 AM #

    Fact: Colin Cowherd doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

    • ChipBuck May 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM #

      This is a very true story.

  3. JiminNC May 20, 2012 at 8:11 AM #

    Hmmm, your first answer is way over the top. Probably not a good idea, but not as bad as putting A-Gon in CF. Cafardo is often a dope, but his categorical but tempered rejection of this idea is better than your hysterical one.

    Your 2nd answer is also exaggerated. A-Gon in RF and Middlebrooks at 3b is not as bad as the Tigers' defense. You lose in RF, but Middlebrooks these days is better than Youkilis at 3b. And telling the guy you can't do it in interleague games is bogus. He mentioned what they were doing "in interleague ganes" and asked about "continuing this," i.e. after interleague games.

    No need to manufacture outrage or exaggerate.

    • ChipBuck May 20, 2012 at 6:34 PM #

      I don't understand where you see manufactured outrage or exaggeration outside of the initial remark which I said was a joke for the sake of making a joke. I think my answers were incredibly reasonable and rational all things considered. Trust me…if I was trying to manufacture satirical outrage, you would have known it. I promise.

  4. IAredsoxfan May 20, 2012 at 4:56 PM #

    The best part of the whole article is where you state "I wish I understood Red Sox Nation better". The offense isn't the issue, the bullpen is finding their roles, there's plenty of youth (Middlebrooks, Nava, Iglesias) and some good to better than average arms in the wings (Hill, Miller, Cook). The real issue is the starting pitching, and even that is getting better. Does everyone really think that Lester, Beckett, Buckholz etc. will continue to be as bad the rest of the year as they were the first 6 weeks? If so, you're not paying attention.

    • ChipBuck May 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM #

      I agree with 98% of this. The only thing I don't agree with is that Nava is part of the youth. He's a 29 year old quad-A player. Other than that, you're dead on. Things are looking up for the Red Sox. It should only get better with Ellsbury, Crawford, Bailey, etc. on the road back from injury.

  5. IAredsoxfan May 20, 2012 at 4:56 PM #

    The division is still wide open. The O's are 15-5 on the road this year, no way they keep that up. Yankees are showing their age and the injury bug has hit them, too. The Rays are tough, but I don't see them surviving playing Whitey Herzog ball over the course of a full season, no matter how good their starting pitching is. They have no bullpen other than Rodney and no power anywhere in their lineup without Longoria. The Blue Jays are who they are, an 80-85 win team with tons of power, no defense and shaky pitching from top to bottom. Bottom line……relax. Lay off the crackpot lineups, dumb trade ideas and SUPPORT YOUR TEAM instead of criticizing every little thing.

    • ChipBuck May 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM #

      Who are you telling to relax? I'm confused.

      • IAredsoxfan May 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM #

        People who want A. Gonzles in right field (gold glove 1B), trade Beckett (almost 15 innings, 1 run last two starts) fire Valentine (40 games into the season), etc…..

  6. Walt in Maryland May 21, 2012 at 8:50 AM #

    IARed Sox fan: Don't disagree with you, but don't include Nava when you're talking about "youth." He's 29 years old, roughtly the same age as Ellsbury and Crawford.


  1. Cafardo MailBag: Searching for Bobby Jenks Edition | Fire Brand of the American League - June 1, 2012

    [...] said pretty well when he said, “Well, because he’s a third baseman.”  I said pretty much the same thing only in longer form when the question of Middlebrooks moving to shortstop came up a couple of weeks [...]