Cafardo Mail Bag Fun!

I did it for you.
Last week a wrote a simple, insipid piece about the joys of Spring Training in Florida (look me up if you make the trek, I like people). I wrote and scheduled it to pop up at the exact time of 8 AM last Tuesday morning. It was there, and it was kind. Sweet even. Poetic perhaps.
Upon scheduling it, I took a journey of my own. I climbed up a majestic mountain to seek advice from a battle tested blogger.
I ran into my predecessor on the way (Chip Buck, twitter: @Chip_Buck). He told me it’s a tough balance, being informative and sarcastic. That people do not like caustic.
At the summit, I saw Evan Brunell (twitter: @evanbrunell) , founder/overlord of Fire Brand and one time Deadspin contributor. He told me I was caustic.
Caustic is so 2000′s. Call me The Black Eyed Peas or Britney Spears of blogging.
Cafardo’s writing is in bold italics.
Questions posed to him in bold.
His responses in italics.
My writing in plain font.
So, now for the kinder, gentler response to Red Sox Nation and our favorite pal, Nick Cafardo:
As we get closer to spring training the readers still wonder if the Red Sox did enough to project them into a wild-card position or whether it will be yet another season out of the playoffs.Expectations aren’t high, which sometimes is a good thing.If the Red Sox were going for “sexy” players a few years back, as mentioned in Terry
Francona’s book, they have certainly changed that approach this offseason. Still waiting for that backup first baseman type who can spell Mike Napoli in the late innings and play against tough righthanded pitchers.

Pete Abraham and I are heading to spring training on Monday. Can’t beat WBZ’s Jon Miller, who is already there.
Here’s the mailbag:
In retrospect, was it wise for the Sox to trade Adrian Gonzalez?
Dan, El Cajon, Calif.
I think that was a good move and that’s coming from someone who led the charge for many years to trade for him. I think being able to get rid of those big contracts, especially non-performers like Crawford and Beckett – made it worth it. It’s hard to replace A-Gon’s bat, but if you believe he wasn’t what you expected him to be in the clubhouse (with all the backdoor stuff to management), then cutting ties was the best thing.I was in the stands in the Trop last year when Gonzalez hit a tower shot just foul down the right field line. Before the game, he had promised a home run because his power had seemingly dried up to that point (he had 2 on the season to that point). While he never did hit that home run, what I remember was Adrian needing to defend his play to our media and fan base before a regular season game roughly 1/4 of the way through the season. Later, the Red Sox would trade him and he would immediately hit a home run for the Dodgers, and Red Sox Nation whined “where was that power when he was with us?” (Note: he went the next 25 games without a home
run).He is still a good player, and a player we could use this year. But, how do we go from exaggeratedly moaning about him last year to declaring that we need him this year? Does it not matter that he was the piece that persuaded the Dodgers to pay our debts to Beckett and Crawford as well as give us two promising arms in Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa?Remember, it wasn’t JUST Gonzalez that we traded. The franchise was fixed by all that was dealt with him, back and forth. The Sox were universally seen as winning that trade then. That trade is just as wise today.Is Ryan Westmoreland still playing in the minor leagues or is he done with baseball?
Al, Pensacola, Fla.
I’m told he is coming to spring training with the intention to play. I think it’s going to be a wait and see type situation.

First sentence: helpful. Second sentence: Is that helpful in anyway?

Do you think there has been any serious consideration to signing Carlos Zambrano, or is the chemistry on this year’s team a bit too delicate to risk on a personality such as his?
Russ, Gulf Shores, Ala.
I haven’t heard his name linked with the Red Sox. I think they feel they’re OK depth-wise with pitching, with some options in Morales and probably Aceves. Both Morales and Aceves will likely be stretched out as starters in spring training.

Two things: First, there is no such thing as being ok pitching depth-wise, a team can always use more. I wish Cafardo would reference Webster, again acquired in Dodgers trade, as young depth and not just a reliever who could start. There is some mid- rotation promise in the high minors. That could be another reason Zambrano is a no go.

Second, Have we learned nothing from AaRon Cook last year? A veteran who used to be good and is still available 8 (EIGHT!) days before Pitchers and Catchers report is not likely to be a viable starter for a team with hopes of contending. Pitching is a precious commodity, if they are free agents and still out there, they have warts (I’m looking at you, too, Kyle Lohse).

Is it possible that last year’s disastrous season is keeping team leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia out of the World Baseball Classic?
Harold, Boston
No, I think it’s because both players are coming off injuries and they are the main core of Boston’s offense.

Um, Nick, um…weren’t their injuries major catalysts in last year’s disastrous season? If they are the core of the offense this year, and more injuries would cause more disaster, wouldn’t the answer to the question posed be: “Yes.”

With Ryan Kalish not starting the season because of surgery, do you think the Sox would try to get Brandon Moss from Oakland? He would be a good fit, plays first and the outfield, and is a lefthanded hitter.
Ralph, Wallingford, Conn.
He would be the ideal guy. Oakland GM Billy Beane tells me he’s not interested in trading him. Of course, if the price is right …

Ha, Billy Beane strikes again! He is telling the media that he would not trade Moss when his marginal value is at it’s peak? You are foooled Nick Cafardo, and you are a pawn! Of course Beane would trade him: he traded Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren, Carlos Pena, Andrew Bailey, etc., etc. Yes he would trade Brandon Moss. He would do it yesterday for useful pieces, and high end cheap talent.

Truth is: Cherington wouldn’t be dumb enough to meet the asking price.

Would a Salty for Justin Smoak trade make any sense for both of them, or will Salty play some first to get Lavarnway some games?

Zeke, East Longmeadow, Mass.
I’ve answered this question a lot. It does make sense, but the Red Sox need a really good defensive first baseman to back up Napoli.

So, please answer it again! For fun!

I love good defense as much as the next guy, but I think the team needs a passable defender who could break out in a full time role were the Napoli experiment to fail.

The more I think of it, the better I like the idea of training Xander Bogaerts for third base to allow moving Middlebrooks to first later in the year or next year. Do you know if the Sox braintrust is considering it?
George, Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
I’m sure they’ve thought about it and it has to be an option a couple of years down the road. I’ve asked about Middlebrooks moving across the diamond and the answer I get is they think Middlebrooks is going to be a really good third baseman.

Ah, the temptation to move a solid to plus defensive third baseman with a solid to plus bat at first base, where he could be a plus-plus defender and average hitter in a premium offensive position. Hopefully, it makes less sense when put like that. Whatever the case, Bogaerts has more value if he can stick at short, and Middlebrooks has more value if he stays at third. Let’s not move either of them until it has to happen, assuming that will ever come.

That said, if you are considering something in your spare time, the Red Sox braintrust has considered in their full time job. The only alternative is that your idea is so crazy, you belong in a padded room. As the illustrious Roy Williams of North Carolina basketball fame once said, “Don’tever ask a coach, ‘Have you thought of…’, because I guarantee that I’ve thought of everything that you and all of your buddies could ever freakin’ think of. We’ve got five of us that are full-time coaches, 24 hours a day. I’m not a pharmacist, I’m not an insurance guy, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a banker. I am a coach. So there’s not one freakin’ thing that anybody’s going to think about that we haven’t thought about.”

As a non-cusser, I believe that is a fine use of the word ‘freakin’.’

Beyond 2013, the Sox will be loaded with righthanded hitters and there are not many lefthanded hitters with power on the horizon down on the farm. Developing Ryan Kalish as a viable first baseman makes a lot of sense, whether he’s merely a fill-in there or if he eventually becomes the regular. In the event something happens to Mike Napoli or Big Papi as the season goes on, a trade for the Twins Justin Morneauwho’s in his “walk” year, might be the remedy. What do you think it would take to get him in a trade?

Peter, South Hamilton, Mass.
As you know now, Kalish is likely out for most of this season after shoulder surgery. I like the Morneau idea. Obviously you have to see where you are in the standings whenever an injury would occur. But if they’re in the hunt, a deal for Morneau would be great.

I’m not so sure what is so difficult about projecting prospects. If someone is projected as a good outfielder, that does not mean they should learn first base when they are ready to graduate to the big leagues. First base is mostly for very good hitters who cannot project defensively at other positions. If you are a good defensive outfielder and a good hitter, you do not profile at first base. Baseball isn’t about taking your prospects who are ready and putting them somewhere, ANYWHERE!, once they are ready. Otherwise, we could have stuck Lars Andersen at short stop about three years ago.

It is amazing to me that Cafardo, a baseball insider/espert, can only find issue with Kalish’s injury, here! Then, to compound that, he wants to deal mid-season for a ball player who is a shell of his former self in a walk year.

The Red Sox ran out and signed all these guys for top dollar early in free agency and now it seem like there are some good deals being made on some good potential guys and the Red Sox are nowhere to be found. What’s the deal?
Bill, Watertown, Mass.

Not sure whom you’re referring to. They seem to have their team set the way they wanted it. They went after the players they earmarked for those positions – Gomes, Victorino, Napoli, Dempster. Those are the guys they wanted and they were willing to pay them.

I’m not sure if the question or answer is more shocking. I will leave this alone in the hope of us all being happy, and my comment box staying clean and nice.

I saw that Ryan Lavarnway has been sent early to Florida to work with Gary Tuck. I find this very interesting considering it’s widely believed Lavarnway will start the season in Pawtucket. With this knowledge, do you believe the handwriting is on the “Green Walls” that Salty will be dealt to fill some of the current team needs?

Wendy, Derry, NH
I know that Tuck really likes Lavarnway’s intelligence and upside as a catcher, so they will go all out with him. I’m sure they’re still entertaining deals for Salty. I just say be careful with that. Catchers who hit 25 homers are hard to find. Really sweet that Salty hit 25 home runs. He also had a .288 OBP (pathetic), base runners run wild on him (18% Caught Stealing last year), and his cather’s ERA was 4.84 last year. I’m not sure that that is the package that the Red Sox need at catcher.

That’s not to say that Lavarnway is the answer, but David Ross + Lavarnway + whatever Salty notches is return really could make for a better catching situation than was had last year. It is a scenerio that must, and likely has been addressed. Don’t be so flippant over one stat, especially one that is good, not elite.

Why has Scott Posednik not been seen as an option for the outfield? Wouldn’t he have been a stronger choice than Gomes in left field?
Jason, Los Angeles

Gomes has Fenway power. He’ll be much more productive than Podsednik, who wouldn’t be a bad extra guy.

If a player is still available 8 days before Pitchers and Catchers report, he will not save your season.

(Rinse, repeat…)

Is it safe to say that Ben Cherington’s tenure has been a complete disaster? Every time I looked at TV last year I was witness to a former Sox player blowing up and absolutely killing it with another team, like Josh Reddick.
Shane, New Orleans
Can’t be worse than last year, can it? I think they’ll be a middle of the pack team and they might surprise if everything goes right. If you believe in karma, they are due. As for Reddick, go back to when the trade was made. Anybody really getting upset they traded Reddick for a closer with two All-Star seasons? Don’t remember the outrage then. Just know the outrage occurred after Reddick took off and Bailey got hurt. Trades tend to take a while to fully evaluate. Lets watch Reddick this year and see how Bailey pitches.

Cafardo uses a lot of contractions for a “pro.”

Reddick was .215/.256/.391 for a weak .647 in the second half (arbitrary end point!). That is Jose Iglesias stuff. Admittedly, the A’s seem to have won that trade, but Cherington also made the trade that may have saved the next decade in loosing us from “Sexy” Carl Crawford, “Sexy” Adrian Gonzalez, and Formerly “Sexy” Josh Beckett. (I made a “Tito wrote a book joke…).

I do not believe in karma when it comes to baseball, I believe in skill. And giving a GM more than one year.

I cannot believe Cafardo answered this one.

Why didn’t the Sox try to get Youkilis back to play first instead of Napoli, especially with the hip issue for Napoli. He may have wanted to come back to Boston instead of NY. Also, do you think there will be another trade for a 1B/OF type?
Bryan, Maine
They had moved on from Youkilis and Youkilis had moved on from them. Obviously the Red Sox felt Napoli was perfectly suited for Fenway with his bat. At the time Youkilis was traded, Adrian Gonzalez was the first baseman and Will Middlebrooks came on like gangbusters, and Bobby Valentine really felt he was going to be a special player. So they gave the job to Middlebrooks. They were more and more concerned that Youkilis was starting to break down and his numbers had declined for three seasons. He seems like a nice fit for the Yankees, who need his plate discipline to replace Nick Swisher’s ability to see a lot of pitches. And obviously he replaced A-Rod.

Wait, Youkilis is broke down, but seems like a nice fit for the Yankees? That makes no sense….oh, wait…Jeter, A-Rod, Pineda, Gardner…touche, Cafardo. I see what you did there!

I think Ryan Sweeney is an improvement over Kalish. Your opinion? And, I doubt Jose Iglesias will hit sufficiently. Why do they not trade him? Is it difficult to unload him?
Vicente, Jamundi, Colombia

Sweeney is a good defender and a singles hitter. He’s frustrating in that he’s a big guy with no power, but not a bad player and one who could be and should be a fourth or fifth outfielder. Better than Kalish? I guess we won’t know. You have to feelbad for Kalish, who will now miss almost two years of his career with injuries, so we still have no idea how good he is or could be. As for Iglesias, he’s not hard to trade but the Red Sox have invested almost $8 million in him, so they’re hesitant to deal him away when he starts to get good. His bat is improving. It may never be average, but his glove is tremendous and that’s what I love to watch.

We know nothing about Kalish. Nothing. Do not call Sweeney better than him until we see at least one full, healthy season of Kalish in the bigs. Until then, we do not know who he is.

Have you seen Iglesias field? That is why we hold on to him. And pray that a man who still does not have 1,000 minor league at bats learns to become passable at the plate.

Did you see the Giants won the World Series with Brandon Crawford at SS? No matter that Fox broadcast told you, he is not good (at least yet). He is a great defender who is moderately passable at the plate. There is hope to be a good team with Igleasias involved, and as Cafardo rightly notes, you do not give up on players you have $8m invested in before they get a honest shot.

I look at the off-season moves of the Jays and Mariners and wonder whether Ben Cherington could have made a comparable offer to the Marlins of prospects for Johnson, Buerhle, and Reyes (as well as signing Melky Cabrera as a free agent)? Would this have cost the Sox any more than they spent on Gomes, Drew, and Victorino? I also look at Seattle’s role in the Morse trade which consisted of sending a catcher to Oakland for Alex Coles and wonder why Cherington could not have engineered a comparable deal directly with Oakland? What does he intend to do with
three catchers?
Jim, New York
Cherington is merely trying to put the best people around him. That’s the key to any GM’s success. San Francisco is the best example. A bunch of old school baseball guys surrounding Brian Sabean who really know the game and trust each other. That’s what you need. Cherington did make a bid for Reyes and Johnson, but wasn’t willing to give up the top tier prospects like Bradley and Bogaerts to make it happen. As for Morse, once they knew they were going to sign Napoli, Morse didn’t make sense anymore because he bats righthanded. They did explore it while they were trying to work out the Napoli situation. At the end of the day, Napoli is the guy
they wanted in that role, nobody else.

One person thinks Cherington is a failure, the other wants him to compound the Red Sox problems by trading top prospects for more expensive veterans whose team is content to let them go. As Brian Cashman is known to say, “If I listened to the fans, I would soon be sitting with them.”

Adieu. And Michael Morse and Brian Sabean are both way overrated. Google it.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Thinks Pedro deserved the MVP and that Justin Verlander did not, that Dwight Evans was better than Jim Rice, that Marty Barrett was a worthy choice as favorite Red Sox player when I was a child, that J.D. Drew was very good for the Olde Towne Team, that Fenway Sports group owning Liverpool is not a proper reason to support that loathsome soccer club, that Peter Gammons needs a key lock on his cell phone, still thinks that Nomar Garciaparra is better than Derek Jeter, and that, finally, there is no such thing as being completely bias-free. When not writing about or watching the Red Sox, I moonlight as a father, a husband, a pastor, a doctoral candidate, an infielder and #2 hitter on the church softball team, soccer fan, Disney pass holder, snark manufacturer, and pizza connoisseur. Free time free since 2001.

2 Responses to “Cafardo Mail Bag Fun!” Subscribe

  1. Patrick February 5, 2013 at 8:13 AM #

    Beane never traded Foulke. He traded FOR Foulke, though.


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