And we’re back!  Nick Cafardo returns with his amazingly amusing mail bag!  This week’s questions are just as eye-roll inducing as the ones we’ve seen over the last two weeks.  Rather than keep you waiting, I’m going to jump right in to answer his mail.  As always, I’ve omitted the names to protect the guilty.  If you really want to find out who wrote each question, you can always click on the link, I guess.

Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering, I do like Cafardo.  I think he’s a dynamite reporter that puts together a hell of a “Sunday Notes” column.  That said, the questions he’s forced to answer are absolute trainwrecks in most cases.  Being the kind guy I am, I answer the questions in the way, I’d like to think Nick would like to answer them–with a ton of snark.  Without further adieu, here’s the mail bag.

Without John Lackey this upcoming season, and few viable options for the fifth spot in the pitching rotation, would the Red Sox consider bringing Tim Wakefield back?

Yes and no.  Yes, they could.  No, they shouldn’t.  Wakefield is about to enter his age-46 season, and he hasn’t been an effective pitcher in quite some time.  As much as I love the knuckleballer, it’s time for him to move on.  We already have a better swingman on our roster, and his name is Alfredo Aceves.

Do you think the Sox will have any interest in Grady Sizemore or Chris Snyder?

This is a pretty good question.  As Charlie mentioned the other day, Sizemore was a pretty tremendous player from 2005-2008 before he got hurt; registering 27.4 fWAR during that time.  He was a perennial All-Star with MVP upside that combined power, speed, and tremendous defensive abilities to control every aspect of the game.  Given his immense talent and relatively young age, I’d take a shot on him for the right price.  He’s bound to be undervalued salary wise, and could bring back a huge return on investment.

Snyder’s a name that’s been linked to Boston for the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, despite his skills, I don’t see how he’d fit with the team as it’s currently constructed.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the starting catcher, and Ryan Lavarnway appears poised to seize the role at some point in the near future.  Trading for Snyder now would only create a roadblock for Lavarnway.

My choice to fill the manager job would be someone who commands displine, like Rick Burleson, Dave Righetti, or Bobby Valentine. What are your choices or thoughts?

While I think a degree of discipline is required, I hardly think Bobby Valentine should be considered a paragon of discipline.  You know, especially in light of the Mets having a “porn room” in their clubhouse during his tenure in New York.  If you think fried chicken, beer, and video games makes players sluggish…

Any thoughts on trading Adrian Gonzalez and signing Albert Pujols?

Seriously, Ira of Boca Raton, you’ve lost your privilege to ask questions about baseball.  Oops…so much for protecting the guilty.

In the aftermath of 2011, I heard a comment or two about the medical staff being part of the re-evaluation. Does this include strength/conditioning as well as injury treatment staff? I still believe the Jacoby Ellsbury 2010 and Clay Buchholz 2011 incidents were examples of missed or poor quality initial diagnoses.

If the medical and conditioning staffs aren’t being reviewed, I would certainly like to know why.  Lowrie, Ellsbury, and Buchholz have all been misdiagnosed by the medical staff in recent years.  While diagnostic mistakes occur on every team, the ones happening with the Red Sox have had long-term impacts on the players in question.  I don’t know if firing the medical staff and bringing in new blood is the silver bullet, but it’s worth examining…no pun intended.

How about trading Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick and Lars Anderson for Madison Bumgarner?

Why would anyone want to trade a utility infielder, a fourth outfielder, and a quad-A first baseman for a stud 22 year old lefty starter that produced a 2.67 FIP last year?  Exactly.  Look, I’m one of the biggest Brian Sabean haters on the planet, and even I don’t think he’s that dumb.

How about trading Josh Beckett or Jon Lester and Jose Iglesias and Lars Anderson to Seattle for Felix Hernandez?

How about keeping your questions to yourself?  Seriously though, this is a bad trade.  First of all, obtaining King Felix from the Mariners for Jon Lester is a terrible idea.  You’re roughly gaining a 0.5 win per season while taking on an additional $30M in salary.  With Beckett it makes a little bit more sense for the Red Sox, but absolutely none for the Mariners.  Hernandez still has the bulk of his prime to look forward to, while Beckett’s is probably near the end. Plus, adding in a no-hit shortstop and a quad-A first baseman that can hit neither lefties nor a major league breaking ball, actually hurts your offer.

Seriously people, it’s time to give up your dreams of one day becoming a major league GM.  You’d be fired on day one.

If David Ortiz signed somewhere else, would the Red Sox make Youkilis the DH and bring up Will Middlebrooks to start at third base?

I think the Red Sox would probably move Youkilis from 3B to DH, while installing a 3B platoon between Mike Aviles and Jed Lowrie (provided he’s not traded to San Francisco for Bumgarner–LOL!) for 2012.  With the third base market being so weak, this would probably be the best case scenario.

As for Middlebrooks, he still needs a full season in AAA.  Last year, he accumulated only 60 PAs at that level, and exhibited terrible plate discipline (18/3 K/BB).  He has a ton of potential, but he still has a lot of development ahead of him.  At only 23 years of age, there’s no reason to rush him.

Among the manager candidates, the one who intrigues me the most is Tampa’s Dave Martinez because his familiarity with Carl Crawford may help Crawford going forward. I realize you don’t base a decision solely on that, but do you think that is something that Ben Cherrington will take into consideration?

While Dave Martinez is one of my top two managerial choices (the other being Pete Mackanin), I don’t see how his familiarity with Crawford would help get more out of him going forward.  Crawford had a bad season, plain and simple.  He pressed at the plate early on, and got into some bad habits.  Word is that he’s working very hard on returning to form for next season.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put together a 5 WAR season next year.

I propose this trade: Kevin Youkilis and Josh Reddick to the Phillies for RHP Vance Worley. Your thoughts?

You people baffle me.  Seriously.  Worley put in a nice season, but he’s not someone that could pull both Youkilis AND Reddick in return.  I realize Youk’s about to enter his age-33 season, but he’s still an incredibly productive player.  He’s produced 19.7 fWAR over the past four seasons, which makes him the 15th most valuable position player during that time.  Furthermore, Worley’s only been in the majors for one season, and he never appeared on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list.  Don’t you think you’re underselling Youk just a little bit?

Does Ben Cherington have the nerve to tell Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield their time is up? Have the Sox given up on Andrew Miller?

He better.  Both players are past their usefullness, and need to go.

As for Miller, I’m not sure if they’ve given up on him.  If he’s willing to sign a minor league deal, they might bring him back.  If not, they’ll probably let him walk.

Opinion Under Ben Cherington’s watch, will Bill James’ role change significantly; will it be lessened? Also what are the odds of DeMarlo Hale being back as bench coach?

The role of the statisticians will not change.  Like it or not, owner John Henry is a big proponent of statistical analysis.  It’s unlikely he would have agreed to hire Cherington if he was averse to using statistics in his decision making process.  I suspect they’ll continue to have a big role with the team.

I honestly don’t have a clue about what will happen with Hale.  Typically, that sort of decision is left up to the incoming manager.  If Dale Sveum gets the job, I’d wager that Hale has a good shot at staying on board.  If it’s Mackanin or someone else, perhaps not.  I don’t have a good feel for the situation.

Please tell us that the Sox will not make the mistake of signing the injury prone Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes-type players.

Beltran hasn’t been injury prone until recently.  Prior to the 2009 season, he played in at least 140 games eight seasons in a row.  In fact, he played in 142 between the Mets and Giants last year.  Provided the Red Sox can sign him to a reasonable deal, I’d love to have a 4-5 win player patrolling right field for the next couple of years.

Reyes, on the other hand, will not be coming to Boston.  That ship sailed when the team agreed to pick up Marco Scutaro‘s $6M option for 2012.