Carl  Crawford

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not being around much lately. In the middle of a wonderful weekend in New York City, I managed to suffer a scratched cornea. Yes, that’s about as comfortable as it sounds. After several days of having blurry vision, irritation, excessive watering, and swelling; I am back to normal once again. No longer am I donning my Harry Potter eye glasses, so life is good.

This week with Cafardo’s mailbag, we’re immediately greeted with some gushing about Bobby V.  “Bobby V bashers seem to be in hibernation,” he exclaims.  While this is true both throughout Red Sox Nation and our beloved mailbag, this seems to be true for two simple reasons:  (1) the Red Sox are winning, and (2) Valentine’s decision making process seems to be a lot more…what’s the word I’m looking for…sane?  Yes, sane.  Reasonable would also work as well. 

He’s no longer batting Mike Aviles leadoff everyday, which is always a good thing.  He seems to be more cognizant of the obvious warning signs that a starting pitcher is done for the day.  Lastly, he seems to be using his bullpen much more logically–although his unnatural love for throwing Vicente Padilla into the fire in the most crucial of situations (inherited runner stats be damned!) is most confusing.  Things are looking up for both Bobby V and the Red Sox.  Before we jump into the bag, I’d like to point out this quote from Cafardo:

“So the Bobby V bashers are resting. It’s so hard for them not to be the center of attention. But I’m sure, we’ll hear from them again.”

I’m not sure if Cafardo is being clever by poking fun at Valentine, or if this is an example of his unbelievable mancrush inducing bias.  Yes, Valentine bashers love to be the center of attention, but no one loves it more than Valentine himself.   I really hope it’s the former, but I have a feeling it’s the latter.

On to the mailbag!

Has anyone floated the possibility of Carl Crawford needing Tommy John surgery to repair his UCL tear? The pace of his recovery from his elbow problem has been pretty slow and I’m wondering if this is something the team is considering.

Granted, I don’t have any of Cafardo’s contacts, but I haven’t heard anyone credible mention this as a viable option.  That said, it’s certainly a possibility if Crawford’s elbow conditions worsen.  Nick mentioned Rocco Baldelli as an example of a player that had a similar injury, but recovered through traditional rehab.  Albert Pujols is another, although his UCL is/was partially torn whereas Crawford’s is sprained. 

It’s certainly a possibility, but I’d have to imagine it’d be a nuclear bomb option only as Tommy John surgery would make him completely unavailable for the rest of the season.

The Reds need a third baseman and leadoff hitter, so would they be interested in Kevin Youkilis?

With Scott Rolen out indefinitely (and playing very poorly), it would seem the Reds would need a third baseman.  Also, with Zach Cozart and his amazing .281 OBP batting out of the leadoff spot, it would appear they’re also in desperate need of a guy that can get on base out of that spot in the lineup.  Then again, I highly doubt Baker would hit Youk leadoff as Dusty Baker has a penchant for batting the worst OBP guys on the planet leading off.  (Seriously, Baker almost seems like a parody of himself at this point.  So cliche.)

Nevertheless, trading Youk seems a little premature.  With Crawford, Cody Ross, and Jacoby Ellsbury still out, the Red Sox kind of need (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) Adrian Gonzalez playing in right field most nights.  This means Youk needs to play first.  We need to get a few guys off of the DL first before any realistic discussions about trading Youkilis can begin.

Why don’t the Red Sox try Will Middlebrooks at second base until Dustin Pedroia is OK to play?

Cafardo 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 ago. 

Look guys, we can’t just move players from position to position.  It doesn’t work that way.  Just because a guy can play third, it doesn’t mean he can play the other three infield positions–or outfield positions for that matter.  This doesn’t mean a player can’t learn, but it takes a lot of time to master the position.  Moving Middlebrooks, the Red Sox best prospect all around the diamond might be one of the worst ideas ever. 

First of all, Middlebrooks is still learning how to hit Major League hitting.  He’s gone through a minor stretch where he’s struggled, but nothing significant yet.  He will, though.  I can promise you that much.  The last thing we need is for him to try to learn a new position (one he’s either never played before or hasn’t in several years),. while trying make significant adjustments at the plate. 

Is video footage used by the league to review umpires’s performances? Did the guy who made such a bad call with Todd Helton being off the bag get any discipline?

Umpires are reviewed after every game, but I’m not aware of disciplinary action.  I’m sure there must be some (even if its demerits toward postseason umpiring), but typically those kinds of things are handled confidentially.  The only umpire suspension I can remember is Bob Davidson’s recent suspension for poor “situation handling.” 

Are the shoe companies doing anything to develop a shoe that will protect batters from the foul balls that put Pedroia on the DL for most of a season and now has Cody Ross on the shelf? I realize players need the flexibility to run, but there is no flexion between the ankle and the base of the toes. Doesn’t seem to me to be that much of a challenge considering the costs.

Really great question, but I don’t know the answer to that one.  Seems like a good idea.

Whatever happened to Bobby Jenks?

After his nearly tragic back surgery and bizarre DUI situation during Spring Training, I think it’s safe to say his career with the Red Sox is over.  To be fair, it’s not as if the team needs him.  The bullpen is unbelievably solid right now, and Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Junichi Tazawa, and Clay Mortenson are all in reserve. 

With the numbers that the Sox’ 20-million plus first baseman is putting up, why has there been so little negative press about his total lack of production relative to other team members. If he keeps it up, he’ll make the Carl Crawford of 2011 seem like a bargain.

I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m bashing my head against my desk right now.  Where do these people come from?  Seriously.  A-Gon is going to make 2011 Crawford seem like a bargain?  Really?  They’re making practically the same amount of money, yet 2012 A-Gon is outproducing 2011 Crawford by 17% per wRC+.  That’s a pretty significant difference.  Has A-Gon underperformed?  Absolutely.  But to criticize the Boston media for not bringing negative press on him is absolutely ridiculous. 

Just a couple of questions.  How much more negative press do you need from the media?  Haven’t we had enough over the top, irrational stories hit Red Sox Nation over the past nine months? 

Why doesn’t Ortiz practice bunting down the third base line to keep the opponents honest with their shift? A sure hit will continue rallies, especially if they have a bunt and run going.

I can see it being a good idea in the most specific of situations, but generally bunting is a bad idea.  Why greatly increase your chances of creating an out when you have your best hitter at the plate.  Sure, Ortiz might get on base via a bunt, but I’m much rather take the chance he hits a double or home run by swinging away.

You say David Ortiz should get a two-year contract. Why? He is the most overpaid DH in the AL.

If by overpaid, you mean the most productive and valuable full-time DH in baseball; then yes, I completely agree.  I will say, thought, that I’m happy to have him on a one year deal rather than a two year deal.  It’ll make him tougher to retain in 2013, but it was absolutely the right move to make at the time it was made.  It was impossible to project a 36 year old hitting better than he did when he was 35.

What player from last year’s team — not that there was much success there — do the Sox miss most this year? I’m only asking about players no longer with team, not players on the DL. My pick right now might be Josh Reddick.

There wasn’t much success on 2011’s team?  Really?  They did win 90 games last year, which was the same number as the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals won.  They did have an impressive 81-41 stretch as well.  No, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to (far from it), but to say there wasn’t much success shows your completely and utter lack of perspective.

On to your question.  I miss Jonathan Papelbon the most, but not his douchier moments.  I loved the intensity he brought to the mound.  Don’t get me wrong.  Alfredo Aceves has been a welcome surprise, but Paps is a top five guy. 

To be honest, the player I miss the most right now is Adrian Beltre.  Yes, that was 2010’s team, but I loved the guy.  So talented and super underrated.

This year in spring training, the Red Sox had an infielder by the name of Pedro Ciriaco who hit and fielded extremely well. Is he still in the Sox system, and if he is, why isn’t he on the team instead of Nick Punto?

He is still in the farm system, and playing in Pawtucket.  I wouldn’t take too much stock in his Spring Training stats as they’re typically meaningless.  He’s hitting .297/.316/.386 right now, which is actually above his career minor league rates.  At 26, he’s unlikely to improve.  Trading him out for Punto would essentially be a wash.   Then again, he could be this year’s Nick Green.  Who knows?

Also, Punto is signed through the end of 2013.  Releasing him may not make the most sense at this point.  I stress the word “may.”