So I had a simple thought coming into this week’s column: I wanted to do a mailbag. We’ve had a long-standing tradition here at Fire Brand of mocking Nick Cafardo’s regular mailbags, and let’s face it—those things are ridiculous. What I wanted to accomplish, then, was simple: a mailbag done right. I wanted a nice mix of humor and actual analysis – basically, everything Cafardo’s bag is not. Was that too much to ask?

Yes. Yes it was.

Things started off promising enough; there were a few legitimate questions and a fewjoke ones, enough to lighten the mood a little bit.

Then things got weird.

I won’t say any more here; you can see the results for yourself. Just keep in mind this one simple fact: every writer on this website is the worst kind of person.

With that in mind, let’s begin…


Here we go—a nice, respectable question to start things off on. Chris is not the person I would expect this from, but I’ll take it. Good on you, Chris.

I think we’re far enough along in the season that I feel comfortable saying that I believe this Red Sox team is for real. Most of the team’s offseason additions have met or surpassed expectations (with one Joel Hanrahan-sized exception), the pitching has been a revelation (especially compared to last year), and the offense is producing well.

When you factor in some weakness in the division—the Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays all have their fair share of question marks at the moment—I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say the Sox are going to be in contention for a playoff spot.

Garin Cecchini is a tantalizing prospect, but isn’t close to being ready to unseat Middlebrooks at third base.Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor.

I like Garin Cecchini quite a bit, but I think it’s important that we be patient with Will Middlebrooks here. Bear with me.

We knew the plate discipline was a problem last year when he was striking out 24.5% of the time and only walking 4.5%, and those problems have exacerbated themselves this year, as they’ve become 29.2% and 3.8%, respectively.

It’s important to note, though, that he’s just 24 years old and Cecchini hasn’t had an at-bat above Single-A ball yet in his career. There would certainly be more of a question if Cecchini were closer to the majors, but given his current situation, it would certainly seem like Middlebrooks is going to have plenty of time to work out of this funk he’s been in.

I do believe he’s better than he’s shown this year, and in a season where Chris Davis is posting numbers comparable to Miguel Cabrera, I choose to believe he can rebound from a poor plate approach. Because seriously, Chris Davis.

Umm, what?

I don’t know where this came from. Maybe it was just a fluke. Let’s just go on to the next question.


There we go: Chris delivered another decent question. Way to go, Chris.

I’m still a believer in whatever kind of voodoo Joe Maddon practices, myself. I mean, the guy has turned James Loney into a quality bat. James Loney!

Seriously, though, they’re still a very good team, and the fact that they’re hovering three games back should make Sox and Yankees fans alike very nervous. I simply refuse to buy-in to the Orioles—you can print that on my grave if you like—but slipping past the more-discussed Red Sox and Yankees for a playoff berth would just be such a Rays thing to do. I’ll be keeping my eye on them, and you should too.

I think June will be a very good indicator of this team’s progress as a whole. As I mentioned above, I’ve bought into the 2013 Sox, and I’m sticking with that. I would be elated to see us post a winning record for the month, but as our own Josh Cookson pointed out in response to this tweet, anything .500 or better would be great.


Oh no.

Guys, this was going so well!

It seems this is how it must be.

Whatever it is, it also makes for a mean spitball.


Let’s face it, the Dodgers aren’t just going to give up Kershaw for nothing. That’s just not realistic, Hunter.

Perhaps, then, this should become a three-team deal. The Sox can send Drew and Hanrahan to Seattle for Felix, Seattle can send Los Angeles… I don’t know, Jesus Montero? And LA can give us Kershaw. Everybody wins, right?

The only hesitation I have here is that I’m worried adding Hernandez and Kershaw will affect Clay Buchholz’s and Jon Lester’s ace mentalities. You don’t want them to get the idea they’re being replaced; that would be bad for team morale, and since we don’t really have a true, gritty, veteran clubhouse leader, I’m not sure we could recover from that.

Perhaps we could get the Phillies involved and add Michael Young. Considering Middlebrooks’ struggles at third base, we could be killing two birds with one veteran-savvy stone.



Cleyton Mortersan is absolutely untouchable, Ben. You know better than this.


I’m not so sure about that. It’s going to be tough to pass Derek Jeter on this list of Gold Glove candidates at first base. Jeter will probably win in centerfield, too.

/brain breaks

It took more research and contemplation than any work I’ve ever written in my life, but I consulted a list of Crayola crayon colors and settled on “Atomic Tangerine.”

For your inevitable follow-up question, Dustin Pedroia is most certainly “Laser Lemon.”

It would seem that my dreams of a legitimate, informative mailbag were never realistic, but I’ve committed to this, so it will be finished. Stay tuned next week for the “thrilling” conclusion to Fire Brand’s first (and probably last) TrollBag.

Sneak Peek at Part Two: