No, really. Nick Cafardo, in his weekly mail bag, said “The Red Sox are definitely in a state of need at the moment.” And that is not to say that anyone thinks that this team is perfect – the 1998 Yankees they are not – but you would have given your next paycheck for an assurance that the Red Sox had the best record in the American League at the break this season (especially after the debacle that was 2012).

But the media, especially in Boston, needs drama. They need controversy. They need us asking about trading Lester and trading our deep farm system in inane trade concepts that would make Bill Simmons proud. This is how they keep their jobs and push their agenda.

This team has begun contending at least one year earlier than anticipated. Exciting help is on the way from the minors – perhaps at the end of this season, perhaps mid-2014 – and the future looks even better than the present. Why declare the Red Sox in a state of need? The truth is that the Red Sox may be the best positioned franchise in baseball when you assess Major League roster, Minor League talent, financial muscle, fan base size, and front office vision.

There are obvious problems: long relief, Third Base, the inevitable Jose Iglesias regression, the roller coaster that is Andrew Bailey, and concern as to whether or not David Ortiz will ever age. There are issues here, but saying the team is in a state of need is a stretch. It is in a stage of want. 2012 was a state of need. Does the Boston media (looking at you, too, CHB) remember last year? Can we enjoy a resurgence one year later?

Well, what else can Nick Cafardo scrape off the bottom of the barrel?

Should the Red Sox part ways with Jon Lester while he still has some value?
Mark, Cambridge

Only if it’s part of a package where you’re getting a comparable pitcher back. Not sure that type of deal exists. There would be no shortage of teams lined up for him. Lester is very popular among scouts of other teams.

So by comparable package, do you mean another pitcher who is closing in on 30 years old, has a decreasing ERA+ and K/9, and increasing WHIP? Maybe the point of the question is that if his popularity with scouts – especially when there are significant
sample sizes screaming a different reality – means that this is the peak of his value…a a value more perceived than real.

I am not saying that Lester should be traded, but he has never been an ace and is slipping rapidly from #2 starter into #3/#4 starter territory. If we can still get return on a perception of Lester as #2 starter, that would be a deal that would have to be considered.

The Sox have a glaring hole at third and need a middle of the order hitter to protect Ortiz and stop the intentional walks. The Mets are tanking again and I think David Wright would be a perfect fit for this team. He hates hitting at  Citi Field and he is still young enough to justify trading two great prospects for him. Any chance the Sox are interested and can pry him away from the Mets?
Steve, Branford, Conn.
David Wright is the face of their team so I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Red Sox have good options at third base in the future. While they may seek a stop-gap like Michael Young, they have Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, and Garin Cecchini who can play third and all have promise as hitters. Don’t think Citi Field is an issue with him anymore. He signed a big contract to play there, so it can’t be that bad.

#cuegratuitoustradeforMichaelYoungreference LOL OMG XOXOXOX (Credit Flickr, Keith Allison)

Michael Young is 36 years old. He is brutal defensively. He is a singles hitter, more or less, that posts poor OBP. What is the media – and let’s be honest, not just Boston media fascination – with Michael Young? For me, I see a guy that we are told is the consummate teammate, but all I remember is him asking for trades when management has asked him to move positions for the sake of the team. I have a hard time rectifying those facts.

Were the Red Sox in the hunt to sign Yasiel Puig when he was available?
Chris, South Boston
Yes. They didn’t want to get into the $40 million range with him so they dropped out.

I don’t want to go all Nancy Negative, but as exciting as he has been, I anticipate that we will be glad we did not pay that much for him. Unless he figures out how to take a walk or hit a cut off man.

What will it take before the Sox realize that Mike Napoli is more liability than asset? I went to the final game in Anaheim and saw up close and personal the body language and how the other infielders react to Napoli as he throws them grounders between innings. He is practically lifeless and was actually ignored. I think he’s basically collecting a paycheck and going through the motions. People talk about Papi getting lots of free passes because he’s so dangerous. He’s getting free passes because the opposition sees Napoli for what he is: A strikeout waiting to happen. Do the Red Sox/Farrell not see this?
Dana, Los Angeles
I hope you’re not basing your opinion of Napoli after seeing him one game in person. Teammates really like him. He’s having a tough stretch right now and they need him to pick it up and perform as he did early in the season. He’s certainly not just going through the motions as you say. The opposition may see him as a strikeout waiting to happen, but they should also see him as a player who has 56 RBI. He’s been up and down. The strikeouts drive everyone crazy, including himself, but don’t ignore his potential to drive in runs. In that area, the statistics show he’s done the job.

Somebody get Cafardo a link to baseball reference! All he needs to do is point out Napoli’s .344 OBP, at the break, in spite of this prolonged slump – that is consistent with last year’s .343 OBP. His strikeout rate is worse than last year, but not light years worse (he is 60 plate appearances short of what he had all of last season already) Also, in spite of learning a new position, BR has him at a positive dWAR (0.3)

At the All Star break, he is already a 2 win player, which means he will likely end the season as a 3-4 win player, and that is with projecting him to continue his current pace and giving him no grace to project a hot streak to counter-act the current slump.

See, I just defended Napoli without mentioning his vague ability to “drive in runs.”


There seems to be a lot of discrepancies between what the umpires are calling this year compared to what the Amica pitch zone indicates (on television). Is it the umpires or the Amica pitch zone?
Charlie, Lincoln, Del.
Great question. An umpire supervisor (the ones who evaluate umpires on a daily basis) told me the Amica pitch zone is not accurate and that fans get too hung up on it. He said the Amica box doesn’t give an accurate read of a ball or strike as the ball passes through the zone.

That could be the utter truth, but of course the umpire supervisor said that. Of course he did, he would never say anything different. But, is it the truth? That remains the question. Not that I trust Amica to be the final authority, but let’s be honest, the more data, HD cameras, and technology we have, the more we have legitimate reason to question the umpires.

Should the Red Sox trade Drew and bring Middlebrooks back up? I say yes.
Steve, Albuquerque, NM
Drew needs to show he can stay healthy before anyone deals for him. So the answer is no for now.

What a weird question, as the two issues are not intrinsically linked. Neither are on the 25 man roster right now, so neither is blocking the other. But my counter question is this: why do people hate depth so much? So what if we have options at SS and 3b and they get a little testy about playing time? Isn’t the competition better than watching Mauro Gomez man the hot corner?

Seems like pitchers are catching on that Ortiz is the only power threat (with Middlebrooks at AAA) in the lineup, and have walked him a ton. I know the Sox are looking for a third baseman, but Michael Young would be yet another powerless player. What are your thoughts on trading for Aramis Ramirez, Trevor Plouffe, or even Chase Headley?
Ryan, Sharon
As I wrote earlier, the Red Sox’ future third base situation is very encouraging so they don’t need any permanent third base solution. If they can pick up Young, that would be ideal for them. Ramirez makes $16 million next year. Headley isn’t having a good year and you’d have to give up a lot to acquire him and then have to worry about signing him when he becomes a free agent after 2014. Again, you have players who are probably going to be better than Headley in Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.

At some point Michael Young is going to be compelled to call the local law enforcement and report a stalking incident.

Middlebrooks is tearing it up in the minors and it’s decision time. Is it time to try and move Drew?
Jeff, Fairfield Maine
I don’t think it’s decision time on Middlebrooks. They want to keep him down there for a while. The team likes Drew quite a bit, so I’m not sure they’re in a hurry to move him. By end of this month they may start to formulate some thoughts about this. But they can always trade Drew in August .

How did this question appear twice in the same mail bag? It is almost the exact same question as two earlier. Wow.

Why don’t the Red Sox move Jose Iglesias up in the batting order to the lead off or No. 2 slot?
Al, Commack, NY
They don’t want to put too much pressure on him. They like that “second” leadoff man at the bottom of the order. It’s good thinking and it’s worked out fine. He’s flourished. Why change that?

[Editorial Note: the author of this blog post has had an unnatural love for Jose Iglesias for years. It is irrational, and he is so enjoying Iglesias being a Red Sox, dominating at the plate and in the field. Really, it is irrational and cannot be overrstated how much he loves Jose Iglesias. For three spring trainings now, he has told everyone in sight about how much he loves Iglesaias and that this is the year he breaks out.]

This is a dumb question. Igleasis is as good as Al thinks he is because of blind luck. Heard of BABIP? Iglesias wrote that stat. Literally, he created the mathematical formula because deep in his soul he had to admit that he was not the Hall of Famer some fans want to make him out to be. It was cleansing, really, to admit his luck.

Lead off, Al? Over Jacoby Ellsbury? Is that really necessary? Second? You really do think that this is Iglesias is as a hitter, don’t you? If this is no a sample size issue, that is amazing. That would be AMAZING. Iglesias could literally be the best player EVER, considering the elite defense at THE premium defensive position and the .400+ OBP. But, be honest, he is a number 9 hitter through and through and any bit of luck or hit streak is icing on the cake that is Iglesias’ defense.

Or he is a second lead off hitter. He may be that, too, Nick. Oh Nick, you are always good for a laugh…