Inbox: How will Salty fare next season?
Beat reporter Ian Browne answers Red Sox fans' questions
If he takes over the newly open catcher's role, how will Jarrod Saltalamacchia affect our team offensively, defensively and as a leader?
-- Jake R., Westport, Conn.
There's really no way to answer that until you throw someone into the fire, which is what the Red Sox did with a young player named Jason Varitek in the late 1990s. Now it might be time to do the same wth Saltalamacchia. Boston's front office has long liked Saltalamacchia's skill set, both on offense and defense. The main reason Saltalamacchia hasn't reached his potential is because he hasn't stayed healthy. He will need to prove next year that he can do that. In getting to know him towards the end of last season, the club thought very highly of Saltalamacchia's work ethic and attitude.
Do you think that there is any possibility that the Red Sox could sign Derek Jeter? I have been ridiculed for having such a thought, but he could be a big help and it would certainly spice up the Sox/Yanks rivalry.
-- Brandon D., Salisbury, Mass.
Sorry to put a damper on this spicy scenario, but I don't see it. The Red Sox aren't going to allocate millions and millions of dollars to Jeter, who is 36 years old, albeit a likely Hall of Famer. Jeter's value is far greater to the Yankees than any other team because of his iconic status in New York.
What are the chances of Jayson Werth or Adrian Gonzalez coming to the Sox? Also, is there a chance of putting a trade together including Daisuke Matsuzaka or J.D. Drew?
-- John S., Rocky Hill, Conn.
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The Red Sox will monitor the market for Werth, just like they did for Matt Holliday last winter. It all depends on what the price ends up being. It is no secret how perfect a fit Gonzalez would be in a Boston uniform, so the Red Sox's front office will keep close tabs if he is put up for auction. Given how hard it is to get pitching, the Sox could certainly find a home for Matsuzaka if they wanted to, and if Dice-K agreed to waive his no-trade clause. As for Drew, the club is on the hook for $14 million for him next year, so I think the club will just ride it out with him for the last year of his contract.
I believe Varitek is still an important asset to the team. His offensive numbers were pretty good as a backup catcher, and he still has amazing defensive skills and is a great mentor. So, are the Red Sox going to re-sign him?
-- Michael B., Lynn, Mass.
The chances of a Varitek return certainly went up a little when Victor Martinez signed with the Tigers. As much as Varitek has loved playing for the Red Sox, he will gauge the market and see what the best fit is for him. Boston will do the same. But there could definitely be worse scenarios for the Sox than keeping Varitek around to mentor Saltalamacchia.
With Clay Buchholz's potential finally coming to fruition last year, do you think he now deserves the No. 2 slot in the rotation, giving Josh Beckett a chance to bounce back as the No. 3 starter?
-- Chris O., Waco, Texas
Those numbers are purely semantics. The only time they really have any value is the first turn in the rotation during the regular season and in the postseason. Other than that, the starting pitchers rarely pitch in a set order. It all gets scrambled up by off-days and best possible matchups, etc. What every team wants is to have five pitchers it can count on all the way through the rotation. That is what the Sox thought they would get last year, but it didn't quite work out that way. The teams that win the World Series are usually the ones that have that strong five.
What's the status of Carlos Delgado? Is he still a Red Sox player? If so, do you see him playing any part in 2011?
-- Patrick W., Mexico
Delgado is a free agent again. I don't believe there is any fit with the Red Sox. He was basically signed last August because of the injury to Kevin Youkilis. Unfortunately, Delgado again hurt his hip and never made it to Fenway.
If the Dodgers were to non-tender him, could Russell Martin be worth a shot at catcher?
-- Seb A., Wareham, Mass.
His production has declined steadily the last few years and he's coming off a serious injury. Unless the price tag drops so sharply that it's a no-brainer, I don't see Martin winding up in Boston.
Dice-K had a tough season when he came from Japan in 2007, had an awesome season in '08 and hasn't been the same since. Do you think he will get back to '08 form? That is what the Red Sox need from him.
-- Rosie C., Wellesley, Mass.
I disagree with your assessment on 2007. The Red Sox would gladly take that type of year (15 wins, 201 strikeouts, wins in Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 3 of the World Series) again. But you're right about the last two years. Dice-K has lacked durability and consistency, and he needs to find a way to at least get back to the level he was at his first two seasons, if not exceed it. Perhaps the presence of new pitching coach Curt Young will help. This isn't to take anything away from John Farrell, who worked extremely hard with Dice-K. But sometimes when a player hits a bump in the road, a new voice can help.
My favorite Sox player has always been Dwight Evans. What is he up to? Is he still affiliated with the club?
-- Paul K., Saint John, New Brunswick
Evans still works for the Red Sox on a part-time basis and is around a decent amount during Spring Training, when he works with some of the younger players. He is also a frequent guest in the Legends Suite at Fenway Park during home games and still lives in the Boston area.
Which free agent do you think general manager Theo Epstein and the Red Sox will go after the hardest? I think we need another big bat since we're losing Martinez and possibly Adrian Beltre as well. If it were my choice, I'd go after Carl Crawford, but the question is, can we outbid the Yankees?
-- John H., Eagle River, Alaska
I think Crawford is the guy they will go after the hardest, because he has the most value of any position player on the market. I'm not sure they will have to outbid the Yankees. New York could very well be spending a great deal of money on Cliff Lee, not to mention the price it's going to take to retain Jeter.
When do you think Jose Iglesias will be the Red Sox's starting shortstop?
-- Roy H., Chapel Hill, N.C.
There's no reason to put a date on it. Nobody knows exactly what speed he will develop at. The Red Sox are fortunate to have Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie, two players who can play shortstop at the Major League level. That means they don't have to rush Iglesias. Next season could be a good target for Iglesias to reach the Major Leagues for good. But again, there's no rush.