Is it just me, or has Big Papi seemingly lost some of his flair for the dramatic this season? I know his batting average is unusually high, but his power numbers are way down from previous years, and he just doesn't seem to carry that same swagger about him at the plate this season, in my opinion. Furthermore, he's been coming up empty in several clutch situations late in the game, which is highly unusual for him. Is it possible that this hamstring injury of his is more serious than the Red Sox and Ortiz himself have been letting on? -- Buddy D., Miramichi, NB Canada
Well, to be fair, Ortiz did set some rather outlandish standards for himself by what he's done in late-inning situations the last few years. I'm really not sure why David isn't hitting for the same power. He hasn't used the legs as an excuse. I know he's frustrated with the way he's being pitched. Part of it has to do with Manny not going on a power surge yet. But there's still a lot of season left for Ortiz to do damage.
With the little power production coming from Manny and Ortiz, I'm really thinking that the Sox will need to trade for another power threat or at least another offensive threat with the way they are scoring runs lately. I know that the homers for Ortiz and Manny will come, but it's already July and I think the Sox need more offense. -- Ethan R., Westport, Conn.
If you're ever going to make that critique, now is the time after the tepid month the Red Sox had offensively. But I think that type of thing could change in a hurry. It seems like everyone has been cold at once of late. Perhaps in time, everyone will get hot at once. If there are some impact bats on the market, I'm sure Theo Epstein will look into the asking price.
With the trade deadline getting closer, what trades do you see the Red Sox making in the upcoming weeks? -- Colby Millett, Maine
I'd look at bullpen depth as a definite area the front office will try to address. If they could get a closer-caliber reliever to come in and be another setup man alongside Okajima, it could make for a truly dominant bullpen.
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Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia are all receiving at or close to the league minimum after coming up from the farm system. After these deals are up, what is the likelihood that these guys will sign new, more lucrative deals with the Boston Red Sox? -- Taylor P., Westminster, Vt.
That's always an interesting dilemma for the player. The player has a chance to get long-term security by signing a deal now, but it's going to be at the club's terms, which probably means a discount of some sort over time. One guy I think they'll be the most proactive in trying to sign long-term is Papelbon, because dominant pitchers are so hard to find. Then again, deals with Youkilis and Pedroia would probably be easier to strike because the cost wouldn't be nearly as high.
I was just wondering, with all this talk about Jacoby Ellsbury, do you think the Red Sox will resign Coco Crisp? He has been great defensively all year, and he is finally starting to heat up with the bat. I think it would be a shame to lose such a great player. -- Tim A., Malden, Mass.
You're jumping the gun a little on that one because Crisp is actually signed through 2009 with a club option for 2010. That being said, I'm sure the Red Sox will look at the center-field situation long and hard this winter and determine what the best course of action is. Ellsbury and Crisp will both help make that decision by the way they play the rest of the year.
I've heard a lot of Jacoby Ellsbury coming to the Sox. Where will he fit in the lineup? Also, couldn't Ellsbury be compared to Cleveland's Grady Sizemore? -- Alex C., Needham, Mass.
Once Ellsbury is ready to stick for good, he is all but certain to be a leadoff hitter. I think it's a bit early to be comparing him to Grady Sizemore, who is one of the great players in the game. Just give Ellsbury time to develop and show us what type of player he is. It is certainly working for Pedroia.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.