Regarding the "rivalry" between Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, who are both fantastic players, it seems that Coco is putting the numbers up where it matters at this crucial stage of the season. How do you see it panning out?
-- Darren W., Wakefield, England
As long as J.D. Drew remains out of the lineup, both players should continue to see plenty of time. In hindsight, it was a smart move of general manager Theo Epstein not to deal Crisp, because he has been invaluable from a depth standpoint. There have been several times when the Red Sox had injuries, and it created more at-bats for Crisp. Also, Ellsbury has been inconsistent on offense -- another reason why it's been important to still have Crisp around.
What do you think Ellsbury's chances are for winning a Gold Glove? It seems like he makes a great play almost every night.
-- Aaron A., New York, N.Y.
I was just having a heated debate about this with my esteemed co-worker, Mr. Spencer Fordin, the Orioles beat writer for MLB.com. Spencer wasn't grasping how special Ellsbury's defense has been this year and I was trying to tell him about it, but he still wasn't buying it. The problem with the Gold Glove Award is that you can't measure it with statistics. Therefore, the coaches and managers who vote are trying to do so by memory when they can't possibly monitor what each fielder around the league has done on a nightly basis. As deserving as Ellsbury is, he's no more deserving than Crisp was last year, and Coco did not win.
What happened with Curt Schilling? I know that he had surgery, but I'm wondering if he has officially retired. Has he or will he be looking for a contract with a Major League club in 2009?
-- Brett H., Portsmouth, N.H.
As of August, Schilling's stance -- in multiple interviews or blog entries -- was that he was heavily leaning toward retirement. His status is already cemented as one of the best big-game pitchers of all time. I'm not sure what else Curt has to prove at this point and time. He also has his own business and an active family life, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is it. Then again, I also wouldn't surprised if the competitive fire that made him such a great pitcher kicks in again, prompting him to make one last effort to pitch for someone.
I was looking back at your Feb. 25 mailbag, and came across a question about rookie impact. You mentioned we should watch for Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie to have some sort of impact. Boy, you were right on.
-- Aaron B., Hartford, Conn.
Yes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. In all honesty, I was just trying to be logical about which prospects seemed to be climbing the ladder, and those two guys came to mind. But even I underestimated the profound impact both of those players would have on the 2008 Red Sox.
Have a question about the Red Sox?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Red Sox beat reporter Ian Browne for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
When a player gets traded to another team midseason (i.e. Jason Bay), why don't his stats carry over to the new team?
-- Mike H., Dracut, Mass.
The interesting thing is that when a player is traded from one American League team to another, or one National League team to another, the stats carry over. But when a player is traded from one league to the other, the stats stay separate. I could see this making sense in the days before Interleague Play. But now that there is Interleague, I don't get why the stats can't carry over from league to league. Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine also.
Do you think the Red Sox will keep Julio Lugo after this year, because I've noticed how well Lowrie has played.
-- Kyle G., Goffstown, N.H.
It will be an interesting dilemma for sure. Lugo has two years left on a contract that pays him $9 million per season. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to move him over the winter, even if it means picking up a good chunk of the salary. But the determination they will have to make on Lowrie is whether they view him as a full-time shortstop, or if they project him as someone who could play all over the infield, a super utility player if you will. Lowrie, of course, can also play second and third base, but as long as Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell are around, there isn't a vacancy there.
How much longer do you think Tim Wakefield will pitch and will he end his career in Boston?
-- Jay B., Woburn, Mass.
The answer to the second question is easy. Yes, he will finish his career with the Red Sox. The first question is far harder to gauge. Wakefield, when you look at his numbers and his salary ($4 million per season), remains one of the great bargains in the game. Part of the package with Wakefield the last three seasons has been late-season injuries. But even with that, he still provides the innings and quality starts necessary to make him an invaluable member of the team. I'd say that as long as Wakefield keeps pitching effectively, the Red Sox will find a spot for him. There's just no way of telling -- at least not without a crystal ball -- how long that will be.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.