Do you think that looking for another starting pitcher before the Trade Deadline is a priority? Do you think that Ben Cherington will be as willing to trade prospects as Theo Epstein did his last few years as general manager?
-- Tevi D., Mattapan, Mass.
The one thing that has been consistent for the Red Sox over the years is that they are pretty much always looking for a starting pitcher at the Trade Deadline. You can never have enough starting pitching if you are trying to win a World Series, so I'm sure Cherington will be exploring all options from the bold to the not-so-bold.
As for prospects, there are a handful of guys that Boston would only trade for a franchise player. Xander Bogaerts is at the top of that list. I think, in hindsight, the Sox regretted trading all those prospects to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. On the plus side, they got some back when Gonzalez was dealt to the Dodgers.
Why is it that Alfredo Aceves has changed his approach in his pitching game? I remember a couple years ago he use to change his position on the pitchers' mound depending on if it was a left- or right-handed batter.
-- Gabriel G., Lubbock, Texas
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You have asked the impossible -- to explain the method to Aceves' madness. Aceves truly is like a mad scientist on the mound. He is usually the only one who knows what he's trying to do when he makes constant adjustments with mechanics and release points. When Aceves is pitching well, everyone is humored by his unconventional style. When he struggles, that approach gets frustrating to managers, coaches, catchers and fans. Right now, Aceves seems to be back on a pretty good roll.
Is there any trade value to Stephen Drew now that Jose Iglesias has proved himself? I disagreed with Jose being sent down when Drew came off of the DL in the first place. Jose is a better fielder and hitter than Drew and has earned a shot at the everyday shortstop position.
-- Randy B., Crown Point, Ind.
Sure, Drew has value, especially because he is only on a one-year deal. I think the Red Sox are hedging their bets right now, to make sure Will Middlebrooks can settle into a good groove. If Middlebrooks can't get it going on a consistent basis, Boston could eventually decide that its best team for 2013 is Iglesias at third and Drew at short. Stay tuned. It was a good sign to see Middlebrooks homer to the opposite field on Sunday.
What are the chances that Mike Carp is Boston's first baseman next year?
-- Dan, United Kingdom
I would not rule that out at all. Carp has been one of the surprises of the season for the Red Sox, albeit in limited playing time. Carp is still young and gaining more experience, so who knows what kind of hitter he can become.
If the Red Sox were to talk to the Phillies about a Jonathan Papelbon trade, who do you see Boston giving up to acquire him?
-- Adrian G., Boston
The Red Sox would be taking on a lot of money if they made a trade like that, so I don't think the Phillies' asking price would be enormous. Maybe a B-level prospect and a Major League player. That's just a guess. That would be some kind of storyline if Papelbon came back to Boston.
I hear a lot about how the Red Sox's coaching staff works tirelessly on defensive shifts. While I love the work ethic, I very much do not buy into shifts. Prime example: the flare by Chris Davis in Friday's game is caught if the shift is off. Not only that, but the league average BABIP from 1995-2000 (.300) is almost identical to the BABIP from 2007-12 (when the shift really took off -- .299 BABIP). Why work so hard on this if the efforts essentially bear no fruit? Is this just another management fad? And when will managers and advanced scouts realize it's basically meaningless?
-- Jeremy F., Boston
I think this is more of a John Farrell-Brian Butterfield thing than a management thing. I don't think you can worry about Davis hitting a flare. The reason the Red Sox put that shift on is to encourage Davis to hit a little blooper rather than a three-run homer. I agree with you that I'm not sure the shift makes a huge difference. But Boston's manager and coaches have the right to deploy the type of defense they think creates the best chance to win.
Would the Red Sox entertain trying to move Jon Lester by the Trade Deadline?
-- Tom B., Boston
I'm highly doubting that, given Lester is still in his prime. It's funny you ask that. I was living in New York in 1999 and covering the Yankees fairly regularly when there was a lot of talk about dealing a struggling Andy Pettitte to the Phillies. Ultimately, the Yanks decided not to make that deal and wound up winning the World Series three more times with Pettitte as a core member of their rotation. Lester could easily have the same kind of revival. I don't think it's time to push the panic button on him quite yet.