With our new young position players off to a weak start at the plate, might we expect a trade to bolster the offense? We seem to have some nice trading chips.
-- Lee E., Palm Desert, Calif.
Assuming the Red Sox can stay in the race, that's an evaluation Ben Cherington is more likely to make toward the end of June or into July. That's when a lot of teams start moving parts. Right now, there are too many unknowns. How much will Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit? Can Will Middlebrooks turn into a consistent threat at the plate? If some of those questions start getting answered affirmatively, it might lessen the need for Cherington to make a trade.
Do you think Bradley will become a good hitter?
-- Dan O., Whiting, N.J.
I do. I've seen Bradley take some great swings this season and drill the ball into the gap with some authority. He has a great batting eye. It's just a matter of getting accustomed to the way Major League pitchers are attacking him on a nightly basis. Bradley is a hard worker. To me, it's more a matter of when and not if.
As of May 7, Middlebrooks had an average of .208. Are the Red Sox about to take action?
-- Yvan, Quebec, Canada
As of Monday, Middlebrooks is hitting .211 through 57 at-bats. I don't think you can accurately evaluate any player until he gets about 100 at-bats in a season. So I'd tell you to be patient for another 40 to 45 at-bats and then we'll have a better idea of where things stand with Middlebrooks. He is showing improved approach and drawing more walks this year.
The Red Sox are last in the Majors in stolen bases this season. Do you see them trading for a faster utility player to spark run production?
-- Jordan, N.J.
They could definitely use a pinch-runner who is a speed threat -- a Quintin Berry-type. Those are the type of signings teams usually make later in the season with an eye toward October. But given the decrease in speed on this year's team, I could see Cherington bringing in a speedster by July.
With Bogaerts showing good plate discipline, will we see him leading off?
-- Chuck S., Yorktown, Va.
At this point, Dustin Pedroia is giving the Red Sox really good stability in the leadoff spot. So I think they'll keep the lineup as it is for a while.
What is the latest on Stephen Drew? Will he make his way back to baseball (hopefully with the Red Sox) or is his career done now that the disastrous refusal of the qualifying offer has taken place?
-- Mike C., Anchorage, Alaska
Drew's career is not even close to finished. He has a lot of baseball in front of him. The only reason Drew hasn't signed to this point is because nobody wants to give up a Draft pick. Once the Draft ends, there will be quite a few teams who make a push to sign Drew. At that point, compensation won't be necessary. And depending on how Bogaerts and Middlebrooks perform over the next couple of weeks, Boston might rekindle its interest.
Mookie Betts (ranked fifth in the organization by MLB.com) is turning heads with great play in Double-A Portland. Rather than move him off of his natural position at second base as he advances through the system, could the Red Sox use him to acquire an impact bat like Giancarlo Stanton?
-- Patrick G., Berkeley, Calif.
If a deal for Stanton got within reach, it would be hard to resist including just about any prospect. Stanton is a franchise bat. That said, the Sox hope that Betts is part of their future for a long time. He has the type of defensive versatility and offensive game that could make him invaluable.
If the Red Sox put Matt Barnes, Daniel Nava and Betts on the trading block to get Stanton, would the Marlins do it?
-- Leo R., Ann Arbor, Mich.
That's definitely part of the foundation of a package it would take to get a franchise bat like Stanton's. I'm guessing that it would take even more than that to entice the Marlins into a trade because of how hard it is to find legitimate power bats these days.
I don't know if you just identify a set date. Instead, you keep evaluating each pitcher after every outing. The All-Star break is generally a time where you start making fundamental changes within your lineup or rotation if performances aren't where they should be.
With the way Jon Lester has been pitching, why would the Red Sox wait to sign him to a long-term contract if he is willing to take a pay cut to stay in Boston?
-- Rick P., Terryville, Conn.
Lester never said he would take a pay cut. He simply said he might take a more modest price tag to stay with Boston than he would to sign with another team on the free-agent market. At the end of the day, I still think Lester will wind up staying with the Red Sox. That's what he wants, and that's what the Sox want. It wouldn't shock me if the sides agree on something by the All-Star break.
Should David Ross be the primary catcher?
-- Miles T., Westerly, Mass.
I don't think that is the answer. I think the combination of A.J. Pierzynski and Ross is turning into a pretty good one. Ross is probably best suited to be a backup catcher. He is one of the best in the league in that department.