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Ask Nick: Should Bard be a starter?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  October 24, 2011 11:49 AM

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What are the Red Sox' plans for Andrew Miller? He seems to have big league skills, but can't harness them. Can he be salvaged?
Ferde, Beverly, Mass.
Give the Red sox credit for trying to salvage something, and I suppose they could keep trying considering they have a $3 million club option on him. Since you canít have enough pitching, this could be the way they go, but I just think by this point he is what heís going to be. If it is, it isnít much.

Why don't the Red Sox consider Dennis Eckersley as a possible manager? He's a great analytical mind and evaluator of talent.
William, Exeter, R.I.
Eck wouldnít want to manage, coach, or anything like that. Heís very happy as an analyst.

If Andrew Friedman had phoned the Red Sox last week asking to be considered for their general manager opening, would the Sox have considered an interview even with Ben Cherington in their back pocket? Also, will the new GM be considered Larry Lucchino's puppet?
Joe, Dartmouth, Mass.
Great question. I would think they would have listened and been very enthusiastic about hearing of Friedmanís interest, even with Ben Cherington in place. I donít think Ben will be a puppet because Luchhino, while a great president/CEO and terrific at running a baseball team, knows his limitations as a baseball evaluator. For that, he needs Cherington and a good staff.

In light of the Theo/Cubs $18 million contract agreement, when and why did MLB begin announcing to the public contract amounts for both players and organizational employees?
Sean, Foster City, Calif.
MLB has not done that. The number was acquired by a reporter. It's still MLB's policy to not disclose that information.

I know there were several reasons for the Sox' collapse, but one reason I don't hear discussed is why Terry Francona allowed Tim Wakefield to start nine times before he got his 200th win?
David, Groveton, NH
They had no choice but to go with Wakefield given how poor their pitching depth was. Canít blame them for that one. The problem is, they donít have many young pitchers showing promise. Iím sure the decision whether to bring Wake back will be an agonizing one in that front office over the next few weeks.

Is Jeff Beliveau of Rhode Island in the conversation for part of the compensation for Theo? Will the Sox re-sign Rich Hill, and could he be expected to contribute later in the 2012 season?
Keith, Boxborough, Mass.

I donít know whether Beliveau is one of the Cub minor leaguers sought by the Red Sox. He should be. He had a great year as a reliever and obviously has an excellent arm. Hill is definitely in Bostonís plans when heís able to return Ė around the All-Star break Ė because he did do a terrific job in that specialist role.

What happened to Peter Woodfork, the Red Sox executive who left with Josh Byrnes?
Barbara, Lowell, Mass.
He works for Major League Baseball in Joe Torreís baseball operations department.

Do you think the Red Sox will bring back Erik Bedard?
Chip, Menlo Park, Calif.
City/Town Menlo Park, CA
Heís a guy I wouldnít want back. Spends more time on the disabled list than on the mound. Not very reliable. I suppose they could offer arbitration, but he's not a guy they should seriously consider in my opinion.

There seems to only be a couple of major-league ready prospects in the Sox system (Kalish and Lavarnway) at a time when the team needs to start getting younger. Should the front office focus more on shorter free-agent contracts in the off-season and be more protective of prospects at the trade deadline for at least a couple of years?
Kemper, Nashville, Tenn.
Yes, probably so. I donít see them spending on big-money guys unless they enter the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. I could see Michael Cuddyer being a target, but heís 33 years old. Thereís no doubt that Ryan Lavarnway should be with the major league team as either the primary catcher or backup. His bat is too good to keep on the farm. Kalish was hurt the whole year, so I can see more Triple-A time for him.

If CC Sabathia opts out of his contract, how hard do you think Boston will go after him?
Matthew, Kalamazoo, Mich.
I doubt it. The Red Sox wouldnít want to pay him more than $23 million or give him a five-year deal. Sabathia wonít have too much leverage given his demands. Only the Yankees will pay him.

No starting pitcher reached 200 innings pitched this year. Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, Marco Scutaro, and Jed Lowrie all missed significant time during the year with injuries. I think the stability and durability of a couple of guys like Michael Young and Mark Buerhle would do wonders for this team.
Wade, Goodlettsville, TN
Not sure why Michael Young would be available this offseason. He was obtainable last offseason and nobody got serious because of his enormous contract. The Rangers have no need to move him now. As for Mark Buehrle, love the guy and he would be a good investment, but you have to be careful with how many years you offer. Says he only wants to play in Chicago or St. Louis, which I donít buy if he gets a better offer elsewhere. Two good guys right there, but I know the Red Sox have passed on Young on a few occasions where they could have traded for him.
And he is older than Youkilis.

With players earning big money on guaranteed long-term contracts and a union that will appeal any attempt to suspend or fine, what tools are really available to a manager to bring discipline to the clubhouse and enforce rules? It seems like the manager's hands are really tied and he ultimately has to depend on the professionalism and pride of the players (which seems to be in short supply in some cases.
Ray, Newton, Mass.
You have to lay down rules as a manager and the players must abide by them. If they donít, thatís insubordination and a violation of their contract. The union has a lot of power, but players have to adhere to the rules or there is punishment, which they can challenge until the cows come home.

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