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Ask Nick: Who is the Red Sox' shortstop of the future?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  May 31, 2013 06:50 PM

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What's the story on the red-brimmed caps Thursday?
Mike, Moosup, Conn.

Kind of an interleague thing. The Red Sox were chosen as one of the teams to use different caps for interleague games on the road.

Is Franklin Morales in shape? Every year it's some type of nagging injury with him! Do the trainers have him on the proper conditioning program?
John, Schenectady, N.Y.

Seems to be in shape. Had a bulging disk in his back. That can happen to anyone. Every pitcher has an individualized workout program.

I was wondering, what kind of names could the Red Sox be interested in at the trade deadline? I think they could look at catcher, where they could get an upgrade over Salty by acquiring McCann or maybe give Jesus Montero a shot. I also think that we might need a starting pitcher and a closer. Maybe the Sox could look at Cliff Lee and David Price. I am also interested in a Papelbon-Red Sox reunion.
Kyle, Peabody

If we’re making this decision right now, I don’t think they do anything. I think they like their staff and their bullpen. If things get dicey between now and July 31, I could see them being proactive. They would love to get Cliff Lee, but the more I speak to the Phillies people, the more I hear they’re not interested in moving him. I wouldn’t want Jesus Montero to be my everyday catcher. Braves won’t deal McCann and the Rays aren’t going to deal Price. Papelbon is the most realistic, but the Red Sox have a few weeks to see if Andrew Bailey can do it. They could deal for a power-hitting outfielder, but I think right now they like Nava, Ellsbury, Victorino, Bradley, and Gomes.

First off, what is the timetable for Victorino and Middlebrooks? Are they both expected to be back once they are eligible to come off the DL? Secondly, when Victorino was put on the DL, why not call up Bradley Jr.?
Xander, North Andover

There’s a good chance Victorino and Middlebrooks come back June 5 and June 8 when they’re supposed to. Bradley is on the roster, as you know, but he’ll go back as soon as Victorino is ready. Ciriaco could be in danger of going down considering Iglesias’s excellent play. But if Middlebrooks is back, I’m thinking Iglesias will go back to Pawtucket so he can play every day. The other issue is keeping Iglesias in the majors so Bogaerts can come up to Triple A. Anyone with options on the 40-man roster can go up and down.

I believe Jacoby Ellsbury remains a good long-term OF for Boston. With the season he's having, I'm sure Boras is devising every trick in the book to still get him a monster deal. Yet, I have to believe the cards are falling right for Boston to keep him for something like four years and $50 million, and that if they could somehow re-up him right now, it would loosen him up and he'd start playing better right away. Any chance Cherington pokes Boras in the ribs before, say, the All-Star break to see if they can get something going now?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Four years, $50 million is probably too low. I doubt that would get it done. Listen, it all depends on how he finishes. He stole five bases vs. Philly Thursday night. This guy can really play. Tough to let him go, but the Red Sox may feel Jackie Bradley Jr. is a competent replacement. I would be surprised if there was a deal before the end of the season.

After seeing Will Middlebrooks play well last year before his injury, I was glad to see him as a starter this year. But he has appeared to struggle mightily, hitting in the vicinity of the Mendoza Line and repeatedly making fundamental fielding errors such as missing tags. It seems he starts every at-bat 0-2. Is there any thought to sending him down to the minors for some more polishing? Jose Iglesias would be a definite upgrade, at least defensively, and at this point, offensively too.
David, East Granby, Conn.

It’s something they should consider if things don’t turn around for him after he rehabs. Middlebrooks should have been this team’s No. 5 hitter with his power. While he’s hit for power, they can’t afford for him to hit .200 all year, either. Everyone is waiting for him to get hot, and I thought he was getting better before he got hurt.

Now that Farrell has given Stephen Drew a "day off," isn't it time to face the tough question? With nearly a third of the season behind us, it seems more and more evident that Drew is becoming a liability. Yes, his .205 average, his 3 HRs, and his 18 RBIs are concerning and are predictable rally killers for the most part, but what is most damning is his inconsistency in the field. He seems to make the occasional nice play but those few are offset by many more instances where he fails to execute. Can you give me any reason, other than the 9.5 million obvious ones, that Iglesias has not made the case for staking claim to his position?
Andrew, Knoxville, Tenn.

I think anyone who knows baseball knows that Iglesias is a superior defender, who is now showing he can hit at the major league level. Drew, as I’m writing this after Thursday’s game, is hitting .217. He’s currently on an 0-for-10 streak. He’s 26 for 103 (.252) after being 4 for 35 (.114) to start the season. He does have 21 RBIs.

Why the hell did they sign Drew? It's ridiculous. Look at Iglesias. He is ready to be up with the big team full-time. Why not Cody Ross instead of Victorino? They do this stupid stuff all the time.
Manny, Braintree

Hmmm. Before, it was, "Why do I keep harping on Iglesias to be the shortstop, because Drew is so good?" I like Victorino’s energy. He just can’t stay healthy.

I was wondering if the Sox are losing confidence in Ryan Lavarnway. I noticed he did not play after having issues with John Lackey. I was really surprised to see him not get a start against lefties while he was up. Salty had three K's in the game against Chicago which Santiago started. Would have been a perfect game to start Lavarnway.
Chuck, Whitefield, N.H.

No, I think they’re growing confidence in him, actually. I think they believe he’s a smart guy who can call a good game. They believe he’ll hit. I suppose at some point, with Saltalamacchia becoming a free agent, you’ve got to find out whether he can be your full-time catcher.

In the course of the season,does the hitting coach ever pull a slumping hitter aside and offer his thoughts on how opposing pitchers are getting the hitter out? Or is it an unwritten courtesy to let the player work out of, let's say, a 3-for-38 slump on his own? I could never in my life hit a 90-mile-an-hour fastball, but I can just about pick out how opposing pitchers are going to get the slumping player out over and over again. It is so frustrating to watch what seems like the inevitable.
Tom, Utica, N.Y.

I think hitting coach and player know when they’re slumping. So there’s a lot of video and hitting in the cage. There’s constant dialogue and they’re constantly working on getting it right. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen as quickly as everyone wants.

I ask this question fully aware of the great chemistry this team has, and not wanting to disrupt it. However, what do you think of a Victorino-for-Andre Ethier swap?
Y., Los Angeles

The Red Sox are not incredibly high on Ethier, so I’m not sure something like that would happen. The Red Sox like Victorino and I think he brings great energy. I’d rather have Victorino right now.

Last season, I was a big fan of Pedro Ciriaco. Whether getting a key hit or stealing a base, he provided a spark. This year he has not hit well and keeps making fielding errors. I wonder what happened. Is it because he doesn't play every day?
Kathy, Mystic, Conn.

I think that’s the reason. He was in a nice flow last year playing every day. But this is his job. Not sure he’s going to stick here unless he picks it up.

Do the Red Sox employ any sports psychologists? If so, how many? The two who I would suspect need someone to talk to the most would be Middlebrooks, pressing and fighting to break out of his sophomore slump, and Ellsbury, pressing to convince his next employer that he deserves multiple years and big bucks. Multimillionaires playing a kid's game must still battle unreal pressure.
Bruce, Saigon, Vietnam

They have two. Bob Tewksbury is in charge. They work with players, but the stuff is confidential, so it's very difficult to know whom he’s working with. I do know he’s worked a lot with Daniel Bard.

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