Mailbag: What's wrong with Okajima?
With the trade deadline upcoming and the Red Sox getting healthier, let's take some user mail.
Q: Three players, Pedroia, Ellsbury and Lowell, are all coming back relatively soon. Who goes when they come back? -- David Vilandre (Westborough, Mass.)
A: Well, David, the answers will be soon in coming. Mike Lowell is scheduled to be activated Friday, though I'm still not convinced that the Sox won't find a way to move him before the deadline. But if he is activated, I guess the logical guy to go would be Eric Patterson. As Lowell himself has pointed out, a versatile player like Patterson is actually more useful to the Sox than Lowell would be, given the fact the latter plays the three positions the Sox are set at -- DH, first base and third base. When Jacoby Ellsbury comes back, that could be curtains for Darnell McDonald, who, remember, was DFA'd the last time Jacoby came back, only to win a reprieve when Jacoby went back on the DL. And I would think Dustin Pedroia's return would mean Jed Lowrie goes back to Pawtucket, but he'll be right back up when rosters expand Sept. 1.
Q: Hi Gordon, your long lost Australian correspondent here. Just thought I'd let you know I will finally make the pilgrimage to Boston this year. Will be staying in a little place on Bolyston Street and I have bought tickets to the game on Wed., Aug 25 vs. the Mariners. We are in Boston from 18th to 27th so hope to blend in with the locals in that time. Very much dream come true stuff for me. Let Tito know that me and my "fall from the sky like a shot dove" knuckle curve is ready should he need it for the late innings. Cheers -- Gavin Butcher (Geelong, Australia)
A: Gavin, that's great to hear you'll be in town. Depending on what kind of help Theo Epstein is able to get before then, he might want to audition you for the bullpen.
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Q: Mr Edes, can someone in the Red Sox organization get Mr. Okajima to watch some films of his delivery from the years where he was so effective? I feel this man, especially from the left side, needs special attention. He is not done, just scrambled. He needs to be leveled off and drink a bowl of self-confidence. -- Jamie Hogan (Wilmington, Del.)
A: Jamie, a scout who has watched Hideki Okajima a handful of times this season mentioned the same thing to me, that he thought Okajima's confidence was shot. You don't have the name of the place that serves self-confidence by the bowl, do you? His struggles this season are the No. 1 reason the Sox need help in the 'pen. Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez have proven to be unsatisfactory seventh-inning options, as well.
Q: Gordon ... With the current problems with the outfeilders what do you believe the chances are that Ryan Kalish establishes himself as a starter for next year? All of the outfielders have been shaky or banged up, so do you believe Kalish can establish himself as a five-tool player with the club? -- Dylan Sands (Scotch Plains, N.J.)
A: Dylan, the Sox are high on Kalish, and I do think he'll be given a chance to win a job, although whether it's in 2011 or '12 will depend in good part on what the Sox do with Jacoby Ellsbury. Kalish could also be a more appealing piece to the Padres in a deal for Adrian Gonzalez because they would have him under their salary control for six years, while Ellsbury is already arbitration-eligible.
Q: Do the Red Sox have options to send Okajima down to Triple-A PawSox? -- Jim (in Spencer)
A: Yes, but that's not going to happen. The Sox have to hope Okajima gets straightened out and that they can find an alternative either now or during the August waiver period.
Q: You and I talked in Fort Myers prior to spring training while watching Lester and Buchholz throwing in the bullpen and you asked if I thought Lester would win the Cy Young. I said I him picked last year and was picking him again this year. I still haven't given up on Lester winning the Cy in his career, but who do think will win it first, Buchholz or Lester? -- James Brantley (Arcadia, Fla.)
A: James, Clay Buchholz has made enormous strides this year and while he won't get the kind of attention Stephen Strasburg gets because he doesn't throw 100 miles an hour, believe me, baseball people think he has great stuff with great command. He may one day have a trophy on his mantel. But like you, I picked Jon Lester last year and this year, and I'll stick with that pick until proven wrong.
Q: Hi Gordon -- Why are we making so much fuss about looking for more outfielders when Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald have done well for us? Last night, McDonald went three for four at the plate and covered a lot of territory in Anaheim. Hall has played every position -- except catcher -- and has done whatever Francona has asked of him. He's a real team player. They have really stepped up during the team's time of injuries. And yet, all I hear about on blogs and through various Web sites and news articles is that we need to trade for outfielders. Why? What's the rush? I think a higher priority is middle relief. (Of course, as I always say -- that's why I make "the big bucks" managing the Red Sox from my living room ...) -- Wanda Fischer (Schenectady, N.Y.)
A: Wanda, Terry Francona wishes some of the writers covering the team showed as much humility as you expressed. McDonald and Bill Hall have stepped up admirably, but the reality is that the Sox outfield collectively ranks next to last in the big leagues in BA (.251), 23rd in OBP, 17th in SLG. Part of that goes beyond the subs, of course. Mike Cameron hasn't been healthy all season and has struggled. Getting Ellsbury back will be an undisputed upgrade, but I agree, boosting the bullpen is a big need, too.
Q: I have been a die hard Sox fan since 1948 (8 years old). When is the Sox management going to step up to the plate and stop settlling for whoever the Yankees don't want? The Sox lost A-Rod and Teixeira over money. Next is Cliff Lee. Again, it looks like the Yankees will get their man and the Sox will just keep chasing the pinstripes. I find it hard to believe the Sox can't afford top line free agents or players. When are the sports media in Boston going to ask the hard questions of management? -- Bill Rhodunda (Wilmington, Del.)
A: Bill, don't know how you can fault Sox management for not spending. Since John Henry & Co. took over the club in 2002, the Sox have won two World Series, the Yankees one, and the Sox have averaged -- averaged -- 95 wins a season. That's exceptional. Their payroll is at $170 million, and the Yankees will always spend more because their revenue streams are vaster. Not getting Mark Teixeira hurt, but while there are some who believe the Sox blew their chance to sign him when they met with him in Texas, it is just as credible to believe that he would have always given the Yankees a chance to trump Boston's offer.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com