Editor's note: Curt Schilling answers user questions in an occasional mailbag for ESPNBoston.com. Click here to ask Curt a question for his next mailbag.
Q: Do you think Francona deserves serious manager of the year consideration? My guess is he won't get it because voters just assume the Sox (and Yankees) should be good. But the way he's held the team together with all the injuries, I think he should win it. -- Howard (Pittsfield, Mass.)
A: He has to finish in the top three, as long as they don't go into a tailspin. The job he's done with the injuries they've had has been incredible.
Q: Honestly, with all the injuries I'm surprised the Sox have stayed in it this long. But that said, I just can't see them catching to Rays or Yankees. What's your prediction for how things play out in the AL East? -- Franklin (New Bedford, Mass.)
A: The thing is, six days from now they could be tied for first. It can happen that fast. I just don't see either team in front of them tanking enough for that to happen. That would entail some bad pitching on their part, and a run the Sox just have not proven they can have yet.
Q: Curt, what is your take of the criticism Jacoby Ellsbury has taken this year (mostly from the press) in reference to injuries and how he has rehabbed? It seems unfair to me, having had several rib injuries over the years, to expect him back quickly. Also, how often does an injured player stick with the team while on DL? -- Mark S (Bridgewater, Mass.)
A: I think the culprit in all of this is the agent. I think Jacoby has gotten some bad advice on how to handle this publicly. I played with him and I never got the impression he was soft, not at all. That's not to say he might not be, but I never felt he was.
As far as your second point, it's very, very rare that a player leaves a team while on the DL. Usually that's reserved for guys that get Tommy John or something that puts them out for a season, and even then you usually rejoin the team after a short period so they can oversee the rehab.
I think the issues around Jacoby have as much if not more to do with the training staff there than anything, and the way the issue was horribly mishandled.
Q: Have you watched Felix Doubront pitch at all? I've been pretty impressed by him (both his stuff and his poise). -- WillyT (Chicago)
A: He's got good stuff but even better makeup. He's with the guy (John Farrell) I think is the best pitching coach in baseball, so if he's going to flourish it will be in Boston.
Q: Do you think that Daniel Bard is ready to be a closer? Dude has been lights out this year. -- LZ (Boston)
A: The difference between getting three outs in the 8th and three outs in the 9th is the difference between living on Earth and on Mars. I do think he has the stuff, that's never been the question, the key will be his mental makeup and ability to bounce back from a blown save. In all my years in the game I thought blowing a save was the ultimate downer, nothing was harder on me than that.
Q: Obviously he's never stayed healthy, but I've been impressed by Jed Lowrie since he's been back. Do you think the Sox will let him compete with Scutaro for the starting SS job next season? -- Petey (Hanover, N.H.)
A: I think he's playing on borrowed time really. I think they love him, or at least like him, but I think if he runs into another long-term health issue they'll be OK with parting ways. He can play, and he's versatile, which is a huge plus, but it's all irrelevant if you can't get on the field.
Q: In recent seasons, I have become accustomed to GM Theo Epstein making deals for impact players such as Victor Martinez at the deadline. In a year in which the Red Sox have been so ravaged by injuries, why did he not make any trades this season? -- Nathan C. (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
A: I think the pricing on talent was just too expensive. I also think that the two teams they would be concerned about (the Yankees and Rays) will fall behind them in any waiver deals and the Sox are one of the few teams out there that are serious waiver deadline players given their ability to take on huge contracts. I also think that those same injuries that cost them were seen as value adds around the deadline as well.
Q: Hey Curt I love your insight and I enjoy your analysis, my question is do you think Dice-K has not lived up to the "hype" or his potential? -- Jim (Latham, N.Y.)
A: If you take the bare numbers, I think he's been good. I just think there's been a lot more maintenance and issues in and around his situation than they hoped for.
Curt Schilling, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2004-08, is a three-time World Series champion, six-time MLB All-Star and founded 38 Studios. Curt and his wife, Shonda, have raised money to fight ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) through Curt's Pitch for ALS, and have encouraged awareness for sun protection through the SHADE Foundation. They recently announced their support for the Asperger's Association of New England after their third child was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.