After making a considerable amount of noise earlier this offseason, the Red Sox have quieted to barely a whisper the last couple of weeks. But that doesn't mean their loyal following has forgotten about them. As evidence, we empty the mailbag, covering topics from Joe Mauer to Clay Buchholz, not to mention fashion and Central Massachusetts eateries.
Q: Hey Gordon, I know Adrian Gonzalez probably won't be traded until July and there are a lot of names floating around in trade rumors, but nobody is mentioning how Lars Anderson could be a potential piece of that deal. Jed Hoyer is obviously familiar with him and last year he was Boston's top prospect. Do the Padres have a good 1B prospect in their system already? If so, what would Anderson's future be with the Sox? Maybe their future DH, if Ortiz doesn't play well consistently this year? -- Nate, Utica, N.Y.
A: Nate, the Padres do have an outstanding first base prospect in Kyle Blanks, who hit 10 home runs in 54 games for San Diego before a foot injury ended his season. The Padres are using Blanks in the outfield now, but he could move to first if the Padres trade Gonzalez. This is a big season for Anderson in terms of establishing his value to the Red Sox, and as a potential trading chip. He remains the team's top slugging prospect, but after struggling at Portland last season, Anderson has to show he can make the necessary adjustments.
Q: Do you know why MLB did not award the 2012 All-Star Game to Boston? Couldn't KC wait another year? Thank you. -- Adam, Maine
A: Adam, they decided that other teams deserved to be host before the Red Sox got another turn, just 13 years after hosting the '99 game, although I'm not sure Kansas City ownership deserves anything until they prove they're interested in bringing winning baseball back to long-suffering Royals fans.
Q: Gordon, now as the winter sets in and baseball is quiet, one thing that continues to nag at me (and I bet many of RedSox Nation) is: Will the Red Sox burn those ugly road uniform they donned in 2009? They are just plain awful, and when you consider that the lasting memory and images of the Sox winning the '04 and '07 World Series in "road" unis, they need to go back to the previous road uniform in '10. And let's get rid of the red alternate jersey as well! -- Mark, Princeton, N.J.
A: Mark, you may be ahead of the curve, but I haven't detected a groundswell of negativity toward the Sox's choice of travel wear. I can't say that it really registered one way or the other with me, although that may have more to do with my limited fashion sense than the merits of their ensembles. I am here to tell you that the attire will remain the same in 2010. Sorry. Maybe you can get Mr. Blackwell on the case.
Q: Wow, Gordon, way to really pick out some toughies there. Can you try to choose some more in-depth questions that haven't been beaten to death yet? And when I read your column, I want to read YOUR column, not a column with half the page being idiots like me asking dumb questions. Please go more in depth, you are our eyes and ears for all things Sox. I know, it must be a tough job, but you gotta do it. -- Michael, Groton, Mass.
A: Hey Michael, I'm sure I really impressed you by including the previous question in the 'bag. I hear you, although the fact is, many of the questions I receive are on the topics that get endlessly discussed -- Bay, yea or nay; why Beltre; is Papi now swinging like an abuelo (grandPapi); save the whales and save Mike Lowell. And the 'bag, of course, is designed to let the people be heard, those who consider themselves idiots (like your humble self) and those who do not. But if you happen to spot me one day in Groton's Gibbet Hill Grill, my vote for the best restaurant in Central Mass., make sure you say hey.
Q: Gordo, now that we've finally resolved the Baywatch issue -- I'm in the camp that it is sad to see him go, but happy he will get his money elsewhere -- who do you see as a long-term fit patrolling the monstah? I know that Carl Crawford figures to be a big name next offseason, but I kind of prefer another "Jason": Jayson Werth. Do you think he's a guy that the Sox will have some serious interest in? -- Steve, Philadelphia
A: Steve, Werth is a great name and has exceeded expectations for the Phillies, who have him signed only through this season. He and Crawford will be the top corner OFs out there, but I suspect that the Red Sox are hoping that Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick shows enough promise that they don't have to address the position via free agency.
Q: Good column on Joe Mauer. But there is one mistake -- Santana and Hunter left during the same '07-'08 offseason, not a year apart. -- Chris
A: Chris, thanks for setting the record straight. It's a tribute to the Twins that they remained as competitive as they did without those two guys.
Q: The NBA has the "Bird Rule" which allows teams to somehow circumvent the salary cap to retain their own. Baseball ought to have its own version, allowing teams to draw from the revenue sharing fund to retain their own homegrown players. Whatever they offer, the fund will augment it by, say, 20 percent. If the Twins offer Mauer $15 million, the fund would augment it by $3 million. Or 10 percent. Whatever. I am a diehard Red Sox fan. (My mother was a Doerr.) As much as I would love the Sox to get Mauer, I would rather he stay in Minnesota, for the good of the game. -- Rick, Somerset, N.J.
A: Rick, pretty creative thinking on your part, and I think you will see a real push for change in the collective bargaining agreement, which expires in '11. John W. Henry already has expressed his dissatisfaction with the current system, and while "salary cap" remains a nonstarter for the union, you will see a good deal of debate about salary slotting in the draft and a global draft. And some of the core issues -- revenue sharing, luxury tax, arbitration -- will undoubtedly be on the table again in some fashion.
Q: I am in agreement that players like Mauer need to stay in places like Minnesota for the sake and integrity of the game. Being a passionate fan of the game, you briefly touched on something in your article that I believe warrants more focus. Why doesn't MLB market the top stars more (or at all) like the NFL or NBA? What do you think the logic is behind MLB's decision not to do it? Risk such as the players admitting to PEDs or other bad PR?
While I understand that the game is bigger than one player, or group of players, there are tremendous stories out there like Jeter, Pujols, Mauer, et al., that could be marketed even on a regional basis in an effort to increase interest in the game, and potentially revenue streams that could (using this term loosely) help smaller market teams. I just do not understand why MLB doesn't take advantage of this situation. Seems like shooting fish in barrel to me. Would appreciate your thoughts. -- Dan, Princeton, N.J.
A: Dan, you are expressing the same frustration voiced by many players. I think that the PEDs did have something to do with the reluctance, but I think it also has to do with baseball having traditionally focused on marketing locally rather than nationally. I couldn't agree with you more that baseball has a whole raft of young talent that it could be marketing more, and I think MLB is beginning to come around to that notion. I think MLB Network in particular will serve as a platform for promoting the game more nationally than locally.
Q: Gordon, I am graduating from college soon with a degree in sport management. I have always been intrigued by your profession and I have always wanted to get involved with being an analyst. However I'm not the strongest writer, but I do feel I have the ability to judge and give my opinion on baseball and sports in general. Are there any tips or paths for someone who aspires to your position without the writing ability. Thank you for any opinions or suggestions. -- DJ, Rochester, N.H.
A: DJ, for what I do, you've got to be able to write, but if you can express yourself well, you could always consider broadcasting or maybe the production side of the electronic media.
Q: Welcome back. My question is in regards to Clay Buchholz. He was arguably our best starter over the last two months of the season and arguably the best candidate to start Game 1 vs. L.A. in the ALDS. 1) Are people afraid of getting excited about this kid because he let us down in '08? 2) What percentage chance do you see him finishing the season as a Red Sox, a Padre or a Tiger? 3) Will the Sox wait on a Beckett extension until they have a clearer view on where they stand with Buchholz? -- Dan, Los Angeles
A: Dan, I think the Red Sox are real happy with the progress shown last summer by Buchholz -- who wouldn't be? -- but yes, other clubs also love the upside and if it would take his inclusion to pull off a deal for Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera, they'd do it. I think the Sox will pursue a Beckett extension independent of Buchholz, although I am intrigued by the possibility that Beckett, not Buchholz, ends up being the one traded, with the Sox using the prospects they get for Beckett in a deal for Gonzalez.
Q: Wish you were coming up to Maine this year for our annual Red Sox Hot Stove Night. -- John, Bangor, Maine
A: John, you and me both. Don Orsillo and I were just talking about how neither one of us got invited back this year. We both had a great time last year, and maybe we'll get a chance to return to the Great White North for a fun night of baseball talk.
Q: How short is the leash going to be on David Ortiz -- May, at the outside -- if he doesn't produce from OBP and power perspectives? -- Brian, Coquitlam, B.C.
A: Brian, that's a great question, and one the Sox are hoping they won't have to address this spring. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that they still won 95 games despite Ortiz' horrendous start last season, but with no Jason Bay in the mix, they can't afford for him to go in the tank again for half a season like he did in '09. They may not have too many options but to ride it out for a couple of months if he slumps, but beyond that, you can be sure they'll be proactive.
Q: Gordon, what part does the union play in the Mauer issue? I've read it will not let him sign a below-market deal for what that would mean to other players, even if it would make Mauer, his agent and the Twins happy. -- John, Raleigh, N.C.
A: John, you make a good point. The union does play a significant role, and pressure has been brought to bear on guys considering a hometown discount. And did you notice that Mauer's dad, who accompanied his son to the N.Y. Baseball Writers Dinner to pick up his MVP trophy, said to him it doesn't matter where Joe plays, as long as he's happy? You could almost see Hank Steinbrenner salivating at the thought of Mauer in pinstripes.
Q: Andre Dawson is the 33rd Red Sox to go in the Hall of Fame? THAT's funny. You are likely the only person in the world who identifies him as a Red Sox. Keep up the stellar work. -- Andrew, Vancouver, B.C.
A: Andrew, it's a matter of historical record that Dawson is the 33d player who played for the Red Sox at some point in his career to be elected to the Hall. That's why it was appropriate for me, on an ESPN Boston site, to make note of that upon Hawk's election. Only an idiot would suggest that he is remembered primarily for his two years in Boston. I, like you, am curious if he will go into the Hall as a Cub or an Expo. I know the best years of his career were spent in Moncton. (Just kidding.)
Q: Do you see value in the Red Sox finding a way to trade up in this year's draft to acquire Bryce Harper? Could he be the long-term answer to Boston's backstop need? -- Ken, Belfast, Maine
A: Ken, you can't trade draft picks in MLB, so Harper will probably be long gone by the time the Sox pick. But I was surprised, talking to one scout who has seen him frequently, that he may not be quite the prodigy he's made out to be. This scout said Harper will undoubtedly go in the first round, but a slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick? Maybe not.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.