Hey all, thanks for joining our chat. In case you're wondering, Sox are leading Mets in Port St. Lucie, 6-2, in a rain-delayed affair that just finished seven, I believe. Be sure to read all of Joe Mac's coverage of the game, and his pregame chat with Jason Bay, who is determined to turn the page on his Sox days. Nice outing for John Lackey today--three scoreless innings, eight of nine ground-ball outs. I'm coming to you from the Fort, a much quieter place than it was yesterday for all the Nomar hoohah.
What do you think about the pitching rotation for the Rays? Do you think the addition of a closer for us helped our bullpen and do you think we can win the division this year? thanks man...
Alex, the guys at the top of the rotation--James Shields and Matt Garza--have to step up and live up to the rave notices they got in '08. If they do, this could be a very dangerous rotation, one manager Joe Maddon said he'll match up with anyone in the division. There are two terrific young power arms in Price and Davis, Jeff Niemann exceeded expectations last season, Sonnanstine adds depth and with Rafael Soriano at the back end, that should help. Maddon mentioned Rays led majors in starters' innings last season, which takes a lot of pressure off the pen.
ANy word on when Jose Reyes is going to play?
Tony, the reports I've seen is that Reyes' thyroid condition could keep him out for up to two months. With Beltran already out, looks like Mets are headed toward another star-crossed season
After seeing how well the Rays are doing in Spring Training, do they rise in stock at all or no? Given it is Spring but them being so young and the fact they ride off momentum this HAS to be looking good. Considering the last time they played this well......well the rest is history.
Ryan, good that you add the qualifier, it's only spring training, but we've seen the Rays twice in the last few days, and their people are excited about the season. Their thinking is that their guys don't have to put together great seasons, they just have to do what they're capable of and they'll be right in the thick of things. I tend to agree.
Hey Gordon, glad we're getting back into baseball. What's the latest on the Beckett extension talks? That'd be a nice top 3 for the next 4 or 5 years assuming everyone stays healthy of course.
I was told yesterday that there have been "substantive talks" between the sides, and I don't think it unrealistic that a deal could be struck by Opening Day or soon thereafter.
Gordon, the Nomar press conference yesterday was great! Does this help fix Nomar's legacy in Boston? Deep down I think true fans always loved him but realized a change was needed when the trade was made. Anyone who hates Nomar doesn't understand what he meant to the Sox
Sean, I thought there was no downside to what took place yesterday, that a public reconciliation between the club and the player allows the focus to be on the great years Nomar had here, instead of the sour circumstances that surrounded his parting. I would not have predicted that this would happen six years ago, or maybe even two years ago, but I thought the Red Sox showed considerable grace after Nomar reached out to see if they would be open to his coming back in this fashion. Feelings often get bruised in business, and it was good to see both sides set aside the acrimony.
Hi Gordon. With all the hype around Jose Iglesias at age 20, how do you see him panning out when he does make it to the Bigs?
Philip, if you've been reading my stuff, you know I'm really taken with Iglesias--his skills, the way he handles himself, his drive, the way he is accepted in the clubhouse. If anything I've gotten carried away about a guy who has no pro at-bats, beyond instructional league and the Arizona Fall League, but I think he has a chance to be a special player, one guaranteed to generate excitement when he makes it to Fenway. The realistic timetable is 2011, but I don't rule anything out with this kid. Do I think he's Hanley Ramirez? No, Hanley is one of the best young players in the game, if not the best, and Iglesias doesn't show that kind of offensive potential, but defensively? Mercy, as Ned Martin would say.
Hey Gordon, with reports that Beckett and the Sox are closing in on an extention, what does that mean for the Sox rotation in the coming years? They have Lackey and Lester already locked up, Buchholz still has arbitration years and Matsuzaka isn't going anywhere in the near future. Does this make Casey Kelly expendible?
Greg, Padres GM Jed Hoyer may insist that Kelly be included in any deal for Adrian Gonzalez, but I think the Red Sox will do everything in their power to hang onto him. He shows a mound presence and understanding of the game far beyond his years, and I think they see him as part of their rotation for years to come. Still, if the Sox decide that they MUST have Gonzalez, it will be real interesting to see how they get around giving up young Casey.
Who are going to be the outfielders in 2010 for the Boston Red Sox?
Chris, Ellsbury will start in left, Cameron in center, Drew in right. There will be days when Jeremy Hermida plays left, with Ellsbury in center. Bill Hall will probably play right against some lefties, with Drew sitting.
Hey Gordon, we all know the phillies are gonna hit, but what do you make of their pitching? do you see cole hamels bouncing back from a less than steller 09 season?
Josh, if you take the word of my esteemed ESPN colleagues Buster Olney and Jayson Stark, Hamels has been extremely impressive this spring. Giving up Cliff Lee was huge, but Halladay-Hamels at the top of the rotation could be very special.
any chance the reds could make some noise this yr, or should i not bother watching them?
Brett, I know Reds fans have gone through some real lean years for the better part of a decade, but this is no time to be giving up on them. Not when you've got Aroldis Chapman throwing his 100 m.p.h. B-B's in camp, and Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey only 24 (Homer's b-day is May 3), and Harang and Arroyo good veterans, and Edinson Volquez getting healthy at some point this season. Outfield looks weak, but maybe Jocketty does something between now and start of season.
just drafted justin upton 1st round and 10th pick in my fantasy draft..mistake or good pick..ive been 2nd guessing myself all week
Mike, I hardly fancy myself a fantasy star, but I suppose it depends who you passed up to get 'em. He has the skills set--speed, power, average, all the things you already know--to come up huge for you. 30-30 is within reach, 40-40 not impossible. I like the pick
hey gordon, thanks for the chat. if you ever made your own preseason power-rankings, where would you rank the braves?
Krista, I'd probably rank them 3d in the division, behind the Mets and Marlins. Losing Vazquez is a big hit, less so if Tommy Hanson builds off his great rookie season, and everyone raves about new RF Jason Heyward. They're really gambling that Wagner and Saito stay healthy, though. Love to see Bobby Cox go out a winner in his last hurrah
Gordon, are you a little ashamed at how some of your colleagues (McAdam eg) have trashed the 1-day contract and Nomar in general over the last couple of days? When will those guys realize how players treat the media in the lockerroom is not newsworthy?
TC, It's not for me to make that judgment. I looked at things from a different perspective, but it's really for the readers to make those judgments, not writer on writer. As a general rule, I would agree that a player's relationship with the media is of little consequence to the reader, but in Nomar's case, it seemed to color so much his perception of playing in Boston that I can understand why Sean and others would raise that particular issue.
Gordy, so far what is the biggest suprise and disappointment about Sox camp. It seems very slow. Also I remember hearing rumblings that Seattle was instreated in Dice-K is that true. I remember hearing that because of strong Japaneese influence on seatlle franchise and the nintendo family?
Jim, don't know what you mean by slow. Has there been controversy? No. But there are certainly enough new players--Beltre, Cameron, Scutaro, Lackey--worthy of your interest, and young talent--Iglesias, Kelly, the kid catchers and kid outfielders--worth seeing. As for Daisuke, I don't think he's going anywhere. He has no-trade protection, and clearly remains of value to the Sox.
So your Braves response means you are picking Philly 4th in the east?
Bob, I can't see my earlier answer, but I thought I said I liked the Phillies and Marlins in the East. rest of division would be 3, Braves, 4, Mets, 5, Nats.
Are the Mets going to better than people expect?
Hard to feel that way, Frank, with guys like Reyes and Beltran both hurting,
Hi Gordon, Wondering how Scutero is looking this spring. I have my doubts about the signing (Lugo all over again) and would be encouraged by a positive report.
GBV, I don't think you should have those kind of concerns. Scutaro is much more reliable defensively than Lugo, and more consistent offensively. Did you see Michael Silverman's piece on Lugo the other day. Lugo said to Michael, "Write something good about me." Michael wrote, "OK, it's good that Lugo is no longer with the Red Sox."
Sorry, you said you were picking the Braves 3rd behind the Mets and Marlins.
Mets was a brain cramp. Must be on my mind because I was listening to the game. No shot of that happening.
How has Hermida hit the ball this spring, and do you seem him gettin more abs than orginally expected?
Jason, I'd be lying if I said I could evaluate Hermida just on what I've seen this spring, but I do see him as an "X" factor on this team, one who fits the profile of the type of highly disciplined, high OBP hitter that the Sox like. I think Terry Francona will find a way to cycle Hermida into the lineup where he gets anywhere from 200-300 ABs, maybe more.
Do you think Jon Lester has a legitimate shot at winning the Cy Young this year?
Steve, I picked him last year and I may well pick him again this year. He has all the components, at age 26, to dominate this season.
How about the AL Central winner....most felt Minnesota was the favorite before the Nathan Injury.... who wins it now and with how many wins would you expect them to do it with?
The Nathan injury is a crusher to the Twins; it will be interesting to see how Twins GM Bill Smith responds (Does he take a run at Daniel Bard?). I guess I'd have to say the White Sox, with a rotation that now features Peavy with Buehrle, Danks, and Floyd. They need bounce-back years from Rios and Quentin, but I think Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham are both stars in the making.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Sox make a run at Gonzalez near the deadline. If the teams offense exceeds expectations and scores a lot of runs (more power than anticipated from Beltre, and Cameron, Big Papi being 2nd half of 09 Papi for the entire year) or at least scores enough to win games do they stand pat? If this team shows enough offense I would like to see our young prospects like Kelly move up in the ranks and have a chance to shine for the sox.
Evan, I think if the Padres let it be known that Gonzalez is available Sox will be right in the mix, regardless of how they're playing. Too big a talent not to pursue.
Mr. Eades: Do you think the Braves will let Heyward begin the season with Gwinnett or is he going to make the opening day roster? My fear is that he gets rushed to the Majors.
JB, i think he starts in the majors. From everything I hear, Braves believe he is ready
Gordon, how worried should we be about David Ortiz? It seems to me a slow start last year is a real sign of a player getting older and not being about to get back into shape quickly. I honestly think he is the biggest question mark for us this year. Thoughts?
Seth, I think he is the key this season, though I should point out that even with Ortiz scuffling, the Sox were still in first place as late as July 19. Ortiz is at a stage in his career that trends to a downward arc, but he has come to camp in good shape and determined to push the Sox to keeping him around for another year.
Wouldn't have Damon been better one-year-pickup than signing Cameron? Damon has defensive issues but he would really hit well in Fenway again.
Mike, Damon would not have been a better option when you're looking to upgrade your defense. Do you really want too weak-throwing OFs playing side by side?
everyone is bashing the offense in Beantown now adays. I of course remember the late 80ies and early to mid 90ies when the sox where a middle of the road team with the lovable losers lable firmly in place. I just wish people would remember that the Sawx havent always been the offensive powerhouse. In the Manny Papi era we as Sox fans have been spoiled. In the 80ies games would end in a 2-1, 1-0, 3-1, score. We need to not be so demanding to see blowouts and like the high pressure situations with close games. For people with high blood pressure I wouldnt reccommend it.
Jeff, I think this offense will still be a top 5 group in the AL. Pedroia, Martinez, Youkilis, make a great core, and there are plenty of other good hitters from top to bottom to make this a team that will score 5 runs a night more often than not.
Hey, thanks everybody for your time. Be sure you join my ESPNBoston colleague, Joe McDinald, for his chat on Friday afternoon.
That's Joe McDonald