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April 5, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald
  (2:00 PM)

Hello everyone, I'm riding solo today as Gordo continues to report on the Josh Beckett extension. Gordon is covering the 3 p.m. press conference the Sox have set up at Fenway Park. Until then, we'll have plenty of time here to talk Sox, so fire away.

Ryan (Raleigh)

It was good to see Pap get the last out last night on a splitter. Do you see him making an effort to throw it more this year as last year he barely threw it at all and hitters were just sitting on fastball.

Joe McDonald
  (2:02 PM)

Hey Ryan, Papelbon made it a point this spring to work the splitter into his pitch selection. He realized last season hitters were sitting on his fastball and he wants to improve on keeping opponents off balance this year.

George (Warwick)

Beckett extension?...straight extension, with current deal remaining in effect for 2009. No signing bonus, as previously reported/speculated, in some parts?

Joe McDonald
  (2:03 PM)

Hi George, A team source told Gordon the deal is four years, $68 million. Beckett is making $12 million this season in the final year of his current contract.

Michael (Fort Worth)

So who had the worse night? Beckett or CC?

Joe McDonald
  (2:04 PM)

Hey Michael, Early on it seemed like Beckett, but the Red Sox offense woke up and got to CC. In the end it was Boston coming away with the win, so I would have to say Sabathia had a worse night.

Tanner (Texas)

How long will Theo and Tito allow Ortiz to struggle this year. Last night you could clearly see that Ortiz was late on multiple 3-1 fastballs. I'm sure Magaddan will work this Ortiz to correct but how long do they have?

Joe McDonald
  (2:06 PM)

Hey Tanner, It's an interesting point. I don't think the Red Sox will stick with Ortiz if he struggles. If that's the case, this is where Mike Lowell could step in, unless they trade him, which I don't think will be the case for everything we're talking about.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Has there ever been in over 100 years that the Red Sox Swept the season Series against the New York Yankees?

Joe McDonald
  (2:09 PM)

Hey Chris, The Sox swept the first two series last season and were 6-0 until they finally lost the first game of the third series in 2009.

Hunter (New Jersey)

Which World Series matchup do you guys think is more likely, Phillies vs. Yankees or Phillies vs. Red Sox, or if you guys think something different?

Joe McDonald
  (2:10 PM)

Hey Hunter, In my preseason picks I have the Red Sox beating the Braves in the World Series. I really looked at this objectively and every scenario i played out, I kept coming back to the Red Sox winning in 2010.

Paul (Warwick, RI)

Do you think Boston could ever add a 2nd (National League) team?

Joe McDonald
  (2:12 PM)

Hi Paul, It's funny you ask this, because every season once interleague plays begins, that subject always comes up. As much as I would love to see two teams in Boston, it would never work because of the loyal fan base the Red Sox have. It would be tough for this market to support a National League team.

Daniel (College Park)

How do you see Clay Buchholtz turning out this season? Do you think this will be the year he finally realizes his potential and becomes another ace for the Red Sox? Is it reasonable to expect a 15 win season from him?

Joe McDonald
  (2:15 PM)

Hey Daniel, That is the million-dollar question, no doubt. Buchholz doesn't have a choice this season. He has to reach that potential the Sox have been waiting for. This kid definitely has the stuff, I mean it's nasty, but in the past he has lacked confidence and hasn't been able to put the entire package together on a consistent basis. You can already see a big difference in his demeanor this year, so maybe he will finally have that success.

Rob (Lincoln, RI)

Victor wants to come back, at a relatively affordable price tag compared to what he would get on the open market. Why wasn't there more progress towards an extension during Spring Training?

Joe McDonald
  (2:16 PM)

Hey Rob, Now that Beckett's extension is finalized, you can bet the Sox will turn their attention to V-Mart. He wants to stay and they need him to stay. There were preliminary talks during the offseason and during spring training, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's the next player locked in long term.

Jeremy C (New Orleans, LA)

Beckett has always seemed extremely comfortable with Varitek, after watching him get lit up with Martinez behind the plate do you think we'll see Beckett getting his personal catcher in the future?

Joe McDonald
  (2:19 PM)

Hey Jeremy, Great question. Terry Francona said yesterday he really doesn't know how it will play out with Varitek. But I agree with you on this, I think Beckett and Tek will soon be batterymates again depending on the opponent and pitching matchups. Beckett is comfortable working with Victor, but it's obvious Varitek means a lot to Beckett.

Shef (North Attleboro, MA)

How many more years does Victor's legs have for catching? If he's locked up, is he the DH/1B in 2-3 years and, if so, who is catching for this team beyond 2011?How good is Luis Exposito is what I guess I'm asking.

Joe McDonald
  (2:24 PM)

Shef, I was very impressed with Expo during spring training. It was the first time i have seen him play. He's a big kid (6-3, 210 pounds) and so far during his minor-league career, he's been productive offensively. He's only 23 and the Sox really like this kid. Another option behind the plate could be Mark Wagner, who will be playing at Pawtucket this season. With V-Mart, he's a healthy guy who can play first and DH, but if the Sox are able to extend his contract, he'll be behind the dish.

Scott (Boston)

The management has spent the last few years hovering in the $110-$130M range, but this year they're around $170 and just re-signed Beckett. With Martinez and maybe Papelbon looming, have they just decided to go for broke with this group?

Joe McDonald
  (2:26 PM)

Hey Scott, The Red Sox certainly have the resources to go out and spend money. The club has also done a very good job scouting, drafting and developing players. Now they've combined the two in what Theo has called "bridge years" until the next group of soon-to-be major-league prospects are ready.

Robert (Pawhuska Ok)

with the new talent for both the Phillies and the Red Sox, is that enough for them to meet in the worlds series and who do you think will win

Joe McDonald
  (2:27 PM)

Hey Robert, There are a lot of different scenarios that could play out in late October and early November. My preseason pick was the Red Sox and Braves with the Sox winning it all. But the Phillies obviously have the talent to be there, too. It all comes down to health and which teams catches the breaks.

Will (Jamaica Plain, MA)

Who has more to prove this season: Ortiz or Matsuzaka?

Joe McDonald
  (2:29 PM)

Hey Will, Great question. I think it's a lot of both. But, the Red Sox can win without Dice-K due to the club's strong rotation. Boston needs Ortiz to produce in a big way this season.

Giuseppe Marmina (Busto Arsizio, Italy)

Are there any chances too see Pedro Martinez end his career in Boston?

Joe McDonald
  (2:30 PM)

Hey Joe, The last time you're going to see Pedro on the mound for the Red Sox came last night when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Jesus Quintana (LA)

with regards to the Beckett - Varetik relationship, Beckett just re uped for 4 more years beyond his current contract...does he really expect the Captian to be around that long?

Joe McDonald
  (2:33 PM)

Hey Jesus, I believe this will be Tek's last season in Boston. I do think, he will catch Beckett at times this season, depending on who the Sox are playing and the pitcher they are facing. Even though he's not starting, Varitek is still a big part of this pitching staff with all the prep work he does and the way he works with all the pitchers.

Sam (Westford, MA)

is westmoreland going to play in the minors this season or stay on the DL

Joe McDonald
  (2:36 PM)

Sam, Actually, I have a story about Westmoreland that should be on the site very soon. I spoke with Ryan's dad on Sunday night and there's no timetable when he'll be able to return. First and foremost, the family, doctors and the Red Sox want Ryan to have a quality life and everything after that would be a bonus. Put it this way, if there's anyone who can come back strong from this, it's Ryan Westmoreland. I've been very impressed with him and the REd Sox are handling the situation the best they can.

Paul (the Cuse, NY)

How many more years do you really see Tek playing? I recognize that he is the poster-boy for intangibles and important in the clubhouse, but for how long will that outweigh the liability he is on offense and the inability to stop runners from stealing bases?

Joe McDonald
  (2:39 PM)

Paul, I wouldn't be surprised if this is Tek's last season. The one thing I do see, however, is the fact he'll be healthier this year because he won't be playing on a daily basis. He has always said he wants to retire as a Red Sox, so maybe this will be it. Since he is so good with those "intangibles" I can see him staying in the game in some kind of coaching capacity.

Rob (Lincoln, RI)

Cough cough.It could be the Capitals, Penguins, Devils, or Sabres.... do the Bruins have a realistic shot against ANY of these teams?They beat the Devils recently but haven't fared well against them the past few years.

Joe McDonald
  (2:42 PM)

Bruins talk in a Red Sox chat! Just kidding, Rob. You can't win if you can't score and the Bruins can't score on a consistent basis. They have the defense and the goaltending, but you need to light the lamp if you want any chance of advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Any Red Sox questions? Ha

Bill (Albany,NY)

Looking at this group of pitchers, I can't help but get excited. Do you think it's possible, given the track records of Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Matsuzaka, Bucholz, and Wakefield, that the Red Sox could conceivably have four starters with an ERA under 4.00 this season? I'm also taking into consideration the upgraded defense. Am I crazy or does this really seem possible?

Joe McDonald
  (2:44 PM)

Hey Bill, You're not crazy. Take Matsuzaka out of this equation and I think it's very possible. Beckett just got a new extension, Lester is at a point of his career where I think he's on the verge of a Cy Young, Lackey will be successful in the No. 3 spot and Wakefield wants to prove to everyone he can still do it at 43. So, yes, I do think it's possible. Again, it all comes down to health

Jason (Gardnerville, NV)

Joe, Speaking of signings, do you see the Sox keeping Ellsbury around for long, I know he is a few years away from FA or do they use him as trade bait and go with Reddick?

Joe McDonald
  (2:48 PM)

Hey Jason, I wouldn't say Ellsbury is untouchable, but you can't replace his game-changing speed. I really like what I've seen of Reddick and Ryan Kalish and before Ryan Westmoreland's recent brain surgery, there was a possibility he could have been the center fielder of the future for the Red Sox. Hopefully, that's still the case for Ryan because he's such a talented kid. To answer your question, Jason, I do think the Red Sox will want to eventually sign him long term. But, he does have Scott Boras as an agent.

Bill (Albany,NY)

Do you think it's possible Scutaro and Ellsbury could end up switching spots in the line-up for games where the team has to face a power lefty like CC Sabathia? Do you think Ellsbury is going to develop as a lead-off hitter and defender this season?

Joe McDonald
  (2:51 PM)

Hey Bill, On any other team Scutaro is a leadoff man. He really fits in nicely as the No. 9 guy in Boston's order and I'm sure there will be some games he'll be at the top when Ellsbury is given a day off. Again, with Ellsbury's speed and with the guys he has hitting behind him, he'll be a mainstay in that spot. I do believe he's going to have a big year and you'll probably see his power numbers increase a bit, too.

Pat (Boston)

Joe, ignoring the fact that these stats aren't as telling as we once thought, what kind of traditional numbers do you think the 3 new additions to the lineup will combine for? (HR, RBI, R)

Joe McDonald
  (2:55 PM)

Hey Pat, I think Beltre will hit .270 to .280 with 20-25 homers. Cameron will give you .250 to .260 with 25 homers and Scutaro can hit .275 to .280 in this lineup with 12-15 homers. All good additions.

Stephen (Los Angeles)

Say Tek retires as a Red Sox, do you see him staying on board with the team as a mentor to younger players? And if so in what capacity, as a coach, manager or assistant? I just can't picture him not with the team in some way.

Joe McDonald
  (2:57 PM)

Hey Stephen, When he does hang up the spikes, I can see him taking some time away from the game, but not long. I do believe he would make a good coach or manager some day and it will probably be in the Red Sox organization. I don't see him as a minor-league manager, but maybe a roving catching coordinator.

Mark (Philly)

Are the rays really as good as everyone is picking them? i mean they have a solid lineup but that pitching staff looks average at best.

Joe McDonald
  (2:57 PM)

Hey Mark, I do think the Rays will be very good this season. Last season was just a nasty hangover from their World Series run in 2008.

Mark (Philly)

Can Tommy Hanson ,If the Braves keep his inning solid like last year,be a cy young contender, even with Doc, Tim, And Even Johan At Full strength ?

Joe McDonald
  (2:59 PM)

Mark, I actually picked Hanson as my NL Cy Young. I was very impressed when I saw him pitch against the Red Sox last season. Good choice.

Joe McDonald
  (3:02 PM)

I want to thank everyone for all the great questions and joining in today. if I didn't get to your question, please come back the next time we're chatting. It's time to watch the Josh Beckett press conference. Thanks. Joe