Mailbag: 5/12/18

We pick the 5 best, most interesting, most thought provoking and discussion starting questions submitted by fans and answer them to the best of our ability. Questions may be paraphrased for length and comprehension.

Joe C. asks:Do the Red Sox have a legitimate, trustworthy arm in the bullpen that they can consistently use as setup man?”

-At this point, yes and no. Look, the Sox bullpen was very good as a unit last year (3.15 ERA) and is doing pretty well this year too (3.79 ERA), and they could probably continue the way that they have and be just fine. But when you look at each guy individually, aside from Craig Kimbrel, you’ll find a lot of inconsistencies. Joe Kelly has been great so far, but he gave up 4 runs on Opening Day and at least 1 run in his 2 appearances vs. the Yankees in the Bronx. Matt Barnes and Carson Smith have the same sort of MO in that they can be dominant in one outing and abysmal in the next. Johnson and Velazquez are both reformed starters, and can’t really be considered setup men at this point. Hembree is DEFINITELY not good enough for that role, and Walden barely made the team out of Spring Training. Tyler Thornburg could fill that role, but he’ll be pitching in the MLB for the first time since 2016 upon his return, so I’m not ready to throw my trust at him yet. Maybe Boston could deal for someone at some point.

Scott B. asks: “How do you think Alex Cora has done so far as manager?”

-He’s made some questionable in-game decisions, and his player rotation from game to game has irked some people (not me, personally), but overall I think he’s been very good. He’s pretty much the polar opposite of John Farrell, which is exactly what he was hired to be, and at the end of the day, the record and chemistry of this team speaks for itself.

Jonas S. asks: “Hanley [Ramirez] started out so well but has since cooled down. Do you think he’ll hit his 500 at-bats needed to extend his contract to next year?”

-If he’s posting huge numbers and the team is winning, I don’t see how Cora could even think about that number (which is 497 plate appearances, by the way). The ultimate goal is to win a championship, and the window to achieve that goal can be short and fleeting. The Red Sox’ window is now, so you have to play your best players as much as possible. If that means 2 more years of Hanley, then so be it, in my opinion.

Kathy B. asks: “When is Pedroia coming back, and how will he be used when he does?”

-Pedroia says he’ll be back by the end of May, Cora says later, so probably early June. My best guess is that he’ll slide in as pretty much a like-for-like replacement for Nunez, at either 6th or 7th in the lineup. I wouldn’t, however, count on him playing any more than 2 or 3 games in a row to start, so Nunez and Holt will still find plenty of playing time.

Markus B. asks: “Should JBJ [Jackie Bradley, Jr.] be traded? He’s been awful on offense so far and stats show that his defense isn’t that far above average.”

-Jackie seems to be a fan favorite, so I’m sure a trade involving him wouldn’t sit well with much of Red Sox Nation. I personally don’t see him as a “franchise type” player, though, so if the right trade can be agreed upon, I think you’d have to at least consider unloading him. Perhaps a package involving him and either Swihart/Leon/Nunez for a solid bullpen arm would work.

If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so via the “contact form” located in the drop down menu on this site’s homepage, by posting on the “Yanwkey and Lansdowne” Facebook page, or by sending a direct message to @yawkandlansblog on Twitter.

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