Mailbag: Will Sox fine-tune rotation?
Beat reporter Ian Browne answers Boston fans' questions
Will Jon Lester replace Julian Tavarez in the rotation?
-- Ed K., Westerly, R.I.
Come on, it's just one bad outing by Julian so far! But I knew these questions would be coming. In all seriousness, the Red Sox aren't going to make any rush judgments on Lester. They'd love to see him back on the team, but not until he has proven to be back at 100-percent strength. The team cares too much about Lester and all he's gone through to be patient. He has three more starts at Class A Greenville, and then the club will make another evaluation from there. I'm thinking he'll go to either Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket at the end of April.
I don't know about you, but I liked what Devern Hansack did for the Sox last year. I think he can really contribute either as a No. 5 starter or a long reliever. Do you think he will be up with the big club sometime this year?
-- Brendan N., Middleton, Conn.
There's no doubt in my mind Hansack will be heard from at some point this season. The brass loves his poise and ability to throw strikes. The beauty of Hansack is that he has the versatility to be a starter or a reliever. I'd say there's a better shot of him filling the latter category this season. In the meantime, he will keep pitching every fifth day in the Minor Leagues.
Do you think the gyroball is real, or is it a myth?
-- Cam S., Appleton, Wis.
From what I've heard from scouts, executives and uniformed personnel, the pitch is a myth. What Matsuzaka throws is a circle changeup with screwball-type action. The pitch has so much movement that hitters think it's a gyroball. The gyroball is a pitch that was created on a computer by a Japanese physicist. It's kind of like the baseball version of the UFO.
Is this Julio Lugo-Dustin Pedroia double-play combination really going to be better on both sides of the ball? I have not yet seen that same dominance from these two that Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta brought to the table.
-- Brandon C., West Gardiner, Maine
Nobody is going to replace Gonzalez defensively. I've never seen a better shortstop. But Lugo should be significantly better offensively. As for Loretta-Pedroia, the conservative thing would have been to bring Loretta back. But the Red Sox felt that Pedroia, a homegrown prospect, was ready to make the leap. It's way too early to tell if they are right about that. This is a story that will evolve over the next few weeks.
I'm a huge J.D. Drew fan, and I've heard that many Red Sox fans aren't thrilled with his signing. I just wanted to know what you think of having Drew in Boston.
-- Jake L., St. Louis
From what I've seen so far, Drew would be an impact player wherever he plays. I think a lot of people jumped the gun in saying he wouldn't be able to handle Boston. He's a quiet guy, but I don't think pressure bothers him. The biggest thing that has prevented Drew from being an All-Star is his health. If the Red Sox can keep him on the field, he should have a big year.
Have a question about the Red Sox?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Red Sox beat reporter Ian Browne for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Do you think the Red Sox decision to move Jonathan Papelbon to the bullpen is a sign they will make a strong effort for Roger Clemens?
-- Chris M., Norwood, Mass.
I don't think one thing had much to do with the other. Papelbon wanted to close again, and the Red Sox were thrilled about that given the void at the position. I do think the Red Sox will make their interest in Clemens known, just like they did last year. Ultimately, the decision will be up to Roger. The usual three teams are in the mix -- the Astros, the Yankees and the Sox. Clemens coming back to Boston to finish his career might be the only story that could top Matsuzaka.
How come the Red Sox are going with Tavarez as their fifth starter? He seemed to be one of their worst pitchers last year, and now they're having him start? Besides having a good end to his season in 2006, this looks like a bad/risky move.
-- Matt, Naugatuck, Conn.
Tavarez is one of those versatile and durable guys who can fill every pitching role. Right now, his best fit is as a starter. Perhaps when Lester is ready to pitch in the Majors again or if Clemens decides he wants to come to Boston, Tavarez will go back to the bullpen. I'm not sure why everyone is so down on Tavarez. He was a lot of fun to watch last September. He throws strikes. And though Saturday was an exception, he usually keeps the team in the game.
Is it too early to be as concerned as I am with the lack of runs being scored by the Red Sox? They don't seem to be clicking just yet.
-- Tom H., Owego, N.Y.
Way too early. The season just started. The weather has been bad. Guys still are trying to find a groove. Check back with me in about three weeks and we should have a better idea of where the offense is headed.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.