July 24, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
by Dave Long

With the second half underway and the Yanks in Fenway this weekend, letís go to the mail bag for the first time this baseball season.

Dear Dave: Who do you think is the biggest worry for the Sox and Red Sox Nation for getting back to the World Series? Pell Mel, 314b Lickety Split Lane, Hurryupandwait, N.M.
Dear Mel, er, I mean Pell: Well, since almost everyone he makes turns out just the opposite, itís probably that Dan Shaughnessy proclaimed over the weekend in the Globe the Angels will find a way to lose to the Sox in the ALCS because the Angels always have lost to the Sox in the ALCS. Beyond that, itís the consistency of the relief pitching and the health of David Ortiz, as I think the rest of the issue will work themselves out.

Dear Dave: What do you make of the recent struggles of Jacoby Ellsbury, after being lights out at the end of last year? Yo Hahn, 99 Santana Way, Flushing Provence, Venezuela.
Yo-Yo: Iím not quite sure what to say about his up and down year, other than that the computer of stat geek Bill James is going to be waaaay off, since it had the rookie hitting .325. Tito says itís not the wrist he hurt diving for a ball earlier in the year, but Bill Belichick often starts out saying a guy is day- to-day who later turns out to miss a couple of years, so Iím not sure I buy that. He may have hit the rookie wall from all the running he did earlier in the year, or got into some bad happens. But most likely I think scouts from other teams have found his holes at the plate and he hasnít made the adjustment yet. Hopefully he will, because they are a different team with him on base a lot.

Dear Dave: Since he started the season 10-1, are you finally going to concede that Dice-K is a legit number-two starter as Iíve always felt he was? Matt (donít be) Late, 14 Soccerball Blvd., Nashua, N.H.
Dear Donít Be: In a word, NO. Sorry, not convinced yet. To me a legit number-two starter for a world championship contender is a guy, like Pedro was in 2004, who could string together periods of real dominance, or who, like Curt Schilling in 2007, could be in control of a game even without his best stuff. With his control issues and all the walks heís seemingly always one mistake away from a huge inning and that scares me. However, heís getting there. What I can say about him is, if he ever gets that control thing under, er, control, he will be dominant as itís not like people get a lot of hits off him. He only gave up 65 in his first 88.1 innings, which is comparable to the hits-per-innings-pitched ratio of Jonathan Papelbon and much better than Josh Beckett was last year, let alone in Ď08 when heís allowed 114 hits in 120 innings. And the silver lining of all those jams he puts himself in is that heís become very good at wriggling off the hook as his solid 2.65 ERA attests. But until he can be counted on to give Tito at least seven innings night in and night out, he ainít a solid number two in my book. And he wonít do that until he gets his pitches-per-inning down ? which wonít happen under he improves his command of the strike zone. Having said that, heís a real good number three.

Dear Dave: Do you have faith that Theo will come up with something to help the team at the trading deadline? Garr Ceapara Sr., 6 Nomar Lane, Whittier, Calif.
Dear Garr: Well, other than the huge deal in 2004, it hasnít been his strength. Even last year when he made a deal that made total sense to get (wrong way) Eric Gagne, it went belly up. And the rest of his track record for deadline deals goes like this: 2003 he got Jeff Suppan (for future batting champ Freddy Sanchez) and he was 3-4 in 11 games with a 5.53 ERA. He also got Scott Sauerbeck, who had a 6.82 ERA in 26 games. In 2005 Tony Graffanino was a solid addition to replace the struggling Mark (fog horn) Bellhorne by hitting .319, but he did make a huge error that cost them a game when they were swept out of the playoffs by the White Sox. In 2006 they were sellers after a crazy run of injuries led the team to implode after losing five straight to the Yanks at Fenway in mid-August. In 2007 he gave up Kason Gabbard and outfielder David Murphy. Gabbard hasnít done much, but Murphy, who may not be as good as Brandon Moss, but he does have just two less RBI than Manny as I write this.

Of course that doesnít answer your question. The obvious answer is that they need help getting to Papelbon. The names youíre hearing are Brian Fuentes, who didnít impress me in the series last fall, and Damaso Marte, who I wouldnít know if I fell over him. And a bigger question is what are you willing to give up of the young turks to get either? My answer, for those guys, is not all that much. But if you want my vote, Iím hoping for Marte. I like relievers who strike people out and he has 45 in 46.1 innings.

Dear Dave: Are the Sox going to pick up Mannyís $20 million and are they going about it the right way? What to make of the latest Manny-being-Manny moment? Bill Wright, 2004 Wideacher St., Keller-Williams, Vt.
Dear Bill: First of all, where the heck is Keller-Williamson, Vt.? Is that like a hippie commune somewhere out by Keene left over from the í60s? Let me put it to you this way: youíve got a better chance of seeing Timothy Leary come walking through the door in that there hippie commune of yours than Manny does of seeing the $20 million. And that was the case before shenanigans like knocking down the traveling secretary over 16 tickets, smacking Kevin Youkilis, chirping at low talker John Henry in the Herald and barely being on pace to hit 30 and knock in 100. History tells you only Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt and Barry Bonds (who most think had help) had years close to their prime time numbers at 37 ó which Manny will be next year. As for how theyíve done it, itís no different than how Johnny Damon, Pedro, Derek Lowe, et al. were handled, so whatís the big surprise?.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling

7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial ó stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 ó Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury ó that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK ó it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 Mís for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did

02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon

Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat