The Boston Globe's Tony Massarotti was kind enough to answer some questions from us at Over The Monster regarding everything and anything Red Sox. Massarotti has been covering the Red Sox since 1994 when he was with the Boston Herald. In September, Massarotti made a move to the Globe where he has been covering the Red Sox ever since.
The Globe's Tony Massarotti.
1. There's been a lot of talk about the Red Sox making a deal with the Texas Rangers for a young catcher. A lot of hype surrounds Saltalamacchia, but he has yet to deliver on the promise. Teagarden seems like a more well-rounded player. Whom do you like more for the Red Sox, and who is the more likely target?
Teagarden seems like the more preferred choice given his defensive development to this stage, but the Red Sox love Saltalamacchia's upside and have for some time. (They tried to trade for him in 2007.) I think the club would do well to end up with either, though that could be difficult because Saltalamacchia could end up playing first base, too. Gerald Laird is a less desirable option, but one nonetheless.
2. If the Red Sox sign Teixeira, the conventional wisdom is that Youk will slide to 3B. Where does that put Mike Lowell?
On the trade market. Obviously, Lowell is coming off hip surgery, so he remains a great question. If the Red Sox have to hold onto him, Youkilis and Teixeira for a period of time, they would. But the shortage of third basemen in baseball would make Lowell quite tradeable if and when it comes to that. He is still a good player and signed for only two more years.
3. Do you think Clay Buchholz puts it back together this year and emerges as a more consistent major leaguer? Having thrown a no-no, he obviously has the talent.
Don't put much stock in the no-hitter. Most any pitcher can have a dominating game. (Joe Cowley, for example.) I still think Buchholz' greatest value is on the trade market. His performance last year was worrisome. If the Sox had dealt him last winter, they could have had the world for him.
4. Michael Bowden continues to be a highly rated Sox prospect, but you don't hear a lot about him. Is he destined for the Red Sox rotation, or is he more likely to be trade fodder?
Either. Of Buchholz and Bowden, I think the Sox are willing to trade one. Masterson seems like the best of the lot at the moment, and his versatility only increases his value. I'd be surprised only if BOTH Buchholz and Bowden are dealt.
5. Who is your 2009 minor league sleeper pick in the Red Sox organization?
Hmmm. Tough question. Not sure he qualifies as a sleeper, but Daniel Bard could be the next prospect to make his debut at Fenway. Also keep an eye on first baseman Lars Anderson, who is reaching a critical stage of his development. One other name: The Red Sox seem intrigued by catcher Luis Exposito, who played in low-A ball last year. Exposito is still a ways off, but he has overcome some personal problems and has good tools.
6. Dustin Pedroia has always been a line-drive hitter, but this year he showed some serious pop, hitting 17 dingers and 54 doubles. That's amazing for a guy who probably measures 5' 6" with his cleats off. How did his plate-approach change? Can we expect more of the same in '09?
I think Pedroia always has had power. One of the truly likeable things about him is that he doesn't use his size as an excuse. He swings to do damage - and frequently succeeds. I think we're looking at one of the best second basemen and best players in baseball here.
7. What happened to Jacoby Ellsbury's plate discipline? Will he rebound in '09?
I thought the hype surrounding Ellsbury was a little excessive to begin with because speed has a way of making jaws drop. At the end of the day, it's all about production. All in all, Ellsbury had a fine rookie year, complete with the struggles that many young players encounter. What happens from here is up to him, though I am a little worried about his ability to consistently handle the inside pitch.
8. What is the biggest organizational need, from top to bottom?
A relatively young power hitter, which is why I think the Sox are prepared to b reak the bank for Mark Teixeira. Do not underestimate the important of the TANDEM of Ortiz and Ramirez in the middle of the lineup over the last six years. Manny is now gone and Ortiz has two years left on his contract. Hitters like that are hard to find.
9. Do you think that the Rays will repeat their success and capture the AL East in '09? They have a ton of talent, but to have such a dramatic reversal in bullpen effectiveness from '07 to '08 is surprising.
I agree, but the Tampa system is deep. David Price will have a much bigger role in 2009 and players like B.J. Upton only will continue to get better. Will they win 97 games again? Hard to say as they had great health, particularly on the pitching staff. As we know, it takes a lot to win, from health to luck to talent. Typically, teams with smaller payrolls ebb and flow. Wouldn't be surprised if the Rays won the division again. Wouldn't be surprised if they won 85 games, either.
10. Have you heard anything from the clubhouse or front office regarding Tim Wakefield's health? There is a rumor that his shoulder has been bothering him, and that he is seriously considering retirement.
Wakefield has had some shoulder issues over the last few years, but he's already signed for 2009. He'll be back for another year at least. Clearly, his age (and shoulder issues) have stripped him of some versatility, preventing him from pitching between starts, on short rest, etc. But he's still a terrific fourth or fifth starter.
11. What Web sites or blogs, if any, do you read that cover the Red Sox?
In all honesty, not many outside of the major local newspapers. My wife and I have two small boys, so we're in the midst of years that require a commitment to our children. When our kids are both in school, I'm sure I'll have time to surf the web, etc. At the moment, I'm just not at the stage of life where I can give up that time, which means I've had to sacrifice some knowledge, etc.
12. And finally, what's been the hardest transition for you personally going from the Herald to the Globe?
Honestly, I've been startled at how seamless it has been. The job is really the same and I knew most of the writers/reporters anyway, so there really hasn't been much of a change. Obviously, I'm developing relationships with new bosses and editors, and those will take time. (There is no substitute for that.) The Herald was great to me and I miss many of the people there on a personal level, though I still keep in touch with some. The Globe obviously is a bigger operation that allows all writers/reporters a great platform for our work, which is nice.