Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/2/12
Free agency is about to start and the Red Sox are expected to be major players. Unlike last season, when the organization was financially strapped, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has the flexibility to add the quality players needed to improve the club. Before the negotiations get serious, let's take a look at this week's mailbag. Kind of curious about your article regarding Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes, we all know what happened to him in 2010 -- he was mashed by Adrian Beltre (unintentionally, of course). As a trainer, I knew immediately that he was gone for the season. This year, his shoulder was totally messed up by "forget-his-name" dropping his full weight on Ells in the collision at second base. These were two very major injuries. Without those occurring, I think Ells would have had more consistency that looked like last year. Why do you play up his inconsistency instead of getting how serious these injuries were? Thanks. Enjoy your articles, otherwise.                                                           --Lizbeth Glickman, Waltham Great question and, for the record, Ellsbury collided with Tampa Bay's Reid Brignac at second base. While the shoulder injury sidelined Ellsbury for three months, he had the opportunity to rebound and carry the Red Sox in the second half of the season. But Ellsbury never found his stride in 74 games, finishing with a .271 batting average. Rust and timing issues from the long layoff were certainly to blame in the beginning. But ex-manager Bobby Valentine and ex-hitting coach Dave Magadan each noted that he never developed a rhythm. So much so, Valentine sat Ellsbury in favor of Che-Hsuan Lin in the season finale against the Yankees. Upon his return in July, Ellsbury belted just four home runs and drove in 23 RBIs, well short of his 2011 standards. To put it in perspective, Carl Crawford batted .282 with three homers and 19 RBIs in just 31 games. Ellsbury had enough games in July, August, and September to get into a groove and validate his accolades from 2011. Maybe he'll regain that MVP-type form in a healthy full season, but he'll need to be consistent. How can you say Daniel Nava is not the answer in left field because he's near the end of his career, age wise, when the free agents you mentioned are all in the same age range or older? Why spend big money when you have the talent in-house? According to my calculations, Torii Hunter is SEVEN years older, and you recommend him over Nava? Hunter's stats do not make him a better player than Nava. His AGE makes him more of a gamble! Same with the other players you mentioned. They are no younger than Nava, so to me, they would definitely not be worth the investment. Nava could field the position until someone like Bradley is ready.                                                  --Richard Hutchins, Bennington, VT I never said Daniel Nava was at the end of his career. But I noted that he may have reached his ceiling –– given his talent at this age –– and would be better served as an alternative off the bench. There's a disparity between Nava's level of talent and that of Torii Hunter. For years, Hunter has been a perennial All-Star at the plate and one of the top defensive outfielders in the game. While Nava is valuable contributor, he doesn't have an All-Star pedigree. He's a decent defensive outfielder who is capable of stepping in when necessary and finding ways to get on base. At 37, Hunter is far from his elite status. But he still has a track record of success and receives the benefit of the doubt. Any chance the Red Sox, or any other MLB team will consider signing Daisuke Matsuzaka next year? I think they should since he's still recovering from Tommy John surgery and could even come out of the bullpen if needed. And, since Farrell is manager now, he could help, seeing he was the pitching coach when Dice-K was really good. And any chance [Jason Varitek] will be moved down into the dugout as a coach, even though he's in the front office? I really hope you reply, he's my favorite pitcher and catcher! --Ben Clemens, Victor, N.Y. I highly doubt the Red Sox will re-sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, especially since he's pitched so inconsistently over the course of his career in Boston. If Matsuzaka elects to stay in the majors as opposed to returning to Japan, I bet another team will gamble on him. But pitching away from the bright lights of Boston could bode well for the hurler. As for your question about Jason Varitek, I think it all depends on whether Gary Tuck exercises his option to return as a bullpen coach and catching instructor. Tuck is weighing personal and professional reasons about whether to return. Should Tuck leave, it's likely that Varitek would step in. His knowledge of Boston's pitching staff as well as Tuck's coaching style would make for a seamless transition in that role. Please tell Carl Crawford to stop talking. So far, that's all we have seen in Boston and now L.A. for a mere $142 million. Ask Carl, if you combine your last three seasons, 2010 with TB and 2011-12 with Boston, What would your new contract look like? What would you expect to get paid? Would you still be blaming the Boston fans and coaches for not coddling you? What if your struggles and injuries continue in L.A.?--Shane Andarowski, Brooklyn Give Crawford a break. Sure, he fell completely short of matching the expectations that come with signing a $142 million contract because of struggles and injuries, but he's not blasting Boston. He should receive some respect for attempting to play through the pain of his troublesome elbow. Even with the elbow issues, Crawford offered optimism in 31 games, batting .282 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Crawford is simply admitting that he should've undergone Tommy John surgery earlier instead of succumbing to the pressure of fans and trying to fight through. He got caught up in trying to appease fans. Was it a foolish decision? Yes. But fans shouldn't vilify him for attempting to show some heart. Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.
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