Do you see Stephen Drew as the starting shortstop in 2013 or filling the role that Alex Cora served in 2006? Cora initially split time with Dustin Pedroia until Pedroia was ready to be in the everyday lineup. Afterwards, Cora was chiefly an important utility infielder for the Sox.
-- Tevi D., Mattapan, Mass.
It is an entirely different situation. The Red Sox paid Cora about $2 million in 2007, meaning that they were expecting he would be a reserve, not a starter. Drew isn't being paid $9.5 million to come off the bench. The job is his, unless he is injured or badly underperforms.
With the signing of Drew and Xander Bogaerts being ranked the Red Sox's top prospect by MLB.com, what does the future hold for Jose Iglesias? Could he be traded or will Boston keep him for a utility man?
-- Chase K., Neligh, Neb.
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Iglesias will make a lot of his own future by the way that he plays. I can't envision him as a utility man. He will probably start this year as an everyday player at Triple-A. By 2014, I imagine he would either be starting at short for the Red Sox or somebody else.
When will we hear something about the Mike Napoli deal and what is holding it up?
-- Tyler, Ozark, Mo.
It's amazing how long these things can drag on, and I'm sure the holdups are entirely unexciting things related to health clauses and insurance, etc. Back in 2007, J.D. Drew agreed to terms with the Red Sox in early December and didn't officially sign with the club until late January. In other words, despite the long delay, there is still a lot of hope that Napoli will be Boston's starting first baseman this season.
What are the chances that the Sox trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia for a another arm in the rotation? I think they need one more reliable starter.
-- Jon D., Kentlands, Md.
I'm not sure they necessarily want to trade Saltalamacchia, but it's undeniable that they've done a nice job of stockpiling possible trade chips that could help them upgrade an area like the rotation. The team could deal Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway. The Sox also have a surplus of right-handed relievers that might be attractive to another team.
Who is most likely to play center field if Jacoby Ellsbury is traded?
-- Dunnelen, N.J.
Shane Victorino has played center most of his career, so I'm sure he would be the choice. That said, I'd be stunned if Ellsbury is traded before the season starts.
Do you think Ryan Dempster will make any impact in the rotation?
-- Sean S., Charlotte, N.C.
The hope is that Dempster will pay big dividends with his durability and experience. Sometimes it's hard to put a price on a pitcher you can count on for 200 innings or more. Dempster isn't going to win the Cy Young Award winner, but the hope is that he can win 13-15 games and keep the Red Sox competitive in most of the games he pitches.
What is happening with Pedro Ciriaco? Why did they sign Drew when Ciriaco did everything and more defensively last season. Also, Drew isn't coming off an injury?
-- Bret R., Windsor, Ontario
The belief within the organization is that Ciriaco will maximize his potential as a super-utility player, moving all around the infield and perhaps gaining more comfort in the outfield. A player like that can bring great energy to a team coming off the bench. I don't think he has the type of bat to warrant 500-600 at-bats. In a perfect world, he probably gets about 250 at-bats.
It doesn't sound like the Sox have any imminent plans for Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa. Why aren't they expected to be in the starting rotation in 2013?
-- Tracy K., Highstown, N.J.
Banking too much on young, unproven pitchers -- even talented ones -- is a dangerous game to play. What the Red Sox will do is take a good, long look at them in Spring Training. If either one of them wants to bang down the door and win a rotation spot, the Red Sox wouldn't complain. Stay tuned.