Many former Red Sox players were on the ballot but fell short of the 75 percent needed to get to the Hall of Fame. What are the chances Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra get the most prized recognition in baseball in 2015?
-- Jack C., Sudbury, Mass.
Pedro is about as automatic as you can get on the first ballot. If you want to see him get inducted, you might as well make your travel arrangements now to be in Cooperstown during that July weekend in 2015. Unfortunately, injuries robbed Garciaparra of maintaining the success he had earlier in his career, so I think it's doubtful he will be a Hall of Famer.
With Martinez going on to the Hall of Fame Ballot for 2015 and probably getting in on the first try, do you then see the Red Sox retiring No. 45, as that is the last qualification the team has for retiring numbers?
-- Chris C., Londonderry, N.H.
Absolutely, no doubt. I'm guessing there will be a ceremony at Fenway in the summer of 2015, either shortly before or after the induction ceremony in Cooperstown, in which the Red Sox put No. 45 on the façade in right field. It should be a great night.
Any idea which, if any, of the 2013 Red Sox players will attend the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner?
-- Al B., Danville, N.H.
Last I heard, the players who are definitely expected to be on hand are Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. Ben Cherington and John Farrell will be there as well. Jon Lester is a maybe. And perhaps there will be a surprise guest. You never know.
Are the Red Sox giving Xander Bogaerts No. 2 on his jersey?
-- Henry Q., Greenwich, Conn.
The roster page on redsox.com still lists No. 72 for Bogaerts. Knowing Bogaerts and how humble he is, I'm guessing he hasn't asked the team to change his number. But it would not surprise me in the least if he reports to Spring Training and has a No. 2 jersey draped on his locker.
Do you think there is any chance the Red Sox would consider trading Lester if they can't reach a contract agreement?
-- Nick S., Pittsfield, Mass.
Absolutely not. In a worst-case scenario, Lester pitches out his contract and leaves as a free agent after the season, and all the Red Sox get is a Draft pick. The value of his 2015 season for the Red Sox, especially if they can make a strong run at repeating, could be greater than what they would get in a trade. Never underestimate the value of a season, as Theo Epstein once said.
By trading Lester before his contract runs out, I'm guessing there could be a mutiny in the clubhouse unless it was an absolute blockbuster that brought back a superstar in his prime. These players want to repeat, and I don't think that trading Lester would aid that cause.
Why doesn't anyone seem excited about Jackie Bradley Jr. playing center? I realize the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury is hard to take, but we all knew it was coming. Bradley had some struggles at the big league level, but so did Dustin Pedroia when he first came up. Give the kid a chance.
-- Tim T., Albuquerque, N.M.
I'm not sure it's a lack of excitement. I just think it's more of an unknown. How can anyone really know that Bradley is going to hit at the Major League level until he actually does it. You never know when things will click for a prospect. Maybe it will be this year. But there's also a chance it could be a year or two away. With Bradley, you just have to wait and see.
Reading your response about why the Red Sox didn't sign Ellsbury, are we no longer going to see the "lifers" unless they're willing to take a pay cut to stay in Boston (i.e. Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek)?
-- Frank G., Torrington, Conn.
It all depends on what is important to the player. In the case of Pedroia, his top priority was to stay in Boston, so he was willing to sign early and perhaps sacrifice himself some dollars down the road. But you also have to look at it like this: The Red Sox took a leap of faith by doing this. What if Pedroia suffers a major injury a few years before his contract is up? You have to look at these types of contracts as good-faith deals on both sides. I wouldn't rule out the Red Sox keeping other players for long-term deals.
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day this week, I was wondering: Who was the first African-American player to wear a Red Sox uniform? Thank you for your time.
-- Jarret W., Medway, Mass.
Pumpsie Green broke the color line for the Red Sox in 1959. Earl Wilson, who went on to have a solid career as a pitcher, followed one week later. The Red Sox were the last Major League team to integrate.
What do you see as Brandon Workman's role going forward? He pitched well out of the bullpen, but I really see him as a starter.
-- Shaun H., Twin Mountain, N.H.
The beauty of Workman is that he looks like the type of guy who can do the job in both roles. That type of versatility can be invaluable when it comes to building a pitching staff. Based on the way the 2014 roster shapes up, I'm guessing he will at least start the season in the bullpen.
I agree with everything the Red Sox have done this offseason except one thing -- letting Jarrod Saltalamacchia go. Why was the third year just too much, when you consider it would only have cost them $7 million? Christian Vazquez would have been called up in Year 2 of that contract at the earliest and Blake Swihart in Year 3 -- maybe. Why not have an above-average veteran help them along the way?
-- Tyler M., Charlottesville, Va.
Time will tell if they would have been better off keeping Saltalamacchia. I think you have some good arguments. But keep in mind that the Red Sox have more information on these players than we do, so they were in a better position to make this evaluation. I do agree that it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.