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July 9, 2007 at 8:02 PM

Q&A with PawSox Broadcaster Dan Hoard

PawSox broadcaster Dan Hoard has agreed to do a series of Question and Answer segments with SoxProspects.com moderator Mike Broxterman. Here is the first installment:

MB: David Murphy has yet to show the power that would allow him to be a corner outfielder at the major league level. Is his defense in centerfield strong enough to merit playing there in Boston, even as a reserve?

DH: Murph is solid defensively at all of the outfield positions and recently made a catch in centerfield that PawSox manager Ron Johnson called "the best he has ever seen in person." His lack of power production is something of a mystery because he got stronger in the off-season and puts on impressive shows in B.P. In any case, he could certainly help the Red Sox as an extra outfielder if they dealt Wily Mo or decided he was too much of a defensive liability.

MB: Craig Breslow has very impressive numbers this year. Do you believe he is ready to pitch in Boston right now? Could he be more than a situational reliever (LOOGY)?

DH: Craig is absolutely ready to pitch in the big leagues and is going to have a long major league career in Boston or elsewhere. His splits suggest he does not have to be a situational lefty. While he's been lights-out against lefties (.163 BA), he's been very good against righties as well (.231 BA). He throws 4 pitches for strikes (FB, CU, CUT, CH) and will throw any of them at any point in the count. I know Kevin Youkilis would like to see Breslow earn a spot in Boston in order to get out of player rep duties. As a Yale grad, it's almost inevitable that Breslow will have that role with a big league team at some point. He'll raise the collective IQ of whatever MLB team he eventually pitches for. He recently used the word "elucidate" in an interview with the Providence Journal.

MB: How far is George Kottaras from being a capable major league backup?

DH: George still has to grow offensively and defensively, but is only 24 years old and has shown considerable improvement since the start of the season. He could also use better luck, because he's been something of a "foul tip pinata" behind the plate and has had to miss games due to a variety of minor injuries. He does have the potential to be a good offensive catcher.

MB: Give us your diagnosis on Craig Hansen.

DH: It's been a rough season for Craig, but there's nothing wrong with his arm. His fastball is still consistently clocked in the mid-to-high 90's and his slider has looked much better in recent outings. It's all about control and command. If he can get ahead of hitters he can dominate, but he hasn't been able to do that this season. Still, I guarantee that every team in baseball would love to have a 23-year-old arm like that. Unlike most players, he never experienced failure on his way up to Boston and that's usually part of the growing process in the minor leagues. He'll be fine if he can throw first-pitch strikes on a regular basis.

MB: Jon Lester’s first few starts in Pawtucket were very encouraging, while his last few seemed quite ordinary. What is he doing differently? Is he working on one thing in particular?

DH: He isn't doing anything differently or working on anything in particular--he's just had a few subpar games. It's really been a matter of throwing his fastball for strikes. In his first few outings for Pawtucket he was able to and had low pitch counts. In recent starts, he's struggled to command his pitches. It's nothing too surprising for a 23-year-old kid who dealt with a life-threatening illness less than a year ago. His stuff looks great--it's just a matter of consistency.

MB: Who is the most exciting player you've seen in the past month (friend or foe)?

DH: I'm sure you probably expect me to say Jacoby Ellsbury, but I'm going to go with Brandon Moss. He's actually 5 days younger than Ellsbury and is having an exceptional season , leading the IL in doubles and ranking in the top 5 in HR and RBI. We haven't seen a better power-hitting OF prospect in the league this season and he's been solid defensively as well.

Once again, thanks to Dan Hoard for the session, and we can't wait to do it again.