Mailbag: Disappointing season

Editor's note: Curt Schilling answers user questions in an occasional mailbag for ESPNBoston.com. Click here to ask Curt a question for his next mailbag.

Q: As a Sox fan should I be disappointed by this season or should I be happy that the team has even remained this competitive with so many injuries? I'm leaning toward disappointed -- I know they've had injuries, but I still expect them to be a playoff team. -- DaveJ (North Carolina)

A: Who wouldn't be disappointed? I mean they entered the season with a consensus top of the heap rotation and defense, and they're pretty much out of it going into September. I expected Josh Beckett to have a huge year, John Lackey to eat innings and win games. If you told me Clay Buchholz would enter September in the Cy discussion, Adrian Beltre would be a top 10 MVP guy and David Ortiz would hit close to 30 homers, I'd say cool, playoffs! Injuries were huge, but everyone has them. I feel like the Sox certainly were equipped for some, and if the guys they expected good years from had them, they'd be in the running because Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald and Felix Doubront have been huge. Ryan Kalish I love -- he's a dirt dog, Trot Nixon-type player.

Q: What do you think of Victor Martinez as a catcher? Do you see the Sox putting up the $ it will take to get him to come back? I like him a lot, but I'm just not sure defensively he should be an everyday catcher. -- Mike (Pittsfield, Mass.)

A: I think he's gotten a lot better. Optimally you'd have a roster that had a second catcher that could split duties (which I felt they had this year with Jason Varitek doing well) and also a roster that would allow Vic to DH and play some 1B. You can't take ABs from Youkillis, no way. But I guess the answer is yes to me, he's a big league catcher. If I could catch him 100 games and play him somewhere else for 40 that would be my best bet. Having said that, there will be a huge market for him this winter.

Q: Hey Curt -- what do you think will end up happening this offseason with Beltre? -- Bill (Holliston)

A: He's going to get paid. I think he'll end up getting 1-2 more years than the Sox will go.

Q: Do you think the Sox will look into trading Dice-K this offseason? His contract wouldn't be too bad for another team and I just wonder if he and the Sox have sort of grown tired of their relationship. -- Larry (Lawrence, Mass.)

A: I don't know. What I do know is the age old adage "you can never have enough pitching" will always ring true and you don't trade it if you don't have a surplus.

Q: Hey Curt -- Lackey and Beckett are having good seasons, but not great like the money we are paying them. Why has Beckett really not been the same Beckett of 2007? Why has Lackey not been as good as he was the last few years, when he was the Angels' ace? -- Chris Welch (Newton, Mass.)

A: I think Josh has been hurt. I don't know it and I haven't asked him, but I don't think he's been 100 percent. If he hasn't been hurt, then it's just been a horrible year. I have a hard time going there because the stuff and drive and work ethic tend to be things that allow you to overcome bad weeks/months during the course of a season. I think the thing with Lackey is simple. He's never been a strikeout guy. Replace 20 or so night games in Oakland, Seattle, Anaheim and Texas with Tampa, NY, Toronto and Baltimore, and if you are a guy who relies on balls being put in play, your numbers are going to change, and not for the better. It's the toughest division in baseball to pitch in.

Q: Curt -- I love the column. There's been something that's been bothering me for a while -- D-Train (Dontrelle Willis) has been DFA'd twice this year. Why haven't the Red Sox taken a flier on him? He's still young and he was a great pitcher at one point; a chance to pitch for a contender and play with Beckett and Mike Lowell would've really motivated him and allowed for an easy transition. I'm sure John Farrell would've been a great influence on him, too. Would the Sox consider him as a project over the winter? -- Rick (Worcester, Mass.)

A: The amount of teams that have passed tells you all you need to know. Few people, if any, believe he can get back to where he was. Many saw this coming a long time ago. That delivery with those mechanics and that pitching style did not add up to a lengthy stay at the top of a rotation in the major leagues. I love the kid, always have, but I've always questioned why someone didn't get to him sooner to tweak some things that would give him a lengthier shelf life in the ML.

Q: Hey Curt, do you think Beckett still has physical issues? Just seems to me like that could be an explanation for his struggles? -- Jimbo (Andover)

A: I do. I think he'll deny it but I think he's been bothered by nagging things all year long.

Q: Hey Curt, do you follow the NFL at all? What do you think about the Patriots' chances this year? -- HK (Boston)

A: I love their chances. Anytime you have Brady under center, Welker and Moss to catch balls, you're going to score points. I think Belichick is as good as anyone at putting personnel into the right places to fit the scheme and maximize talent. I think their defense is going to be better than many think, too. If you are going into this season, what QB do you have confidence in to steer your club in the AFC East? Sanchez? Henne? Brady?

Curt Schilling, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2004-08, is a three-time World Series champion, six-time MLB All-Star and founded 38 Studios. Curt and his wife, Shonda, have raised money to fight ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) through Curt's Pitch for ALS, and have encouraged awareness for sun protection through the SHADE Foundation. They recently announced their support for the Asperger's Association of New England after their third child was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Shonda's book, The Best Kind of Different, Our Family's Journey with Aspergers Syndrome, is a NY Times Best Seller