Sunday Morning Trade Deadline Musings
The Buchholz dilemma might be the biggest issue going up to the trade deadline. His season-ending injury sunk the Red Sox in 2011. They probably won't make a move for a starter if they think he'll be healthy in the second half, but it doesn't seem like they can think he'll be healthy. That'll be the biggest test for Cherington's long-term focus in the next 2 weeks. Is Cherington willing to give up top prospects for a rent-a-pitcher? We don't really know
Trade Top Prospects?
Red Sox probably wouldn't have won in 2007 if they hadn't traded for Beckett, but who's to say what they could have done in subsequent years with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez on the roster.
The Astros were in the midst of a pennant race when they traded for Randy Johnson in 1998; they lost in the NLDS, and the pieces they sent to Seattle contributed to a 116-win team.
The Mariners thought they were a pitcher away when they traded Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and others for Erik Bedard. They weren't.
If Sox fans don't like hearing Anderson for Bagwell, what do you think about Lester and Ellsbury for Santana?
Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon.
Don't hoard prospects just to hoard them, but the best way to build a sustainable winner is to build from within.
I don’t advocate hoarding prospects all the time. You just have to be very careful with who you trade them for, because it has to be the right pitcher at the right time.
The story making the rounds these days is about the time the Yankees almost traded Mariano Rivera for Felix Fermin.
If another team values a player more highly than the Red Sox value that player, they should trade him. But you win from within, not by trading controllable young players away.
It's not as simple as trading prospects and not trading prospects. The best teams keep their best prospects and trade away the ones that look like duds. The Braves did that brilliantly for years.
One rumor from last week was the Cubs wanted two of the following for Garza: Ranaudo, Workman, De La Rosa, Webster, Owens- If Theo calls Ben should hang up the phone and let Matt Garza make 12 starts for someone else.
Moreover, Doubront should not be part of a package to get Garza in lieu of a top prospect.
Who would replace Doubront in the rotation? Doubront has a 2.70 ERA in the last two months
Lester is not at an early age to lose something off his fastball. He's almost 30. He's thrown almost 1,300 innings in the major leagues. These things happen. The lack of sharpness on his cutter is more concerning than the lack of velocity on his fastball.
That said, yes, looking ahead to the playoffs, you'd feel a lot more comfortable with a better pitcher than Lester starting Game 1 against Justin Verlander or Yu Darvish. But the only such pitcher who might be available is Cliff Lee, and it doesn't appear that Lee actually will be available. There are OK pitchers out there. But the market is pretty thin.
Which is why it was so encouraging to see Brandon Workman flirt with a no-hitter the other day. Imagine the boost a pitcher promoted from within could provide.
Lincecum would be a really intriguing name to me, both because of the ceiling there and because you could stick him in the bullpen (like the Giants did last postseason) if Buchholz comes back healthy. However, I doubt San Francisco is ready to sell just yet, and throwing a no-hitter tends to escalate a player's price on the trade market.
De La Rosa
The Sox haven’t called up De La Rosa as a reliever. It seems the Red Sox don't want to bounce De La Rosa between starting and relieving (because he's coming off Tommy John and hasn't thrown more than 110 innings in a season in his career). They don't want to put him in the pen until they're sure they won't need him as a depth starter.
That said, it'd probably be wise to see exactly what he can do in relief before July 31.
Boras says an outfield of Bradley, Victorino and Ellsbury would be outstanding.
I, however, still don't see Ellsbury returning on anything more than a one-year contract, and the way he's playing now means he won't be signing a one-year contract. He's going to be really expensive this winter, and he's going to be on the wrong side of 30.
Building from within means being willing to let veterans walk and replacing them with youngsters from within. Even with Bradley being unproven, the odds are against Ellsbury outperforming Bradley from 2014-2019 -- and Ellsbury will be exponentially more expensive.
Four of Carl Yastrzemski's five best seasons came before he was 30 (by OPS+), and the outlier was the year he was 30 exactly. Yaz did age gracefully; he didn't fall off a cliff or anything. And yes, some players continue to perform at a high level. Most don't. Albert Pujols' three worst seasons are his last three, ever since he turned 30.
Also, in today's market, Yaz would have commanded a $200 million contract if he hit free agency after an age-30 season in which he hit 40 home runs and had an on-base percentage of .452.
The list of players who fall off a cliff is much, much longer than the list of players who are able to do what Yaz did. Yaz is an outlier. That's why he's in the Hall of Fame.
It's noteworthy how rarely Ryan Lavarnway has played since David Ross went down. Lavarnway has basically only caught day games after night games, with Saltalamacchia getting the most regular playing time of his career
That suggests that Boston still isn't comfortable with Lavarnway behind the plate, for whatever reason. And that would suggest that the Sox would consider bringing Saltalamacchia back, especially since he's only two years older than Lavarnway.
It all comes down to price. Catching is a valuable commodity. Other teams are going to like Saltalamacchia's power -- and his maturity -- as well
A player's role in early August isn't necessarily a player's role in late September. An acquisition of Michael Young would mostly be a hedge against Iglesias tumbling back to earth and Middlebrooks failing to regain last year's form.
Iglesias hit .205 with a .273 on-base percentage and didn't have an extra-base hit on the road trip to Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland, so the tumbling back to earth might already be underway. Moreover, Iggy was 0 for 3 Saturday despite two tough at-bats.
If he's a .205 hitter the rest of the way, then, yes, it might make sense for him to be more of a utility infielder. If he bounces back and hits .275, then he's going to start over Young.
In Workman, Webster and De La Rosa, the Red Sox have three arms who would be fascinating additions to their bullpen if they chose to do that. Buchholz's injury means they have to keep some starting pitching in reserve, so they can't just make all three relief pitchers right now. But rather than trading Anthony Ranaudo for Jesse Crain, it makes sense to give at least one of those three a shot to pitch out of the bullpen and to see how it goes first.
Workman probably has less closer potential than the other two, I'd say. He's built more to be a 200-inning workhorse than either of those two are.
Pitching is such a precise exercise. It's not a matter of whether Buchholz actually can pitch. It's whether he can pitch well enough to help the team win. Lackey toed the slap and played through it two years ago. How'd that work out? It doesn't take much for a pitchers effectiveness to diminish. A pitch that misses its spot by three inches can get hit a long, long way.
We went through this two years ago with Buchholz, where everyone thought he had a minor back injury and why can't he pitch through it, and it turned out he had a stress fracture in his back. People shouldn’t tell athletes what they can and can't play through.