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LaRoche trade synopsis

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  July 22, 2009 02:24 PM

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A brief breakdown of what the Red Sox' acquisition of Adam LaRoche means:

WHAT THEY GOT
With the Sox staggering after the All-Star, the need for an additional bat became more glaring. The Sox have hit .194 since the All-Star break while scoring 12 runs in five games and falling a game behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Sox have lost four straight; they haven’t lost five straight since April 23 to April 27 last year.

LaRoche’s substandard stats so far this season -- a .247 batting average, a .329 on-base percentage, and a .441 slugging percentage -- should not be taken as cause for alarm based on his career history. Before the All-Star break in his career, LaRoche has batted .252 with a .326 on-base and a .447 slugging. After the break, he is .296/.357/.544, which equates to an OPS jump of .773 to .901. Simply: LaRoche has been nearly a minor league player before the break and virtually an All-Star after it. LaRoche could add also some power. He has 12 home runs this season, and in 2006 with the Atlanta Braves, he hit a career-best 32 home runs.

In adding LaRoche, the Red Sox will have to alter their major league roster, meaning a Red Sox position player will likely be optioned or placed on the disabled list whenever LaRoche arrives. This is purely speculative, but Mark Kotsay has been battling a calf injury, and while it improved over the All-Star break, the Sox could give him more rest without sacrificing any infield versatility by putting him on the DL.

WHAT THEY GAVE
Neither Argenis Diaz nor Hunter Strickland were considered cornerstones of the Red Sox farm system. Diaz, 22, was on the 40-man roster. Diaz entered spring training in major league widely considered the best defensive player in the Red Sox system. He proved able at making flashy plays, but he consistently failed to make routine plays, a problem that followed him to Double A Portland. Diaz committed 18 errors this year.

Trading Diaz, in one sense, shows the Red Sox’ faith in Yamaico Navarro, who was promoted from Class A Salem this afternoon to take over in Portland. The Red Sox signed Navarro, 21, out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. In 23 games with Salem this season, Navarro hit .319 with a .915 OPS and made five errors. The Red Sox also recently Cuban defector Jose Iglesias, which might have helped make Diaz expendable.

Strickland, 20, had pitched for Greenville this year. The Red Sox drafted him out of high school in the 18th round in 2007. Strickland, who is 6-feet-5-inches, went 5-4 with Greenville this year with a 3.35 ERA and a 51-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s.

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