There's only one way this week's sweep of the Kansas City Royals could have been sweeter for the Red Sox.
Mark Redman could have stayed behind after the Royals left town.
Now, let's not be fooled too much over the Royals lefty's performance yesterday, as he flummoxed the Red Sox' bats, allowing just the one run in eight innings. That's Mark Redman on a good day. A very good day.
But Mark Redman on a bad day might still be better than anything else the Red Sox have tried at the end of the rotation.
And he could very well be available, one of a handful of names the Royals will be looking to dump as we hurtle toward the July 31 baseball trading holiday. But Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals have received scant interest in Redman for some unknown reason. The Yankees just signed Sidney Ponson, mind you, and one of the biggest names rumored to be traded this month is Washington's Livan Hernandez, who, for lack of a better word, sucks.
"All of these teams are looking for pitching," one opposing scout told Dutton. "They're going to get down to the last few days, look around, and figure he's a good option."
So, why wait? Theo Epstein has seen what's out there, and saw firsthand what Redman can do when he's in a groove against one of the American League's top offensive clubs. Just two weeks ago, Redman stopped the powerful Blue Jays, who lead baseball with 948 hits, allowing just two runs over eight innings. In May, he earned a no-decision against the White Sox, whose 541 runs far and away lead baseball, allowing two earned runs over seven innings.
Redman has won six of his last nine starts, and has lowered his ERA dramatically in the process, from 6.80 at the start of last month, to 5.02 after yesterday's complete game loss. Consider that's the same number that Josh Beckett could call his own going into yesterday's win, and everybody is praising what a great idea it was to sign him to a three-year deal a day later.
Yes, Redman is the guy everybody was piling on just a week ago with his not-so-deserved addition to the AL All-Star team, but so what? All that means is that he's not one of the league's top 12-14 pitchers. Besides, perhaps you have not noticed the shambles your Red Sox rotation is currently in.
Curt Schilling looks to tie Beckett today with his 12th win of the season. After that, it's Round 3 of the Kyle Snyder experiment in Seattle, followed by Kason Gabbard's major league debut on Saturday.
Funny, I don't remember Gabbard being mentioned as one of this spring training's Magnificent Seven.
Or Jason Johnson.
Or David Pauley.
As it stands now, the Sox are down to a trio of dependable starters, and one of those is a rookie with just over a month experience in Jon Lester. Tim Wakefield appears destined to miss a month, and with a stress fracture, you have to imagine it could be more. That's not good news for a staff that often depends upon the knuckleballer to eat up innings, saving a bullpen that has been beleaguered at times this season.
David Wells will be back, a development most unexpected, and the thought is that the lefty might be able to give the Sox as many as 10 starts down the stretch. But even with Wells, there's still a hole to be filled, unless Snyder comes on like gangbusters all of a sudden.
I know, the thought of actually adding another Royals starter to your staff only further illustrates just how decimated you've become, but what other options are there out there to fill that hole? Abe Alvarez? No, thanks. If they're indeed available, Dontrelle Willis, John Smoltz, and Jason Schmidt is each going to cost top-flight prospects, an avenue the Red Sox baseball operations folks will not go down with good reason. Jon Lieber can be had, but I get hesitant when a guy in the NL has an ERA skyrocketing toward 6.00.
With little interest currently in Redman, the Red Sox should take advantage before it grows over the next week. But for a guy who is 6-1 since the beginning of June, yesterday might have opened more eyes than the Boston front office might have liked. In the final year of a deal that pays him $4.5 million this season, he'd be a cheap, short-term investment for the Sox, and one certainly better than what they've sent to the mound lately in the No. 5 slot. On the flip side, the Royals aren't re-signing him, so they'll take what they can get, which admittedly might not be too much.
The Red Sox have gotten exactly two wins this entire season out of Wells, Pauley, Johnson, Snyder, and Lenny DiNardo combined. And yet, somehow they have a 1 1/2-game lead on New York, a testament to just how good Schilling, Beckett, Lester, and Wakefield have been.
Redman won't always be what he was yesterday. But the Red Sox don't need him to be.
"I don't expect to get traded," Redman told the Globe yesterday. "You don't look forward to that. I'm wearing Kansas City on my shirt, and that's who I'm pitching for. It's been told that if it looks good for the club, and if it could help the club out, then they might make moves. But I'm not really concerned about it."
The Sox should be. And right now, before increased interest makes the cost prohibitive.