Well, that was anticlimactic.
Julio Lugo ends up with the Dodgers. Kip Wells to the Rangers. Andruw Jones was a pipe dream.
The Red Sox? Nada.
No Roger Clemens. No Alfonso Soriano. No Brad Lidge. No Ryan Shealy.
A resounding thud over on Yawkey Way? Nah.
“We came close on a lot of things but that’s the nature of these deals,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “It’s easy to come close hard to find something that works for both teams.”
While the Yankees, just a half-game off the pace in the AL East, re-stocked — adding outfielder Bobby Abreu and pitcher Cory Lidle from the Phillies, and today picking up Pirates first baseman Craig Wilson (.267, 13 home runs, 41 RBIs) for Shawn Chacon — it remained status quo in Boston, despite what Epstein called “countless opportunities” for the Red Sox on Major League Baseball’s trade deadline day.
David Wells’s return to the rotation tonight now becomes even more magnified, as Epstein couldn’t find any pitching worth the price on the trade market. If Wells is less than satisfactory, Epstein and the baseball ops folks are sure to take some heat from a rabid fan base, which was waiting for the team to make a move today just for the sake of making a move.
“Our approach to the Yankees is to respect them and to forget about them until October,” Epstein said. “To scrap that approach and all of a sudden get emotional and reactive would be to throw out the window everything we believe in.”
Boston stuck to its guns, and held on to its young ones, refusing to deal any piece of its core of young talent. Deals for Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, and Craig Hansen were nonexistent. The Red Sox, Epstein said, are simply not going to sell the future for players of modest impact just to grab headlines. Ah, the new New Red Sox.
“We have a long-term plan and as much as we desperately wanted to do something to help out our major league team, it would have been short-sighted to sacrifice that long-term plan,” he said. “We were asked over and over again for a lot of good players. It just wasn’t worth it.”
Remember, in Epstein’s view, this was the year the Red Sox might have to take a step back in order to remain a consistently competitive club over the next decade. Giving up top prospects in order to make a splash doesn’t bring that objective to fruition. Lester for Jason Schmidt? Lose Schmidt to free agency, and the trade becomes one of Bagwellian proportions. Anyone for Kip Wells? Uh, no thanks.
Epstein told the press just after 5 p.m. that the results of the day were disappointing, but you have to wonder how distraught he really is. In a way, the fact that he was able to hold onto the future was a victory of sorts for him in the realm of the franchise — not making a trade for the sake of the future in order to satisfy the PR department today, a serious sticking point in the gorilla suit departure last fall.
“In the end you have to do a balancing act. Is it worth sacrificing big pieces of your future for an improvement over two months? In the end we didn’t think it was worth it.”
It wasn’t. Particularly when what you might get coming back from injury (Wells, Tim Wakefield) is better than any second-tier guys you might have been able to pay too much for.
The Red Sox will live or die with what they have. And in the long run, that’s the road best taken.
Short term? All eyes are on Wells tonight.