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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sox Trades    

From Buster Olney's blog:
Anybody who has struck rock while using a shovel could relate to the next trade tidbit. Heard from two talent evaluators yesterday that Boston is very active in trying to come up with a large and creative deal, involving more than two teams. Smart thinking, one of them said, if it all works. Crazy stuff you wouldn't normally think of, said another. An executive with an AL team reports that he's heard that a scout was rushed off his area coverage to go scout Boston minor leaguers.

But here's where the rock-striking part comes into play. I don't know if this is just a pebble of thought on the part of the Red Sox, or if this is a larger trade boulder, like the huge Nomar Garciaparra trade Boston hit on a couple of years ago, with all those moving parts. The Red Sox are looking for pitching, and they've talked about Julio Lugo in the past.

Red Sox executives are mum; execs from other teams say they are very active.

Take it for what it's worth.
It's not worth much without a name or two.  But because it's fun to speculate, my guess is that Dontrelle is involved.  Nobody else on the market is worth that kind of trouble, and Theo might be thinking that the best way to lower the price is to confuse the shit out of Florida.  Maybe Dontrelle, Carlos Lee/The Fonso, Boston's pitching prospects and Anaheim's positional prospects are going to play a big round of Musical Uniforms.  That'd be interesting.  Maybe he just wants those teams to spend a lot of time thinking about that trade, so as to distract them from talking to other teams.

(Remember the proposed "Manny/Huff/Milledge" three-way from last summer?  It was never gonna happen, but everyone else waited to see if it went down before making their own trades.  When it fell through, everyone had wasted so much time that the deadline was useless for pretty much everyone in the American League.  Brilliant maneuver.  Theo Pimpstein is truly a man among boys in the world of general management.)

Anyway, the one thing the Red Sox have to have is another starter.  Schilling/Beckett/Wakefield/Lester is good enough for the regular season, but we can't have Wakie or Lester starting a short-series Game 3.  So what are our options?

* Matt Clement excused himself from consideration with last October's performance in Chicago (to say nothing of this season's utter meltdown).
* David Wells is a non-factor until Boeing develops an airplane capable of takeoff while Wells is on board. 
* Jon Lieber has succeeded in the past (against Boston) but I'll pass, unless the Phillies send cash or sweeten the deal somehow.
* Jason Jennings has been mentioned.  I don't like him much, but as a Colorado escapee he could be the 2006 version of Shawn Chacon.  Maybe?
* The Jake Peavy deal fell through, and for good reason.  But still, you don't turn down someone of his talent, no matter how bad a year he's having.  He's almost... almost... worth punting 2006 for, especially if the Pads would actually accept some variation on Lowell + a middling prospect.  That's just an insane proposition.
* Dontrelle is clearly the thoroughbred in the race.  Dunno how he'd like the fishbowl effect of Boston, but if he's truly as happy-go-lucky as he looks, then he might go nicely.  They have to make a run at him no matter what, just so the Yankees don't get him.

As for the bullpen, you can always use more relievers.  However, the primary goal of acquiring relievers would be to keep said relievers away from Toronto, Chicago and New York, who are all in dire need of setup men.  Our guys are actually doing pretty well... Timlin's a rock, Hansen and Delcarmen are performing admirably (if adventurously) and Paps is Paps.  Furthermore, Keith Foulke is on his way back; if he's actually healthy (and not cooked) then maybe he returns to that "tight spot wild-card" role he assumed earlier in the year.

A pinch-hitting bench bat would be helpful, too, if only because they can be leased for the low-low price of a PTBNL.  I think the Sox are actually pretty well set in the bench department, between Wily Mo, Gabe Kapler, Willie Harris, Dougie "Chicken Parm" Mirabelli and Alex Cora, with Hee Seop Choi languishing in the minors as a likely September call-up.  Still, there's always room for improvement.

So, here's a breakdown of potential ins and outs.  Hopefully I haven't missed anything...

Assets
Craig Hansen
Jon Lester
Manny Delcarmen
Julian Tavarez (NL teams are actually asking about him.  SIGN THE DEAL!!!)
Keith Foulke (Him too!  What's next, a Godfather offer for Clement?)
Matt Clement (ahem)
Mike Lowell
Wily Mo Peña
Trot Nixon
Various also-ran pitching prospects (Kason Gabbard, David Pauley, Clay Buchholz, Abe Alvarez, et al)
Various not-yet-ran positional prospects (Brandon Moss, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, et al)

Needs
End-of-the-rotation starter
Middle/long reliever
Bench bat

Known Targets
Jake Peavy
Dontrelle Willis
Jon Lieber
Tom Gordon
Rheal Cormier
Julio Lugo (please... no...)
Jamey Wright
Jason Jennings

Also Out There (Among Others)
Carlos Lee
Alfonso Soriano
Aramis Ramirez
Livan Hernandez
Pat Burrell
Bobby Abreu
Gil Meche (I'm no fan, but if he's cheaper than Clement he's better than Clement)
Barry Zito

Looking at this group, it looks like a deal with Philadelphia for Gordon and Lieber will yield the most quality per prospect.  Philly does seem anxious to clean house, come hell or high water, so the Sox can probably get those guys cheap.  Further, a Gordon-based deal keeps Flash out of the Bronx, which will only expedite the inevitable placement of a fork in Scott Proctor's back.  Anyway, all the other quality arms on the market will come at a higher price, or lock us into that pitcher well beyond 2006, and Lieber isn't that bad an addition (by deadline standards, anyway) so who knows.

Thoughts?

4 Comments:

  • What what it's worth, it looks like the Mariners aren't selling on Meche. They've clearly decided that they're contenders, so they'll keep him, unless some crazy deal makes their pitching better. And that may be better for you guys. He's certainly more reliable than Clement right now, but I wouldn't trust it. USS Mariner thinks he's made only minor adjustments, and that if his control falters even a little, he'll be a complete mess again. See recent Blue Jays game.

    I don't understand why Florida would trade Dontrelle. He's not old, and their payroll is miniscule already. If I was them, I would be working very hard on an extension right now. I hope he stays put; I think the Marlins could be good again next year. Certainly they have a pretty bright future in the next few years. He seems to like it there, he should stay. But I'm sure it will be pretty tempting to test the market too, so who knows.

    I wouldn't go anywhere near Jamey Wright, he sucks. Jason Jennings looks pretty good to me, but he's actually been better at home than on the road--and aren't the Rockies still in the playoff hunt themselves? They need him.

    Honestly, Zito is the only pitcher on your list that I trust to be good down the stretch this year, and his cost might make it not worth it. If you could get Peavy, I say go for it unless there are indications he's hurt; I don't think that's punting '06. But I don't think you can. I think you're right that Lieber/Gordon is the safest deal, but I'm also not sure that improves you guys that much.

    What a crappy market for pitching. Makes me even more sure that the next Mariners move should be to promote Francisco Cruceta, DFA Julio Mateo, and move Piñeiro to long relief. That way, if Cruceta falls on his face, you can plug Piñeiro back in and you're no worse off than you were before, since anybody in the organization could do Mateo's job better than he has been lately. Not confidence inspiring though.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:45 PM  

  • The main reason I'm not crapping my pants in anticipation of a D-Train trade, apart from the price, is that we won't really need Player X past this season. That's because I still advocate moving The Smear into the rotation next season. He's SO going to waste as our closer. That would give us Schilling, Beckett, Paps, Lester, and Wakefield, which is a prototype rotation. Jason Jennings wouldn't even make the TEAM let alone the rotation. Hence, if you're not acquiring someone of Peavy or Willis' stature, the whole enterprise strikes me as a waste of time.

    I suppose the Paps plan only makes sense if Craig Hansen heats up enough over the last few months to justify a "Hansen for Closer 2007" campaign. He's raw, but the guy throws high 90s heat; how far can he be? If he proves himself capable, and if D-Train costs us two or three blue-chip prospects, wouldn't the Sox be better off saying no to Dontrelle, moving Paps into the rotation for '07, and trading for a stopgap closer in December? No way that some guy keeping Hansen's seat warm will net as much as Florida would want in return for Willis.

    Or maybe you trade some prospects to Houston for the Cadillac of stopgap closers, Brad Lidge. Given that Willis is a lefty, and thus is prone to a collapse of Steve Averian proportions, is Lidge really that much less a risk? Especially if you're giving up less to take on Lidge?

    Ahhhh, whatever. I just hope they don't trade Peña. (Or as Jesse referred to him in another thread, "Mo Peña.")

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5:24 PM  

  • Yeah, fair enough, I still don't see why Florida would trade Dontrelle. There's no good reason. Their whole mantra during last year's teardown was that they were going to rebuild around Cabrera and Willis.

    I don't know, I don't see them moving Papelbon mid-season with the success he's having. I predict a less interesting trade deadline than most of us would hope. Certainly not Lidge. Aren't the Astros in the hunt anyway? Of course, they are known for trading their awesome-seeming closers and replacing him with someone better.

    You know, I think I actually gave up looking for Peña's stats one time because I couldn't find him under "M"...no matter how many times I realize the obvious, I just keep going back.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 6:43 PM  

  • Well of course there's no good reason to trade Dontrelle. I'd just assume have Theo offer the most attractive reason for Florida to do something stupid.

    Also, while I pulled the Brad Lidge thing out of thin air, apparently he is indeed available... interesting, though the Astros aren't in Dump Mode or anything.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:19 PM  

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