Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Archive for the tag “Matt Garza”

Red Sox Trade Talk

In a three team deal made last season, the Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners. The Sox shipped Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers who sent Trayvon Robinson back east. Robinson wasn’t a member of the Sox for long as he and Chih-Hsien Chiang headed to Seattle while Bedard joined a staff in Boston that had been limping along.

Bedard was not the sturdy crutch the Red Sox rotation desperately needed. The Sox missed the playoffs, due in large part to their inability to find quality outings from their starters. As the trade deadline approaches, the Red Sox find themselves in a similar position–a World Series offense and a Little League World Series starting pitching staff.

One could argue that last year’s version of the Red Sox was much better positioned to qualify for postseason play. I’m not going to debate facts, but the point is that this year’s team, like the 2011 squad, is in the thick of the playoff hunt, despite the bed-wetting that occurred at Fenway Park over the weekend. And if the members of the Red Sox front office believe that this team is one piece away from making the postseason, I would appreciate it if they would bring in a better starter than a soft lefty with bad knees who is on the back nine of his career.

Matt Garza would be an ideal addition. Unfortunately, there are a number of things that muddy the trade waters for not only the Red Sox, but many soon-to-be active teams around baseball. The complicating agent at work here is of course baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. But that is a story for a different day.

Let’s take a look at what we can glean from how the Red Sox approach this year’s trade deadline.

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Could the Red Sox actually be sellers?

The short answer here is an emphatic ‘no’. It’s not easy for a big market team that plays in front of a demanding fan base to begin to auctioning off pieces. The current ownership current group is obsessed with sellout streaks and commemorative bricks. It’s easier to push the product when their team is successful, or at least operating under the cloak of success. Yes, the Red Sox may be a .500 ball club, in last place in their division, and looking up at six teams in an expanded Wild Card race, but I wouldn’t look for brass to make a move that would end up qualifying the team as sellers. If the Red Sox end up going 0-6 on their road trip that will send them into the Texas heat and back north to play the Yankees, however, it may force the organization to hold a mirror up to its face and take stock of reality.

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Ben Cherington’s first crack at the deadline

The first-year GM had the right idea when he sent Jed Lowrie to the Astros for Mark Melancon and Josh Reddick to the A’s for Andrew Bailey in the offseason, but neither deal has proved to be wildly successful. Cherington will always be compared to his predecessor, Theo Epstein, who may be most well-known for the 2004 deadline deal that shipped one of Boston’s most beloved sports figures, Nomar Garciaparra, to Chicago. The three team swap netted he Red Sox Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts, and Doug Mientkiewicz. A historic comeback and a World Series championship later, and all of a sudden, Cherington has his work cut out for him.

It would not be an absurd deduction to think that Cherington would be conservative during his first trade deadline as GM, especially given the climate of the market–everyone’s in it and no one is out of it. It is a seller’s market. However, Cherington was part of the team in the fall of 2005 that pulled the trigger on the deal that brought Josh Beckett to Boston and sent prized prospect Hanley Ramirez to the then Florida Marlins. Epstein was on leave at the time. So what does this mean for the Red Sox, seven years later? It’s clear that Cherington isn’t afraid of parting with young, top tier talent if an opportunity to improve presents itself.

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Gauging how the team feels about its minor league assets

If Cherington and his team determine that Jon Lester and Beckett are capable of turning their lackluster seasons around, it would be reasonable to believe that they view the Red Sox as a playoff team. The second half of that contingency is necessary in order for the Sox to pursue a deadline deal. You’re typically not going to move young talent in the middle of the season if your team does not possess a real opportunity to play beyond the month of September.

For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that the Red Sox view themselves as legitimate contenders and will look to add a piece or two next week. Matt Barnes and Xander Bogaerts are two blue chips prospects in the Red Sox system that would certainly garner interest from GM’s across baseball.

Matt Barnes is a starting pitcher currently at High-A Salem. He is 22-years old, throws hard, and represents exactly what the Red Sox desperately need–a low cost, front half of the rotation starter. I can’t imagine him being moved.

Xander Bogaerts is the cream of the crop on the Red Sox farm. He is 19-years old, plays shortstop, and projects as a middle of the order hitter. He is 2012′s version of Hanley Ramirez. The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson does not see Bogaerts going anywhere.

MacPherson’s response is an indication of exactly how the organization feels about Bogaerts, and it is extremely likely that Cherington isn’t the only general manager who views the native of Aruba in that same light. Needless to say, Bogaerts carries a truckload of value on the market.

Ultimately, I agree with MacPherson. The Red Sox are not likely to include Bogaerts’ name on a list of prospects that another ball club can pick from when negotiating a potential trade. However, the only caveat is that the Sox possess three quality young players who play on the left side of the infield. Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias could eventually be vying for two spots in the Red Sox infield. Bogaerts is a player who could become at least somewhat expendable if the Red Sox had confidence in Iglesias’ ability to hit at the major league level. I don’t, so I can’t believe they do either.

Going forward, even beyond this year’s trade deadline, it will be interesting to monitor the availability of both Iglesias and Bogaerts. If one guy’s name is consistently tied to potential trades, it would simultaneously serve as a testament to the confidence that the organization has in the other player.

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My thoughts

It is starting to sound redunant, but it is true: If the Red Sox do not get drastically better performances from Lester and Beckett, they will not seriously contend as the season progresses. In that respect, the trade deadline is almost meaningless in terms of its potential impact on the 2012 season. Garza, tricep cramping aside, would be a solid pick-up. He is young. He would not be a rental as he is signed through next season. He is a guy that would come here and compete his butt off. But without Lester and Beckett pitching up to their expectations, Garza’s efforts would not propel them into October.

Sunday’s Notes

The Red Sox lost last night 5-3 at the Trop in St. Petersburg, FL., which is a total diaper of a stadium. Will Middlebrooks hit a big two-out two-strike two-run home run. The blast was a big hit within the context of the game but also personally for the young third baseman who is attempting to fill the void left by one of Boston’s most beloved sports figures in recent history, Kevin Youkilis, who returns to Fenway Park in a White Sox uniform on Monday.

Here is more on the Red Sox.

Josh Beckett will get the ball today, opposed by James Shields. Beckett is typically excellent against the Rays, especially at their place. He will look to rebound after letting up five first inning runs to the Yankees two Fridays ago. You will remember that it was Beckett who threw one-hit complete game gem against the Rays last year. He was one Reid Brignac dribbler up the third baseline away from being perfect. If you don’t remember the game, that’s okay. It may have something to do with the fact that he did it the same night the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

—The Red Sox have a slew of difficult games on the docket, including today. As the trade deadline approaches, the front office will have some difficult decisions to make. If baseball operations on 4 Yawkey Way believes that this team can not only make the playoffs but compete for a World Series in October, then they should go out and seek a pitcher like Matt Garza to augment a starting staff that has struggled. If they feel as though this year’s team does not possess the capability of playing up to the level of the Yankees, Rangers, and Angels, GM Ben Cherington and company should look to sell some pieces. The latter option is not very likely as Red Sox brass is dedicated to putting a winning team on the field, or at least a group that can successfully be sold as a winning team. My point is simple: Pick one or the other. Fold your hand or go all in.

—For a period of time, just about a month ago, the Red Sox had gotten in the habit of taking two out of three games from teams. They were winning series after series, typically against teams who were just as good them or worse. Today is a great opportunity to get back into that groove.

Franklin Morales has been solid since Bobby Valentine moved him to the rotation. However, the story does not simply end there. Earlier this season, the Red Sox had the luxury (and I mean that literally–it was a luxury) of having three capable lefties in the bullpen. The aforementioned Morales, Andrew Miller, and Rich Hill were all capable of coming into a game to get one tough left handed hitter or multiple batters. Hill has since moved to the disabled list, and Morales is firmly entrenched in the rotation. Miller is the only left-handed weapon that Valentine has left at his disposal. As a result, the manager has to be much more conservative with how and when he calls upon his lone lefty. It is a small issue but one that looms large as games move towards the later innings.

Tuesday’s Notes

109 years ago today, Tom Yawkey was born. 30 years and four days later, he bought the Red Sox.

As for today’s news on all things Red Sox…

  • It only took four months, but the Red Sox finally received their compensation from the Cubs for letting former GM Theo Epstein out of the final year of his contract. It’s not Starlin Castro. I’m 100 percent sure it is not Matt Garza, and when I last checked, John Lackey was still under contract with the Red Sox. Chris Carpenter is a 26 year old right handed relief pitcher who throws hard but lacks Greg Maddux-like control to say the least. A former third round pick, Carpenter had a cup of coffee with the big club last season on the south side of Chicago. However, he pitched primarily in Double-A and Triple-A. Sounds good to me. Glad it’s done. Let’s all move on with life…unless the Cubs want Lackey. No? Alright, just checkin’.
  • Carl Crawford believes that he will like playing under new manager Bobby Valentine. The Globe’s Peter Abraham thinks that Valentine will do Crawford a ton of good. At this point, I’ll hang my hat on anything when it comes to this guy. Unless he rebounds this season, Crawford will take over as the new J.D. Drew, a player who is haunted by a massive contract that overshadows his performance on the field.  The guy desperately wants to succeed. He works hard and tries even harder. Count me as someone who will be rooting hard for CC when he gets back from his wrist injury.
  • Crawford, a soft spoken guy, didn’t really like John Henry’s comments concerning his position against inking the speedy free agent last winter. Whatever. It doesn’t really seem like it’s going to be an issue. I’m sure my boss regrets hiring me, so no sweat.
  • I hope we can all collectively move on from the clubhouse issues that allegedly plagued the 2011 Red Sox. Jon Lester owned up to whatever mistakes were made. Josh Beckett was about as contrite as you’re going to see him. I’m beyond tired of hearing people who call into the sports talk radio shows in our neck of the woods and say they want an apology because the Red Sox wasted the fans’ money. Get real and stop wasting my time. Let’s just play baseball.
  • Dice-K and Valentine played catch together today. I had a toaster strudel for breakfast. Thrilling on both counts.
  • As expected, Valentine has already begun to stress fundamentals. In past years, pitchers went through drills in Spring Training by simulating the throws to the respective bases rather than using baseballs. This was designed to preserve the arms of pitchers participating in the drills. This spring? Not so much. Hands were not empty during today’s workouts. Pitcher participating used real baseballs. Valentine’s reasoning was simple: “If we’re going to practice something, I’d like to have it as close to game-real as possible. Otherwise, why bother?” I dig it.

Red Sox Rotation Candidates

Here are a few quick hits on a few pitchers who could be available to the Red Sox via free agency and trade.

  • Edwin Jackson-According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, Jackson is seeking a five year deal. That’s like Uncle Eddie in Christmas Vacation holding out for a management position. If a team agrees to that, it won’t be the Red Sox.
  • Roy Oswalt-I’m not sure you could find a better fit for the Sox, given he is reportedly only seeking a one year deal. This has “big return” written all over it. Or maybe I’m just in love with one year contracts.
  • Hiroki Kuroda-So the guy didn’t want to come to Boston(or any team on the East Coast) at the trade deadline—now he is open to it. I don’t like it. Granted, the Sox could do a lot worse than a guy who started 32 games last season and posted a smooth 3.07 ERA. The only caveat is that he played in the NL West, where hitters go to die.
  • Joe Saunders-Another NL West success story. He’s younger than Kuroda and throws the ball with his left hand, which is always a plus.  He was non-tendered by Arizona. Don’t worry Diamondback fans; I’d rather have Dan Haren too. Everything I’ve read says that Saunders is seeking a three year deal. No thanks.
  • Matt Garza-I’m not going to go into great detail here. He’s young, under team control through 2013, and has had success in the AL East. Anthony Ranaudo, a highly touted pitching prospect, would be undoubtedly reunited with Theo Epstein in Chicago should the Red Sox pull the trigger on a deal for Garza. Decisions likes these are why GM’s get paid in the big bucks, and I write blog entries during my lunch at work. Ultimately, I would be more open to widening the wallet if Garza was under control for longer than two years—like Mark Melancon (controlled through 2016).

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