Red Sox Showdown is an occasional feature that pits two Red Sox Life contributor's in a one-on-one debate. This week RSL writer's Ben Whitehead and The Guru tackle the topic of the Red Sox and the trade deadline.
The Guru: Let's Make a Deal
With the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East some may not want to “fix what ‘aint broke." I’ll argue it’s the perfect time to start thinking about trades. As good as the Red Sox have been this season, and they have been good, there are several cracks in the foundation that could set them back in their quest to bring another World Series title to Boston.
The injury to starter Clay Buchholz, the Jekyll and Hyde season of Jon Lester, the lack of depth in the bullpen and inconsistent production at third base and catcher are chinks in the Red Sox armor.
In 2004 the Red Sox shook things up when they traded fan favorite Nomar Garciparra to the Cubs. The Sox ended up with two players (former Gold Glove winners Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz) that solidified the infield.
The Sox also traded for outfielder Dave Roberts and we all remember “the steal”. Both trades helped deliver Boston’s first World Series in 86 years.
There are several trades that the Red Sox should explore in order to patch up their holes and position themselves as real championship contenders. While a starting pitcher, think the Cubs Matt Garza, or a veteran infielder, think Michael Young of the Phillies, would be nice, it’s unlikely considering the cost. I’ll suggest two trades that won’t mortgage the future or break the bank.
First, let’s solidify the bullpen. As good as Koji Uehara has been, the 38-year-old is on pace for the most innings pitched in his career. Could Koji's lack of command last night be fatigue related? Andrew Bailey, while pitching well in his last two outings, is unreliable. Andrew Miller is now hurt. And we saw what Alex Wilson and Craig Breslow can do. *choke*
If you're thinking Jonathan Papelbon forget it. It would seem a perfect solution, but it's not going to happen. The Phillies will want Xander Bogaerts and/or Jackie Bradley Jr. to start with. No way the Red Sox part with them, nor should they.
Think more along the lines of a closer on a bad team that is experienced, durable and inexpensive prospect and contract wise. Think Kevin Gregg of the Cubs.
Gregg is durable (from 2004-11, Gregg pitched at least 59.0 innings every season), he’s experienced (150 saves in 185 chances) and he’s cheap (his contract expires at the end of this season). Think general manager Ben Cherington and old friend Theo Epstein can get together over a few Sam Adams’ and hammer out a deal? It can be done and it won’t cost Bogaerts, Bradley or Rubby De La Rosa.
Another trade I’ll trumpet, and it won’t be popular, is to deal catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Boo, hiss, Guru you’re nuts! Hey, I like Salty’s hair too, but I don’t like the fact he can’t hit left handed pitching (.211 this year), his sub-.310 career on-base percentage (just .306 this year), or the below average defense (he’s 9-42 in throwing out base stealers this season).
Saltalamacchia is also a free agent at the end of the season. He may walk and the Red Sox will get nothing. A way to solve all these problems is to package Salty and a bunch of low level prospects (it's going to take a bunch for what I'm about to propose) and trade him to the Minnesota Twins for catcher Joe Mauer.
Whoa, that grabbed your attention. A trade of that magnitude would instantly add a legitimate bat to the middle of the order, sure up the defense and make the Red Sox serious contenders.
The 30-year-old Mauer is signed through the 2018 season and could be the Red Sox future first baseman or DH. Mauer is hitting .314, has an OBP of .396 and is slugging .469. Mauer has also thrown out 41% of base runners this season. Mauer is an All-Star and an MVP candidate every year. He’d look good in Boston as the Red Sox make a playoff push.
The Red Sox minor league system is deep and so are John Henry's pockets. Let's deal now, let's win now.
Ben Whitehead: No Deal
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mantra the Red Sox Brass should be taking prior to this coming trade deadline.
The Red Sox are the best team in the American League, lead the AL East by five games and are playing much better than anyone anticipated back in Spring Training. February seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? So why mess with a good thing?
The chemistry on this team is like none other. From clubhouse guys like Jonny Gomes punting his helmet after a walk-off home run to David Ortiz looking and playing like the Big Papi we’ve all come to know and love over the years. There is something in the clubhouse that has rejuvenated this team and there is absolutely no reason to change anything about it.
Some might say, well go get something for your prospects in the farm system. Sell them while they are high.
Why? What’s there to gain? Anybody looking to make a trade knows the Red Sox have one of the deepest farm systems in the game right now and would love to pick players from it. Garin Cecchini, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Bryce Brentz, Jose De La Torre… these are just a few of the names that would surely come up in a phone conversation between Ben Cherington and (insert another GM here). If he mentions Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rubby De La Rosa, just hang up. Cherington has done a tremendous job of restocking the system and unloading big money in favor of shorter contracts.
In a couple of years, the aforementioned prospects will be Big League ready and players like Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, Stephen Drew, Koji Uehara and David Ortiz will likely no longer be Red Sox (or playing baseball in general). Those young players will slot right in to fill those voids and Boston won’t have to rebuild. It can reload. And the hope here is it will do so following a championship or two.
So, let’s not rush to rid ourselves of prospects for a one-year wonder. Let this trade deadline pass quietly and set yourself up for a fun future. Oh, and the remainder of the current season should be great as well.
Thoughts on today's showdown? Should the Red Sox make a trade at the deadline? Leave a comment below.