8-2-2010: Minor moves at the deadline, Lowell still in play
August 2, 2010 1 Comment
The Red Sox, expected to land an additional bullpen arm by the deadline, dealt one instead, and made another small acquisition at catcher. It was hard watching the Yankees land Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, and this is a signal from Boston’s front office that while we’re not giving up on this season, they’re content to let it play out and finish third if we have to. Theo Epstein is clearly thinking 2011 at this point, and I don’t really blame him.
What it will take
Currently at 60-45, the Red Sox sit 6.5 games back of Tampa Bay. If the Rays play .600 baseball the rest of the way, they will have a 100 win season, and we need to go 41-16 to edge them. If they play .550 baseball, they will still have 97 wins and we will need to go 38-19 (.667) the rest of the way. Is this team capable of that? With a healthy rotation, an easier second half schedule and the impending returns of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, you have to think that it’s at least possible. But it means we will have to win just about every series, and probably sweep the Rays in at least one of our two remaining series. We can’t play any worse than taking two of three from the Tigers, or we’re done. That’s why the management decided to go conservative at the deadline.
Let’s look at each move that was made:
Ramirez for Turpen
Faced with an expensive selection of bad relievers, the Sox sent Ramon Ramirez to the Giants in exchange for minor league reliever . On the surface, it doesn’t make sense for a team in need of bullpen help to trade a pitcher away. But Ramirez, a quiet Latino player who speaks little English, was not a good fit in Boston. I still like him as a pitcher, and he may do a lot better in the National League with his big frame and sinker/slider combo.
To replace him in the bullpen, the Sox have decided to try out both RHP Michael Bowden and LHP Felix Doubront, and go with whoever works out. Doubront has a live fastball from the left side, and has showcased the willingness to throw a cutter and curve in just about any count, so my money’s on him so long as he doesn’t grouse too much about the assignment.
Daniel Turpen is a 23-year old reliever with good size and a good minor league track record in the Giants’ system. Not an overpowering pitcher, he’s still managed to post decent strikeout numbers, limit walks, and really prevent home runs (he’s only allowed 8 HR in over 230 minor league innings). He sports a 55% ground ball rate, so consider him the eventual replacement for Ramirez.
Mendez and McGuinness for Saltalamacchia
Rewind the clock about two years and everyone in Boston knew who Jarrod Saltalamacchia was. He was the guy we were going to trade for to be the catcher of the future to replace Jason Varitek. Since that time, he ran into some problems, lost his confidence and has been shelved at Triple-A for the Rangers. Naturally, the Red Sox bit on him. The thinking is that a change of scenery will give him a chance to regain his status as a viable Major League catcher. But you gotta think that this is kind of a Jeremy Hermida-type flyer by Epstein. If it works out, great. But it very well may not. Varitek is slowly getting healthy, so we’ll see what happens. If Salty responds well at Pawtucket, we could see him displace the captain as our 2nd catcher coming into September.
The guys we sent to Texas in the deal, Roman Mendez, Chris McGuinness and a PTBNL, are not insignificant, but nowhere near what people thought Saltalamacchia would fetch a year ago. The 20-year old Mendez has a really live arm, and could become a good setup man or closer, while McGuinness, a first baseman, has shown considerable power at Single-A this season. He has been compared to Kevin Youkilis by people in the organization.
Instead of acquiring an outfielder short-term, the Sox decided to promote Ryan Kalish and designate Jeremy Hermida. Kalish provides an athletic outfielder who can play all three positions, and might be able to hit some. This move is temporary, and will allow the Sox to return Kalish to the minors in a week to two weeks when Ellsbury will hopefully be activated. Hermida was another limitation on the roster which we just couldn’t maintain.
We’re in a bind because Ellsbury’s been out, and we really only have two thirds of Mike Cameron on the roster. If Ellsbury can return back healthy, Cameron becomes a half-time guy, which he should be able to handle, and we carry Darnell McDonald as a 4th/5th outfielder.
Mike Lowell still in play?
Poor Mike Lowell. The guy comes back and hits .500 at Pawtucket, only to have the front office leave him languishing on the DL, promising to get something done. He’s still waiting. The good news about his sizeable contract means that he’ll easily clear waivers, and the Red Sox will still be able to deal him if there are any takers. Supposedly the Yankees were interested in acquiring Lowell at one point, but that was before the Berkman trade was done.
Just because we didn’t make the moves we wanted now doesn’t mean we can’t still get a decent reliever or an outfielder in August. BP has a list of players who could go on waivers and still be traded. There are some interesting names out there: David Aardsma, Scott Downs and Brandon League are still considered tradeable.
We’re certainly not in the driver’s seat, but these Red Sox are primed to jump right in if one of the two teams atop the division falters.