7-18-2011: What to look for at the deadline

The Red Sox are in first place and seem to be a lock for the playoffs. That part is great. And despite the struggles of J.D. Drew, our offense is the best in baseball right now. I don’t see acquiring a big bat to be the priority right now. However, we are facing some major instability in the rotation and other areas, which could require some smaller moves to be made. Looking over our current situation, I’d recommend three moves by this year’s trade deadline. Here they are, in order of importance.

Trade for a 4th or 5th starter. Importance: Medium

Jon Lester and Josh Beckett seem to be on track for now, and John Lackey has shown some signs of improvement, but there is still no timetable for Clay Buchholz to return to the rotation. Andrew Miller has been a pleasant surprise, but we don’t know how long he can keep it up, and Tim Wakefield, who hasn’t gone over 140 IP in a year since 2008, is already at 81.2 IP. Should Buchholz not be able to return, or Miller lose it, or Wake’s body break down, I really don’t want two months of Kevin Millwood up here. He’s fine for a few starts, but that’s it.

So I’m thinking that we only need another Miller-type pitcher; someone with a little upside who has pitched at this level before and could soak up some innings. An expiring contract would be ideal, and if we get some draft picks out of it, so much the better. It looks like the front office may already be thinking along this line, as there were some rumors that they had asked the Dodgers about Hiroki Kuroda (apparently, he doesn’t want to be on the East Coast). But maybe someone like John Maine?

Trade for a strong setup reliever or LOOGY. Importance: Medium

Jonathan Papelbon has converted a very high percentage of saves, but hasn’t looked dominant and could become a free agent this offseason. Daniel Bard has pitched well, but given the bi-weekly trips to the DL Bobby Jenks has been taking, the back end of our pen is looking a bit thin. Acquiring a strong setup guy (and there seem to be quite a few available this year) would really strengthen the bullpen this year and provide more insurance against Papelbon walking free this winter.

The other aspect of the bullpen which hasn’t been addressed is the loss of Rich Hill. Having a good left-handed option will be critical if we face the Yankees in the playoffs. Franklin Morales may be able to fill this role once he gets healthy again, but I wouldn’t mind the Sox adding someone really solid here.

Trade for a right-handed outfielder who can play some defense. Importance: Low

Drew’s offensive numbers have fallen off the map, and it sucks to be spending $14M on him this year. But he’s still a legitimate right fielder and has at least some chance of turning back on again. We still have Darnell McDonald, who can fill this role, but he has been horrible so far. So we need someone who can spell Drew or Carl Crawford, and not be awful in the field. Someone who could also provide a righty bat off the bench would be nice. With Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish almost ready to take over, the best would be to get someone on an expiring or short-term contract; Jeff Franceour is an interesting name at this point.

As noted, this is not a high priority. Given the way Reddick is scorching the ball and particularly left-handed pitching this year (.571/.600/.786 in just 15 PA), I’d say we could simply try a Drew-Reddick platoon as a last resort. That’s why this move should only be made if we can get a piece for an organizational player type. Maybe move Hideki Okajima for this guy?


2 Responses to 7-18-2011: What to look for at the deadline

  1. Pat says:

    Morales has been a revelation. Do you think he can work as a lefty one out guy?

    • redsoxtalk says:

      As of late, he certainly has been. I’m not completely secure about his performance, though, because of his historic control issues. But if Curt Young can get him ironed out, I think he can be a very strong LOOGY in this league.

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