Boston After the Trade-Deadline

Well, after my last article about what the Sox needed to do at the deadline, only one move was made and it didn’t help out their bullpen. Still it was a good one as the Sox acquire the ultra-competitive, hard-tossing Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox.

They made an important distinction that they were ready to win now when they traded solid Shortstop José Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers as a part of the 3-team deal to get Peavy. It was a good trade on the Red Sox behalf as they did some thrifty shopping at a brand store. They essentially received Peavy and AAA Reliever Brayan Villarreal in exchange for three low-level Pitchers and Iglesias.

Yes, Iglesias couldn’t have been more fun to watch as he flashed the leather at Third and Short. And yes, he is a defensive wizard who currently owns a .330 batting-average, but his AAA average of .244 throughout his career is maybe a better representation. After beginning the year on an unbelievable tear, a supra-.400 average, Iglesias has cooled – batting .205 in July. The Sox sold high on Iglesias to a Detroit team that flailed as a result of the Biogensis business that will most likely claim current Tigers Shortstop Jhonny Peralta in the wave of suspensions approaching Major League Baseball’s beach. They capitalized on another team’s weakness and received a caliber Pitcher for a below-market price. Well played Ben Cherrington, well played.

The addition of Jake Peavy is seemingly comparable to stuffing a ballot box with Ronald Reagan’s name during the 1984 election between Reagan and Walter Mondale. (Reagan carried 49 states and received nearly 60-percent of the popular vote.) It seemed like the Red Sox didn’t need help in the rotation. But they did.

The BoSox did make the right move as all around the AL East, the emphasis remained on depth at Starting Pitching. They did that to ensure that even though an injury could befall an arm, it wouldn’t seriously deplete the team. The Orioles added former-Houston Astro Bud Norris and the Rays, they of the already deep rotation, added Reliever Jesse Crain. This deadline was about pitching depth.

Even though they didn’t address the bullpen problem by trading for a reliever, they still took care of it indirectly. The acquisition of another starter allows them to transition Brandon Workman, who was starting before, to the bullpen where he can be a middle-innings guy. He can also provide the flexibility of starting should an injury occur.

Before the trade, for Starting Pitchers, the Sox had five, healthy hurlers. That number of five did not include the 9-0, but ailing Clay Bucholz who remains on the 15-day DL (where he’s been since June 8th, which is a few more than 15 days). When Bucholz gets back healthy (post-trade), the Sox will have SEVEN starters capable of beginning a game.

For now the Sox will probably stick with a five-man rotation for the time being with Peavy (8-4/4.28 ERA/80 Innings), Jon Lester (10-6/4.52/143), John Lackey (7-8/3.23/120), Ryan Dempster (6-8/4.24/121), and Félix Doubront (7-5/3.77/119).

However, when Bucholz gets back, a quandary arises. All five in the proposed rotation above are experienced veterans with the exception of Doubront. The only problem is that he’s pitching the best of all Sox starters, so they can’t put him in the bullpen based off the others’ seniority. They could go with a six man rotation, but if some keep pitching like they are – *cough* Lester and Dempster *cough* – then one of the six will need to transition to the bullpen in order to work things out.

The one that makes the most sense to move to the pen is Dempster. From 2005 to 2007, Dempster was actually the closer in Chicago for the Cubs and racked up 85 saves in three seasons. For all the bullpen woes the Sox have (I say that a lot), the additions of a long relief pitcher in Workman and an unwavering veteran coming in the 8th inning to hold games would complement current Closer, Koji Uehara.

As far as the infield is concerned, the Red Sox left themselves short at Third Base when they sent Iglesias to Detroit. As the team’s depth chart states on its website, Brock Holt is the starter with Brandon Snyder as the backup. The converted Second Basemen-turned-Third, Holt, is not the answer. The 25-year old is a light hitter, when he hits at all. In 51 plate appearances in 2013, he has hit in 11 of them. Of those 11 hits, only two have been for extra bases (a pair of doubles). He has also drawn only three walks. Even in the Minors, the story reads the same: 11 homeruns in 1,675 at-bats. So the guy doesn’t hit for power but plays solid defense (solid, not fantastic), hmm sounds like someone the Red Sox just had. Essentially, Holt is Iglesias-lite.

The second-stringer, Brandon Snyder, presents a different story, but one that is no more reassuring. He hits for slightly more power, five extra base hits in 35 plate appearances to go with 10 RBI, but the gains at the dish mean sacrifices in the field.

Neither is fast (one stolen base combined between them) and with all the other factors it shows that these two are merely placeholders.

But placeholders for who?

One option is Will Middlebrooks, the Sox Third Basemen from a year ago who got Bledsoe’d when he injured himself and Iglesias took over. His decline was swift, sharp, and severe as he hit .192 in 53 games with Boston. However, Middlebrooks does hit for power, nine homeruns and 13 doubles before his demotion. Middlebrooks has been middling at AAA Pawtucket however, he has yet to fulfill the lofty expectations that were formulated by his rookie year success.

The main reason that Snyder got the call has to be that the Sox realize if they did designate Snyder for assignment, they risk another team claiming him and signing him away. Also, Snyder provides the multi-positional flexibility that Middlebrooks doesn’t.

The other possibility is Xander Bogaerts, who is a natural shortstop but can play third. August 31st looms not far off in the distance as the date that Bogaerts will have to appear on the roster. The last day of August is the last day to add a player to your roster from the minors in order to be postseason eligible. The Sox will do that because in the event that he starts tearing up the diamond, which isn’t unfathomable for Boston rookies (i.e. Iglesias, Middlebrooks) they can have him in October.

And it seems as though the Sox have set the table in a manner that they can run it. Come October-time, watch out for the boys from Boston. 

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