Last night the Red Sox made their first move of the trade deadline season. They acquired left handed reliever Matt Thornton and $750,000 from the Chicago White Sox for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs. Thornton was acquired to plug the hole in the bullpen left by the injury to Andrew Miller. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was optioned to Pawtucket and Andrew Miller was transferred to the 60 day DL to make room for Thornton on the 25 and 40 man rosters.
The immediate impact of the move is that it improves the bullpen. Over the past several years Thornton has been a force in the White Sox’s pen, being able to shut down whoever he faced, righty or lefty. In eight seasons with the White Sox he’s posted a 3.28 ERA and a 1.196 WHIP. However, this year righties have figure him out batting .314 off him with a .414 OBP, but he’s been as good as ever against lefties. They’re only batting .170 off of him with an OBP of .232. The only oddity in his numbers is that 3 of the home runs he’s given up have been to left handed batters, which has played a part in the fact that they are slugging .385 off him. Regardless, despite his declining stuff he can still get lefties out. He should end up being a valuable part of the pen and will hopefully add some consistency to this otherwise volatile pen. Also the cash is likely to help the Sox pay Thornton’s $1,000,000 buyout for next year, because the Sox are unlikely to pick up the $6,00,000 option for 2014.
With every trade you have to give something to get something. That something happened to be Brandon Jacobs, a minor league outfielder who was promoted to Portland just a few days prior to the trade. Jacobs, according to Sox Prospects, was once the 8th ranked prospect is the Red Sox system, but he had struggled the past year and a half in Salem and fallen to 36th and was also rated the most disappointing Red Sox prospect by Baseball America. He showed good power, hitting 13 home runs last year and 11 so far this year, but struggled batting for average . He was hitting just .244 when he was called up to Portland. He was tremendous upside because he’s a 5 tool player, but putting all together has been an issue. The reason he was so expendable, was because he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season and was unlikely to be added to the 40 man roster to protect him from other teams. All in all he’s a great prospect, but he was an expendable piece.
All in all, it appears to be a great trade for the Sox. They filled their biggest need, and only lost a guy who they were likely to lose next off-season anyways. Thornton is said to be a high character guy and should fit right in with the club. This could be the biggest move the Sox make this month.
Now from the start I’ve always given Red Sox players the benefit of the doubt and turned a blind eye to issues they may have. Very rarely do completely lose my patience with a guy, but Josh Beckett has done it for me. I’ve never cared about his arrogance and how poorly he handles himself. That stuff never mattered to me. What truly matter was results. If you’re going to go in public and pretty much force everyone to hate you at least back it up with decent play. For Beckett he’s been far from decent. Watching the game today I could have sworn he was trying to make the Red Sox lose. At this point it looks like he’s lost all care for the team and what happens this year. He, like so many others, has essentially given up on the team contending this year. I’ve reached a point where I hope he never pitches in a Boston Red Sox uniform again.
The time to move him is now. Beckett is a sinking ship and it seems as if it can only get worse, if that indeed is possible. Also, Franklin Morales is permanently moving to the rotation and the Sox have said repeatedly that they don’t want a six man rotation, so someone has to go. My vote is for Beckett, and I’m sure most would agree. No one wants him anymore so now it becomes a baseball move, a PR move, and a flat out common sense move. This is why Ben Cherrington and the Rex Sox must act now, because not only are the hurting their ballclub they’re hurting what means the most to them, their image.
The Red Sox do have the ability to get rid of him this month. He could pass through waivers, if he hasn’t already, and if he goes unclaimed he can be traded to any team. However, if he is claimed he can dumped off to whoever wins the claim or the Red Sox could work out a trade with the winning team. Now its highly unlikely someone would claim him do to his high price tag, but a man can dream can’t he? In the far more likely scenario where he becomes eligible to be traded to any team, he’d be very difficult to move. First off, you have the contract situation and no one wants to touch it, so salary would have to be eaten. Secondly, Beckett’s just not good anymore. He’s a shell of his former self and there’s no sign that he’ll ever come anywhere close to that form again. A change of scenery usually can help a guy, so that could be selling point that’s used by Cherrington. Lastly, Beckett is now considered a clubhouse cancer. Not many teams should want to take a gamble on a guy whose handled himself so poorly and could hurt team morale. Now I truly believe that most of the clubhouse turmoil is fabricated and overblown by the wonderful Boston media, but I’m sure outsiders hear it and believe it. If you’re not from the Boston area, then you don’t whose reliable and whose not, so stories that are largely untrue can hurt a players trade value. It hurts a guy like Beckett more than most guys, because he’s used as figurehead for most of the mess that’s unfolded (beergate, golfgate, etc.) so it all leads back to Beckett and no team wants controversy, ever.
At lot of things must come together for the Sox to unload Beckett, but it is possible. Like I said before he hurts what means most to ownership, and that’s their public image. They’ve gone great lengths to protect it so why won’t they this time? If they push hard enough eventually Beckett will be out the door and the team would benefit, so it’s just a matter of how hard do the Red Sox want to push.
Yesterday I wrote a post talking about how the Red Sox can turn it around this year. Today I’m going to look at the negative side to it. It’s obvious that there are problems with this team, but can they be fixed is the question. If the answer is no then it would be time to say goodbye to some of your favorite Red Sox players. Now Ben Cherrington has not been one to make a huge move so far, so whether or not he’s ready to do something like this remains to be seen.
To start off this wonderful rebuilding process, you begin with the obvious. Dump off Kevin Youkilis somewhere. There would be a lot of salary eaten and there wouldn’t be a very large return, but it would at least take Gonzalez out of right and get Middlebrooks in everyday. Now this would be a simple trade and could get done really quickly and should be done regardless of where they stand.
The next guy I would move may surprise you, but it would be the best thing the team could do. Trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Now that seems radical, but in reality it would be great. Everyone wants Ellsbury locked up after one good year, but why not trade him when his values at an all time high. When his value is this high GMs will turn a blind eye towards his injury history which has cost the Red Sox a lot of games. Also his attitude and commitment to the team have been put into to question before, so there’s also a clubhouse factor in play as well. I good match up would be the Washington Nationals with their search for a center fielder and plethora of prospects would work perfectly.
The next guy yo go would have to be Jon Lester. Lester has been a huge part of the Red Sox ever since he took the mound for the first time at Fenway, but it might be time to say goodbye. He’s a guy who could produce a very nice return and could help almost any contender. There isn’t a true perfect trade partner for him, because he can go almost anywhere.
With a complete rebuild, David Ortiz would have to go too. An impact bat whose off to a scorching start is sure to generate some interest. I don’t think he’d get a huge return, I’m sure at least one impact prospect would be part of the deal. Papi’s loved in Boston, but Boston loves the team itself more, and in a few years they’d be happy with who they got.
Catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach are nice trade chips as well. Salty’s off to an amazing start to what could be a career year for him. That just makes him more valuable. Shoppach has been screwed out of playing time and could be traded for a hit or miss guy which wouldn’t be bad. All in all these 2 guys could pick up 3 or 4 prospects.
Daisuke Matsuzaka could be a name floated around as well. It could be a similar trade with what the Sox got with Erik Bedard. Nothing spectacular, but enough to say you got something worthwhile. He, like Lester could help almost any contender.
Many other guys could sent out also, like Alfredo Aceves, Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, Matt Albers, Vincente Padilla, Cody Ross, and Josh Beckett. Come August Bobby V might be throwing out a line up looking something like this.
DH Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
C Ryan Lavarnway
3B Will Middlebrooks
LF Carl Crawford
RF Ryan Kalish
CF Ryan Sweeney
SS Jose Iglesias
All in all it doesn’t look too bad of a lineup. I had to stick Nava at DH, because with a full outfield and no DH he fit in right there and Bobby V always finds a spot for him. Rebuilding could be good or it could be bad we just have to trust Ben to make the right choices.