Thursday, July 9, 2009

What’s Up Doc?

I wrote a while ago about a question I had once when it came to making trades. I wondered how teams knew when certain players were “available.” Did teams call every day just to see, or does a GM call others and advertise. It looks like Toronto recently did the latter. They let everyone know that Roy Halladay was on the block, and waited for the offers to roll in. Hopefully, the Sox called up with a substantial bid.

If you’ve read anything from me, you know that I want the Sox to get Halladay. I’ve been begging the Sox to use all their chips to make a splash. I will forever be in favor of trading potential for actual. I see the farm system as having two roles. One is to fill needs at the major league level. The other is to trade away to fill needs at the major league level. It’s time for the Sox to explore role number two.

Let’s look at the Red Sox pitching staff. Jon Lester is 25, and signed for a long time. He’s going to me a mainstay for the near future. Josh Beckett is 29, and signed through next year. I can only assume the Sox would make a big push to keep him for another three years or so after that. Daisuke Matsuzaka is 28, and signed through 2012. Love him or hate him he’s here for a while. So, there are three rotation spots “locked-up” for the next 3-5 years. Wakefield is an all-star this year. I know that at some point he’s going to retire. But, it’s not this year. It’s not looking like next year either. Penny and Smoltz are year rentals I can’t imagine will be wearing a Red Sox uniform next season. So, there is one rotation spot available next season, another one perhaps the year after.

The Sox have a couple options as to how to fill those two spots. They can keep all the youth. They can hold on to Buchholz, Bard, Bowden, and Masterson along with anyone else I forgot. Buchholz can have the rotation spot that frees up next season. The best one out of the other three has to wait another year plus and takes Wakefield’s spot. What’s the plan for the other two? Once your rotation is Beckett-Lester-Daisuke-Buchholz-Bowden, what happens to Bard and Masterson? Do they sit and stew wondering if Beckett walks after next season? Bard can replace Papelbon when he reaches free agency. Masterson waits and sees? How many back-up plans do the Sox need?

Or, how about this option? The Sox offer Toronto something like Buchholz, Bard, and a prospect that they get from a third team for Penny. (Theo always needs a third team in deadline blockbusters) They can even have their choice of Masterson and Bowden if need be. The Sox cleaned out the farm. But, did it hurt the future? They still have Lester, Beckett, and Dice for years to come. They still have Wakefield next season, and maybe the next one. Then, they’d have Roy Halladay the rest of this year, and the next one. So, for two more seasons, the rotation is Beckett-Lester-Halladay-Dice-Wakefield/Bowden. After that? Beckett and Halladay could walk after 2010. But, dang, what a fun two years it would have been. If they both leave? You have Lester-Dice-Bowden-?-? for another couple years. I’ll give Theo the chance to fill in a number 4 and 5 starter if he has two years to look. I also imagine that he finds a way to keep Beckett around. That sounds pretty good to me. What if Buchholz, Bard and a prospect is enough? Even better.

Do I give up some back-up plans? Yes. If Lester blows out his arm, is it more troublesome? Yup. But, if that happens, it’s pretty troublesome no matter what. Why hold onto potential when you don’t need it, and you can turn it into the real thing?

Plus, can you imagine a playoff rotation this year of Beckett-Lester-Halladay-Smoltz? Isn’t that worth a gamble on the future?

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