So, the Red Sox made another confusing move yesterday. Add another one to the list.
On the surface, it’s a reasonable move. The Sox traded for an all-star closer and a prospect by giving up a set-up guy and a couple prospects. Makes sense to me. The Sox even went to their stock explanation that they weren’t trading for a closer. Much like when they signed Keith Foulke, they simply traded for an elite pitcher. This pitcher just happened to be a closer. Not a bad thing to do at all.
I had the opportunity to see Joel Hanrahan pitch live a couple years ago. When I was at PNC Park, he came in to close out the game. When he entered the game, there was an energy in the crowd. That’s saying something considering the sparse crowd at PNC. If he was good enough to ignite those fans, that was pretty impressive. So, it’s not that I disapprove of the move. The real question is, why?
When I talked about the Drew deal, I questioned the motive. Why would a team in a rebuilding phase sign a middle of the road shortstop to a one-year, $10 million deal? If you’re going to lose a bunch of games anyway, there are cheaper options out there. Was it simply to appease the fans? Look, we have honest to goodness major league talent at every position…come buy tickets! Or, do the Sox actually think they can compete in 2013? Did they fix the most glaring hole in their line-up in order to make a run?
This move confuses me in the same way…but to a larger degree. It’s one thing to admit that Jose Iglesias isn’t ready. They actually needed a body of some sort to play shortstop. You could argue that paying too much for Drew to make the team at least worth watching wasn’t a terrible move. But, what about this one? The Sox have a closer. Heck, the Sox have at least three closers. The Sox even already had a two-time all-star closer. What did they need another one for? Why did they need another one when he is about to make actual money? Why did they need another one when he is going to be a free agent after a year? Why rent an extra closer?
Are they planning on making a run?
This addition does make a pretty good bullpen. Are they planning on having that compensate for inferior starting pitching? The line-up they’ve been putting together isn’t terrible. They won’t lead the league in runs, but they’ll be middle of the pack. That might make for an interesting team, except for the lack of dominant starting pitching. Are the Sox planning on having the bullpen cover for that?
In 2009, the Sox acquired Billy Wagner. It made for an great bullpen. I don’t remember all the players, but the Sox really had two different sets of top bullpens. It was fun to watch. Is that where the Sox are going this year? Say Lester goes six solid innings. Then, the Sox can follow with one inning each from Aceves, Bailey, and Hanrahan. The next night, Buchholz also only goes six innings. They Sox can then use one inning each from a rested Bard, Miller, and Uehara. The night after that, Lackey only goes six. Well, Aceves, Uehara, and Hanrahan are rested and ready to go. If, perchance, a starter can actually go seven innings, one of the pen guys gets some extra rest. If a starter only goes four or five? Morales is there to mop up.
Suddenly, you don’t need any aces. You need decent starters. A quality start is plenty, even with a moderate offense. Is that the plan?
Could it actually work?