Friday, August 1, 2014

The More Things Change

The more utterly confusing they get.

You may have heard somewhere that the Red Sox made some roster moves yesterday. How’d they do? Don’t know yet. But, it certainly made things more interesting.

Let’s start with the easy ones. Stephen Drew served no purpose here. All he was doing at this point was stopping Will Middlebrooks from playing. He wasn’t hitting, and wasn’t adding anything to the team. Shipping him out was the easiest call ever. Now, why the Yankees would want him? That’s another question.

Similar ease with the Andrew Miller deal. Middle relief was not going to be a key feature for this team going forward. So, to ship him off for a prospect is a great move.

Then it gets a little more interesting.

I thought John lackey might get dealt. That extra year on his contract, on the cheap, had to be attractive. Especially given the way he performed in the playoffs last year, and really his whole career. I would have been shocked if someone didn’t offer the Sox something they couldn’t refuse. That happened to be the Cardinals. They sent an outfielder who can hit a little. (Or, at least could hit a little last year.) As well as a young pitcher. He hasn’t been so hot this year, but started Game 3 of the World Series last year. That’s not nothing.

Then, the biggest move. This one requires a bit of acceptance. You need to accept one of two things. Either, the Sox are going to sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, or they were never going to sign him at all and you’re OK with that. On its merits, an ace that is dominant in the playoffs cannot be fairly traded, let alone for an outfielder hitting .260. But, if you accept one of those two scenarios, this becomes a monster deal. If the Sox sign Lester in the offseason, then they just traded Jonny Gomes for a draft pick and the clean-up hitter from the team with the best record in baseball. Not bad. If the Sox were never going to sign Lester and were just going to let him walk, then they just traded Jonny Gomes for the clean-up hitter from the team with the best record in baseball. Put in those terms? The Red Sox got a steal.

But, are they better?

This year? Who knows? Don’t think many people really care. Next year? Not sure. Their offense is significantly better. They added two guys to the outfield with some power, where there was none before. They removed Drew from the order. Really, how bad can Middlebrooks be if that’s your starting point?

The defense? Sure, Drew was great with the glove. But, I dare a guy to try and score from second with the cannons the Sox now have in the outfield.

The pitching? Well, that took a hit. They’re now relying on young arms to get them through. I don’t know how that it going to work. I don’t think the Red Sox know how it is going to work. But, I know this. For years people were picking the Rays to win the division. Why? Because of their young pitching. Sure, their offense was lousy. But, it seemed like every year they had a new young pitcher with a ceiling so high you couldn’t even see it. Every year people assumed that those young pitchers would put them over the top. There were just so many of them. Aren’t the Sox in the same spot? There’s just SO many of them. Buchholz is ancient on this staff at almost 30. Then there’s Kelly. After that? It’s an endless list, isn’t it? Workman, De La Rosa, Owens, Johnson, Webster, Ranaudo. Anyone else?

The Sox have two months now to see if any of those pitchers they’re going to throw against the wall will stick. Which three can be a part of the rotation next year? Which ones are bullpen guys? Which are trade chips?

And that assuming that the Sox are done. I doubt they are. I assume they’ll pick up a veteran starter of some sort in the offseason. The pitching equivalent of Victorino and Napoli. A 30-year old guy willing to sign a three-year deal to add some stability.

Can’t wait to see how it all works out.

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