The Red Sox dropped a sloppy game to the lowly Orioles last night. In a bit of a back and forth, the Sox fell just short at the end. It happens. It happens when conditions aren’t ideal. It happens when your starting pitcher is making his first start off the DL. It happens because even the Red Sox can’t actually win every game. Just try to win every series from here on out.
Of course one possible reason that the Sox were able to claw back in the ninth inning is that the Orioles traded their closer to the Yankees during the game. So, he was unavailable in the ninth. (That also means he’s unavailable tonight which is handy.)
How annoyed am I about the trade? Marginally. Zach Britton is (was?) a good pitcher. In a vacuum, that’s a pretty good asset to have. So, it’s annoying that The Yankees got another good pitcher. But, here’s the thing. The Yankees already had a good bullpen. A really good bullpen. When you’re already winning every game when you’re leading in the late innings, I’m not sure how this actually helps you. The Yankees have many holes…but bullpen isn’t one of them. I’m also always leery of converting closers to set-up men. Call it the Gagne syndrome. Something about those guys who are wired to be closers won’t let them do anything else. There’s also the concern about getting a closer from a terrible team. For one thing, how “pressured” are save situations when your team is 30 games behind? For another thing, how many quality teams do the Orioles have leads against in the ninth inning? Now, if the guy were free, that’s something I’d try. But, to give up my #6 prospect to rent the guy for two months? I think I’ll pass.
Who might I give up my #6 prospect to rent? How about a starter? That’s exactly what the Red Sox did today trading for Nathan Eovaldi. He’s not the next Chris Sale by any means. But, he’s a hard-throwing righty who can give you six innings and let this offense do its thing. That’s really just what the Sox need to replace EdRo’s spot in the rotation going down the stretch. In the postseason, he even presents himself as an interesting option out of the bullpen. It’s a wonderful combination of a player who should be useful in the regular season as well as the playoffs. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re looking for a bargain.
So I’m glad that the Sox hold their five game lead in the division. They’re not quite as desperate as the Yankees. They don’t need to throw resources at problems they don’t have. They don’t need to bid against themselves in order to win the deadline. They can make the smaller moves that actually make sense.
That’s how you win a trade war.