Friday, May 17, 2013

Early...Really Early Trade Deadline thoughts

As the Red Sox deal with some struggles in the month of May confidence remains high in Red Sox Nation.  This team still appears to have what it takes to compete in a very even AL east.  As Memorial Day gets closer the evaluation period of what this team has and what it needs is starting to become more clear.  With that being said let's take a look at a few areas that this team will need to strengthen if they want to remain in contention for the duration of the season.  Keep in mind that the Red Sox are not likely to give up much in the way of minor league prospects.  However, there may be a few moveable parts on the major league roster and a few minor leaguers who could be used as chips to acquire depth pieces, but I don't expect that they'll make any big time splashes this season as they keep an eye on 2014 and '15 as the years the front office really expects them to compete for a World Series title.

Here are three areas where they may look to add to the team through trades:
  1. Bullpen- With Hanrahan being out for the season and Bailey being injury prone this team still has plenty of talent at the back of the bullpen to be successful.  However, with over use being a concern with pitchers like Uehera and Tazawa they would be smart to add some depth to the middle relief/set-up corps.  A dependable veteran type pitcher would go along way towards stabilizing the bullpen.  A few players already on the 40 man roster will also play a role in this.  Franklin Morales could be a valuable piece to the bullpen if he gets healthy and returns to his 2012 form.  Injuries to the bullpen make it unlikely that they will try to get him stretched out to be a starter (more on that later).  It is now pretty clear that Daniel Bard will never be a major factor in the Red Sox bullpen again.  The only questions remaining with him are how long can they afford to keep him on the 40 man roster and can they use him as part of a trade to get any sort of decent major league player?  Rubby de la Rosa is a possibility, as a player already in the system, who could be a major influence as a set up man or closer by the end of the year.  He'll need to master his command in order for that to happen.  
  2. Outfield- So far Shane Victorino has proven that he was a worthy signing, surprising many who follow the team.  However, it is clear that with his reckless style of play he is certain to miss chunks of time with injuries.  This makes outfield depth, especially defensively, a concern.  They could use a veteran who is capable of playing all three outfield positions well and capable of contributing with the bat.  Jackie Bradley Jr (who is on the 15 day DL at Pawtucket currently) may very well still be a factor this season.  Bryce Brentz and Jeremy Hazelbaker are both proving to be options if needed.  Both of them would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Daniel Nava and Mike Carp have been very good so far this year, but will it last? Brentz and Bradley Jr. are a big part of the future, but for this season they could use a major league veteran to fill out their outfield depth.  Someone like David Murphy would be a good fit, but Texas may not be willing to part with him. 
  3. Starting Pitching- The starting pitching has been very good so far.  Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester look like All Stars this year.  Ryan Dempster and John Lackey have been able to meet expectations so far.  Felix Doubront has been the weak link, but he's young and still has plenty of talent.  Let's not give up on him too soon.  However, the depth of the rotation doesn't look to be as solid as we may have thought in spring training and early in the season.  Let me be very clear though, the Red Sox have a lot of promising young starting pitchers at AA and AAA.  Allen Webster, Steven Wright, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Rubby de la Rosa are all pitching well to very well in the minor leagues.  The AA starters have been extremely impressive.  I have a hunch that Brandon Workman may provide a boost to the major league staff before the end of the year and Ranaudo could be a factor in the bullpen a la Jonathan Papelbon.  I don't expect any of these players to be included in a trade, but I also think that this year's team could use a veteran starter who could bolster the back end of the rotation.  
Extra Thoughts on trades in 2013:
  • Who could the Red Sox give up in a trade to get some of these pieces back (I'm sure you're all asking yourselves that question)?  The Red Sox seem to have tradeable depth at catcher and shortstop.  They could trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Stephen Drew off the major league roster if they feel that Ryan Lavarnway or Jose Iglesias are able to fill those spots or they could trade Lavarnway or Iglesias if they don't think they are ready.  Deven Merrero could also be trade bait because of their SS depth in the minor league system.  That's unlikely though.  Michael Almanzar, a corner infielder at AA has seen his value rise as he has resurrected his career and he may be someone they look to include in a trade for the right player.  A young, talented, hard throwing left hander like Felix Doubront could be a valuable trade chip, but they'd have to get a good return. 
  • Any major trades would have to include Jacoby Ellsbury, but again that is highly unlikely.  For one he is not producing well enough yet to get the type of return they would want. 
  • If Daniel Bard could turn himself around he could be a throw in type player that a low payroll team may take a chance on or an organization like the St. Louis Cardinals, who have had some success with reclamation projects, may take a chance on him.  
  • Major league fringe players like Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp and Clayton Mortensen could be traded for players of similar ability, but with different skill sets. 
  • Alex Wilson has pitched well this year and while the Sox may not want to part with him other teams may find him desirable.  Andrew Miller has also pitched well lately and with Craig Breslow and perhaps Morales coming back he may be available as a trade chip. 
  • Ben Cherington may not wait until the trade deadline to try and strike a trade.  He could try and pull off a late May trade like the Byung Hyun Kim trade of 2003.  Sometimes it is easier to swap major league players prior to the trade deadline.  Most sellers at the trade deadline are looking to rebuild with prospects which the Sox don't want to part with this year.  An early trade may make more sense, so Ben Cherington should look to strike soon.  Then if they are still in contention in late July they may consider (strong emphasis on may) trading off some of their prospects.  Or they may take their chances with waiver trades in August, which they've had pretty good luck with in recent memory.  
  • The possibility does exist that this team may not be in serious contention come late July if that is the case the Red Sox will have plenty of pieces that they could trade off without hurting their chances of competing in 2014 and '15.  Players like Stephen Drew, John Lackey, Craig Breslow, Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehera, Daniel Nava, Jacoby Ellsbury and a few others could bring back valuable building blocks for the future.  I don't think that they would want to get rid of the key veteran leaders that they acquired this past offseason like David Ross, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli.  They want those guys to be around to mentor some of the young players that they have on the way.  But, if the LA Dodgers blow their doors off again anything can happen. 
  • Who's untouchable on the major league team? Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks (no other 3B options in the system), Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Junichi Tazawa and David Ortiz (for iconic reasons, "this is our fu%$ing city", and because he continues to produce) are all proving to be valuable core players that they want to continue to build around.  
  • Who's untouchable in the minor leagues? Jackie Bradley Jr, Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, Bryce Brentz, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Christian Vasquez, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart and Henry Owens appear to be untouchables.  Borderline untouchables are Deven Merrero, Garin Cecchini and Sean Coyle.  
Is it too early to think about trades? Do you disagree with any of our evaluations? Let's hash it out in the comments section...

6 comments:

  1. It will interesting to see how the next 4-6 weeks of play set up the Sox July trade activity. I agree as of now the Sox could use another bullpen arm to help ease overuse of the current stable and one more veteran starting pitcher. However with Bailey due back tomorrow and if he stays healthy ( I know, I know) this alone will deepen the pen. And that additional starter they could need may very well be Franklin Morales (also a possible pen depth guy).

    I also would like to see another corner outfielder with some pop.

    But why I feel the Sox will wait a minimum of the 4-6 weekd I mentioned above this will give them additional time to see which player all ready in the system can come up to help. AND it will give them additional evaluation time to decide which of the kids could be used as trade bait. At this point in time I would say the most likely help to come from within this year is Webster, De La Rosa, Bradley, Brentz, and one of the AA pitchers. The likeliest trade bait from below I would guess to be Iglesias, Almanzar or Drake Britton. But that could certainly change as the weeks go on or depending on the size of the deal the Sox are looking to make.

    Another point I agree with Barry on what could also happen is for Boston (I think this is becoming less likely by the day) to fall out of contention by late July and they could add even more helpful young players for 2014 and beyond.

    This is just one more angle of the 2013 Red Sox season to enjoy as we go along.

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  2. Andrew Bailey activated from the DL today and Jose De La Torre optioned back to Pawtucket. I for one am hoping for a low risk situation for Bailey to get his feet wet. If it's a one run game in the bottom of the 9th I'd rather see Tazawa in there until Bailey has had a chance to get his confidence back. He didn't exactly have a smooth inning in Pawtucket.

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  3. Interesting column by Tim Britton in the ProJo today about Jose Iglesias taking ground balls at second at few days ago and today at third. Manager Gary DiSarcina said Jose may play in a game at third soon, maybe even tomorrow. He goes on to say that he and the organization still view Iglesias as a shortstop first, this is just a way to make him more valuable.

    My first thought was twofold:first making Iglesias a short term fill in for Middlebrooks if an injury should strike and secondly having Iglesias replace Ciriaco so our back up infielder could actually field.

    Another reason mentioned in the column is that the Sox may be preparing for both Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts to be playing at AAA soon. The article points out the Bogaerts is slugging at .462 for the month of May for Portland.

    Either way this could be something to watch for.

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    1. Quick correction even though I found the ProJo article from a Tim Britton tweet, the article was by Brian MacPherson.

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    2. Interesting...I think all of the possibilities that you mentioned Deacon are in play. Also it may make Iglesias more appealing for other teams if they are looking to trade him. But, using him as UTL instead of Ciriaco and clearing space for Bogaerts at Pawtucket are probably more likely. I better hurry up and get to Portland if I wanna see Mr. Bogaerts.

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    3. I thought the same two things when I heard that Iggy was playing some 3B: one, that the Sox' brass is getting as tired of the Pedro Ciriaco experience as we at RSM are and Iggy will soon be Boston's backup utility man, and two Iggy's future as a big league player is probably as a utility player. I see Iggy as Maicer Izturis with better defense. Kind of sad considering his potential, but with Drew in front of him and Xander charging up the ranks behind him, I think Iggy is destined to be a rich man's Maicer.

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