My grade of Ben Cherington’s pre-deadline moves: C
Er, should I say, move (singular).
With yesterday’s MLB trade deadline behind us, the Red Sox basically stayed put despite Larry Lucchino’s suggestion that bold moves were in the making.
The only major league move the Red Sox completed was trading away reliever Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik for left-handed specialist Craig Breslow. At first, I was a little disappointed to see Albers go, as he’s been enjoying the best season of his career. His 2.29 ERA and .216 batting average against will be missed, although the Red Sox bullpen has been deep this season, especially with right-handers.
As for Scott Podsednik, well, at 36 years old he’s exactly the type of player we need to be showing the door. No use crying over spilled washed-up outfielders.
As for Breslow, it did make good sense to bring in a left-handed reliever. The Red Sox need Franklin Morales in the starting rotation, and Breslow gives Bobby Valentine the flexibility to keep Morales there while keeping two lefties in the bullpen, Breslow and Andrew Miller. And while both Albers and Breslow have both played for seven major league seasons, Breslow sports a career 3.02 ERA (2.70 this year) to Albers’ 4.78 ERA—good swap there, Ben.
An additional positive is that Breslow is something of a unique player—first off he went to Yale, where he studied molecular biophysics and biochemistry—two words that Josh Beckett can’t pronounce, let alone spell. The Sporting News named him the smartest athlete in sports in 2010, he dropped a 1420 on the SAT, and he was even accepted to NYU’s medical school. If only he could transplant some of those brains into Bobby Valentine’s cranium.
In the only other move the front office made, the Red Sox swapped former top prospect Lars Anderson with the Cleveland Indians for a minor league pitcher. I’m fine with this move, as Anderson seemed like a pretty great minor league player but not much of a major league talent. And with Adrian Gonzalez holding down the first base position for the time being, he won’t be missed.
So why the C?
First off, I’m generally OK with the Red Sox “standing pat,” and I do think that the Breslow move was a good one. That said, I think the Red Sox had to do something, anything to help the starting rotation.
I think that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, or Daisuke Matsuzaka could have brought something in return. For differing reasons, each of them certainly would not have netted what they once would have, but I hope that they were at least floated out there to see what the return could have been.
While I think that Lester is struggling this year and I maintain that Beckett still has an incredibly unique ability to be a shut-down pitcher, I think the Red Sox need to look at the competition they created in their bullpen. The team should also try to do the same with a plethora of prospects and up-and-coming starters—a few of which definitely could have been landed by moving any one of these guys.
As for trading position players, I would have been OK with moving one of the Red Sox many outfielders—Daniel Nava or Ryan Kalish, specifically. Aside from those guys, I’m certainly not in favor of moving Pedroia, Ortiz, or Ellsbury—give me a break. It seems to be a common misconception that the Red Sox are an old washed-up team of disgruntled veterans; their youngest player is 22, their oldest player is 36, and the average age on the team is 28. The Yankees, for comparison’s sake, have a youngest player of 23, an oldest of 40, and an average age of 29.4 years old.
All in all, good move with the Breslow trade. But, it was too little too late if the Red Sox are truly trying to make a concerted effort to win something this year. From a PR perspective, I know that Ben Cherington could never say that the focus isn’t on this year anymore. If his intention truly is to try to reload the roster after the 2012 campaign is complete, however, I’m OK with it.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder & Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a Boston sports blog.