Moving into July, after the announcement of the All-Star teams (which I plan to address in a different article), the trade deadline speculation is in full swing.
One team that has popped up everywhere in the past few days is the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox are mired in a bit of a skid, seeing a five-game lead over the Yankees turn into a mere one-game advantage. With the American League's best record in hand (for now, at least), the Red Sox won't be labeled as "buyers" or "sellers" at this deadline.
Rather, Epstein will look to make trades to further improve the roster and put the Red Sox in the best possible position to hold off the Yankees and Rays and win their second AL East crown in three seasons.
With potential trade chips young and old in Clay Buchholz, Takashi Saito, and Julio Lugo, the Red Sox will likely make at least one deal to add some help and bolster a weaker part of the roster.
One of the most recent—and surprising—rumors popped up today, as Buster Olney wondered if the Red Sox would try to make an offer to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay, whom the Jays are apparently willing to trade.
Not surprisingly, it was mere speculation rather than a legitimate rumor or possibility, just people pointing out that the Red Sox could afford to pay Halladay's salary and have the young talent to pull off a deal.
The detractors claim the Red Sox have stubbornly clung on to their young pitchers like a small child does with a blanket or stuffed animal. Johan Santana wasn't enticing enough to make Theo Epstein give up John Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Buchholz, or any other top prospect in 2007, and Halladay will probably create a similar scenario now.
The bigger obstacle to a deal is the fact that the teams compete in the same division.
With both teams playing in the AL East, not only would the Jays be unwilling to send their ace to a division rival, but the Red Sox would also not want to send some of their top prospects to a rival inside the division.
Would it lead Toronto to ask for more prospects from the Red Sox, seeing as how Boston would land one of the best pitchers in the game? Most likely.
With this, would the Red Sox continue to pursue a deal? Probably not.
In fact, given the current state of the Red Sox's pitching, they are most likely not in the market for Halladay, and while they haven't even made a call to Toronto to discuss the pitcher, barring a major injury, I don't think anyone sees the Sox becoming players for Halladay.
Not that it's a rumor—Olney really was just noting that the Red Sox could be a fit for Halladay—it would take some real desperation for Epstein to start looking to play ball with Toronto on a deal.
After a mediocre 2006 season, Manny Delcarmen emerged as a great young relief pitcher for the Red Sox in 2007. As part of the bullpen that helped win Boston its second World Series in four years, Delcarmen was the owner of a 2.05 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 44 innings.
In 2008, a season that saw the Red Sox fall just short of trying for a repeat, Delcarmen backtracked from his breakout campaign of the year before. Struggling some with control, Delcarmen's numbers jumped to a 3.27 ERA and 1.11 WHIP; still respectable numbers, but not as dominant.
To his credit, Delcarmen did pitch 30 more innings than in '07 while increasing his K/BB rate from 2.41 to 2.57.
With Delcarmen pitching lights out again (1.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 1.64 K/BB), teams with bullpen woes have been looking to land him. Earlier in the season, the Washington Nationals offered Nick Johnson in exchange for Delcarmen, someone the Nats would attempt to build their bullpen around.
That deal was shot down as soon as it hit Theo's ears.
After the loss of closer Matt Lindstrom to the DL, the Florida Marlins are in the market for a relief pitcher. According to Ken Rosenthal, they Braves-to-move" target="_blank">offered the Red Sox Minor League first baseman Gaby Sanchez in return for the hard throwing Delcarmen.
Sanchez, one of Florida's best prospects, is hitting .300 with eight home runs at Triple-A New Orleans, coming off a .314, 17 home run, 17 steal, 92 RBI season last year at Double-A.
Given the depth of talent the Red Sox have available at first base in Kevin Youkilis, Carter, Anderson, and even Aaron Bates, it's understandable that talks didn't last long between these two teams.
Not to say it was a bad offer, but the last thing the Red Sox need right now is another power-hitting first baseman in the minors.
While the Red Sox haven't shown much willingness to deal Delcarmen, or any part of their bullpen for that matter, it has been made clear that if any relief pitcher is going to be traded, it is likely to be Saito, says Gordon Edes.
A scout has said that Delcarmen "has closer stuff," and due to his immense talent, the Red Sox have been saying no to teams looking to land Delcarmen, as well as Justin Masterson.
The scout went on to reveal that Saito would probably be the one to go, if anyone.
Earlier in June, Troy Renck connected the Rockies to Saito, noting that the Rox needed relief help that could dominate the NL West, also going on to say that the Red Sox had mild interest in outfielder Ryan Spilborghs.
Other than that, the market for Saito has been quiet—surprising, given Saito's respectable numbers, consisting of a 3.64 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and 2.08 K/BB.