Sometimes you can improve your team by way of addition by subtraction. This year's Red Sox are in this situation in 2009. We have a great bullpen and an excess of starting pitching and more real glaring needs except for a little more power off the bench.
To get to that you need to either make a trade or promote from within. The latter is something that this organization is very good at doing these days under this management team.
They have one of the best farm systems in baseball and may have a few chips on the big league roster that they might be able to move.
Let's start with the obvious possibilities on the current roster to be moved. First, it has been widely noted that SS Julio Lugo's days in Boston are numbered with the return of SS/3B Jed Lowrie, but I doubt that many teams would be interested in him due to his high salary.
Boston will need to either eat most if not all of it or throw him in a deal with someone else. Which leads us to our next option. I'll get back to Lugo in a minute or so. SP Brad Penny is another name that has been thrown around in the first half. After a slow start he has pitched well enough to be a third starter on most teams.
Lugo could be tossed into a deal with Penny. This would open the door for either Buchholz (currently in AAA Pawtucket) or the return of a rejuvenated Dice-K. It has also been rumored that Lugo might just be given his outright release, but I hope they get something in return from him rather than go this route.
Next in line is former Dodger closer RP Takashi Saito who could be had by a team looking for a proven closer.
At the bottom of this post you will find the Top 10 Red Sox Prospects with their stats going into the All Star Break. But first, we will revisit the possible trade partners for the Red Sox given the players I've mentioned above.
I am excluding the notion of trading either Buccholz or set up man RP Manny Delcarmen because I don't believe that they should move either player unless it's to aquire the likes of 1B Adrian Gonzales (SD) or Ace SP Roy Halliday (Tor).
Possible trading partners for a deal for Lugo could be Baltimore who have had issues at SS for a while now & they have a young OF of Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis so in my opinion they need to trade either OF/DH Luke Scott or Inf/OF Ty Wiggington. I don't see anyone else out there who would be looking for a SS where Lugo would be an upgrade.
The bad part of this is that it's a trade within the division, but I don't think Lugo would come back to hurt us, but Scott or Wiggington might do that for the O's. Or you could package Lugo in a deal with Saito to either the Tigers, Pirates, Marlins or Nationals, but the only players I can see the Red Sox having interest in would be from the Nationals.
They would be OF Austin Kearns, 1B Nick Johnson or possibly even OF/DH Adam Dunn, but I doubt the Sox would want Dunn now that Ortiz is hitting once again.
They have recently promoted 1B Jeff Bailey who's not even in their top 20 prospects, but when he landed on the DL, the Sox recalled prospect No. 20 1B Adam Bates. Although, Bates will be sent back to triple A Pawtucket either tonight or tomorrow to make room for 3B Mike Lowell who will return from the DL tonight.
The latest word on the Sox is that they will designate SS Julio Lugo for assignment before Friday's game as they now have 10 days from then to move him or outright release him.
This might pave the way, with the demotion of Bates back to Pawtucket, for Buchholz to remain with them in some role moving forward. Maybe this means that Penny or Smoltz will be moved before the trade deadline on the 31st.
Buchholz has been jumping through every hoop the Red Sox have put in front of him since his bad showing of 2008. After the first half of the season in Pawtucket, he has a record of 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA with 89 K and .98 WHIP.
Buchholz is no longer considered a prospect (or else he'd be their No. 1 prospect), but we will now talk about the Sox Top 10 Prospects in their system as of the start of the second half of the season. The chart below is from the site, Sox Prospects.
Number 1 is 19 year old SP/SS Casey Kelly who the Sox are still unsure of where he will play long term and neither does Kelly. This year he will start a predetermined number of innings pitched and then play the remainder of the year at SS. He didn't have even a good year at the plate in his first look at minor league pitching, but lets see what he does by the end of the year before we make any serious determinations on where he'll play.
Early signs do point to his pitching being the most coveted facet of his game right now. He is also a good 3-4 years away from even being thought of joining the major league club. Personally I'm surprised that he's ranked at No. 1.
Number 2 is more realistic and could be seen in Boston in September if the Paw Sox are not in the playoffs in 1B Lars Anderson. He is still developing his power, but is perceived as a possible 30 HR 100 RBI caliber player in the majors, but only has 8 HR, 43 RBI, a .272 BA and an OBP of .366 through the first half. He may still have a year or two to go in Portland/Pawtucket before he's ready to play in Boston. He is currently playing in AA Portland.
Another Portland prospect sits at number 3 in OF Josh Reddick who's hitting for a BA of .271 with an OBP of .341 with 12 HR, 22 RBI. If he has a good spring next year and the Sox don't bring back Baldelli or Kotsay (or either player has health concerns going into 2010), then Reddick might see time as Boston's 4th OF, but that might be a long shot. We'll know more next spring.
Now we come to my favorite guy in this top 10 list, SP Michael Bowden (currently on the DL in Pawtucket). Despite his 3-4 record, he has an ERA of 3.32 with 54 K and a WHIP of 1.24 in 81.1 inning of work thus far. I could see a scenario that has him pitching in Boston in 2010 out of spring training.
Good friend and former teammate Justin Masterson speaks volumes about him in an interview with Baseball Prospectus' David Laurila earlier this year. He shows a mound presence and temperament that a successful pitcher needs to display in order to succeed in the majors.
Going back to Portland, we find another SP in Junichi Tazawa (Taz) whom the Red Sox plucked from Japan this off season and so far he is not disappointing. So far he has a record of 8-5 with an ERA of 2.79 a WHIP of 1.12 with 79 K in 87 innings.
He might see some bullpen action later this year, especially if anyone in the current bullpen is dealt at the deadline. He might see permanent action in Boston next in 2010.
The only other player within reach of playing time in Boston anytime soon would be number 8 prospect, OF Ryan Kalish who is currently playing in Portland and hitting only .243 with an OBP of .298 and slugging only .327 with 3 HR, but has 8 SB in 11 attempts and is considered to be a possible future leadoff hitter.
But with his current showing, he is a far cry from seeing time in Boston with the way Ellsbury is playing CF and how he has bounced back at the plate after experiencing a few rough spells last year in his rookie season.
|SP/SS, GCL Red Sox||1st|
|SP, Pawtucket (DL) 40||1S|
|SP, Portland (TIA)||IFA|
|Clay Buchholz (Paw40)||24||05-1S||7-2||2.36||89||30|
|SP, Pawtucket 40|
Editor's Note: Lugo has been designated for assignment and will either be traded within the next 10 days or released. Either way, the Sox will look to eat up most if not all of him remaining salary which is more that $13M.
What would you like to see the Red Sox due at the trading deadline or with their Top 10 prospects? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.
To read more of my work here at Baseball Reflections just click HERE!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!