MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Boston Red Sox Deadline Deals Under Theo Epstein

Matt SAnalyst IIIJuly 24, 2011

MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Boston Red Sox Deadline Deals Under Theo Epstein

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    In recent years, the Boston Red Sox have excelled at development top-tier talent within the organization. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon just to name a few.

    The club has also made some great moves on the free-agent and trade markets, adding players like Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

    But there have been some terrible decisions as well. John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Jenks come to mind.

    And when it comes to making deals at the trade deadline, the Sox haven't always been big winners.

    Recently, Tyler Murray of WEEI's Full Count decided to rank the club's deadline decisions made during the tenure of GM Theo Epstein.  It was a clever idea, a good read and an eye-opening review of some dubious transactions.

    But instead of a rank-ordered list, it might be more effective to grade each year's deadline outcome.  It's not how they relate to each other that matter but what they did for the team.

    Using WEEI's list as a starting point, here's how Boston has fared at recent trade deadlines. 

2003: Theo Epstein's First Trade Deadline in Boston

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    Deals Made:

    Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez to the Pirates for Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez.

    Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland to the Reds for Scott Williamson.

     

    What they lost:  Sanchez was a Boston draft pick whose minor league stats were acceptable.  But by age 25, he hadn't broken out, and the team was willing to cut him loose.  

    Now with the Giants, Sanchez has been a fairly good hitter and infielder with a career OPS of 748. Gonzalez was a minor leaguer with Boston but would go on to have some nice years at Pittsburgh's closer before his numbers declined.

    Dumatrait was a minor league pitcher who later spent some time with several big league clubs, but his numbers were never good.  Pelland was another arm with passable minor league stats but never made The Show. 

     

    What they got:  Suppan, originally drafted by Boston, returned home to post an ugly 5.57 ERA.  He was gone the next season.  Lyon was nearly as bad in relief, posting a 4.12 with a 1.55 WHIP.  

    He was in Arizona the following year.  Martinez was the worst of the bunch, posting an 8.44 in 11 appearances for Boston.  It was his only big league showing.

    Williamson was horrific in the second half of 2003, posting a 6.20 ERA over 24 games.  But his 2004 was strong.  A 1.26 ERA in 28 appearances helped the Boston bullpen significantly.

     

    Grade:  C-

    Boston ultimately got one good partial season from Williamson and lost a utility infielder who could hit for average.  The Sox would have been better off keeping Sanchez, but at least they didn't surrender too much talent.   

2004: The First Boston Red Sox World Series Win in 86 Years

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    Deals Made:

    (Four-team trade) Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Cubs for Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins and Orlando Cabrera from the Expos.

    Henri Stanley to the Dodgers for Dave Roberts.

     

    What they lost: Though Nomar was an outstanding talent, moving him was addition by subtraction.  He was routinely injured and his skills were declining.  

    Murton was a decent outfielder, but the Sox could afford to let him go.  He lingered in the majors until 2009 and played in Japan last year.  

    Stanley was a diminutive outfielder who never would have seen time at Fenway.  His stay in the Boston system was brief.

     

    What they got:  The Sox didn't get much of a bat by adding Mientkiewicz, but his defense was excellent.  In limited at-bats, he posted a measly .603 OPS but gave the team some infield depth.  

    Cabrera was the star of the deal, giving the Red Sox a .785 OPS and strong defense at a position of need.  His half season remains a bright spot in Boston's stretch of shortstop futility.

    Roberts was more depth and much-needed speed on the basepaths.  He filled in as an outfielder. 

     

    Grade: A-

    The Sox unloaded a lot of baggage by dumping Nomar, and got themselves a shortstop that helped key a World Series win.  Roberts had one of the biggest steals in franchise history and sparked the greatest postseason comeback baseball has ever seen.

2005: Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks Make Pointless Swap

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    Deal Made:

    Kenny Perez and Kyle Bono to the Diamondbacks for Jose Cruz Jr.

     

    What they lost:  Perez ended up being a lifetime minor leaguer, serving as a utility infielder.  Bono also failed to make the major leagues and was out of baseball by 2006.

     

    What they got:  Cruz played in four games, posting a .641 OPS for the Sox.  He was designated for assignment.  That proved to be a terrible move, as he went on to post a .923 OPS for the Dodgers in 47 games.

     

    Grade: B-

    The trade itself wasn't all that terrible.  Cruz had respectable career numbers and went on to enjoy a decent enough career.  Neither player that the Sox traded away was going to make an impact.  

    The unfortunate part was how things worked out over the second half of 2005. 

2006: Red Sox Take a Flier on a Reliever

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    Deal Made: 

     Luis Mendoza to the Rangers for Bryan Corey.

     

    What they lost:  Mendoza was a fringe player for Boston's minor league teams.  He made appearances for the Rangers but was never effective.

     

    What they got:  Corey was an average bullpen arm after coming on board in 2006, posting a 4.57 ERA. He was excellent in 2007 in limited appearances with a 1.93 ERA.  After that, he fell off the table.

     

    Grade: B+

    While the results weren't all that great, the deal was sound.  Mendoza held little value and the Sox saw fit to take a flier on Corey.  His nine games in 2007 were quite good.  

    That he didn't pan out in the long run shouldn't lower the grade too much.

2007: Red Sox Put Faith in Eric Gagne

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    Deals Made:

    Engel Beltre, Kason Gabbard and David Murphy to the Rangers for Eric Gagne and cash.

    Joel Pineiro to the Cardinals for Sean Danielson.

     

    What they lost: Beltre was a teenage outfielder playing rookie ball in Boston's farm system.  He was an unknown quantity in 2007.  

    Gabbard was fairly successful in the minors, and posted a 3.65 ERA over 14 big league appearances for the Sox as a starting pitcher.  

    Murphy was an extra outfielder who was buried in the organizational depth chart.  His cup of coffee at Fenway was forgettable.

    After an up-and-down career with the Mariners, Piniero wasn't doing much in Boston.  He posted a 5.03 ERA in 31 games out of the bullpen. 

     

    What they got:  Gagne won a Cy Young as a reliever in 2003, so he obviously had great stuff.  But back-to-back lost seasons in 2005 and 2006 should have been a red flag too big to ignore.  

    Instead, Boston focused on his bounce-back first half of 2007.  The results were horrible.  A 6.75 ERA over 20 appearances.

    Danielson, an outfielder, never made it out of Pawtucket.

     

    Grade:  F

    These moves had disaster written all over them.  Somehow, Boston still managed to win the World Series, but they didn't nothing to help themselves at the deadline.  

    Piniero may have been a lousy pitcher at the time, but he had enjoyed some success in previous seasons.  Danielson wasn't a worthwhile add and Gagne was too big a risk.  

    Gabbard had actually flashed some potential, though he ultimately failed to make much of an impact in the big leagues.  Murphy is still contributing for the Rangers.

2008: Manny Being Manny Comes to an End at Fenway

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    Deal Made:

    (Three teams) Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates for Jason Bay.

     

    What they lost:  Manny had become a clubhouse cancer, throwing his bad attitude around and frequently refusing to play hard.  Or play at all.  

    Hansen still had some upside, but he had failed to progress as a pitcher in Boston's system.  Moss was an average outfielder who offered little more than organizational depth.

     

    What they got:  Bay has fallen on hard times since moving on to the Mets, but at the time, he was one of the NL's most underrated talents.  Stuck in Pittsburgh, he was still posting OPS total above .900.

     

    Grade:  A

    This was a fantastic move on multiple levels.  Ramirez was destroying the team's chemistry, and his public disagreements with Boston management couldn't go unanswered.  

    Bay was a former Rookie of the year and an NL All-Star would go on to be a top-10 player in the AL in 2009.  He was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger and posted a .921 OPS for the Red Sox.

    In essence, Boston managed to dump one of the best hitters in the game without losing production.

2009: Red Sox Go for the Blockbuster Deal by Adding Victor Martinez

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    Deals Made:

    Nick Hagadone and Justin Masterson to the Indians for Victor Martinez.

    Adam LaRoche to the Braves for Casey Kotchman.

     

    What they lost:  Masterson was an improving starter with plenty of upside. In 2008, he posted a 3.16 ERA out of the 'pen, and the Sox regarded him as a future starter.  

    Hagadone was a top-tier prospect posting outstanding ERA numbers in the lower levels of Boston's farm system.

    Laroche was a backup first baseman with a decent glove and some power.  He wasn't a long-term solution in Boston.

     

    What they got:  Martinez was an elite bat who, despite injury concerns, filled a need at catcher. Kotchman was another backup infielder with slightly more upside than Laroche.

     

    Grade:  C

    Boston felt like they had to add depth at catcher with Jason Varitek having a horrific year.  Martinez was one of the AL's better hitters, and this was a marquee add.  But giving up two arms with front-of-the-rotation potential was difficult.  

    In hindsight, V-Mart failed to get Boston back to the World Series, and the team would have been better off keeping its money and its pitchers.

    Martinez was an All-Star and posted a very nice .865 OPS while in Boston.  But Justin Masterson's 2.64 ERA in 2011 is an example of what might have been for the Sox. 

    The Laroche-Kotchman deal was basically irrelevant.

2010: Red Sox Bring in Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    Deal Made:

    Chris McGuiness, Roman Mendez and cash to the Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

    Ramon Ramirez to the Giants for Daniel Turpen.

     

    What they lost:  McGuiness was a first basemen in Boston's farm system, stuck behind several players including Lars Anderson.  Mendez was a pitcher who flashed some skill in rookie ball before stumbling badly in A-ball Greenville.

    Ramirez was effective out of the bullpen in 2009, posting a 2.84 ERA.  But his 2010 numbers weren't good; a 4.46 ERA through 44 games made him expendable.

     

    What they got:  Salty was a one-time prospect who had failed to progress at catcher.  But he retained some upside and Boston needed help at the position.  

    Turpen was a minor league arm who didn't stick with the organization.  He now plays in the Rockies' system.

     

    Grade:  A-

    Boston gave up very little value.  Ramirez was replaceable and the two minor leaguers sent to Texas weren't going to be part of the Red Sox's future anyway.  Boston was clearly planning for Victor Martinez's departure via free agency, and the move has paid off.

    In addition to saving quite a bit of money by letting V-Mart walk, Boston has seen signs of life from the 26 year old Saltalamacchia, who sports a .771 OPS in 60 games this season.  He's no Martinez at the plate, but may be an improvement over V-Mart behind it.

    It was well worth taking a chance on Salty, and the price was definitely right.