One of the most frustrating things about the weeks leading up to the July 31st trade deadline are the persistent rumors that don't make sense. You know the ones. They take your favorite team and rope it into all kinds of scenarios that either aren't realistic, wouldn't be helpful enough or carry too much cost or risk.
Because they're willing to spend money, have a good farm system and have been buyers in the past (on a blockbuster scale), the Boston Red Sox have been linked to just about every big name on the trade market, including New York Mets Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. Also, Ubaldo Jimenez and more recently Hunter Pence.
But just because the team is buying and these players may or may not be available doesn't mean that such speculation is always warranted.
There are plenty of quality players for whom the Red Sox could arrange a trade. There are plenty of guys who would be valuable additions to the team without breaking the bank or pillaging Boston's minor leagues. Fans and analysts would do well to concentrate on these real-world possibilities instead of perpetuating wild speculation.
Here are eight players that have been mentioned in the same breath as the Red Sox, but who would very likely be mistakes if the club were to deal for them. When it come to these players, the Red Sox need to keep on shopping.
Over the weekend, Peter Gammons tweeted that Boston had inquired about Oakland starter Rich Harden. It's not an illogical or unrealistic idea to think that the club could bring Harden on board, but this interest does beg the question of why the Red Sox would want to.
We're talking about a 29 year old who has exceeded 150 innings in a season exactly one time. In 2004, Harden was a poster boy for the DL. Now in his ninth season, he's started 20 or more games only three times and has averaged barely 100 innings pitcher per year.
Think about it.
Boston is in a position to trade primarily due to its own injuries. Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the shelf following Tommy John surgery. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are recovering from back problems. The last thing the team needs is a red level injury risk.
And if that doesn't convince you, consider Harden's ERA totals over the past three years, including 2001: 4.09/ 5.58/ 4.63
Swap out Erik Bedard's name for Harden's, and it's virtually the same story. Bedard seems to spend more time on the DL than on the field. From 2004 through 2007, he was a quality pitcher, good for between 150 and 200 innings per year.
Then the wheels fell off.
Bedard threw just over 80 innings in each of 2008 and 2009 while suffering significant injuries. He then missed all of 2010. Now in 2011, he's been sidelined yet again with a knee problem.
The difference between Harden and Bedard is that Bedard has remained effective when healthy. His 3.00 ERA this year would be a welcome sight in the Boston rotation. However, there's simply no telling how many games he could give the Red Sox.
There's little point in giving away prospects for a guy who just can't stay healthy.
Sticking with oft-injured players brings us to Kerry Wood. His career was sidetracked by major arm problems, and he was forced to make the switch from starter to reliever. It's a feat he accomplished with only marginal success.
Now there is a buzz around the Red Sox bringing him in to shore up the bullpen.
Wood's 3.45 ERA in the weak NL Central isn't all that impressive, and when you consider that his 1.50 WHIP suggests it will rise, he doesn't seem like a good option for Boston. He's affordable, and he's decent, but Wood hasn't posted good or great numbers since 2008.
Even assuming he stays healthy, Wood would be an average option as a reliever in the AL East. At 34 years old he would also be a short term solution. There's simply no reason for the Sox to make such a deal.
Of course, not all pitchers are injury risks. Some are healthy but still not worth consideration.
At some point, Brett Myers became a trade target. He has been mentioned in a variety of scenarios involving a variety of teams. The question is, when did an $11 million, 4.74 ERA become a desirable commodity?
Yes, Myers had a nice 2010 season. But his 3.14 ERA was a career best by more than half a run, and was barely supported by a 1.24 WHIP. In other words, expecting him to repeat such a feat would be foolish.
This year's numbers are more like what teams can expect from the 30 year old moving forward. Myers is earning the remainder of a $7 million salary this year but is due to make $11 million in 2012. He also carries a $10 million vesting option for 2013.
It's obviously too much money for not enough production, not to mention that Myers would probably be eaten alive in the AL East.
No offensive player has been talked about as much as Carlos Beltran. The Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Pirates and Rangers have all been named as interested parties. He's an elite bat who could be a game-changer for the team that wins him.
But for the Red Sox to rent Beltran, they'd have to give up one or more top-tier prospects. And the odds of Boston extending or re-signing the right fielder are slim to none.
Factor in the way Josh Reddick has been crushing the ball, and you have a situation that simply doesn't merit the Beltran deal. It's not that the Sox couldn't use him, but the team has greater needs. Augmenting the rotation or bullpen is more critical to the team's playoff success.
Beltran will fetch a high price and will be a quality bat for the heart of someone's order. Just not in Boston.
Red Sox fans need to put the Jose Reyes talk to bed. Not only are the Mets likely to hang onto their All-Star infielder, but even if they were motivated to move him he'd be a poor fit in Boston.
Yes, the Sox need a shortstop. That's been the case for the better part of a decade. But Reyes has a skill set that simply doesn't mesh with the existing lineup. Where would he hit? Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are ensconced atop the order. It's bad enough that the Sox don't have a suitable home for Carl Crawford, who is left field's version of Reyes himself.
Additionally, the Sox can't afford to make another Crawford-esque deal right now, not even for a player as electrifying as Reyes. And the shortstop has stated that he'll seek a contract in excess of $100 million when he hits free agency after the season.
Renting him would be ludicrous. Signing him is a long shot and would be a poor decision anyway. It is time to move on to other options.
A popular story of late has been the one about bringing Hanley Ramirez back to Boston. Remember that he was part of the Red Sox organization before being shipped to Florida in the Josh Beckett deal.
But other than making for a nice homecoming theme, this talk is just idle chatter. While it's true that new Florida manager Jack McKeon has been disenchanted with "Han-Ram's" attitude, that alone isn't going to push the team into selling low on their superstar shortstop.
Ramirez has some real character flaws, but he's a tremendous producer. With power and speed at a very thin position, he represents extreme value despite the surliness. For Boston to reacquire him would take a package of prospects that the team is likely unwilling to part with.
That's assuming that Florida even wants to deal Han-Ram at all. Jeff Conine would pull the trigger, but he's not making the decisions.
This whole scenario seems to be more fantasy than reality.
There was a time earlier in the year when Ryan Ludwick seemed like a solid right field option. But his slash line has fallen on hard times and now stands at an unimpressive .241/ .305/ .380. With his RBI total aside, Ludwick isn't doing all that much at the plate.
Can anyone make the argument that he'd be a better option than the bench players already in the Red Sox system? He certainly wouldn't supplant either J.D. Drew or Josh Reddick as a starter. Frankly, Ludwick would likely be one of the least effective hitters on the team, were he to join.
The Red Sox have enough offense. To make such a deal would be pointless.