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Boston Red Sox: What Can Go Wrong with Erik Bedard Trade?

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Boston Red Sox: What Can Go Wrong with Erik Bedard Trade?
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Isn't it strange when something the Boston Red Sox do goes under the radar? Honestly, it seems like even when  Terry Francona wears a pull-over over his jersey (if you were on board in 2007), the Red Sox make big news.

But the Erik Bedard trade was exactly that: a Sox trade that went under the radar. Even though Bedard was the most prominent pitcher not named Ubaldo Jimenez, Sox fans have been spoiled in recent years by deadline acquisitions such as Jason Bay and Victor Martinez.

So the Bedard trade was just business as usual for Boston at the deadline. No one has given it too much praise or criticism. I had not seen any strong opinions on the matter until this morning, when I opened up Sporting News Today, a publication with well-argued analysis that I generally agree with.

But in today's issue, SN veteran baseball writer Stan McNeal wrote the following:

"The most notable losers [at the trade deadline] are two teams used to winning, the Yankees and Red Sox. Both needed to bolster their rotations but neither did, at least not appreciably. Boston is mistaken if it thinks Erik Bedard can step in for Clay Buchholz based on the left-hander's injury history and poor start Friday."

There is just so much about this quote that I disagreed with that analysis of the quote merits its own article. This needs to be picked apart.

 

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The Yankees

The one part of this quote that I agree with is that the Yankees lost out in this deadline.

New York came into the deadline two games behind in the AL East with a 6.5-game lead in the AL Wild Card. Although they have a decent Wild Card lead, there is more than enough time for a team like the Los Angeles Angels to gain ground on the Yankees.

The Yankees suffered an insane amount of backlash when the team did not make the playoffs in 2008. Now imagine if they fail to reach the postseason this year. The media and the fans will focus on how they failed to make a move at the deadline.

New York could have put themselves in the Bedard race, but the Yankees did not see a starting pitcher who they felt was worth their prospects. The Yankees have a good rotation, but another pitcher would have helped them a lot in both the pennant race and the playoffs.

 


The Risk

It is not hard to tell that McNeal is not a big fan of Bedard, but is he really that big a fan of Tim Federowicz, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez? Is that really too drastic a loss?

Boston has a deep enough farm system that this trade did not sacrifice too much of the future.

Federowicz is the biggest loss in the trade. But he is by no means a special prospect. Boston is putting its future into Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the backstop. Federowicz is just a catcher who is decent at everything, but exceptional at nothing at the Double-A level.

That often spells out a future as a backup catcher in the Majors, or a future as a starting catcher with a team with no catching depth (looks like he found a good home with the Dodgers).

Chiang is the next biggest loss in the trade. Chiang is a middling prospect who is now hitting decently at Double-A. But he is an outfielder. Ahead of him in the Sox organization are Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish in the future of the outfield.

Chiang was unlikely to find a home in the Boston outfield, but with luck he could end up an everyday player in the Mariners' future.

Fife could end up a decent back-of-the-rotation guy. And Rodriguez? A blowout reliever at best, which is exactly what Boston acquired in Joshua Fields.

Four prospects looks like a lot for two months of one pitcher, but the Red Sox did not give up any kind of talent that is hard to come by.

 


The Reward

As I said before, Bedard was the best starting pitcher acquired that was not Jimenez. Bedard is a guy who at best will give you two months of dominant pitching and another reliable starter for the postseason. That is what Boston needed.

Pitchers of greater trade value such as Jimenez or Wandy Rodriguez would have required prospects that actually might have some value to Boston's future, the Kalishess and Anthony Ranaudos of the farm system.

But the Red Sox do not need long-term help. They needed help for this year. McNeal said they needed greater help than Bedard, but Bedard is what Boston needed, a guy who helps them out now. There was no need to sacrifice guys who may help out in the future for a pitcher who is not much better than Bedard right now.

And what if Bedard does not do so well?

Bedard will likely be a Type-A or B free agent, most likely Type-B. The Elias Rankings are based on a player's performance in the past two years. So even though Bedard missed all of last year, his performance this season will likely merit him a draft pick (Joe Nathan was a Type-A player last year despite missing the season).

And Boston has little reason not to offer arbitration to Bedard. If he declines, the Red Sox still have a good rotation going into next season. If he accepts, then another year of Bedard has a nice ring to it.

So the Red Sox were by no means "losers" at the trade deadline. They would have been bigger losers if they made like the Yankees and stood pat when they had a gaping need, or if they sacrificed too much for Jimenez or Rodriguez.

McNeal, you are a talented writer and a smart guy. But your analysis of Boston at the trade deadline was a little off. This was not the blockbuster deadline move that Red Sox fans are used to, but it was a move that can do little harm.

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