Tagged: trade

Martinez, Buchholz, and the Trade Deadline

I know Victor Martinez is a great player, and gives us depth at catcher, but I don’t see how this trade made us that much better if everyone stays healthy. Varitek, Lowell, and Youk have an OPS above their career average. LaRoche gave us insurance at first base. Given what Detriot gave up for Washburn (i.e., not much), I would have preferred the extra experienced starter.

Not that one game a sample size makes, but Buchholz isn’t having a great day today. I believe many people undervalue Jason Varitek’s ability to call a game. Few people grant to a catcher the kind of respect an offensive coordinator gets in football. But that’s what they are. Pitchers are quarterbacks. Some study film and come prepared (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning could win with me in the booth), others (say, Brett Favre) need someone to call the plays for them. Otherwise, they would chuck fastballs, err… deep posts… every play err… pitch. Mixed metaphors aside, catchers play an important, if non-quantifiable, role in pitching. And Varitek is the best in the business.

I commented on a post regarding this subject over on Statistician Magician a few weeks back. Here’s what I wrote over there:

Besides looking at the ho-hitters, look at what happened to the Red Sox pitching staff in 2006 when Varitek got hurt. He missed only the month of August that season. The Red Sox were 63 and 41 heading into that month. They went 9-21 in August without Varitek behind the plate. They recovered to go 14-14 after his return.

More pitching numbers from that season: in August without Varitek: BA .314, TB 548, OPS+ 131, and team ERA 5.81. The high’s from any other month: BA .282, TB 419, OPS+ 106, ERA 4.70.

The terrible swan-dive the team took in 2006 during Tek’s injury was why Epstein came to value Varitek to the extent that he does. In fairness, Wakefield was injured for that stretch as well. But that doesn’t explain why Schilling, Beckett, and Lester all had their worst months of the season in August. Lester pitched so poorly they sent him back down to the minors.

What I hope stands out is that, during his absence, the pitching staff stunk it up. Beckett and Schilling, great every other month that season, posted some of their worst totals in a Sox uniform.

I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate Martinez’s bat. I’m not saying I won’t. But I wonder (as I watch Clay struggle today) if sacrificing Varitek’s behind-the-plate magic (at least it sounds like voodoo to many fans of the contemporary statistical school) is worth the slight offensive upgrade Martinez provides.

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Red Sox Halladay Offer

Last week I proposed the Red Sox trade for Halladay. Here’s what that offer looked like:

The Red Sox actually offer was leaked earlier today. It pretty close to my offer, with one major difference. Here’s what they put on the table:

  • Clay Buchholz
  • Choice of Bowden, Anderson, or Masterson
  • A lesser prospect [not a blue-chip]

The Sox put Buchholz on the table, which I didn’t think they would do. Notice that flamethrower Daniel Bard is off the table. Ultimately, this is likely all academic, since I don’t think that the Jays will trade Halladay in the division if they can help it. But it is nice to dream.

Thanks Again to Pittsburgh

Need talent? Don’t have anything to give up in trade? Talk to Pittsburgh!

The Red Sox stole another talented veteran from the Pirates today, acquiring the rights to defensively skilled first baseman Adam LaRoche for two minor league “prospects” (ahem). LaRoche has been in a terrible slump this month (he’s on my fantasy team–trust me, its been brutal) but is a notorious second half hitter; his second-half career OPS is over .125 higher than his first half OPS (.901 vs .773). LaRoche will face the added challenge of adjusting to American League pitching, which can be increasingly difficult for an at times contact challenged hitter such as LaRoche.

A few years ago the Pirates stole Freddie Sanchez from the Sox for a Jeff Suppan stretch run. But I think, between this year and last, we have evened the score.

This likely means I have to go and dump LaRoche from the fantasy team this afternoon, since he is essentially coming in as an insurance policy in case Lowell’s hip (or other unforeseen injury) causes a stint on the DL. A small loss for me, a nice gain for the Sox.

Wakefield, Buccholz, and Halladay (?), Oh My!

First, as if in response to one of my questions from a few days ago, Buccholz has found a temporary spot in the rotation. I don’t know if Wake is really hurt or not–but this gives him a chance to rest up for a bit (he was clearly feeling his age at the end of last season–giving him, essentially, the month of July off is a good thing), and gives Buccholz an extended audition for the three spot in the rotation. I say three spot, because despite praising the pitching last week, I think you can see that the Red Sox have a number one starter, a number two starter, a number four starter (Wake) and then three number fives (Smoltz, Penny, Dice-K). We need a reliable third starter for the playoffs, and I don’t think we have that quite yet. (Smoltz might recover, Buccholz might develop, Dice-K might return to form, I might win the lottery).

Second, I am probably just pushing the panic button because the Yankees have just overtaken us for first place, but I want to propose the notion that the Red Sox should make a go at acquiring Halladay. He would become the ace immediately, and that would just make Beckett and Lester that much more effective come playoff time. I’ve been looking at the offers the Jay’s are hoping for (specifically the offer the Mets allegedly rejected) and think the Red Sox could easily put a package together. PS, if the Mets and the Phillies did reject the reported deals, then they must be smoking crack. The Jay’s asking price is quite reasonable for what might be the best pitcher in baseball. It is not a stretch-run rental–you get him for another whole season. While prospects are valuable–the Red Sox have shown that–you also have to realize there is a limited window to win. For the Mets and the Phillies, due to contract obligations too long to cover here, that window is likely next season.

Anyway, here’s my potential deal. In exchange for Halladay, the Red Sox exchange:

That’s three highly scouted prospects (all have ranked in BP’s top 100). Bowden is pitching great at the AAA level. I covered how a little investigation shows Masterson’s numbers to be better than they initially appear last post. Bard is a flamethrower out of the pen, and could potentially replace BJ Ryan as closer for the rebuilding Jays. I see Anderson as the hardest to let go, only because in a year or two the Sox might envision Youk moving back to third and Anderson starting at first.

So, Sox fans, Jays fans, other fans, what do you think?