(Photo Credit: ESPN)
By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
When the Red Sox were running up their win total for what was their best July in several years, if possibly ever, my primary concern was that President Dave Dombrowski might not pursue the July 31 non-waiver deadline as aggressively as he should. After all, why shouldn’t he? Isn’t Boston’s window for a World Series closing?
Being a “realist,” I’m always watching for subtle issues which could eventually become bigger issues later on. Anytime I raised concerns, people would say, “We have 70 wins already… we’re the best team in baseball!” Being a 2011 collapse survivor, I laughed at how my fellow Sox fans could be so naive. In fact, I’ve grown used to it.
As we near start of September, we baseball fans are getting a sense of which teams did well at the trade deadline, and which teams did not. Lets look at how the Red Sox did:
Nobody saw this deal coming. Matt Harvey, Cole Hamels, Chris Archer, Kevin Gausman and Mike Fiers in no particular order were names that were often connected to other teams in July. Eovaldi’s name never came up at all anywhere, until he was traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 25th for Jaelyn Beeks in a one-for-one deal.
The reaction to this deal amongst the Boston landscape was mostly very positive. And if I’m being completely honest, despite some mild skepticism, I embraced this trade with an open mind. The former Yankee was fresh off Tommy John, had proven his durability earlier in the season, eats up innings, throws gas, and strikes guys out.
Eovaldi looked great in his first two starts. Pitched eight scoreless innings in his debut outing against the Twins, followed by seven scoreless against his former Yankees. However, in his following four starts since, he has failed to pitch more than five and 1/3 innings. Not to mention giving up double digit hits in two of those, and 35 hits overall in that stretch. So much for being an “innings eater,” huh?
At the end of the day, Eovaldi is a career 4.21 ERA pitcher, and it’s been more of the same here in Boston. He MIGHT still provide value from the bullpen in long relief. Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello are all but guaranteed to be the 1-2-3 starters in the ALDS. The abundance of caution the Boston front office is implementing with Sale seems to be an obvious indicator that there will a four man rotation during that opening round. That spot could possibly go to Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, or Eovaldi.
Logic would point to Rodriguez, but theres no guarantees he bounces back effectively, and if he does, are we still getting a pitcher who can’t pitch past the fifth? If not, what makes him an upgrade over the latter two? The Red Sox still have a depth issue.
Cole Hamels was my first choice. He’s a proven veteran who is durable, and a former World Series MVP. Which sounds pretty good considering Price, Porcello, and Sale all have 24 years of combined MLB experience, but not one single win in the playoffs as a starting pitcher. The Cubs only had to give up two low level pitching prospects, and pay $5M of Hamels’ remaining 2018 salary. For comparison, Eduardo Nunez, who serves as a utility man, only costs the Red Sox $4M annually. In five starts with the Cubs, Hamels is pitching to a 0.79 ERA. This was easily a deal Dombrowski could have pursued, but he chose Eovaldi.
Mike Fiers was another candidate I considered to be very viable. Granted, his season numbers with the Tigers weren’t drastically better than Eovaldi’s, but did seem somewhat more attractive given his larger sample size of innings for the year. Fiers is now part of a suddenly robust Oakland rotation, and is pitching to a 1.50 ERA. What did Oakland give up for Fiers? Cash considerations, or two players to be named later. Dave Dombrowski could have had him for practically nothing, but he chose Eovaldi.
Is the Red Sox rotation better off after making this trade than they were last spring? No.
Just for shits and giggles… Mostly giggles… Clay Buchholz has a 2.25 ERA in 13 starts with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This was another trade that came out of nowhere. With Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list, clearly Dombrowski made this deal with the mindset of improving his infield defense. It was the second time he successfully traded for Kinsler. Previously he managed to fleece the Texas Rangers to bring Kinsler to Detroit and rid himself of Prince Fielder’s terrible contract.
One of my biggest gripes for much of the year was about the low productivity of the bottom half of Boston’s lineup. The higher “need” on my wishlist was for an offensive upgrade. Starlin Castro and Whit Merrifield were two names I personally coveted. The latter of which also provides stellar defense, but both certainly could have provided the offensive spark the Sox needed, and still need.
Kinsler, who typically averages around 20 home runs annually has failed to go deep one single time thus far with the Sox. As well as only two stolen bases despite hispreviously high aptitude for doing so. The former Ranger is only hitting .237 on the year, and has not provided any offensive upside. In fact, Nunez has been a much stronger contributor.
We can debate whether or not the defense of Kinsler justifies the trade despite our struggling lineup. But the cold hard truth is that his WAR since arriving in Boston is -0.1, and he’s not an impact player. My concerns in this area are very much the same as they were earlier in the year.
The Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs by far “won” the deadline with their respective moves. Oakland acquired Fiers, Familia, and Rodney. There’s no team in the American league I fear more than them. I’m seriously rooting for them to win the AL West in favor of having to face either the Yankees or Astros in the five game ALDS. The Sox have already lost four out of six to Oakland in 2018, and that was before they made their trades.
The Cubs acquired Hamels and Murphy, and seem to finally have some momentum on the rest of the National League Central.
The Yankees made a solid trade to get J.A. Happ. Zach Britton has had his struggles out of their bullpen, but there is plenty of time to figure it out.
So finally, as far as the Red Sox are concerned, I will emphatically say they botched it. They have gotten very little value from the trades they did make. Literally the GM’s of every probable playoff team managed to out perform, and out maneuver Dave Dombrowski this summer..
To make matters worse, Jaelyn Beeks is settling in very nicely with the Tampa Bay Rays, which is where he will reside for the next six years.
ICYMI: EPISODE 75 OF THE AVIDBOSTON PODCAST!
WHAT’S WRONG W/ MOOKIE? WILL THE YANKS CATCH UP? PEDROIA COMEBACK? GOOD OR BAD? DID DOMBROWSKI BOTCH THE TRADE DEADLINE?