Trade Talk, Reddick’s Value and Wheeler’s Role

Less than five day until the 2011 trade deadline comes and goes. The Sox continue to be involved in rumors, as is par for the course, but recent comebacks and performances leave many wondering if this might be the quietest trade deadline for Boston in a long time.

Carlos Beltran seems to be the hottest name out there in terms of a player that is sure to be dealt. I wrote last week that Beltran is not the piece that the Sox need going forward. However, one has to wonder that, should the Mets’ asking price continue to fall, if the Sox won’t just go for it in the end. I still don’t see it happening; especially after watching Josh Reddick go 5-for-11 in the last two games.

Speaking of Reddick, he is an intriguing player right now in more ways than one. His play on the field speaks for itself, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder if this is the perfect time to sell high. It’s hard to imagine his perceived value ever being higher than it is right now. All of his offensive numbers have been inflated by a BABIP over .400, though he sure is hitting the heck out of the baseball, no question about that (26 percent line drive rate). Before the season, I think most prospect junkies and general Sox fans would have ranked Ryan Kalish ahead of Reddick, but Kalish has been injured for most of the 2011 season.

One of the biggest knocks against Reddick had been a lack of plate discipline, which is something he has clearly improved upon. Both his minor league walk rate (14 percent) and major league chase rate (25.5 percent) this season show that he’s certainly not lunging at bad pitches. Anyone who’s seen the majority of his at-bats since being summoned from Pawtucket would likely concur that the eye test backs up the numbers.

Is this the new-and-improved Reddick? Is there power potential to spare, even with his line-drive approach? Is it Reddick, not Kalish, that is destined to be the right fielder of the future? Is this the best time to sell high?

I’m not saying there is a right or wrong answer to any of those questions, because, quite honestly, I could see scenarios in which either answer, yes or no, could turn out to be the right one.

Then again, I don’t see a Reddick for Beltran scenario to be the right answer either. Beltran is a pure rental, with no way for the acquiring team to be compensated with a draft pick if he signs elsewhere in the offseason. Reddick would probably fetch more in the offseason than a short-term rental.

Again, this is just something that has popped into the back of my head. In fantasy baseball, you sell high at a time like this. Obviously, there is a monumental difference between fantasy and reality, but I can’t help but wonder what the Red Sox brass are thinking on the subject behind the scenes.

While Reddick has been the savior so far in right field, Dan Wheeler has made significant strides forward for an ailing bullpen.

It seemed like a good signing in the offseason; bringing in Dan Wheeler to pitch in the sixth or seventh inning against right-handed batters. However, Wheeler’s early returns were, well, not good. He posted an 8.31 ERA and April and a 7.11 ERA in May, where in both months he had trouble locating his pitches to both righties and lefties. Since then, however, Wheeler has managed to harness his stuff within the strike-zone, resulting in a 2.35 ERA in June and 2.61 ERA so far in July. Overall, Wheeler’s K/BB rate is fantastic (4.9) and his ERA predictors (3.92 FIP, 3.62 xFIP, 3.20 SIERA) all indicate that he’s pitched much better than his 4.91 ERA shows on the surface.

This type of performance is exactly what the Sox need from Wheeler in the second half. Jonathan Papelbon has stellar K/BB numbers (~7 K/BB), but a very high BABIP (.340) and Daniel Bard has been about as lights-out as one can get. Matt Albers has been the biggest surprise with his strikeout rate surging from a career K/9 below six before the season, to about nine strikeouts per nine innings so far this season. Add Wheeler into that mix of reliable arms, and the Sox go at least four deep at the back-end of the pen, even with Bobby Jenks injured.

The 2011 trade deadline may pass with little buzz in Beantown, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s nice to see that even after the team unloaded a group of prospects to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, that the system has strengthened itself from withing by the emergence of players like Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway. It makes for a perfect scenario in which the Sox can either deal from depth or stand pat, get healthy and keep their minor league core in tact.

Either way, the Sox have plenty options, which is always a plus as baseball heads toward the trade deadline and inches closer to October.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

2 Responses to “Trade Talk, Reddick’s Value and Wheeler’s Role” Subscribe

  1. Gerry July 26, 2011 at 10:34 PM #

    As usual, good insights backed by facts. Albers & Wheeler ( + Acevas ) have become the sturdy core of this Pen, offsetting the expensive loss of Jenks. Somehow I can't believe that Reddick will be anything other than a JD caliber defender in RF with a better bat. He has, simply, figured it out and promises to be a .300/.360/.450 hitter with 25HR and a ton of doubles, cost controlled on a team with a payroll that is just too big. I wouldn't trade for Beltran straight up at this juncture.

  2. kahlil July 28, 2011 at 10:34 AM #

    i agree. stand down on the outfielders.
    bullpen is looking much better. could be that we have our loogy defined as well with randy williams pitching better. i heard that oki has settled down as well in pawtucket.
    also, have you noticed the return of the bullpen percussion line? an under-reported mainstay of the '07 group.