This from the Boston Globe’s Nick Carfardo on the Red Sox’s need for starting pitching, and their potential trade targets:
“This Sox team doesn’t need a lot of tweaking unless the brass decides to go all-out to get a Jose Reyes, a Felix Hernandez, or a Ubaldo Jimenez. If those players are out of reach or their teams aren’t willing to deal them, then why not pursue Oakland’s Rich Harden or Seattle’s Erik Bedard, a couple of small pieces, fifth-starter types?
Makes perfect sense for the Sox.
While Clay Buchholz has been out for a long time and likely won’t be back until the end of August, he will be back. When he returns, he’ll join Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey as the top four starters. Then it’s Miller or Tim Wakefield in the No. 5 spot. If a Harden or a Bedard is added, that makes three pitchers vying for one spot. Harden and Bedard are prone to injuries but when healthy can give quality performances. Their cost wouldn’t be prohibitive, and they have the type of stuff that would translate well on this staff.”
While I appreciate Carfardo’s desire to go after high-reward pitchers like Bedard and Harden, we need to recognize that both come with a great deal of risk. Sure, they may not cost much in terms of prospects given up, but both carry significant injury risks that would make their acquisition meaningless if they suffered an injury. Let’s be honest. Given their track records, it’s pretty likely.
Futhermore, the Red Sox rotation has already been decimated by injuries this season. Jon Lester missed a few weeks with a strained left lat; Clay Buchholz has been out six weeks with a lower back strain; Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery; John Lackey had a mysterious shoulder injury that kept him out of action for three weeks; and Josh Beckett has had a variety of maladies and injuries that have cost him a couple of starts here and there. If we do pick up another starter, it’s probably in the team’s best interest to go after someone a little more durable; even if it means the cost is slightly higher.
This actually fits into a conversation I was having last night on Twitter with Fire Brand reader Jody White. While he’s open to the idea of making a deal for a starting pitcher, he’d prefer to stand pat and hold onto the prospects. It’s a perfectly valid point (and one that I agree with in a perfect world), but it’s not like the Red Sox have any untouchable prospects at the moment. I’m not suggesting they sell off depth, but it might not be a bad idea to explore moving one or two pieces in the right deal.
If Buccholz returns from the DL this season, there really isn’t a need to make a trade. The Red Sox would have a potentially dominant trio heading up their playoff rotation with Lackey serving as the fourth man. Unfortunately, I used the word “if,” and not “when” when I described Buchholz’s return from the DL. Lower back injuries are tricky, and there’s no guarantee he’ll return to the mound this season. Even if he does, all it takes is one awkward twist, and he’s back on the DL.
If he doesn’t return, the Red Sox would go into the playoffs with Lackey as the #3 and Tim Wakefield as the #4. Suddenly, the rotation isn’t very scary, is it? That’s why, provided the cost isn’t too great, it would behoove the Red Sox to go after a reliable middle of the rotation starter like Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, or Aaron Harang. At the very least, if Buchholz comes back, an additional starter will both strengthen the rotation and the bullpen; thus allowing Wakefield to return to his role as the long man.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the Red Sox stand pat; trade for a high-reward, value guy like Harden or Bedard; aquire a middle of the rotation starter like Kuroda, Guthrie, or Harang; or go for broke and deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. Post your thoughts in the comment section provided below.