Should the Sox Deal for a Starter?

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.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Erik Bedard Rich Harden

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

18 Responses to “Should the Sox Deal for a Starter?” Subscribe

  1. Mowsen July 28, 2011 at 10:22 AM #

    I'm torn on this one. I like Harden and Bedard as they are capable of providing quality starts against AL East competition "stuff-wise". Sure, they are injury-prone but all the Sox need is a couple of starts and that's it. Boston doesn't need a starter to carry them through the postseason. Buchholz will eventually return, you said it yourself. They would come cheap in term of money and prospects.
    Jimenez concerns me. Big velocity drop from last season and I just don't think he would translate all that well in the AL. Kuroda and Guthrie would be innings eater which the Sox could also find from within the organization. I want no part of Harang, he's an extreme fly-ball pitcher. Not a good combination with the Green Monster.
    But I do think if the Sox want to cash in on Reddick and other prospects which currently have a high stock to create roster space then go for it. But if not Jimenez who else could be had as a No. 2 or 3 arm? Maybe Danks, Billingsley, Anibal Sanchez?

    • ChipBuck July 28, 2011 at 7:27 PM #

      I didn't say he'd return. I said, "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." I hope he returns, but this was supposed to be a short-term DL trip. By the time he comes off, it will be 2 months minimum, and it could be longer.

      Jimenez's drop in velocity scares me, but what makes you think he won't translate to the AL? I don't see any statistical reason why he couldn't. Guthrie's an innings eater, but Kuroda is better than that. Even still, who within the organization do you think is on par with them? Lackey and Wake haven't been. Either has Weiland, Aceves, or Miller. Who's left? Doubront? Doubtful. He can't even stay healthy. Kuroda, Guthrie, and Harang would be better pitchers; although I have reservations about Harang as well .

  2. kahlil July 28, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

    middle of the rotation guy.
    here's an interesting article:

    could match up well with;

    see: b-prospects, rule 5 eligible/40 man roster

    beuhrle or jackson would be the perfect 'decent 3/ strong 4/ dominant 5' starter that we are looking for. especially for any combination of anderson, lin, chaing, fife, bowden.

    • Mowsen July 28, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

      Jackson has already been traded to the Cardinals. Buehrle would be ok, I'd still rather have Bedard though. Getting a decent starter for b-prospects would be ideal and would also allow the Sox to address RF either now or during the offseason. I just don't see Reddick as the long-term answer. Or Kalish. Much rather send Reddick in package with a good SP prospect for a good righty-hitting RF like Pence, Hart or Quentin.

      • ChipBuck July 28, 2011 at 7:35 PM #

        I don't see Reddick as the long term answer in RF, but I think Kalish could be a fit. He's a better defender and base runner. He has similar power potential, but seems to be a little more patient. Wouldn't mind packaging Reddick in a deal, but of the list, I'd only trade for Pence. Quentin is one of the worst defensive players in baseball, and would be a disaster in the cavernous RF at Fenway. Hart is very definition of the term "meh," and will play at around a 2 WAR level for the next two seasons.

    • ChipBuck July 28, 2011 at 7:31 PM #

      Buehrle is one of my favorite pitchers. Mostly because he manages to get guys to chase at pitches out of the zone despite having low K totals. He's one of the few pitchers that can truly pitch to contact and be successful. For that reason, he fascinates me. I wouldn't mind having him for a few months, but other than that, I don't see it happening. The only problem is that he has 10/5 rights and can veto any trade. Word on the street is that he either wants to stay with CWS or go to STL. That may've changed, but he's been pretty open about where he wants to pitch.

  3. evanbrunell July 28, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

    I think we need a middle of the rotation guy. You can acauire No. 5 types anytime you want. Kuroda is intriguing, but I actually prefer Bedard, even with his injury history.

    • ChipBuck July 28, 2011 at 7:29 PM #

      I just don't trust Bedard. He's a good pitcher with great stuff, but he can't seem to stay healthy for very long. Unless the Sox can get him for a grade C prospect or worse, I don't see a value in trading for him.

  4. Brian July 28, 2011 at 9:14 PM #

    How about Bud Norris??

    • ChipBuck July 28, 2011 at 9:30 PM #

      Bud Norris (along with Jordan Lyles, JA Happ, and a couple of others) is one of the few players not being shopped by the Astros. It's not hard to see why. He's a power righty with an above average strikeout rate, decent walk numbers, a solid 3.74 FIP, and four seasons of pre-free agency eligibility (including on pre-arb season). If the Astros move a starting pitcher, it will definitely be either Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers.

  5. Lyndsay July 29, 2011 at 2:46 AM #

    The team definitely needs to deal for another starter right now – no question. With 1st, 2nd and 3rd the only two "untouchable" infielders I see are Iglesias and Lavernway. They've learned that good catchers are like a diamond in the rough and best to keep their backup options at that position. Same with shortstop – Iglesias is their guy and they've struggled to fill that position for a while now. Lars Anderson unfortunately has no place to go than to another team if he wants to ever start to the majors. Same with Middlebrooks, who by the way looks like teams are watching heavily right now. Contrary to popular belief, I actually think the farm is still pretty well stocked right now and they definitely have some movable pieces if you look around at what positions are locked in for the forseeable (3+ years) future. On the other hand, besides Doubront I don't see any other pitchers on the farm who are MLB-ready right now – Weiland came up too soon and I don't trust him in September. We all know Wakefield is not going to last into the fall. Aceves should be more of an emergency starter and should stay at long relief. So if Buck is truly out for the season as it sounds he could be,. you've got Lester who's just back from injury, Beckett who could injure himself at any given moment, and…Lackey. Yikes. I don't like that. I'd actually like to see them get one solid pitcher and maybe one cheap reclamation project-type guy (or bring up Millwood if he's ready and can actually be effective).
    speaking of farm system – does anyone know if Raul Ancantara, currently pitching in the Gulf Coast league, is any relation to Izzy Ancantara (who infamously and hilariously roundhoused the catcher prior to charging the mound)?

    • Chip Buck July 29, 2011 at 7:00 AM #

      @Lyndsay – It’s not that the farm system isn’t well stocked. It is. It’s just not stocked with high end, All-Star type talent. There aren’t any Lesters or Pedroias hanging out down there with the exception of maybe Anthony Ranaudo.

      • Lyndsay July 29, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

        No prospect is a high end All-Star type talent though, as a prospect at least. You never know how they will really pan out. I can think of at least a dozen over the past couple seasons who were projected to be the second coming and never panned out – Lars Anderson was projected to be at an All Star level but has had his struggles. Yeah you could have a Hanley Ramirez – or you could have a Craig Hansen. I can remember when they wouldn't part with Michael Bowden no matter what – but how long has he been stuck now in AAA? Hype is just that until a prospect proves how he can sustain a good performance at the MLB level.

        • ChipBuck July 29, 2011 at 8:51 PM #

          Anderson was projected as a potental All-Star coming out of A-ball. It's a bit different than Jesus Montero being a stud at all levels including AAA. Still, your point is well taken. What I meant was high ceiling type talent. Outside of Anthony Ranaudo, the high ceiling talent in the organization seems to be fairly limited.

  6. Lyndsay July 29, 2011 at 3:17 AM #

    Re: Bedard: The LAST thing this team needs right now is another pitcher made of glass. With the revolving door of pitchers on the DL this year (what is up with that anyway? Think they need a new strength and conditioning coach) they need someone who can stay healthy.

    • TeddyBallgame July 29, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

      Totally agree on Bedard. No September starts in 5 YEARS…please!
      Kuroda would be the right fit if he had the stomach for the AL East (and would waive his no-trade). That's not gonna happen.
      Ubaldo's average fastball velocity is down and he looks very hitable at times. Harang would get murdered at Fenway. Buehrle is a fighter, no doubt. He's also a soft-tosser – not a great fit.
      I'd be happy to go all-in for a Danks, Garza or maybe even Anibal Sanchez.

  7. Beer July 30, 2011 at 12:45 AM #

    Why does nobody have faith in Wake. I will take Timmy over most of the slobs mentioned. Unless it is a stud, stay put. Bedard pitched awful tonight. Why trade anybody for a guy who cannot stay healthy? They should see what Shill and Pedro are doing…maybe Clemens is bored now????

    • ChipBuck July 30, 2011 at 7:21 AM #

      People don't have faith in Wake because he's not very good. Plain and simple. He's fine as a spot starter/long reliever, but his days as a regular rotation member are long over. His 5.05 ERA is 24% below average this season, and his xFIP is 23% below average. In fact, the last time Wake posted a better than average xFIP is 2003.

      I don't disagree with you about Bedard. I don't think he's worth it. Still, I'm basing it off of his injury history, and you're basing it off of one start. Also, to claim Wake is better than the guys you mentioned shows that you're either incredibly biased, or don't understand baseball. I'm going to assume it's the former because you knew Bedard was a bad choice. Still, Wake is better? Really?