Ben Cherington’s 2013 Report Card: Wheelin’ & Dealin’ Edition

I will give you six Chip Bucks, an Evan Brunel and a half-smoked Daniel Poarch for that jar of Mayonnaise over there, guys.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington entered the 2012-2013 offseason with an open mind and an open checkbook. After a disastrous 2012 campaign that resulted in 69 wins and the salary dump to end all salary dumps, Cherington finally got the keys to the car to spend the money where he felt it was most appropriate. Last week, we recapped his successes and failures in free agency and this week – we’ll take a look at his 40-man trade acquisitions this year.

Unlike his free agent grabs, his trades have been a mixed bag. Let’s jump right in…

Acquired Joel Hanrahan & Brock Holt for Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus Jr.

There’s no getting around it, so we’ll call this trade what it was: a steaming pile.

As of now, at least – it’s virtually impossible to paint this as a win for the Red Sox as they paid Hanrahan $7 million for 7.1 innings of work where he posted a BB/9 that was higher than his K/9, a 9.82 ERA and an almost unthinkable 11.23 FIP for a mind-blowing -0.6 fWAR.

Just giving up Mark Melancon in this deal made it bad enough. Even before he was traded, Melancon was considered by many to be a strong bounce-back candidate in 2013 – especially considering how outstanding he was in the final two months of the 2012 season.

And bounce back he has – but for the Pirates. While acting as their primary setup man, Melancon has shined, putting up a 1.07 ERA, 1.68 FIP and has posted careeer highs in K/9 and an all time low in BB/9. As of today, he’s accumulated 2.3 fWAR. Basically, the Pirates shed $7 million and sucked nearly 3 full wins from the Red Sox in the process. Well played, Neil Huntington. Well played.

Throwing some salt in the wound has been the emergence of Stolmy Pimentel as a significant piece in this deal. Having started the year in AA Altoona, Pimentel was able to carry over his success in AAA before finally getting a September call up. The verdict is still out on whether he’ll start or pitch out of the bullpen at the big league level, but with a 97 mph fastball and having actually developed control for it, he’ll definitely be in the mix for a big league role with the Buccos next year. Scouting reports are pretty bullish right now – with some saying he could even be a number three starter with more refinement.


But hey – we got Brock Holt o/ out of the deal!

Acquired Matt Thornton for Brandon Jacobs

This one is obviously going to take a little time to play out – especially regarding Brandon Jacobs’ development, but in the short term, this looks like a win for the Red Sox.

While it might SEEM like a surprise, Thornton’s posted some pretty solid numbers since coming to Boston, albeit in a very small sample size. His K/9 has continued to dip, but so has his walk rate. His 2.70 ERA and 2.52 FIP are nothing to sneeze at and his swstr% (7.2%) has been solid enough.

To make things a little more interesting, Thornton’s regained a little zip back on his pitches since coming off the disabled list. Minus some not-so-great appearance in high leverage situations in his first few weeks in Boston, he’s been pretty solid since then.

The other thing to keep in mind with Thornton is that he wasn’t brought here to be a setup guy, but rather a dependable guy deeper in the ‘pen to keep four run leads to become save situations. All things being said, he’s had mixed results – but mixed results is still an improvement over the Alfredo Aceves/Alex Wilson/Clayton Mortensen meltdown squad.

That’s also not to say there isn’t a degree of upside here, either. He’s certainly not the pitcher he was, but with a few weeks to get him locked back in, he could be a tremendous weapon heading into the playoffs for the Red Sox.

Jacobs on the other hand, hasn’t faired too well in AA for the White Sox. In 167 PA’s, he’s only hit .237/.291/.327 and 2 HR’s. His striking out even more than usual (28.4%) and all of his production has sat perched on a comfortable .321 BABIP. None of that looks encouraging. That being said – he struggled mightily in low-A before quickly rebounding in A-ball the following season, so struggles at a new level aren’t exactly new to him. Time will tell.

In the short term though, this looks like a win.

Acquired Jake Peavy & Brayan Villarreal for Jose Iglesias (Tigers), J.B. Wendelken, Francellis Montas and Cleuluis Rondon (White Sox)

To be honest, this deal has – thus far, at least – been a win-win-win for all three teams involved and should serve as a lesson as to how relative value is on the open market. I think one of the biggest mistakes writers and fans make is that we tend to view players and their market value in a vacuum without taking context into consideration. This is one of those situations where context-added makes a big difference in taking a look at this trade so far.

For the Tigers, this is an obvious win. Everyone, including the Tigers knew that Iglesias wouldn’t hit the way he did in Boston and well, he hasn’t – posting a .283/.323/.383 line since heading over to the Tigers. He’s also still sitting on a high BABIP of .352, which means his production should dip well below league average as we move forward. Even with that, the Tigers are perfectly fine riding the luck as long as it lasts and truth be told – his bat really wasn’t the reason they acquired him to begin with.

The Tigers grabbed him for his glove – and his glove they have received.

Heading into the deadline, the Tigers ranked 27th in MLB in defensive efficiency. No one questions their pitching. No one questions the quality of their lineup. Their defense – since day-1 – has been the issue. Simply put, Iglesias is as big a defensive upgrade as the Tigers could have hoped for. Since arriving in MoTown, Iglesias has posted an impressive 4.4 FRAA in addition to not becoming a total black hole in the lineup. You can’t ask for much more than that.

So for the Tigers – this is a win.

For the Red Sox, it’s also a win. Even with Iglesias’ defensive prowess, the Red Sox are loaded up the middle not only in the short-term, but over the long haul as well. With Xander Bogaerts – at the time, at least – nipping at the Majors and Stephen Drew playing far too well to warrant a platoon – Iglesias was expendable and allowed the Red Sox to move to acquire Peavy without losing anything, really.

Since coming to Boston, Peavy’s been what we expected, putting up a 3.66 ERA and a 3.88 FIP. While the K/9 is a little concerning on its face, it can also just be chalked up to small sample size. He’s only managed to give up more than four runs once since coming over and in terms of profiling as a really strong middle of the rotation pitcher – he’s been outstanding. There’ve even been times where he’s looked like his old, dominant self.

Either way- with Clay Buchholz only recently returning to the rotation and with Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront faltering, Peavy’s consistency and dependability have been well worth the price the Red Sox paid. Being able to bring him back next season is just an added bonus. Simply put – the ability to trade from a position of extreme surplus to add even a middle of the rotation arm in today’s game (look what the Rangers gave up for Matt Garza) is a great opportunity and the Red Sox certainly capitalized.

As for the White Sox end of this deal? That’s a huge question mark and in all likelihood, we won’t know for a long time. Avisail Garcia’s looked brilliant at times, terrible at others and it’s virtually impossible to project the four lottery tickets that Boston sent over. Even if one of them can pan out, the trade will be worth it from the White Sox perspective. At least they cleared some money off the books.

Still, all around this has been an absolute win for the Tigers and Red Sox. The White Sox – that’s yet to be determined, but with a team in a market like theirs – that Peavy money – like the money the Red Sox shed last year – could be flipped into a nice reload, rather than a rebuild heading into 2014.

Acquired Mike Carp for cash

The Carp acquisition is undoubtedly Cherington’s best acquisition this offseason and probably the year. After spending a large part of his career hitting well in the minors but being swallowed up in Safeco Field in Seattle, Carp got a quasi-new lease on life in Boston where his skill set has obviously blossomed.

Since making the trip cross-country, Carp’s posted an impressive wRC++ of 147 and a .306/.372/.549 off the bench for the Sox. And trust me – lots of teams would love to have a 1.2 fWAR player coming off their bench. To get him for nothing makes it all sweeter.

That being said, while this trade is certainly a win for Cherington & co., visions of him starting full time might be a little premature. In addition to posting a sky-high .397 BABIP in 218 PA’s, he’s struck out A LOT (28;0%.) and has been as close to awful in the field as you can be without anyone noticing (-.5.3 FRAA). His deep L-R platoon splits (.250/.308/.417 against Lefties vs /314/.380/.568 against righties) should also be noted.

Still, even as a quality platoon player – there’s tons of value here and it’s virtually impossible to knock this deal, considering the fact that the cost was essentially nill.

Acquired Quintin Berry for Clayton Mortensen

This is another deal that’s better off being judged at the end of the season when its purpose has been fulfilled, but I strongly doubt either side is going to lose any sleep over it. Berry is here to steal bases in the playoffs. He’s not much of a hitter, not much of a fielder – but he sure can run.

The price for his wheels was Clayton Mortensen, who doesn’t exactly bring much to the table at this point, either. After some flashes of brilliance in 2012, Mortensen’s production dropped off the table in August of 2012 and never returned. He had multiple auditions for mop-up duty in Boston, but never impressed long enough to keep a full-time roster spot. Even in Triple-A, there hasn’t been a lot to get excited about as he’s posted a 4.01 FIP there the past two seasons. While he might make for expanded roster filler, he’s not a full-time big leaguer and probably never will be.

Acquired John McDonald for Nefi Ogando

Ogando – at this point, at least – seems like a long shot to be a big league player. He’s got a pretty great slider, but his mechanics are a mess and he can’t really control his fastball. Because he can’t control his fastball, he can’t use his slider as much as he’d like and well, you get it. Being behind in counts prevents that from happening. Even if he does get it together, it’ll be a long time before he’d see the bigs as he spent this past season in Salem before getting dealt to the Phillies.

With McDonald, it’s hard to see him being much of a contributor heading forward. Great glove, terrible bat and that’s about it. He’s a fringe big leaguer at this point in his career and likely will be a needs-based 40-man guy for multiple organizations over the next season or so. Still though – a few PA’s at the big league level is more than we’ll likely ever get from Ogando, so there’s that.

Again, a trade of little significance.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Brock Holt Nefi Ogando

A world-class baseball nerd, baseball fan, and baseball man, Hunter Golden agreed to terms with Fire Brand of the American League in September of 2012 in exchange for an oversized baby bottle, football helmet filled with cottage cheese and naked pictures of Bea Arthur. In January of 2013, he was named Editor. He likes run-on sentences, enjoys over-using hyphens, and smelling books. When it comes to serious stuff, Hunter is a professional writer (no, really), father of two, Husband of one and whose natural habitat is Western Massachusetts and agreeable parts of Connecticut. Follow him at @hunterGbaseball on Twitter or shoot him an email at [email protected]

5 Responses to “Ben Cherington’s 2013 Report Card: Wheelin’ & Dealin’ Edition” Subscribe

  1. Chip buck September 18, 2013 at 2:56 PM #

    On behalf of Evan and I, you’re totally getting ripped off by trading us for a half-smoked Daniel.

  2. bdobbs23 September 18, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

    HunterGBaseball does it relate to a certain Cuban hitter who is back on the market?

  3. Hunter Golden September 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM #

    @Chip buck You were traded *with* Poarch for a jar of Mayonnaise. Our travel office will take care of things from here.

  4. PoarchDaniel September 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM #

    Hunter Golden I think we can all agree I’m the centerpiece of that deal, however.

  5. Michael September 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM #

    Mike Aviles for John Farrell? I’d say it’s one of Cherington’s most significant trades — and one in most need of analysis, given the uncertain value of a manager’s contribution. But the addition of Farrell and his staff has been undoubtedly gigantic.