We witnessed it again in 2013. Another World Series, another roster of patient hitters. The Red Sox philosophy has been to see pitches, work counts, and avoid outs. When it has worked, the duck boats have rolled down Boylston Street.
Yet, while many are still nursing a hangover from the 2013 season, others are still trying to catch up on their sleep from late World Series finishes, and more yet are still waiting another good moment to bash Stephen “J.D.’s brother” Drew. Nick Cafardo, however, has
moved onto fashioning the 2014 Red Sox in his own image. There are plenty of gems in here (trade for Troy Tulowitzki! Stephen Drew to the Yankees…Derek Jeter as another DH for Yanks*!), but let’s focus on the most absurd: that the Red Sox should/could trade
Will Middlebrooks and Felix Doubront for Mark Trumbo.
* Future post idea, guys! Name the pure DH’s that are contractually obligated to be a part of the 2014 New York Yankees. Teixeira? A-Rod? Jeter? Others?
Mark Trumbo is a popular player. He shows up on MLB Tonight or Baseball Tonight once a week or so with a towering home runs, so we assume he is good. He makes an all star team, so we assume he is good. But let us look deeper. Last year, Trumbo had a slash line of .234/.294/.453. On the other hand, we moaned through a season where Middlebrooks hit .227/.271/.425. Those are remarkably similar numbers (especially when you figure that WMB has 32 home runs in 660 career plate appearances over the last two seasons, and Trumbo hit 34 in 678 PA’s last season. Even the counting numbers are comparable). Being that Trumbo is 2 1/2 years older and about to enter his first arbitration eligibility, it seems as though this is a trade that could be made straight up, and arguments could ensue over who won. It would be tight, and I, personally, would not make it if I were Ben Cherington.
But Cafardo did not suggest a WMB/Trumbo trade. He threw in Felix Doubront, as well! Granted, appreciating Felix Doubront is complex. On the one hand, he is what his numbers say that he is: 4.32 ERA, decreased strike out rate, mediocre walk rate, etc. He
likely will never end up being an ace, but he still looks like a solid candidate to break through. For example, during the summer of 2013 (June-August), Doubront sported a 2.96 ERA. He carried the staff when Lester was struggling and Buchholz was injured.
Further, according to Baseball Reference, Doubront’s most comparable pitchers through the age of 25 include Bob Ojeda+, Matt Harrison, Francisco Liriano, and Bob Walk. If the Red Sox can get future production similar to their progressions, this is a guy that the team wants. If nothing else, it keeps the depth of the system in tact.
+ Lest we not also forget that Bob Ojeda’s best career season came the year after he left the Red Sox…when he went to the Mets. The team that, that season (1986) defeated our beloved Red Sox in the World Series.
The ability of the Red Sox to get better than replacement level work from the players filling in during injuries was as much a key as anything on the way to the World Series in 2013 (think Koji for Hanrahan, Workman for Buchholz, JBJ in September for Ellsbury,
Iglesias for Drew early on, etc.). So, how in the world does it make sense for the Red Sox to trade for an older, more expensive Will Middlebrooks by dangling the younger, less expensive ACTUAL Will Middlebrooks PLUS a player who still has growth potential, three
years of team control, and has been a regular contributor for two seasons?
The very idea of this trade is utter madness. You know it, I know it, Cafardo gets paid to throw crap against the wall and see what sticks. Give us a break!
Now, Nick, join the rest of the reasonable part of Red Sox Nation in reasonable conversations such as: what is the cap to which the Red Sox would go to sign McCann or Drew? Is it reasonable to dream of Stanton? Will JBJ or Victorino get more starts in CF in 2014?
On a quick personal aside, for the half a dozen or so of our readers that enjoy this column, I am sorry for the gap in production. I have been in the process of moving from Florida to Maine. I am about half unpacked now and have internet in my home and office once again. I am thrilled to be back in New England, and look forward to writing, again, on my regular schedule.