Did you know that the trading deadline is a scant two weeks away? There’s always a lot more bluster than there is actual trading and that’s been the case the last couple of years, but there are some tangential rumors out there involving the Red Sox.
The Boston Globe gives 10 names the Red Sox are interested in, plus there’s another player I’ve heard bandied about. The list from the Globe plus the 11th name:

  1. Brad Lidge, reliever from the Houston Astros
  2. Roy Oswalt, starter from the Houston Astros
  3. Dontrelle Willis, starter from the Florida Marlins
  4. Eric Gagne, reliever from the Texas Rangers
  5. Ken Griffey, Jr., right-fielder from the Cincinnati Reds
  6. Dave Roberts, center-fielder from the San Francisco Giants
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, catcher from the Atlanta Braves
  8. Mark Teixeira, first-baseman from the Texas Rangers
  9. Scott Linebrink, reliever from the San Diego Padres
  10. Mike Piazza, DH from the Oakland Athletics
  11. Octavio Dotel, reliever from the Kansas City Royals

Let’s review each name. I’ve included their 2007 statistics, their “Drooling Factor” (how much would the Sox covet this player right now, while still factoring in the cost of what it would get to acquire this player, but reducing that cost somewhere with a ranking of low, medium and high) and the likelihood they’ll be traded: zero chance, low, medium, high.
Brad Lidge – 35.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, 1.23 WHIP. Drooling Factor: High.
Brad Lidge is probably the top reliever potentially available on the market. He’s still got electric stuff, but a mental block seems to have developed when he tries to close: Lidge’s last chance to close came June 11th, when he gave up a game-tying homerun to Mark Kotsay of the Oakland Athletics. He’s also injured, as he will wear a brace on his knee for the rest of the year due to loose cartilage in his right knee that is easily fixed with off-season surgery. The injury hasn’t impacted him since his return, but with the Astros sliding quickly out of the postseason race, his name has only intensified in whispers around the league. Getting Lidge would be quite the coup for the Red Sox as it would easily give the Red Sox the most dominant, unquestioned bullpen in the American League. If Manny Delcarmen hung around after that trade, so much the better. The Red Sox would have to give up some juicy pieces to get Lidge, but shouldn’t have to part with Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury. A feasible trade could see Brandon Moss or Jed Lowrie and either Edgar Martinez or Craig Hansen headed south, as well as Wily Mo Pena. The Red Sox would control his rights through 2008, at which point he would likely depart as a free agent for another chance to close.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Medium
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Medium
Roy Oswalt – 8-6, 140.1 IP, 3.91 ERA, 1.41 WHIP. Drooling Factor: High.
Oswalt, with a career line of a 3.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, is also being bandied about. Fresh off signing a five-year extension last year, he carries a no-trade clause that he is open to waiving. To get Roy Oswalt, it’s unquestionable that it would cost much, much more than it would to get Lidge. Buchholz and Ellsbury would he easily the price demanded by ‘Stros general manager Tim Purpura, and he will likely not back off of those demands. Oswalt is an ace. He would give the Red Sox a staggering rotation, but it’s hard to fathom that ever happening. He could go, but he’ll go to another team more cavalier with its prospects.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Medium
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Low
Dontrelle Willis – 7-8, 118.0 IP, 4.81 ERA, 1.58 WHIP. Drooling Factor: Medium.
D-Train is a young and energetic left-handed starter, but his statistics have been trending downward, and many feel that Willis is at the height of his tradeability — until he gets his career back on track, if it ever does. The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have long been rumored the leading bidders for Willis’ services, and much like Oswalt, Buchholz or Ellsbury (or even both) will kick off the discussion. Not to mention the Marlins deeming Willis untouchable as they are still eyeing the division and/or Wild Card. Oswalt will represent to the Red Sox a far safer investment. Willis is not going to Boston.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Low
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Low
Eric Gagne – 13 SV, 28.1 IP, 1.27 ERA, 0.92 WHIP. Drooling Factor: High.
Perhaps Gagne will enjoy being on the Red Sox as he won’t have to deal with the pesky Dustin Pedroia anymore. Leading the Rangers in saves, Gagne is showing that while his stuff isn’t as filthy as it used to be, it’s still filthy and he’s thrown in the curve of learning how to be a pitcher. Gagne is highly coveted, especially by the Detroit Tigers, who are attempting to patch their sieve of a bullpen while they await Joel Zumaya’s return. Even when Zumaya returns, the bullpen issues won’t end, so Gagne will solve that. In addition, it’s rumored that Gagne has a high desire to close and has the Red Sox on his short no-trade list.
It’s possible Eric Gagne will waive his no-trade to go to the Red Sox and pitch for a contender, but he may be happy to ride the year out in Texas and hit the free-agent market again where he can pitch for a contender after boosting his stock so high. The Red Sox have the pieces to send Texas, and the price will likely be lower than it is for Houston and Lidge. You see, Texas and it’s young GM, Jon Daniels, have shown an inclination to trade (Pupura is probably the best GM at standing pat, rivaling Bill Stoneman of the Angels) and they’ve made some questionable trades to boot. In addition, Lidge is controllable through 2008; Gagne through this year. Out of all the names on this list, Gagne is only behind Dotel in the likelihood the Sox could get him. Wily Mo Pena will serve as a nice replacement for Sammy Sosa.
Likelihood factor to be traded: High
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Medium
Ken Griffey, Jr. – .283/.388/.556, 23 HR, held together by scotchtape, millions in marketing dollars. Drooling Factor: Low.
Look, Ken Griffey, Jr. was one of (if not the) penultimate stars of the 1990s. Too bad we’re approaching the 2010s. He’s having quite the resurgent year playing right-field (his first year doing so) in Cincinnati, but how much longer can Griffey stand playing for a hometown team that hasn’t ventured in October? He’s not getting younger and has only had one year tasting October. He’s been traded by Cincy before, a trade in principle being agreed to with the San Diego Padres for Phil Nevin and additional players in 2002, but Nevin rejected the trade. It would take a team willing to take on his salary and injury risk, which makes the likelihood of Griffey being traded tempered down from “High,” but … it only takes one trade partner to make something happen. It won’t be Boston now that Coco Crisp is breaking out with the bat and dazzling with the glove. Don’t be surprised to see him land in the Bronx now that Johnny Damon’s becoming a left-fielder/DH and Bobby Abreu is an impending free agent.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Medium
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Zero chance
Dave Roberts – .243/.311/.347, 17 SB, 3 CS. Drooling Factor: Low.
Roberts has two years after this year remaining on his contract (and the money ain’t cheap) … he fully expects to start (which is why the Sox traded him to San Diego in the first place) … like Griffey just found out, there’s no place in Beantown. Now, if the money made sense, he could be a nice complement as a backup outfielder … if we didn’t have Jacoby Ellsbury. He’s beloved in Boston, and I think he’s got a swan song left in him to return to Boston, but it certainly won’t be this year – or the next two. There’s a much better name out there available to go to Boston that’s not on this list: Kenny Lofton. You will see Lofton donning Red Sox this year before you ever see Dave Roberts. Not sure why the Globe picked Roberts over Lofton.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Low
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Zero chance
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – .304/.357/.461, 4 HR in 115 AB. Drooling Factor: High.
The 22-year old is highly coveted by basically every baseball team. The Braves can deal from a position of strength. They can easily keep him and have him morph in one of their best hitters or simply name their price. The likelihood anyone meets their price is very low, but in the event a team does meet their price, that team could certainly be the Red Sox. Clay Buchholz would easily be a goner. More than Buchholz: perhaps Buchholz, Wily Mo Pena, and Craig Hansen or another like-minded reliever. However, Salty would give us Varitek’s replacement (oh, whatever happened to George Kottaras…) and he could fill in next year as Varitek’s backup and Youkilis’ backup at first base – or even start at first until he moves back behind the plate. Saltalamacchia is easily the highest coveted player on this list — which is why he’s also the least likely to go.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Low
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Low
Mark Teixeira – .303/.406/.568, 13 HR in 234 AB. Drooling Factor: Medium.
Teixeira is fresh off the disabled list and enjoying a season with a .984 OPS, his best in the majors. He also reportedly covets playing for Baltimore and his agent is Scott Boras. He’s 27-years old and plays Gold Glove caliber first base, and could move back to third. In other words, his trade value is all the way up to the moon, the certainty he becomes a free agent is high, and the chance he goes to Boston this year (no comment on the off-season) is non-existent. The Drooling Factor is medium here because where would he play? The Rangers would not be interested in Lowell as this move would signify a rebuilding. They would probably accept Kevin Youkilis, but … that makes no sense.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Low
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Zero chance
Scott Linebrink – 41.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.14 WHIP. Drooling Factor: Medium.
Linebrink has been called the most overrated player in baseball, and it’s easy to see why. For the last couple of years, there has been no hotter name in trade rumors simply because of how ‘good’ he is. There is no doubting how good he is; he pitches lots of innings and racks up the numbers. However, is he better than Brad Lidge? I say no. Linebrink, due to his popularity, would fetch a package eerily similar to — and perhaps more than — Lidge, and Lidge’s general manager, Kevin Towers, is probably the best in the business. If Towers trades Linebrink, be concerned — his value’s probably at an all-time high with the return not being enough. I’m afraid to trade for him, and it would take quite a bit. At this point, I’d be more content in sticking with Manny Delcarmen.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Low
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Low
Mike Piazza – .282/.339/.379, 1 HR in 103 AB. Drooling Factor: Low.
Okay, no clue why he’s on this list. He can’t catch, he can only play a horrible first base, and he’s basically strictly a DH at this point — and the Sox’s DH position is quite nicely filled, thank you very much. His season took a tailspin when Mike Lowell sprained his right shoulder, and he wasn’t showing much power before that. The Globe contends that he would make a better bench player than Wily Mo Pena. On the offensive side, okay. But where does he play? Not only is this trade not happening, Jack Cust has a better chance of heading here. We do need someone to play the outfield. Perhaps the Globe forgot that. However, he’s on this list for some unexplained reason, so until I learn more, I’m putting his likelihood factor to the Sox to low instead of zero chance.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Medium
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Low
Octavio Dotel – 9 SV, 19.0 IP, 3.32 ERA, 1.41 WHIP. Drooling Factor: Medium.
Ah, the name the Globe hasn’t placed on the list. There’s been some rumblings that Dotel could be dealt to Boston for Wily Mo Pena. Let’s examine this: We apparently need a better right-handed relief pitcher even though Manny Delcarmen is evolving into a great reliever, and we still have Brendan Donnelly (well, maybe) ready to return. Getting Dotel, bringing Donnelly back and keeping Trampoline (Delcarmen to those who don’t know the origin) would get quite a formidable bullpen together.
However, I still remember last year, when Dotel became a Yankee (spurning the Sox, who were also reportedly interested) … and I certainly do remember the years when Dotel was an Oakland Athletic and served up meatball after meatball to the Red Sox to grab wins. That being said, he’s having a fine season … when he’s not spending time on the disabled list, that is. In the last three years, he has yet to get over 19 innings in a season (that’s this year, which he’ll break). Count me unsure. For Wily Mo Pena, I suppose it would be an okay deal, but honestly? I’m inclined to ask for a bit more in return.
Likelihood factor to be traded: Medium
Likelihood factor to be traded to Sox: Medium
Well, there you have it. I’ve dissected the 10 names the Boston Globe thinks the Red Sox will call about plus adding an 11th in Octavio Dotel. Now that we’ve been through this list, who do I think the Red Sox will get on this list?
Hmm … that’s easy. No one.
Yes, no one.
There is an absolute smidgen of me holding out hope that the Sox get Brad Lidge. However, I’m doubtful that the Sox are willing to give up that much for any of the names on this list. Predictably, most names (sans Dotel, and he’s even pretty big) are “big” names — aka. names that are always bandied about at the trade deadline but rarely actually, you know, go places.
The Red Sox are 18-18 since June 1. That’s not a great record, there’s no doubt about that. Does there need to be a shakeup? I’m not sure. Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo are finally breathing, and everyone seems to be pulling their weight. What’s really hurting us right now is (a) David Ortiz’s lack of power, and he’s not going anywhere, (b) Manny Ramirez and the rest of the team forgetting what clutch is. There’s nothing to be done — and there should be nothing done about Ortiz. As for the clutch ingredient … regression to the mean. Regression to the mean, whether it happens tonight or in August or September … heck, if it shows up in October, I won’t care that we didn’t get it all year.
The Red Sox need fine-tuning, they don’t need a massive shakeup like in 2004. I really believe there will be a trade that at least registers a 2.0 on the Richter Scale this year, whereas there was no such thing last year (sorry, but Bryce Corey doesn’t even register as a tremor). I’ve read in some places that Theo and other Boston baseball minds believe in the “trading deadline effect” — that teams get buoyed by a trade at the deadline (that matters — see Corey, Bryce) while teams get sort of a let-down with no trade.
Does that mean that there should always be a trade at the deadline? No, not at all. The Red Sox didn’t do it last year (and yeah, they did pay for that) … but all eight playoff teams last year did not all make a trading deadline push. It just means that the possibility exists (just like it does for clutch hitting, and I’m hearing that some statistics are starting to bear out that there could be such a thing as clutch hitting; finally! I’ve been tired of pushing clutch hitting as being viable as an ex-ballplayer with die-hard statistically-minded people scoffing at it.) that there could be a trading deadline effect. After seeing the results of 2004 and 2006 … I have to agree.
Yeah, 2004 and 2006 are some ridiculously large extremes, I understand that, but I still firmly believe in this theory — not to mention that this theory doesn’t even factor in that those trades actually … plug holes. We have holes. We have a bench, that while versatile, holds someone who can’t hit in general (Alex Cora, and his hot April doesn’t count, sorry), lost the hitting magic (Eric Hinske, although he still gets on base a good amount and has solid power), someone who can only hit a fastball down the middle onto the Mass Pike (one guess who I’m talking about) and a catcher who’s only lot in life right now is catching a knuckleball (again, one guess).
The bullpen could use some patching up, like we’ve talked about … but don’t be surprised to see a solid bench player brought in.
By the way, the results of the poll:

Should David Ortiz undergo surgery immediately?
* No, wait until the offseason; Ortiz is doing just fine!
44% of all votes
* No! I don’t want to risk any setbacks of any shape or form. We NEED him for October.
21% of all votes
* Yes! We need his powerful bat for the playoffs.
20% of all votes
* Yes! His longterm health is being risked every day.
15% of all votes

Well, the majority clearly thinks he should wait until the off-season to go under the knife. I agree, and his line-drive bomb off Brian Bannister shows he can still crank it … New poll on the right!