MLB-Home Run Derby

In our versions of an offseason blueprint the Red Sox could follow (1, 2, 3) one topic that came up fairly often was how realistic or unrealistic our proposed trade packages were for certain players. Let’s recap:

Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman, Clay Buchholz and key minor league pieces (defined as anyone sans Kelly, numbering two) for Felix Hernandez.

Money comment: Getting King Felix would be nice, but you are crazy thinking Seattle would have any interest in picking up Lowell or Kotchman. Why would they pick up $16+ in salaries? Lowell is going nowhere unless we pay his salary, which is crazy. – MEe

Clay Buchholz, Lars Anderson, Manny Delcarmen, Michael Bowden, two “second-tier” prospects to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.

Money comment: Delcarmen is a stiff. Bowden is a stiff. Anderson has done NOTHING in the minor leagues. Clay Buccholz has major league stuff but has yet to prove himself for an entire season. For this you’ll get one of the best young power hitters in the game? I think not!! – Nick

If our proposed deals are not up to snuff, that’s not good. Let’s try to figure out what a proposed deal could, should be.

Let’s tackle the Felix Hernandez deal first, which I was the one to propose. Let’s look at my understanding behind the deal.

  • Clay Buchholz: Explanatory. Has to be part of any blockbuster deal. Really morphed into his own down the stretch. Cost-controllable (one more year until arbitration) and a valuable commodity despite being a year older than King Felix.
  • Mike Lowell: Many seem to feel the Sox can only get a bucket of balls for Lowell. I don’t think so. If anything Lowell is more valuable than Coco Crisp, especially if the Red Sox pick up a significant portion of his final deal paying him $12.5 million. The Mariners have a hole at third with Adrian Beltre’s free agency and Lowell can clearly still contribute at a high level with the bat. The Mariners are not a rebuilding club: Lowell can and would help them contend.
  • Casey Kotchman: Make no mistake about it, Kotchman is a starting first baseman. The Sox did not acquire him to have him ride the pine. They might decide to squeeze one more year of bench-playing out of him, but that’s about it. Either he’s their future 1B or another team’s. He’s only 26, and someone who hit .296/.372/.467 as a 24-year old in full-time duty does not suddenly lose it just two years later. Seattle is a team that values defense (as does Boston, by the way) and has a question mark at both 1B and DH. They could opt to bring back Russ Branyan, their 2009 1B and slot him as DH.
  • Key minor league pieces sans Kelly: This includes luminaries such as Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Westmoreland, Lars Anderson, Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, Anthony Rizzo and so on. I don’t think there’s much of an issue here as to the value of said players.

Back in July, Boston gave Seattle a list of eight players and told them to pick five. A deal would be done. That list included: Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront, shortstop Yamaico Navarro and outfielder Josh Reddick.

With the Victor Martinez trade, Masterson and Hagadone have since been subtracted by said list. Let’s assume for a moment that those were the two players that the Mariners would have chosen. Let’s also then assume that instead of those two players, the Mariners received Mike Lowell and Casey Kotchman. It’s clear to me that Masterson and Hagadone have more value in this hypothetical “swap,” so let’s include Daniel Bard. Unless you’re Bill Bavasi, I honestly can’t see how a Lowell/Kotchman/Bard deal isn’t preferred to Hagadone and Masterson.

The deal then looks like: Clay Buchholz, Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman, Daniel Bard, and two of Michael Bowden, Josh Reddick, Yamaico Navarro, Felix Doubront.

Very similar to my original proposed deal, and I’m not seeing how this isn’t a very competitive offer for Hernandez. Anyone disagree? If so, what package is it going to take?

Okay, let’s turn to the proposed Gonzalez deal. Refresher course:

Clay Buchholz, Lars Anderson, Manny Delcarmen, Michael Bowden, two “second-tier” prospects to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.

I think, and this is no offense to Tim, that this is a weak deal. The Hernandez deal above was much stronger and I think a similar blueprint needs to be followed. Let’s deconstruct Tim’s proposed deal and use the King Felix deal as a litmus test.

  • Clay Buchholz. Part of both deals. No problems here.
  • Lars Anderson. Since San Diego is in the rebuilding stage, I think Anderson makes more sense than Lowell or Kotchman for San Diego. (Certainly Lowell, thanks to age and money.) That said, as commenter radiohix pointed out, first base is not exactly a problem for the Pads. The club has Kyle Blanks and Allan Dystraka. So let’s remove Anderson here and give them Josh Reddick, who is not only higher than Anderson in prospect circles right now, but could end up a great fit in San Diego’s outfield.
  • Manny Delcarmen is at this point a fringe reliever. That won’t cut it with the Padres. Let’s just concede Daniel Bard here and move on.
  • No problems with Bowden here. Bowden trends to being a flyball pitcher and pitching to contact, both of which should play very well in Petco Park. I’m lumping Bowden in with the ‘two “second-tier” prospects’ bit. More like first tier, I think. Gonzalez is not being let go for a lesser package than King Felix. So let’s borrow again from the Hernandez package and offer two of Michael Bowden, Yamaico Navarro and Felix Doubront. On second look, however, the deal is so similar to the Hernandez deal and yet so deficient given the absence of Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone/Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman.
  • Let’s solve this another way. First, let’s guarantee them all three prospects, not just two. Secondly, let’s give them the option of one prospect out of four, these being low-level prospects: Ryan Westmoreland, Ryan Kalish, Stolmy Pimentel, Anthony Rizzo. You’ll notice I didn’t put Casey Kelly here: that’s because Kelly is nigh untouchable. There’s no question Boston would do a one-for-one deal for A-Gon with Kelly, but that’s not going to happen. And Boston won’t give up Kelly in an expanded deal.

That give us a final deal of Clay Buchholz, Josh Reddick, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Yamaico Navarro and one of Ryan Westmoreland, Ryan Kalish, Stolmy Pimentel, Anthony Rizzo.

Now that’s more like it. What do you think? Sound like a deal that would work for San Diego?

No matter how you slice it, Felix Hernandez or Adrian Gonzalez is going to come at an incredible price.

Which player is the more needed commodity? With the controlled Gonzalez launching bombs where home runs go to die, he provides the perfect complement to Boston’s offense, one that we don’t have an internal option for and would change everything about Boston’s offense.

Hernandez, on the other hand, is a fantastic pitcher who is destined for the Hall of Fame. At this point, though, he wouldn’t provide as much an impact on Boston’s roster than Gonzalez would.

If you acquire Felix Hernandez, you’re replacing Buchholz in the rotation — which is an upgrade, but not as significant as if you replace Buchholz with a league-average pitcher who will perform as Buchholz will in 2010 and add Adrian to the lineup.

Of course, I won’t complain if either player chooses to make Beantown his home for 2010.

What’s obvious here, I think, is that Boston has the pieces to pull off such a deal. They’re among the small handful who can do it — even the Yankees aren’t as positioned to make a deal of this magnitude. Boston wouldn’t even end up with a barren farm system after the fact — imagine that!

Of course, given Theo’s conservative ways in recent years, I expect Mike Lowell to open up at the hot corner and Clay Buchholz in the rotation. I’m actually okay with that — we would still compete.

And the elusive ‘But…’ here is… the time may never be better than now to strike hard and fast.