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This offseason, the Red Sox will be looking under ever rock, around every corner and every winter meeting room in order to find a new shortstop. There are several names being thrown around: Marco Scutaro, Brandon Phillips, Stephen Drew, and all have positives and negatives. The Sox are even discussing moving Dustin Pedroia from second base to short.
One of the most intriguing potential moves, however, would mean the Sox would have to go back and fix a previous error.
In 2005, The Red Sox were looking to get better fast and traded one of their top prospects in order to gain a stud pitcher. Hanley Ramirez went to the Marlins in a deal that saw Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell come to the team. It’s a deal that would be hard to say was a bust. Beckett went 16-11 his first season and 20-7 the next. During the 2007 season, Beckett pitched amazingly in the ALCS to earn MVP honors. Lowell also had a career year in 2007, capping it off with a World Series MVP. Two MVP’s for the price of a prospect, not too shabby.
Then, something funny happened. Ramirez started to become not just a good player, but a great player. He was possibly a once in a blue moon type of player. His first big league season included 17 homeruns, 36 doubles, 11 triples, 59 RBI’s, 51 stolen bases and one nice NL Rookie of the Year award. There was no sophomore slump, as Ramirez belted 29 home runs and 81 RBI with a .332 average. After a strong 2008, his 2009 season was a real coming out party: 24 homeruns, 106 RBI and a .342 average made him a runner up to the NL MVP and claims to being the best shortstop in baseball.
So wow, if the Red Sox can get the best shortstop in baseball, without ruining the current lineup, why not? Also, why would the Marlins trade one of the best players in baseball and not get equal talent in exchange? It’s simple: the Marlins are cheap, but smart. After winning the World Series in 2003, the Marlins slowly began to get rid of their stars. By the 2006 season, World Series MVP Josh Beckett, A. J. Burnett, Mike Lowell, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Pierre, Derrek Lee, and Luis Castillo were gone and Miguel Cabrera was gone a season later. If they wished to spend the money, they could have won another World Series, or more.
Instead, the Marlins have always traded top players for prospects and it seems to work out. This season they were fighting for a Wild Card spot behind a infield of Jorge Cantu, Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla, who were all drafted by other teams. The Marlins will trade Ramirez before he gets to expensive and use the prospects for future seasons and future transactions. So should the Sox pull the trigger?
If the Red Sox make the deal, they would have to ship Clay Buchholz as a centerpiece in a package that would include options like Casey Kelly, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard, Ryan Westmoreland and Josh Reddick. Those are the top names in the Red Sox farm system. The last time the Red Sox traded top prospects for star players, the duo of Beckett and Lowell worked out pretty well. A line up of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez would be terrifying. Still, is it worth cleaning out the farm system?
Trading Buchholz could be disastrous. After a 7-4 season, he seems to be getting better and they already traded Justin Masterson, so youth in the rotation would be nonexistent outside of Jon Lester. It would also take them out of the running for Roy Halladay, which might not be a bad thing anyway.
Either way, draining the farm system could be bad. The Red Sox are known for their farm system. Pedroia, Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Bard, Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester all made their way up from the minors. There’s no doubt that someone else can come up and fill the spot, just like Jed Lowrie did. Depleting the farm system ruins any chance of developing a future great player.
However, Ramirez is a current great player. A fantastic bat and strong defensive player that will make him a MVP contender for the next few years and an annual all star. The Red Sox have a deep enough farm system that they could give up a few guys for the future, for a guy ready now and still be set down the road If the Sox are going for a shortstop, why not go for the best? If trading away the future means another World Series win, I am sure that all of Red Sox nation would be for it.