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Looking Back: Trade Deadline A Missed Opportunity for Red Sox to do…Something

Josh Beckett (Jim Rogash/ Getty Images)

The July 31st trade deadline should have been an opportunity for the seemingly paralyzed Red Sox to decide what direction the franchise is heading, both in this year and the ones to come. Two weeks later, however, that has still yet to happen. After essentially staying the same (not including the 100 pounds saved by swapping Matt Albers for Craig Breslow), the Red Sox swiftly proceeded by playing uninspired, half hearted, sub-.400 baseball.

I suppose when you’re busy maintaining the facade of a sellout streak, it’s hard to admit defeat. But the fact remains that the Red Sox are not a team built to contend this year or next. July 31st could have been a time for Boston to make its first steps in changing that, but instead the deadline merely came and went.

A Team in Denial

As anyone who’s been watching (or not watching the Red Sox) knows, this team never really had a chance. But let’s say that they did. They’ve remained around five games behind the second Wild Card. The teams ahead of Boston have included hypothetically inferior franchises such as Baltimore and Oakland. Sure it was slim, but there was still a small, fighting chance that the 2012 Red Sox could have redeemed themselves.

So maybe, maybe the players of the Boston Red Sox could have looked around at the real contenders like Tampa, Detroit, and Los Angeles/Anaheim/wherever the Angels play and decided they could hang around with the big boys. Maybe they could have convinced themselves that they could make up for the embarrassing 2011 campaign. Maybe they could have gotten riled up and went on a 12-1 tear, a turning point that would be lauded in the commemorative World Series DVD this December. Maybe Josh Beckett could have declared himself the King of the North, raised his beer and fried chicken banners, and led New England’s rebellion against Major League Baseball and the United States (or maybe that was just a forced reference to Game of Thrones).

But because this is the Red Sox, they did no such things and crawled back into a lifeless oblivion with a whimper.

What Should Have Happened

Although a fire sale would have been disappointing, it would not necessarily have marked a lengthy rebuilding period. The Red Sox have the payroll and resources which could have provided them with the rare luxury of rebuilding on the fly.

Anyone who is not a franchise cornerstone (Salty, Aviles, Ross, Shoppach, Ciriaco, the entire bullpen, etc.) could have been flipped to desperate teams for prospects in those classic, head scratching, trade deadline deals. None of those guys are irreplaceable.  Because I wouldn’t advocate selling-low, the key pieces who clearly aren’t working (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, Beckett, Buccholz, etc.) could have boosted their value in the final two months of the season to be dumped in the winter.

This would have accomplished two things:

  1. Shed salary
  2. Replenish farm system

The Red Sox are not a pathetic franchise like the Marlins or Astros. A fire sale does not guarantee a decade of mediocrity. The Red Sox could have re-added as much salary as they desired this offseason (although perhaps given all the lessons they should have learned, been a tad more cautious).

It has been established that the best way to get players is to develop them yourself because it’s exponentially cheaper. With a newly improved farm system, Boston could have done just that. Otherwise, they could have promptly traded the new prospects for immediate help. Either way, the Red Sox would have been better off.

So Now What?

Whether they wanted to buy or sell, the Red Sox should have kept the eye on the prize—an elite starting pitcher. A guy on the Justin Verlander/CC Sabathia/Felix Hernandez level. Not a 1A like Cole Hamels, but a legit, marquee Ace. If the Red Sox were serious about contending this year, they would have acquired that guy before August 1st of 2012. If the Red Sox are serious about contending next year, they’ll acquire that guy before March 1st of 2013.

Of course that would be sensible, so look forward to the Red Sox doing this instead:

  1. Finishing two to five games under .500.
  2. Assuring the fan base that although they made no other pitching acquisitions, John Lackey “will really strengthen the rotation.”
  3. Bungling contract negotiations with Big Papi, resulting in a PR disaster.

Happy Trails!

About Josh Segal

Josh Segal is a professional shock artist and trash talker. He also occasionally writes opinion pieces about the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and their respective leagues at large. Segal is currently a junior at Kenyon College where he plans to double major in drama and political science. Apparently he also writes his own biographies in the third person.

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7 comments for “Looking Back: Trade Deadline A Missed Opportunity for Red Sox to do…Something”

  1. The Red Sox are carrying a $175M payroll in 2012. They have played a majority of the season with 1/3rd to 1/2 of that payroll on the DL. 50% of the starting staff have been awful but the real problems lay in the GM’s office and a trade or two won’t solve that problem.

    They may be able to dump 10-15% of that total of $175M after this season but doing so means walking away from David Ortiz’s contract. Tough decision, as David is still he #1 guy in the AL and could be for 3-4 more years if he works at being healthy and stays in shape.

    So they dump salary, what then? There are no legitimate aces out there to be “bought” with a six figure long term contract. The team has enough of those. The Sox are going to have to grow their own or resurrect what they thought were aces in Beckett and Lester.

    What troubles most of us is the constant injuries, some of which appear very minor to keep “in condition” players on the DL for weeks and months at a time. If I were John Henry I would be talking to experts at Harvard Med or Tufts or BU to see what the team can do, medically speaking, to cut the loss of so many players to the DL. Either they ate training incorrectly or there is fakery going on. What do you think?

    Posted by Hawkny | August 17, 2012, 7:32 pm
  2. What bonified ace do you think the Sox should have pursued, and what type of package would they have to give up?

    Posted by Ethan | August 17, 2012, 7:47 pm
  3. Ben C. has his hands cuffed.There is many changes he needs to make. Starting with getting his own Manager. One he picks. He dose need to dump Beckett and many others.
    It would be a good move to let Nick P. & C. Ross go to contenders and take back A ball players who may pan out in 3 years or so. Bring up SS J. Iglesias and J.C. Linares there hot right now and good players. Time to find out if thay have the skills to fit in. let not wait till next spring and fall short again.

    Posted by Arendell | August 18, 2012, 12:52 am
  4. They have to dump salary to get below the 40% penalty tax threshold of $173M (salary is much more than $175M)which would also qualify them for megabucks from the CRA pool. They can’t afford a #1 or #2 pitcher. They can’t afford Ellsbury when he becomes a FA. The Yankees would also like to get below the tax threshold.

    Posted by Alan Hemenway | August 18, 2012, 2:38 am
  5. Their big mistake is they won’t face reality. They should have dealt off pieces to pick up prospects or to give looks to guys in the minors. At least this would have helped dump payroll. They have too many big money decision or contracts they are stuck with. Crawford, Lackey and Elsbury are killers. The one you may want to keep is the one that will be a free agent after 2013, in Elsbury. The ownership and Luchino got too full of themselves after 2007. They should either sell or wake the F up.

    Posted by Goose | August 18, 2012, 11:03 am
  6. The owners are still making money!! Even though they are out of touch with reality. The thing that irritates me is the “fan” is the bad guy in the eyes of owners and players. We (the fans) ask too much of them…to try, to exert them selves, to cure the team problem.
    Maybe we the “fan” should just walk away – shaking our heads?? Let them make money with no “fans”.

    Posted by Joe | August 18, 2012, 2:05 pm
  7. hire Yankee coach Tony Pena as manager

    Posted by william simeone | August 18, 2012, 5:05 pm

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