A good team is like a finished puzzle. All the pieces fit into place, they connect, they work together, and when the puzzle is completed they present a solid, unified masterpiece. Remove a piece and you have a hole. Replacement pieces maybe be able to fill the hole, but generally leave gaps or don’t fit in the empty space at all. Mike Lowell is a missing piece that does not have an adequate replacement on the current Red Sox roster. Combine Lowell’s absence with Pedroia needing to miss a game or two to be with his hospitalized pregnant wife, and the infield is in shambles. With the trading deadline fast approaching the team would do well to well to address the need for a quality back-up corner infielder, and possibly take a look at the outfield as well.
Roy Halladay is the current hot and sexy piece of meat up on the trade block, and you can’t really have too much pitching, but the Red Sox do not need another ace. We also don’t need to sell the farm to get a guy who is in the last year of his contract, will be a free agent next year, and is not likely to stick around Boston after the 2009 season. Money talks and the Red Sox are not going to give him a blockbuster long term commitment. We’ve got too much young talent coming up. (And, seriously, lets all take a moment and realize how fortunate we are, not too many teams, if any, are enjoying this position.) If Theo and company are smart, and they are, they’ll take a good long look at shoring up the bench and maybe, if the right deal comes along, shaking up our suddenly inconsistent bullpen a bit.
It may seem backwards, but having a good bench is an essential foundation for any team. Of course you need to build a talented and durable starting nine, but if one of them goes down for any reason who’s going to be responsible for keeping the castle on the level? The back-up guy. We’ve been spoiled in the outfield for the past few years with Coco Crisp, the guy was a rock, there were no worries about who was going to pick up the pieces when Ellsbury struggled or JD Drew needed a band-aid. Thank goodness Ellsbury has figured out to hit like a major leaguer and JD Drew been fairly durable so far this year, knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder and pray to whatever higher being you believe in that this continues. Do you want to see Baldelli or Kotsay responsible for day to day outfield duty? Didn’t think so. It begs the question, who is available at a reasonable price?
We need a decent back-up corner infielder, and a solid back-up outfielder. After watching them play all weekend I’d like to propose first baseman Mark Teahen and outfielder David DeJesus. Teahen is currently hitting .294, a solid 19 doubles with 9 home runs. His skills are not going to rock anyone’s world, but we’re not looking for the second coming of Kevin Youkilis, we’re looking for a nice option to fill in for him when and if Youk has to move to 3rd to cover for Lowell. David DeJesus is hitting a steady .256 with 18 doubles and 6 triples, and would be a nice compliment to the our current starting outfield. It’s and easy one stop shop would stabilize the infield corners and add some depth to the outfield in one fell swoop. Who do we send to Kansas City? Rocco Baldelli, Jeff Bailey, and Julio Lugo, even if they don’t want Lugo, we’ll just pay his contract and say he accidentally got shipped in the same box as the others. Mark Kotsay gets to stay by virtue of being able to reliably play either outfield or first base. Depending on how Clay Buchholz performs on Friday the Red Sox can throw him or Brad Penny in the mix as well. Kansas City needs pitching help and either one of the two would give them a boost. If they want a prospect how about Anthony Rizzo? Talented, but unproven, his path to the majors right now is mostly blocked by Kevin Youkilis’ long term contract and the up and coming Lars Anderson. It would be a win all around, we unload some dead weight while sprucing up the bench and the Royals get reasonably talented players in return.
No matter who the Red Sox decide to move or who make a deal with, we easily have enough resources to grab the best of what’s available. We should be able to get what we need and not lose anyone truly valuable. And besides, sometimes you just get lucky, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb anyone?