Boston Fortifies Rotation With Bedard

For many pundits, the Boston Red Sox were the clear best team in baseball this year. Ever since a 2-10 start, the Sox have won over two-thirds of their games, with a stellar 64-30 record. They lead the American League in both actual record and first-order (Pythagorean) record, and their 67.8-37.2 third-order record is a full two games clear of the Philadelphia Phillies.

But even the best teams are rarely without weakness, and with Clay Buchholz‘s status uncertain, the Red Sox found themselves with some shallowness in their rotation. Sure, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield would have no problem bringing an offense with as much firepower as Boston’s to the playoffs, particularly with an 8.5 game lead on Los Angeles for the Wild Card if they can’t hold their 2 game lead on New York in the East. But in the playoffs, the Red Sox will have to get by potent offenses such as the Yankees and the Rangers, and with Lackey and Miller as the third and fourth options out of the rotation, the Red Sox had a clear need to upgrade.

Upgrade they did, as the Red Sox pulled a three-way deadline deal to add Erik Bedard from the Mariners. To swing the deal, the Red Sox sent prospects C Tim Federowicz, RP Juan Rodriguez and SP Stephen Fife to the Dodgers in order to acquire OF Trayvon Robinson, who was then flipped along with OF Chih-Hsien Chang to the Mariners, bringing RP Josh Fields back as well as Bedard.

It’s fair to wonder if the Red Sox would have pushed so hard for a starter (An earlier deal for Rich Harden was nixed due to health problems. The sun rises in the east.) if not for the uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz. The 26-year-old righty was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Sunday and depending on the results of a second opinion on his ailing back, could be done for the year.

Health is an obvious concern with Bedard, as his 91 innings this season are his most since throwing 182 in 2007. Seeing as his health — or that of any other possible acquisition — over the rest of the regular season will hardly impact the Red Sox playoff odds, Bedard made the perfect target for Boston. They needed a pitcher who could handle playoff-level offenses but wouldn’t come at much of a cost for the future (see Jimenez, Ubaldo).

If he’s on the playoff roster, Bedard is a clear upgrade over Miller and Wakefield, and a good bet to improve on Lackey as well. SafeCo Field deserves an assist for his 3.31 ERA since his trade to Seattle, but he still checks in at a sharp 82 ERA-, and 4.3 WAR (based on FIP) in 255 innings is solid as well. Lackey could very well improve on his poor numbers to date (152 ERA-, 0.7 WAR), as he is coming off a 4.0 WAR season in 2010, but it’s awfully difficult to put a 6.20 ERA in a good light. Miller and Wakefield have been poor, each with an ERA over 5.00 and FIPs to match; Bedard’s superiority should be obvious.

It did take four warm bodies to acquire Bedard, but that’s about it. None of the players moved by Boston appear on Kevin Goldstein’s top 20 organizational prospect list, nor do they appear in our Top 100 Prospects list or top 10 organizational prospect list. This isn’t to say they’re doomed to complete non-productivity in the Major Leagues — the prospects will be covered in a separate post — but the Red Sox don’t lose much from a good farm system and improve their chances at a World Series. Hard to argue with that logic.



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Slats
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Slats

Trayvon Robinson was rated in the top 10 Dodgers prospects by Baseball America, Fangraphs and MLB.com! Robinson had a slashline of .293/.375/.563 for the Albuquerque Isotopes with twenty-six home runs. He’s slugged .585 at home and he’s a good .537 on the road. A switch-hitter with power, a good eye, speed and range is hard to come by. Chih-Hsien Chiang was rated as a top 20 Red Sox prospect who is improving all the time now that he has diabetes under control. Chiang currently has a 338/.399/.647 line with a .431 wOBA. He will end up as a 4th/5th OF and more of a depth kind of guy.

The Mariners gave up Fields who in my opinion was never going to make the Show. He has progressed very slowly and is going to end up a bust. Fields was more a 6th round kind of talent rather then 1st round. Bedard who is a big time injury risk and was not of any use to Seattle for the rest of this season. I think Bedard will struggle pitching in Fenway and also the pressure of the Boston media.

Boston got the pitching depth and LHP it required but is taking a huge risk. LA got a decent back up catcher and a some average relief pitchers but gave up too much in return.

My grades:

Mariners: B+
Red Sox: C+
Dodgers: D

Welp
Guest
Welp

What “huge risk” is Boston taking?

Slats
Guest
Slats

Bedard is a big injury risk and going from LBP Heaven to LHP Hell cannot be a good thing.

Ari Collins
Guest

The downside is that they are back where they were yesterday, as the best team in baseball. I would not call that a huge risk. I would say it’s a huge upside gamble.

The fact that Robinson is a very good prospect (though one ought to be careful considering his league and park context) has no bearing on the Boston part of the deal, since they did not trade him.

Mariners: A- (for getting a very good prospect for Bedard)
Red Sox: B (for giving up very very little and getting huge upside)
Dodgers: D (for giving up a quality prospect for quantity prospects)

j bones
Guest
j bones

it’s still not a risk if they barely gave anything up for Bedard. You have to risk something for it to BE a risk

Basil Ganglia
Guest
Basil Ganglia

I agree with the others. Very little downside for Boston on this deal, as they didn’t really give up much to get Bedard. But huge upside – if Bedard stays healthy they’ve got a massive upgrade. And with the lead that they have they can keep Bedard’s workload to increase the chances of him being healthy at the end of the season.

And, just as for many players who have toiled in the Big Leagues for losing teams, I’m glad that Bedard will have had the chance at least once in his career to have been on a play-off team.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Perhaps opportunity cost? Have to compare Bedard against other SP options that existed pre-non-waiver deadline. Of course there are difficulties with determining the realistic alternatives from outside the Boston FO.

Sultan of Schwwingg
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Sultan of Schwwingg

Exactly, Jon. Opportunity cost; that’s the risk the Sox have taken.

They’re already in the playoffs so this move was to bolster their pitching staff for the playoffs. The chance Bedard gets there healthy are so slim, the Sox effectively accomplished very little here. That’s a huge risk given their pitching staff.

Ari Collins
Guest

Agree somewhat on opportunity cost, but that’s really a separate thing. The grade for not getting Ubaldo is a very different thing from grading getting Bedard was a bad move. And there really wasn’t much out there.

They might have been able to top the Indians’ offer for Ubaldo… but they might not have. Most of their top prospects are in the low minors, and that made them a poor match for the Rockies.

They could have had Wandy, but 29 teams appear to have decided he wasn’t worth the Astros’ asking price.

And what else was out there?

You could instead argue that saving their top prospects for a future move will give them the opportunity to make another blockbuster trade when someone worth it comes along.

Welp
Guest
Welp

“The chance Bedard gets there healthy are so slim”

How have you determined this? Are his knee and shoulder symptoms of some injury syndrome?

James
Guest
James

Trayvon is doing it in the PCL though. He never had a ISO over .200 (.269 this season) until going to the PCL, which makes me believe the power isn’t legit. Plus he has struck out over 20% at every stop (29.3% this season). A speed guy with decent power who strikes out a lot. I don’t like that combination.

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