At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Chain Reactions Shaping Remainder of BoSox Season

That the Boston Red Sox have been struggling lately has been well documented, and by my observation, their circumstances are unlikely to improve any time soon. The hand they are now playing was dealt to them some six weeks ago, when they began losing key hitters and pitchers to injury (e.g., Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, Tim Wakefield, David Wells). The result was a series of chain reactions that is affecting them now and will shape the rest of their season.

(A) At The Plate And On The Mound

Injuries to Key Hitters and Pitchers -> Fewer Runs Scored/More Runs Given Up -> Shorter Stints by Starters -> Greater Reliance on the Bullpen -> Tired Staff à Unbalanced Roster (13 pitchers = only 3 players on the bench) -> Fewer Runs Scored/More Runs Given Up [repeat]

It’s a vicious cycle that likely won’t end without the return of at least some of the walking wounded (step one: Wells pitched decently last night and last time) and the addition of a few quality replacements (if any can be found).

(B) At the Trading Table

Injuries to Key Hitters and Pitchers -> Greater Reliance on Minor League Talent -> Fewer Bargaining Chips to Include in Deals -> Less Likelihood of Landing Impact Players

This isn’t to say that Eric Hinske and Carlos Pena won’t be useful additions, and that Javy Lopez, Jason Johnson, and Kyle Snyder won’t contribute before the year is out. But they’re placeholders at best, and except for the fact that rosters can be expanded starting September 1, they likely would be out of a job once their front-line counterparts return to action.

(C) At the Trading Deadline

Injuries to Key Hitters and Pitchers -> Interruption of a Deal (or Deals) in the Works -> No Significant Roster Changes

This one is purely speculation on my part, but I believe GM Theo Epstein was pursuing a deal involving Trot Nixon that would have bolstered the team’s playoff prospects in the same way the midseason moves of ’04 did. But when Nixon got hurt right at the trading deadline, the deal died, and the clock ran out.

Why do I think this? Because it makes too much sense not to be true. Consider: (1) Nixon becomes a free agent at the end of the year and, had he remained healthy, probably would have asked for more money and years than the Sox would be willing to give him. So the team might as well get something for him as nothing. (2) The presence of Wily Mo Pena on the roster means the Sox already have a successor on the scene. (3) Nixon was performing well enough to attract some interest from a fringe or non-contending club, especially if he were bundled with a minor leaguer or two, and maybe some cash. (4) Epstein has demonstrated he isn’t averse to making deals in such circumstances.

That's the world according to me. What do you think?

2 Comments:

  • I don't know if the Red Sox would trade such a franchise player and fan favorite (how many times have I said that?).

    The big problem is what could we have even gotten for him? Prior to his most recent injury, he had three other DL stints within two years. Also, he was hitting (uncharacteristically) very poorly in July. So, I would not be surprised if the Sox were trying to move him, but I would be a little surprised if anyone was listening even before his most recent injury.

    The end of the year may be interesting if Trot has a nice September/October. But, he might just end up on the Sox due to his decreased value due to the injuries. Manny, as always, will also factor into this.

    By Anonymous Andrew, At 8/18/2006 9:41 AM  

  • Who could we have gotten? How about Eric Hinske? ;-)

    By Blogger Steve Weissman, At 8/18/2006 10:09 AM  

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