This week, we are looking at some players we feel Boston should acquire at the trade deadline. We'll all take a stab at a particular player we want to see playing for the Red Sox during the last two months of the season, and explain our reasons for wanting them in a Boston uniform. Previous articles in the series include Ryan Ludwick and Edwin Jackson. Agree or disagree in the comments, as us authors don't even necessarily agree with each other on these players. Though all of us agree Matt Kory is absolutely correct. As usual.
The Red Sox started the season with a solid rotation. If everyone stayed healthy they had five guys in Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka with successful track records. Everyone didn't stay healthy. All except Beckett have been on the Disabled List at some point, the most serious injury of which being Matsuzaka's Tommy John Surgery. Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves stepped in to fill his void, but with other starters going down the team's rotational depth has been tested.
Other than Felix Doubront who himself keeps getting injured, the Sox don't have any prospects they can pull up from the minors and expect to thrive throughout the rest of the season. Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, and Kyle Weiland have combined to start eleven games in which they have collectively posted an ERA of 6.07. Even for a team with Boston's prolific offense, that isn't going to cut it. Tim Wakefield has started twelve games and though his ERA as a starter is a respectable-for-a-fifth-starter 4.81, his K/9 is 4.4, a scary number for a flyballer. Also, he's 412 years old.
Matsuzaka isn't coming back so the Red Sox will need a fifth starter. Maybe they can get by with Miller, Wakefield and Aceves, but if anyone else goes down we could see a long stretch of Kyle Weiland.
The Red Sox need a starting pitcher. The Red Sox should trade for a starting pitcher. The Red Sox should trade for Erik Bedard.
Why not trade for Eric Chavez and give him some starts? He's the pitching version of Nick Johnson. He pulls muscles intentionally walking hitters. Ha ha ha. Get all that laughter out of your system.
Here's the important part: Dude can pitch. Over his career, Bedard has a K/9 of 8.7 and an ERA of 3.64. This season he's at 8.5 with a BB/9 of 2.7. Over 90 innings this season he's got an xFIP of 3.27. Lest you think he's a product of spacious Safeco Field in Seattle, I submit to you that his road numbers are better than his home numbers. Also, he's left handed. This is the type of pitcher who usually gets or is in the middle of a long term big money contract. So what is the problem? Well, duh. Injuries.
Over the past three seasons Bedard has missed 420 days to injury. Considering the season is 183 days long, that's a lot of time to miss. And it's only a fraction of the time Bedard has missed to injury over his career. Bedard's injury history reads like a career criminal's rap sheet. He's had Tommy John surgery, bone spurs, multiple surgeries on his left shoulder, boosted an '87 Celica from a 7-11, hip inflammation, thigh, neck, and trunk (?) strains, the list just goes on and on.
Bedard has a long track record of two things. Pitching very well when healthy and not being healthy. Thus the questions when trading for Bedard are two. One, how much will it cost the Red Sox in talent to deal for him, and two, will he remain healthy at least some portion of the time? I submit because the second question is required, the answer to the first will be 'not as much as you might think.'
The key piece of any trade is the cost and of course we don't know that information. Bedard for a sack of used jockstraps is a bargain, Bedard for Pedroia less so. Somewhere in the middle the answer lies. I won't claim to have spoken to Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik recently (or ever) but I can tell you Bedard is on a one year, $1 million deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Mariners are, I believe, 750 games out of first place in the AL West so they should be looking to deal anything not nailed down (yes, Felix Hernandez counts as nailed down). With Bedard's injury history I'm betting the market for him and therefore his cost will be suppressed.
Injuries are a real problem for Bedard, but the cost to acquire a slightly better pitcher, like Ubaldo Jimenez, will be stratospheric compared to what the Red Sox would have to pay for Bedard. The fine folks at Fan Graphs project Jimenez to have a 3.14 ERA over the remainder of the season. They project Bedard to post an ERA of 3.34 over the same period. With the Red Sox offense I'd argue that difference is no difference at all. If Bedard stays healthy the Red Sox are getting Jimenez's production for almost nothing. If he doesn't then the team is right back where it was, minus the likely small cost to acquire Bedard's services.
It comes down to this. The Sox can hope the guys they have on hand stay healthy, they can turn their farm system into one the Milwaukee Brewers would feel superior to by acquiring Jimenez, or they can dump some minor prospects on the M's and get a guy who quite possibly could be the best starting pitcher traded this season. Sure, he could pull a neck muscle putting on his new Red Sox cap, but if he manages to stay even semi-healthy the return could be huge. Because Erik Bedard can really pitch.