This year's Sox presents a major dilemma for the armchair GM. Does this team have a sufficiently strong core that, when healthy, they'll be able to contend for a wild card spot? Or is it not even worth trying, and flushing yet another year down the drain? Right now, I have to admit that I'm seriously torn on this one. I have to admit that I vacillate back and forth on this one, seemingly on a daily basis. There are times where I look at the team and think "just one more piece," and then there are days where I want to blow up the team, preferably with dynamite.
Unfortunately, this isn't an NFL situation, so I can't trade Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox for a third-round draft pick and Kevin Youkilis—but I kind of wish I could!
But in reality, this is just the perfect storm of suck. This team isn't good enough to really trade in the farm for a serious playoff run, nor is it so bad that it should be dispersed to the wind's twelve quarters either. At most, I'd try to improve one or two spots, but the rest would be left to the vagaries of divine providence (or perhaps I should say Pawtucket?).
With respect to starting pitching, I might be convinced to take a flyer on Zack Greinke, if the price were right. A few AAA ballplayers, plus one of the pitchers near the middle of the pack of prospects (Henry Owens or Alex Wilson)—or maybe two, if a reasonable extension could be worked out in advance. But the last thing I'd want is another Lackey-like or Matzusaka-like deal on the books. I'd probably end up going supernova if that happened, and I happen to enjoy my continued existence in the corporeal plane too much to permit that.
So, I think my other trades would be an attempt to hit "Ctrl-Z" with respect to some of the Yawkey brain trust's more inscrutable offseason moves. Now, if I was truly GM for a day, with dictatorial powers, that would be nice. But I'd probably need some serious mind-control mojo to figure out what it would take to unwind the Andrew Bailey for Josh Reddick trade. While I suspect we're stuck with Bailey, I wouldn't mind parting with Che-Hsuan Lin and Matt Albers and another minor-leaguer or two. This was one of the more pointless trades—a potential future starter (with the potential departure of Ellsbury meaning a vacancy in CF or RF would be eminent) for a reliever.
But, of course, leave it for me to wait just a little bit too long to be able to get this piece out (darn real-life priorities like holding down a job!). The real pièce de résistance would have been me trying to get lightning to strike twice, and revisit one of the wackiest trades in Red Sox history: the Doug Mirabelli for Josh Bard and Cla Meredith swap. This time, though, I'd be loaded for shortstop: I'd have been willing to swap Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, and Lars Anderson to get Jed Lowrie back at Fenway. (If Lowrie had a .900 OPS, I'd have been tempted to throw in Jose Iglesias into the bargain. A guy who has an OPS that's more O than S at the AAA level is not seriously going to threaten anybody at the plate at the major-league level.)
Last week, it could have been a perfect trade (at least in my warped mind). Unfortunately, the universe is not nearly so kind—either to me or to young Mr. Lowrie. Just when he seemed poised to have the breakout season many thought he was capable of—having a great first half—with 14 home runs and an over .800 OPS—he goes and gets himself injured by spraining his ankle and having a nerve problem that will sideline him for the next month. And, of course, that means he's not eligible to be traded, and with just two weeks to go, means I'm left holding the bag.
Being an armchair GM is tough. I think I'll go try something less demanding and more relaxing, like reenacting The Pit and the Pendulum, starring Bobby Valentine, except without the last-minute rescue. (Spoilers!) And maybe figuring out who, beyond the old GM, that I'd sentence to scaphism as a thank-you present saddling me with such a thankless task. (Oh wait, that would be me. Scratch the scaphism. I'll just sentence myself to watch highlights of the Baseballtown All-Star Classic for all eternity instead. . . .)