As the non-waiver trade deadline approached, Red Sox fans had plenty to worry about. The general consensus was that this team was not good enough. Not only not good enough to compete, but not even good enough to warrant investment in terms of prospects in order to improve it. Would ownership or the front office go crazy, desperate to try and put a good product on the field and avoid a third straight year without October baseball? Or would they pass up on the small chance for instant gratification in favor of the long game?
We know now that they opted for the latter, likely better path. The non-waiver deadline was largely uneventful for the Red Sox, though Ben Cherington would later go far beyond what anyone expected in late August when he made his blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.
Still, the Sox were not completely silent on July 31, and that's where Craig Breslow comes in. Brought in from Arizona in exchange for Matt Albers, Breslow was not a move in response to circumstance, but simply an opportunity seized. We discussed in Matt Albers' season review how his numbers did not exactly seem to reflect the quality of his pitching, and as a pretty good candidate to fall to Earth playing in the AL East, the Sox would have been wise to part with Albers for any decent offer.
Breslow, on the other hand, was more than decent. If Sox fans were expecting a lottery ticket low-level minor leaguer, they instead got a strong left-handed reliever capable of getting righties out and with another year of team control left to him. A career 3.00 ERA with decent peripherals. What's not to like? If there's any question about Breslow, it's whether he can keep his home run rates down in Fenway. He didn't give up any long balls in his time with the Sox, but 20 innings isn't exactly a significant sample size.
In the past, the Sox have seen their fair share of bullpen troubles. While in any given year a good reliever can flare out or a bad reliever impress-there is a fair bit of luck involved in any pen thanks to small sample sizes-having a large volume of talent spread out over a number of different arms would seem likely to help mitigate the effect of random chance, and Breslow will certainly help contribute to that. Credit Ben Cherington for finding some value where little was expected.