The Red Sox pulled the trigger on their first significant trade of the season Saturday afternoon, sending Jake Peavy to San Francisco in exchange for prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree.
This was a move that had to happen. The Red Sox just didn't have any use for Peavy anymore. Even if he hadn't been mired in one of the worst seasons of his career, Peavy is a veteran on the last year of contract who the Sox would have little interest in bringing back for 2015. With the team no longer looking at the season with contention on the mind, Peavy was doing little but filling a roster and rotation spot that could be better spent on a young prospect in need of an opportunity to prove himself.
For all that, though, I'm not exactly pleased to see Jake Peavy go. He's taken a lot of flak over the year he spent with the team. The Red Sox dealt away a growing fan favorite in Jose Iglesias, leaving Peavy to bear the burden of not only his own failures, but also of any close plays at shortstop that got through for hits. "Iglesias would have had that" was not only an attack on Stephen Drew (whose occasional vilification is a subject), but a subtle dig at Jake Peavy.
To be fair, that wouldn't be the case if Peavy had been stellar, but he wasn't. Peavy posted a 4.04 ERA with the Red Sox in 2013, then gave up 10 runs in 13 postseason innings. It wasn't necessarily what fans wanted, but it was at least what the Red Sox needed. Peavy's reputation, built primarily in his time with San Diego, put lofty expectations on a pitcher who was brought in more for who he wasn't than who he was. Jake Peavy was not Felix Doubront, pitching with 150 innings on his arm. He was not an inexperienced rookie clearly in need of more seasoning like Allen Webster. To go a little further back, he was not Kyle Weiland. Really, that last name is what it hinges on. The Red Sox were not ready to see their rotation collapse again as it had in 2011, and Jake Peavy provided the extra depth needed to ensure that didn't occur.
More than anything, though, Jake Peavy was just a good guy to have around. I think we can all agree that there's a pretty big difference between 2012 and 2014, and not just because we have plenty of hope for the future we didn't have until the Punto trade that August. In 2012, it was just plain difficult to root for some of the players. They came across as a dysfunctional unit of malcontents, essentially the polar opposite of the team that would win it all in 2013. While 2014 has more in common with 2012 in terms of results, the team still feels like the 2013 team, just without the spark, health, luck and what have you that took them to the World Series.
Jake Peavy? He fits so perfectly into that mold that it's almost a shock he wasn't there to begin the season. There are few guys who seem to demand as much from themselves as Peavy does. And, while that left him shouting at himself on the mound a lot more often than we'd have liked this season, it's certainly hard not to appreciate it when a player is as upset with the team's struggles as we were. He was always accountable for his failures when the game was over, and even as the ship sank around him, Peavy was adamant that he wanted to stay in Boston and keep playing with these Red Sox who finally brought him to the promised land last year.
We all wish this year had turned out differently. That Peavy was still pitching well, and doing so as part of a Red Sox team with a real chance to repeat. But the reality is that there was no longer a reason for the Red Sox to keep Jake Peavy on the roster, and the Giants made a (surprisingly) strong offer for him, so he had to go.
Still, for the man who bought a duck boat and celebrated with us in the streets last year, there will always be a home in Boston for Jake Peavy.