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Time Out For Sports Talk: Red Sox Deal Themselves In At Trade Deadline

TOST Question of the Week: Did the Boston Red Sox do enough this week at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?

Todd: I would say yes, given what the asking price might have been for many of the players being offered up in trade.  While I would have preferred that the Red Sox try and pick up another veteran bullpen arm, I’ll give Ben Cherington some credit for thinking outside the box and instead making a deal for starting pitcher Jake Peavy.

(BTW does it seem odd to anyone that the Red Sox and White Sox make so many trades with each other?  I think there’s an obvious Jerry Seinfeld ‘rooting for laundry’ joke waiting to be written.)

In acquiring Peavy, the Sox added depth to their starting rotation, which becomes more important than ever given the uncertainty of Clay Buchholz’s return.  And although Brandon Workman has been effective as a starter, this move allows the rookie to slide into the bullpen, where he may wind up being just as productive a setup man as anyone the Sox could have picked up in the trade market (and if it doesn’t, they could still conceivably try to make a waiver-style deal in August).

There have certainly been questions about Peavy’s durability throughout his career, but the 32-year has not experienced any arm trouble over the past two years (he had missed some time earlier this season with a rib injury), pitched over 200 innings in 2012 and has won eight games so far this season.  While he may not throw quite as hard as he did back in 2007 when he won a Cy Young Award pitching for the San Diego Padres, Peavy is a fierce competitor who should thrive pitching in the heart of a pennant race.  Another advantage the Sox get from Peavy is that he is also under contract for next season, giving Cherington some potential flexibility this offseason should he choose to deal one of his starting pitchers in an effort to bolster another part of the roster.

Contrary to the thinking of some baseball fans, any trade made has to involve giving up someone talented.  Like many of you who root for the Sox, I too will miss the defensive wizardry of Jose Iglesias on the left side of the infield.  But outside of a 4-6 week stretch in May/June where virtually every ball he put in play became a hit, there has been some question as to whether Iglesias can consistently hit at the major league level, evidenced by the precipitous drop in his batting average during the month of July.

I can also accept Cherington’s willingness to part with Iglesias because the Sox are as organizationally deep at shortstop as anytime I can ever remember.  Stephen Drew (like it or not) is the current starter, 20-year old Xander Bogaerts is currently in Pawtucket and on the fast track to Fenway for 2014 (if not sooner), and 22-year old Deven Marrero is also performing well down in Single-A ball.  All these guys field the position more than adequately and have a much higher hitting upside (even Drew, if you include his big walkoff hit to win that 15-inning marathon over the Mariners).

Of course, don’t underestimate the role Biogenesis played in making this three-way deal with the White Sox and Tigers possible.  With Jhonny Peralta likely facing a long suspension, the Tigers were actually willing to help out the Red Sox (even though they could face them in the ALCS) just so they could acquire a shortstop.  Even if Iglesias struggles to hit the rest of the season, Detroit’s batting order is deep enough that they’ll just pencil him in as their permanent No. 9 hitter.

Mike: I like the trade, in so much as that the Red Sox didn’t give up a big piece of their future to get Peavy. Sure, losing Iglesias hurts in the short run, but the Sox have depth at the position, and they full expect Bogaerts to be with the big club sooner rather than later.

But that’s not what I wanted to get into, I think Todd covered the trade well. What I wanted to touch on was the feeling that something big is brewing with this season.

I have deemed this a “bonus year” because no one expected the team to do anything after last year’s disaster, but now this year is starting to feel an awful lot like 2004, where you have a gritty team that is getting all of the breaks, and you can feel that this season is going to have a memorable end.

They have been winning in all kinds of fashion, and have the most walk-off wins since 1978 (a year that is likely best forgotten by Sox fans). And they have been doing it with a pitching staff that has been hit hard by injuries. If you were told at the beginning of the season that the Sox would be in first place despite the fact that they are on their FOURTH closer, you would have thought it impossible, but there they sit in first place nonetheless.

Both Todd and I are going to be in the house for Peavy’s debut at Fenway this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it. This feels like a special year, and even if they don’t win a World Series, at least baseball is fun again in Boston!

Check out more Time Out For Sports Talk on Facebook and Twitter. You can watch the TOST show here.

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