Keep ‘Em or Trade ‘Em – Red Sox infield edition
June 18, 2012 1 Comment
I’m back from a week of vacation in Miami and the Red Sox have remained stagnant in the standings. Despite a 4-2 road trip last week they still stand 7.5 games out of first place. Despite winning 7 of the last 8 series the Red Sox are still at .500, 18 days into June. Obviously there will be changes to the roster between now and the end of the season whether the Red Sox are in contention or not. Here is a breakdown on the guys on the roster and whether I think they should stay or go:
1B Adrian Gonzalez – There is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is having a difficult year thus far. His .260/.315/.403 line is ridiculously lower than his career averages. He is hitting 78 points below his final average from last season. He is on pace to hit less than 20 home runs for the first time since 2005 when he played in only 43 games for the Rangers. Clearly Gonzalez is a better player than this. The big consideration would be the fact that he is only a few months into a 7-year contract extension that he signed last season. The contract makes him nearly unmovable and if all things were equal I’d keep Gonzalez anyway. Eventually the old Gonzalez will be back. He’s the type of hitter that you ride through slumps with like the Sox have done a few times with David Ortiz. Put him back at 1B full time, try to find a regular spot in the lineup for him and just wait for him to come around. Hitters like him always do.
Verdict – Keep Him
2B Dustin Pedroia – Any argument to trade Pedroia seems ludicrous to me. The best thing that I can come up with is that people have entertained the idea of trading him just to entertain the idea of making a trade. Even if you could get value for Pedroia you are simply creating another hole in your lineup as there are no prospects near ready to play 2B in the big leagues. You’d be going with Aviles or Punto if you traded Pedroia. Pedroia’s been the heart and soul of this team since he’s been called up and he should never put on another uniform at any point in his career.
Verdict – Keep Him, forever
SS Mike Aviles – Aviles is a guy that could generate some interest at the trade deadline since he has played a very good defensive shortstop this season and could help a team in contention in what is a weak position league-wide. The enticement for the Red Sox for moving Aviles is that they have Cuban youngster Jose Iglesias waiting in the wings. Iglesias has seemed to turn the corner offensively in the minors. Aviles was a huge help to the Red Sox lineup early in the season in the lead-off spot when Ellsbury went down but he has barely hit in the lead-off spot of late. Even if he’s not a starter he’d be a valuable player and with Dustin Pedroia’s health in question it might make more sense to keep him even if you do decide to bring Iglesias up. Still if another club is offering some good pieces for him it would be hard not to try and make do without him. The difference between keeping or getting rid of Aviles will come down to how much a team is willing to give up for him.
Verdict – Trade Him only if you get good value back. Otherwise keep him.
3B Kevin Youkilis – Here is the thing about Youkilis right now – he is playing so poorly that it might not even get to a question of whether to keep him or trade him. It’s easy to rip the Red Sox for continuing to put him in the lineup but it was the right move. You needed to try and establish value for Youkilis after he came off of the D.L. It’s pretty clear at this point that Youkilis has little to no value on the trading market. The one other thing that has kept Youk alive thus far has been the fact that the Red Sox would be losing a lot of right handed power if they got rid of Youk but the impending return of Cody Ross, which could come as early as tomorrow night, would alleviate that problem. At this point it will start to become increasingly tougher for the Red Sox to justify keeping Youkilis on the roster at all. He will likely be designated for assignment in the not-too-distant future. The only saving grace for the Red Sox would be that there are several National League teams that need a 1st Baseman so maybe one of them would claim Youk off of waivers or they could make a trade with one of them after he cleared waivers. Either way it would be a tremendous upset if Youk were sill on the roster come the All-Star Break let alone the trade deadline.
Verdict – Trade Him if you can even get anything for him
3B Will Middlebrooks – Middlebrooks is 24 years old and playing behind a gimpy soon-to-be free agent in his 30’s who, as I’ve outlined above, is not too much longer for this team anyway. He’s have some bumps along the way but Middlebrooks will be a fixture at 3B for the Red Sox by August at the latest.
Verdict – Keep Him
IF Nick Punto – There is no reason to dump this guy unless you have someone to take his place. The only way he goes is if Iglesias or someone else supplants Aviles at the shortstop position and even then they’d have to make sure Pedroia was 100% before they got rid of him.
Verdict – Keep Him
DH David Ortiz – This is another pointless exercise. As big of a name as Ortiz is he is still a 36 year old designated hitter with an expiring contract. There is no possible way to get back the value that he currently gives you in a trade.
Verdict – Keep Him
So there you have it. Only Youkilis is definite to go, all others should be secure unless the Red Sox are blown away by an offer for Aviles. Tomorrow I’ll do outfield where there seems to be an impending logjam.