Sox fans, who just recovered from two angina attacks from the shock of trading shortstops Scutaro and Lowrie, may now be grabbing their chest again with the report that the Phillies may be interested in acquiring Mike Aviles.
In his Sunday Notes in the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo rolled this grenade under the fence:
“Yes, he is currently Boston’s starting shortstop, but the Phillies are one team that would be interested, as they continue to search for an experienced backup infielder who could protect them in case Chase Utley gets off to a slow start with his right knee tendinitis. If the Red Sox committed to Iglesias, Aviles may be available.”
While the dire reports about Utley’s knees support the speculation that the Phillies would be seeking a proven second baseman, it is not clear that a deal with the Sox for their starting SS would be plausible.
With all the speculation about Aviles playing SS or even OF, the fact that he has played 142 innings in MLB, compared to 152 at short has been lost. So, yes, that part of Mr. Cafardo’s scary story fits.
Also, the two players below Utley on the depth chart are shaky: Freddy Jose Galvis is 23 and has been primarily a shortstop and in just over 100 ABs has hit .233 in MLB; Michael Matinez has logged only 20 games at SS and in 137 ABs has hit .270.
So, Mr. Carfardo’s speculative scenario works from the Phillies’ standpoint, but why would the Sox want to upset their team again by switching to Iglesias now? Mr. Cafardo suggests that “If the Red Sox committed to Iglesias, Aviles may be available.” The current read on Iglesias is “Gold Glove/Lead Bat” [read: led, not leed], so Valentine would need to revisit his Mets’ experience when Rey Ordonez provided excellent defense, but too many “O” for Ordonez box scores. Is Valentine willing to “carry” a .250 hitter for his exceptional defensive skills?
Suppose the Sox are ready to commit to Iglesias and were willing to consider trading Aviles; what would they want in return?
They are not in a rebuilding mode like Oakland, so they would not be interested in prospects. The Big Three issues for the Sox have been: RF, Fifth Starter and SS. With the signing of Ross to add to a platoon with Sweeney and McDonald still in the RF depth chart and “committed” to Iglesias, the Sox would be wanting a Fifth Starter pitcher from the Phillies.
Likely the Phillies would offer veteran Joe Blanton or young starter Kyle Kendrick. Would the Sox be willing to give up their starting SS for Blanton or Kendrick, when Bard and Aceves are still in that #4/#5 rotation mix?
Blanton might not be an upgrade over Dice-K, who will be ready for the second half of the season and, like many pitchers, may be better after his Tommy John surgery. Blanton missed most of last season because of an injured right elbow, so his ability to stay healthy is a big question. If he can stay healthy and manage 200 innings, as the Fifth Starter, he would be a good deal for Aviles, but the Sox will not be likely to pay him $8.5 million to find out.
Kyle Kendrick is 43-30, but his NL ERA of 4.41 is high, his WHIP is 1.39, but the red flag is his poor K-W ratio: below the 2-1 minimum with 275-170 [he should have at least 340Ks].
It would appear that the Phillies do not have what the Sox would want for Mike Aviles and Mr. Cafardo’s “bombshell” was nothing more than a firecracker with a wet fuse.
Q: Nick, is risking a cardiac surprise for citizens of Red Sox Nation worth a speculative space filler for a slow Sunday night deadline?