Six Moves the Sox Must Make NOW to Save their Season

With the headlines at Bleacher Report screaming “DISASTER” for the Red Sox…

Boston Will Struggle to Finish 3rd in East

How Long Will Daniel Bard’s Rotation Leash Be?

10 Red Sox Who Need to Pick Up the Slack

…and before the “Is it time to fire Valentine?” posts emerge, it’s time for another transmission to “Ben & The Braintruss” via Faxing Fenway.

Here are SIX things that must be done to save the 2012 season for the Sox:

  1. Send catcher Kelly “Shipwreck” to the Pawsox [or trade him] and bring Lavarnway back.
  2. Trade Youkilis to an AL Central team.
  3. Send Beckett, “The Josher” to any team that will give back a #2 or #3 rotation starter.
  4. Put Jon Middlebrooks at 3b.
  5. Make Bard the closer.
  6. Make a trade with the White Sox for Gavin Floyd.


Lavarnway’s limited MLB sample [39 ABs]  shows .294 vs. LHPs and .278 vs. LHP starters.  His four-year BA in the minors was .284 [splits not available].  Although Lavarnway had only 39 ABs, his .294 BA is consistent with his .284 in four years in the minors.  Kelly Shoppach‘s career BA is career .224 hitter.  Lavarnway is a better hitter vs. LHPs than Shoppach: .294/.274 and would give the Sox a 42-point advantage over Salty.

On defense:

Lavarnway           .993       32%  [4-year minors]

Saltalamacchia     .992       31%   [MLB career stats]

Shoppach                   .991       28%  [MLB career stats]



Although he moves at a glacial pace at Third base and is struggling out of the box, many teams will consider his long track record as an on-base machine for DH and backup 3b; this limits trades to the AL.

As we noted in a recent post:

White Sox GM Kenny Williams is dangling lefty John Danks and righty Gavin Floyd, but says it would take “at least two A-level prospects and a third that’s a notch below.”

Williams won’t admit it, but his minor league prospect cupboard is bare; in the latest organizational review coming from Baseball Prospectus, the White Sox were placed 30th out of a possible 30. And the comment from Kevin Goldstein to go with the placement — “It really is that bad.”

With his GM job in a tenuous status, Williams will be willing to wheel and deal to try to improve his sorry Sox.  While it is not a “blockbuster” type of trade, the Red Sox could target Gavin Floyd and LHP Matt Thornton [think bullpen] and offer Youkilis and Lars Anderson.

With Morel, Lillibridge and Escobar on their hot corner depth chart, Youkilis would be an offensive upgrade for Chicago and he could also move into the DH, where K-Kings Dunn and Viciedo fill that hole.

With aging Konerko,  Dunn “Struck Out”, UT Lillibridge and “Iron Glove” Viciedo at 1b, adding Lars Anderson a solid,mobile defender and lefty hitter to the mix, as a replacement for Konerko could be attractive to Chicago.

In sum, the White Sox get a veteran hitter at DH with Youkilis, who could also spot start at 3b and 1b and a next generation lefty First baseman in Anderson and the Red Sox get a rotation starter and another solid LHP for the pen.

If needed, Boston could add young [20] catching prospect Blake Swihart [Sox #12 prospect MLB] to the deal, as Williams has two aging catchers and no prospects in sight.



With Gavin Floyd in the rotation, the Sox can reshuffle the 7-8-9-inning pitching assignments: Bard becomes the closer, Melancon is his set-up guy, and Aceves is the 7th inning bridge from starters who make it through six innings.



As we noted in a recent post:

The Tigers are almost universal favorites to take the AL Central pennant; they have a personable, veteran, “players’ ” manager [Jim Leyland]; a positive team attitude with the addition of Fielder The Prince, and Josh won’t need to learn the NL hitters again.

What do the Tigers have to offer in trade for a veteran starter under contract until 2014, who could about cinch their pennant in 2012, 2013 and 2014?

A: Two young pitchers who could both move into the Sox rotation:  Jacob Turner and Drew Smyly.

Jacob Turner

Rank: #10 on MLB RHP list; ETA: 2011; RHP; 20

“The Tigers will be aggressive with their young starters, so it’s not surprising Turner reached the Class A Advanced Florida State League in his first full season. He’s got the stuff, a feel for pitching and the mound presence to keep moving quickly. Once just a hard thrower, he’s much more of a pitcher now, having made significant progress with his secondary stuff. With improved command, he could hit Detroit with Rick Porcello-like haste. Other Lists: Top 50 Prospects (#7) | Top 10 Tigers Prospects (#1)” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2011/]


“I sincerely believe that Jacob Turner is the most likely pitcher in baseball to turn into the next Roy Halladay. Don’t confuse that statement with “I think he will be the next Roy Halladay.” No, he doesn’t have a good chance of that, really. But nobody does–to reach that level is a ludicrously optimistic outcome for even the best of prospects. But chances are someone in the current prospect group will end up as a Halladay sort of pitcher, and if I had to pick one guy to do that, it would be Turner.
But I really see a lot of similarities with Turner and Halladay. Turner is 6’5″ 215 and still filling out; Halladay is 6’6″ 230. Both have clean deliveries and traditional high arm slots.”

[Nathaniel Stoltz, S2S, Seedlings2Stars website; SEE complete analysis here: http://seedlingstostars.com/2012/03/18/panicked-about-jacob-turner-dont-be/]

Drew Smyly
Rank: #10 on MLB LHP list; 6′ 3″, Weight: 190; ETA: 2012; 22

“At the start of the 2011 season, lefty prospects in the Tigers’ system like Andy Oliver and Casey Crosby got more of the attention, but it was Smyly who outperformed both of them. In his first full season, Smyly made it to Double-A and led the system in ERA while finishing third in strikeouts, more than enough to earn him MLB.com’s nod for the organization’s Pitcher of the Year. Smyly fits the mold of a command and control college lefty with four pitches — fastball, cutter, curve and changeup — all usable offerings. If the breaking ball and offspeed stuff continue to improve, it shouldn’t be long before he’s ready to help out in Detroit.” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/]

Smyly is currently the #5 starter behind Porcello, and Turner is a future All-Star, who could easily become the Sox #1 rotation guy by 2013 and make Sox fans forget L’affair de Josh a’ Beckett.

If needed, the Sox could add a prospect to the deal.  With Santiago, Raburn and Worth on the depth chart, the Tigers could use a young prospect for Second base, like Oscar Tejada. Or, the Sox could put OF Brad Brentz into the deal.



Once Ben & The Braintruss complete our Six-Pack checklist, here is what you will have:

*  Salty batting against the RHP and Lavarnway batting against LHPs and also filling DH against RHP.

*  Jon Middlebrooks on 3b; a better defender than Yook and more power.

*  A settled, proven pen with Bard at closer, Melancon as his set-up guy, and Aceves as the 7th inning bridge from starters who make it through six innings.

A new rotation:

  1. Lester
  2. Floyd
  3. Turner
  4. Smyly
  5. Buchholz


Ben, get it done–now!


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Tags: Adam Dunn Alfredo Aceves Ben Cherington Blake Swihart Bobby Valentine Brad Brentz Daniel Bard Dayan Viciedo Drew Smyly Gavin Floyd Jacob Turner Jerrod Saltalamacchia Jonathan Middlebrooks Josh Beckett Kelly Shoppach Kenny Williams Kevin Youkilis Lars Anderson Lillibridge Mark Melancon Oscar Tejeda Paul Konerko Ryan Lavarnway UT

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