It took a cogent comment by a loyal reader to identify the exact location of the problem in the anatomy of the team: Jon Lester has fallen out of the team’s “Ace” hole.
Reader John Fahrer posted this comment in reaction to Sox Suck…Who’s to blame? Goat Hunting in Red Sox Nation • 5 hours ago
“The absence of a frontline starter has really hurt this team. At this stage of his career, Beckett is a 2 or 3. Lester looked to be emerging as a staff ace from 2008-2010, but for some reason is pitching in reverse.”
Exactly! As we noted in the post, the two heroes of the rotation are the #3 Buchholz [8-2] and the #4 Doubront [9-4], while the two goats are Lester, the former ace [5-6] and Beckett [4-7]. Or, to extend John’s concept, the rotation is “pitching in reverse.” [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/07/09/sox-suck-whos-to-blame-goat-hunting-in-red-sox-nation/#disqus_thread]
Mr. Fahrer also cogently raised the “Buyer or Seller” issue:
“…it might be time to think about playing the role of seller at the deadline [July 31st]. Maybe unload Beckett’s contract to free up salary space and deepen the farm. That way we can make offseason moves of a Hernandez trade AND a Cole Hamels signing.”
Assuming that GM Ben will not, in his first year in charge, let his bosses, the Fenway Brain Truss, run a white flag up the Pesky Pole, we are looking at the “Boston Buyers,” for now.
Before the team’s “Ace” hole was vacated, we suggested that the best fix for the Sox was a trade of prospects to the Houston “We Have a Problem” Astros for a reliable #3 slot starter: Wandy Rodriguez.
But, now that it is clear that the rotation is “pitching in reverse,” it is time for Ben to launch “Project Ace Hole.” It would be unrealistic to expect that Buchholz or Doubront climb all the way up into the team’s “Ace” hole; we should be grateful that they are competently filling the #3 and #4 slots in the rotation.
So, Ben, unless you are willing to become a “One and Done” Red Sox GM, the failed apprentice of Master Theo, start contemplating your “Ace” hole, get off your butt and make a trade for a true #1 starter to lead the rotation for the next decade.
Some names come to mind: Greinke, Hamels, and Garza; the latter is not ready and the other two, while willing and able, may not be the best fit for Boston’s “Ace” hole.
“Submitted for your approval…” “King Felix” Hernandez.
The Mariners, stuck in a lull in a Sargasso Sea, are about to send some seamen up their mast with their “bluepeter” in hand, to signal that they are selling. They may understand that keeping Hernandez, now during this next decade of ship re-modeling is not productive; it’s like having a beautiful figurehead on the bow of a Chinese junk.
The Mariners understand that it is time for a bit of “bottomry,” or “using the ship as collateral to finance a sea voyage”—they need to sell off “King Felix” to have any hope of anchoring at a Playoff berth before the gulls from the Gulf Coast and West Coast peck the crew’s eyeballs out, leaving the Ghost ship “Seattle” permanently adrift on the Selig Sea.
RF Ichiro Suzuki [Oh Great One: Sayanora!]
LF Casper Wells [Capital of Wyoming?]
3B Kyle Seager [Mark Loretta or Mike Fontenot type]
DH Jesus Montero [The Man in the Iron Glove]
CF Michael Saunders [borderline journeyman]
1B Justin Smoak [Where's the fire?]
C Miguel Olivo [journeyman vet]
2B Dustin Ackley [All-Star]
SS Brendan Ryan [borderline journeyman]
While any fantasy league manager knows that there are endless permutations for deals between teams, we recently ventured a guess about a Red Sox-Mariners trade for Felix Hernandez:
Ben, here is the deal you need to make:
FACT: Today, Hernandez is ranked the 10th best starter in MLB and the 4th best starter in the AL [http://rotoanalysis.com/2012/07/02/top100sp/]
The street says that King Felix would expect “Sabbathia money’ in his next contract; that would look like this:
Hernandez is signed through 2014:
If you acquired Hernandez and decided to extend him for a new 5-year contract, starting in 2015, he would be 29 at the start and 33 at the end; compare that to Sabbathia, who would be 34 in 2015.
If we take WAR values as a yardstick, Fernandez can make the case that he is worth “Sabbathia money.”
Sabbathia: 12 seasons: 2.441 career avg. Best season: 2009, 4.0.
Hernandez: 8 seasons: 3.575 career avg. Best season: 2010, 6.8.
BTW, Ben, you will be free of Captain Theo’s “Mopey Dick” [Lackey] contract [$15,250,000 million] after 2014; that would be a good start toward the $23 to $25 million that Hernandez would want in the first year of his Red Sox contract.
Now, Ben, to solve your “Ace” hole problem, take a good look at your package.
OK, Ben, yes, you are giving up SIX prospects, but you are getting an Ace Starter in his prime.
Lars Anderson [1B] Blocked by Gonzalez.
Brandon Jacobs [OF] Sox are knee deep in OF.
Kolbrin Vitek [3B] Blocked by Middlebrooks.
Jackie Bradley [OF] Sox are knee deep in OF.
Jose Iglesias [SS] Aviles, Deven Marerro, Xander Bogaerts
Blake Swihart [C] Salty, Lavarnway
The Sox retain their top five prospects: Bryce Brentz, Xander Bogaerts, Ryan Lavarnway, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and trade players who are blocked or in supply in the organization. [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/]
Trust me, Ben, everyone is noticing you gaping “Ace” hole and, if you don’t make a “wicked sm-aah-t” trade to fill it, you’ll be selling bait up in New Hampshire, or running a register in Filene’s basement, where you tried to buy pitchers all winter.
Tags: 1B 3b Ackley Adrian Gonzalez Alex Santana Alex Santana [3B] All-Star Anthony Ranaudo Basement Ben Cherington Bill Veeck Blake Swihart Bluepeter Borderline Boston Globe Boston.com Bottomry Brandon Jacobs Brendan Ryan Brent Lillibridge Bryce Brentz C C. C. Sabbathia C.C. Sabathia Capital Of Wyoming Casper Wells CF Michael Saunders Chicago Cubs Chris Carpenter Detroit Tigers DH Felix Doubront Felix Hernandez Filene's Garrett Gould GM Ichiro Suzuki Jackie Bradley Jacoby Ellsbury James Baldwin James Baldwin [OF] Jesus Montero Joc Pederson [OF] Joe Pederson John Fahrer Jose Iglesias Journeyman Justin Smoak King Felix Kolbrin Vitek Kolbrin Vitek. [3B] Kyle Seager Lars Anderson Lester LF Mark Loretta Miguel Olivo Mike Fontenot RF RF Ichiro Suzuki [Oh Great One: Sayanora!] LF Casper Wells [Capital Of Wyoming?] 3B Kyle Seager [Mark Loretta Or Mike Fontenot Type] DH Jesus Montero [The Man In The Iron Glove] CF Michael Saunders [b Sayanora! SS [Oh Great One