The Buchholz Effect


Over the past few weeks, the trade market has changed sharply for the Boston Red Sox. Their focus appeared to be on an outfielder a few weeks ago, with Carlos Beltran at the top of everyone’s radar, but Josh Reddick made Theo Epstein shy away from a deal and rethink his approach. Many sports writers tagged the Red Sox backing out of the Beltran sweepstakes as The Reddick Effect (or something similar), because Reddick’s impressive play allowed the Red Sox to not pay for a rental player to fill a hole. Now the focus for the Red Sox has shifted to pitching and is becoming more urgent thanks to concerning news about Clay Buchholz’s injury. The trade market for the Red Sox has shifted from The Reddick Effect to The Buchholz Effect.

For the better part of 2 weeks, it appeared Theo and Tito were cautiously optimistic about the return of Clay Buchholz. With each passing day, the news becomes more vague and concerning, potentially pushing Theo to stretch a little more aggressively for pitching depth before Sunday’s trade deadline. Thursday’s rumors surrounded the oft-injured Seattle Mariners’ pitcher, Erik Bedard. Once considered one of the most promising pitchers in the game, Bedard has been plagued with a nagging injury bug that just keeps hanging around. The deal seems to fit into Theo’s strategy of low risk, high potential reward, but Bedard missed all of 2010 and hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since June 27th of this year. He holds a 4-6 record with a 3.00 ERA in 2011, which given the awful lineup for the Mariners, isn’t bad at all.

The other options are Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda and Colorado Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Kuroda has reportedly said he will waive his no-trade clause for Boston or New York, but there is concern about how his stuff will translate in the AL East. He is 6-13 with a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts with the Dodgers this season and has a career 3.50 ERA in 4 seasons. The least likely option is Jimenez because of the high price-tag. Reportedly the Rockies are asking for 3 top prospects, which will not sit well with Theo. If the price dips at all, Jimenez could be a real nice fit in Boston.

The options have always been there, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of an aggressive approach with the growing concern around Buchholz. He has forced the hand of Theo to make a move, because this team is certainly capable of making waves in the post season with a bulked-up rotation. We all know the offense can hold their own, but pitching wins championships.

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