Exploring A Trade For Cory Luebke
By Conor Duffy
Not so long ago, it seemed that the Red Sox’ rotation was pretty much set. Daniel Bard would move from the bullpen to the rotation and a group of pitchers who had had success in the majors would battle it out for the fifth spot. However, a flood of rumors about Daniel Bard staying in the bullpen and various pitchers “out of the running” for a certain spot has left things very uncertain for the Red Sox. Some writers have proposed that the Red Sox sign Roy Oswalt, others say to trade for Gavin Floyd. I have a different idea, however. Instead of scrambling for an aging pitcher like Oswalt or a consistently mediocre pitcher like Floyd– I say they go for a guy who is becoming an ace– Cory Luebke of the Padres.
Luebke is 27 years old– just entering his prime– and won’t be cheap. He really broke out onto the scene last season working as a swingman for the Padres. He made 17 starts in 46 games and put up a 3.29 ERA and a 6-10 record. His peripheral stats show that he could be an excellent pitcher very soon– he had a remarkable 9.92 strikeouts per nine innings compared to only 2.84 walks per nine innings, making for a stellar 3.50 ratio. Those stats, specifically the 9.92 strikeouts, show that his success is not simply based on the pitcher friendly dimensions of PetCo Park. This spring he has been perfecting his switch to a full-time starter and has excelled in the role; so far he has put up a 1.93 ERA in 4 starts.
As I said before, Luebke won’t be cheap but I’ve compiled a package that may get him. First off is Ryan Sweeney— who is yet to play an official game with the Red Sox but has already seen his role diminish. Excellent springs by Cody Ross (.357/.419/.643) and Darnell McDonald (.500/.556/.958) have left Sweeney in the dark and he may be the fifth outfielder on the Red Sox’ depth chart by now. However, with Carlos Quentin injured, having an effective outfielder like Sweeney (who has gone .158/.150/.158 this spring) would help their lacking offense. Next is Lars Anderson, a non-prospect who the Red Sox don’t really need anymore. Anderson’s days as a top prospect are long gone, but he could still be an effective player at the major league level. Last year in Triple-A Pawtucket, he went .265/.369/.422 with 14 home runs and 78 RBIs. He’ll probably never be a star, but he has shown some flashes of power in spring training this year with a .407/.500/.630 slash line so far. Last but not least is young catcher Blake Swihart— a 1st round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2011. He is a rare catcher who possesses all five tools– including speed– and is just 18 years old.
If this package would land Luebke, I would easily make the deal. Sweeney’s shaky spring has landed him in the bottom of the heap among Red Sox outfielders but he could become a strong player on the Padres. With Adrian Gonzalez locked up for 7 years, the Red Sox really have no need for Lars Anderson, who plays first base exclusively. Blake Swihart would be the biggest loss in this deal but Ryan Lavarnway is slated to be the Red Sox’ catcher of the future. Plus, there are no indications that Swihart would stick behind the plate and the Red Sox are stacked with outfielders. Luebke, meanwhile, would stick delightfully at the bottom of the Red Sox’ rotation and I would love to see him there.