Red Sox: What if Boston never traded for Dave Roberts?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 23: Dave Roberts
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 23: Dave Roberts /

The Boston Red Sox in 2004 traded for Dave Roberts at the deadline – was it move worth it?

I don’t think any Boston Red Sox fan could have ever imagined how the 2004 season was going to go. All this less than a year after Tim Wakefield gave up a solo home run to third baseman Aaron Boone in the bottom of the 11th inning to lose the 7th game of the ALCS in 2003.

The Sox looked broken but their resilience would persevere. Boone looked to be the future third baseman for the Yankees after that year. The Sox were expecting to get the best player in baseball on their team after 2003.

As it turned out, Major League Baseball barred the trade that would have allowed Alex Rodriguez to come to Boston. What happened after was one of the most memorable seasons in Sox history. Everything that could have gone wrong and right did. It started with acquisitions and ended with them as well.

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The Red Sox started the season off with question marks at multiple positions and had just strengthened the rotation by adding star pitcher Curt Schilling. Schilling was a part of one of the best one – two punches in all of baseball. Joining the ranks of left handed flame thrower Randy Johnson, Arizona was a powerhouse in the pitching department.

After the boys from Beantown got cheated out of getting A-Rod, the Yankees ended up with him. Things were already trending downwards for Red Sox management.

2004 Season Trades

It also looked as if fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra wasn’t going to stay long term after not agreeing to terms on a new contract. He wasn’t happy and for obvious reasons. It couldn’t have made him feel good knowing your team was trading for a younger, better, stronger shortstop. Garciaparra’s career had been hindered by injuries and at the 2004 trade deadline, Garciaparra was dealt to the Chicago Cubs in a four-team deal.

This move was one of the most memorable moves made by Theo Epstein. It was this move and the 2004 season that transformed the young GM into one of the most well known at his position in the game. The Nomar trade brought over Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins and Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos. The other big trade that happened that day was getting Dave Roberts from the Dodgers for almost nothing.

The Red Sox sent over Henri Stanley, who never materialized into anything. What they got from that trade was a moment that changed history. Roberts stole the most important base in his entire career giving the Sox life in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. It looked like it was over and just like that, there was a chance once again.

In ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary “Four Days In October,” former Red Sox manager Terry Francona revealed the conversation he had with Roberts leading up to this iconic moment.

"“You try to set up the inning in advance. If this happens, this is what we’re going to do. I was down in the tunnel with Dave Roberts and I said, (Kevin) Millar is gonna get on and you’re gonna steal.”"

The Steal

There was no bigger moment in the game and arguably the series than that stolen base and eventual game tying run. How sweet could that moment have been? Just a year ago, the Yankees were celebrating their ALCS victory and were headed to yet another World Series.

After that steal, the Red Sox just got a taste of the sweetness that is the ALCS glory. David Ortiz in the bottom of the 12th inning went on to send them to Game 5 when he hit a two-run homer off Paul Quantrill.

Was the Roberts deal worth it? Simply put, absolutely! The Red Sox get to Game 5 because of that one play. How many games did Stanley ever play in the bigs? Zero. The Sox got to the World Series trading someone who did nothing for someone who will always be remembered for pinch running and getting the most clutch steal in franchise history.

Next: Red Sox: What if Roger Clemens never left in free agency?

After 86 years and the so called curse, Roberts, Schilling, and the rest of the 2004 World Series winning squad put that conversation to rest. Finally, the Red Sox were Champions once again.

Stay tuned for the next “What If” article coming out in two weeks.