The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There’s something magical about this time of the season. The hype, the involvement of baseball’s top stars, looking at the best each club has to offer.

What? No, I’m not talking about the All-Star Game — I’m talking about the trading deadline! Now is crunch time, when baseball’s contenders will try to get that one arm or bat that pushes them over the hump and into October. Sometimes this works well for the contender — Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago in a deal that brings Dave Roberts and Orlando Cabrera. Sometimes for the prospect-seeker — Jeff Bagwell to Houston for Larry Andersen (although Andersen did help the Sox win the division in 1990). This year, there are 20 teams within six games of a first place somewhere in these two leagues. This leads many to believe that most teams will stay put because those 10 teams who are out of contention are mostly bereft of talent anyway.

Nevertheless, the idea of What Could Be at least stirs the imagination of this Red Sox fan, so here’s a look at the trade rumors involving the Sox that I could find on the Internet (keeping in mind I am not an ESPN Insider), followed by a little analysis on the likelihood/winners of each:

Bobby Abreu: FoxSports.com reported earlier this week that the Sox expressed "strong interest" in Abreu — probably not coincidentally as the New York Daily News has argued that the Yankees could, and should, swing a deal for the outfielder. No one is talking players yet (although some Over the Monster commenters say it would be Trot Nixon-plus), except that the Phillies have asked the Yanks for Phillip Hughes and might also be willing to tade Jon Leiber. The New York Post, in what looks more like wishful thinking than anything else, also mentions Tom Gordon.

The Sox really have no need for Abreu, except for two reasons — to up the asking price enough to keep the Yankees away from him or force them to give up too much (Cano and Hughes or some silliness), or to keep him away from the Yanks themselves. Also possible: Boston swinging Abreu for pitching, and the other half of the trade just hasn’t leaked out yet (El Guapo’s Ghost says Theo should trade Wily Mo Pena and prospects for John Smoltz). As for the Yanks, they need the outfield help, but they refuse to trade Hughes. The problem is they might not get outfield help without trading Hughes.

Ryan Klesko: Sean McAdam told WEEI listeners yesterday that the Red Sox are interested in trading Rudy Seanez to San Diego for the injured slugger. Same questions as before — while I love any option that rids Boston of Seanez, to what purpose do we need an aging slugger who could serve only as a backup first baseman — particularly when we have three healthy outfielders and a fourth on the way? (Klesko wouldn’t be available until Aug. 1 after offeason surgery) Isn’t that why they released J.T. Snow?

Ryan Shealy: MLB Trade Rumors, culling reports from newspapers, says the Red Sox are one of a number of teams interested in the Rockies’ AAA first baseman. In return, the Sox would send Colorado Abe Alvarez, who has struggled this year. Once again, the Sox don’t need bats, particularly considering the presence of Hee Sop Choi in the minor leagues. Many of these rumors simply don’t make sense. The Sox need more pitching, not additional backups in the outfield and at first base.

Tony Armas Jr.: This is an old rumor, in which the Nats asked the Sox for Michael Bowden and Jacoby Ellsbury for Armas (Sox said: "Screw that!"), who isn’t that great and will forever be better known for being Tony Armas’ son and the song for whom the Sox acquired Pedro Martinez.

Clearly, the names just aren’t there. There are plenty of starting pitchers that writers and bloggers alike think the Sox should go after (Willis, Zito, Schmidt) — but there are no indications the teams holding those starters have any desire to trade them. So we’re stuck with a bunch of rumors for hitters that make no sense, and a list of possible pitchers with no definite names attached to them. Thus far, it’s been quite uneventful — and disappointing. But, hey, Theo seems to have a knack for pulling off key and unpredictable trades.

Discuss any rumors you might have heard here.

39 comments… add one
  • Not to nitpick, but didn’t the Nomar deal technically net us Cabrera and Mientkiewicz? And we got Dave Roberts for Henri Stanley?

    Quo July 13, 2006, 1:29 am
  • Is there any pitching out there? Any at all? People? Pitching? Anything?

    LocklandSF July 13, 2006, 9:50 am
  • Maybe so, Quo. It was a three-way deal if I remember right, so I’m not clear which players came from which teams. It seemed that trade deadline was obscured by the shock of Nomar being traded and when the dust settled, here’s what we had.

    Paul SF July 13, 2006, 10:34 am
  • I’m waiting to see who makes the first desperate move, and I think it will be by a team unaccustomed to the deadline deal charade (NL, I’m looking in your direction). That, of course will drive the prices higher than they are already and nothing else significant will get done. Are you ready to dance with the girl(s) that you brought YF/SF’s?

    Nate July 13, 2006, 10:50 am
  • You have to think that the Sox’s “interest” is a ruse. While Abreu is very much a player that Theo and company like, his contract is ridiculously backloaded. This is the same front office that’s been trying to trade Manny for the last century because of his high salary. It seems unlikely they’d want to take on another $20 million contract.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 11:14 am
  • Bobby Abreau’s contract remaining is…
    06:$13M, 07:$15M,
    08:$16M club option ($2M buyout)
    The talks between Philly and Boston have been centered on Abreau for Nixon, the idea for Philly is to clear payroll then perhaps try to sign Nixon beyond this year at a much bigger discount then Abreau was gonna be.
    For Boston it could be a few things. They may want another full year of easing Pena into the OF or possibly getting him ready for 1B fuill time in 08 and moving Youk back to third when Lowells contract expires after the 07 season. Or they may be preparing another run at trading Manny, or perhaps even getting Abreau as a trading chip for a bigger deal involving a pitcher.

    TJ July 13, 2006, 11:36 am
  • TJ July 13, 2006, 12:01 pm
  • Gillick is pretty adamant about the Phils wanting pitching.
    http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/sports/15026656.htm
    However he also alludes to salary dumping as well. Hell, maybe the Yanks can trade some mid-tier pitching prospects, throw in Pavano while assuming a chunk of his contract, and unload Philly of Abreu’s. I really, really want the Yanks to get Abreu for the following reasons; 1) Inserting a guy into the line-up w/excellent plate discipline and a good ability to drive in runs will show immediate offensive dividends for the club. 2) The guy has a hose. I’ve grown tired of watching guys w/average speed go 1st to 3rd when a single is hit to Bernie in RF. Guys will not challenge Abreu’s arm unless their last name happens to be Crawford, Figgins, etc.
    3) Bowa and Abreu are close. The two had a good relationship when Bowa was the Skipper. Some of the talk out of Philly about Abreu half-assing some of the time will not be an issue w/Bowa around, plus the clubhouse in the Bronx is not like Philly; you half-ass it and a few old hats will let you know what’s up.

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 1:03 pm
  • “throw in Pavano while assuming a chunk of his contract”
    Uhh, with the way Pavano’s tenure in NY has gone, I’m pretty sure that no GM with a brain would accept him as a throw in, even if NY paid his entire salary. I’d say if the yankers want Abreu, it’s gonna cost ’em Hughes and most of Abreu’s contract. It’s painfully obvious how much Cashman wants him and Gillick would be a fool to not take full advantage.

    Mayday Malone July 13, 2006, 2:41 pm
  • Yeahh.. maybe the Pavano idea was stretching it. Hey Mayday, how’s those AA meetings going?

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 3:04 pm
  • MM, I think you might be underestimating the advantage that the Yanks (and the Sox to a lesser extent) have in the market place. Yes, the Yanks have few prospects that are attractive to clubs, but they still have the money to take HUGE contracts, such as Abreu’s, off teams’ hands. From all these media reports, you get the sense that the Phils, as they drop further out of contention, are desperate to shed salary, think that Abreu is in decline, and might very well be happy just getting rid of his entire salary. There’s a lot of value in just a plain salary dump. Otherwise, why would the Lakers have traded Shaq for so little? It happens enough in sports to make the possibility this time plausible. Then again, maybe the Phils aren’t desperate. Whatever the truth is, reportes like Buster Olney believe he can be had for less than Hughes.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 3:22 pm
  • If there is anything I have learned from the past 5 years of over-information from the internet, it’s that any rumors of trades, particularly the rumors involving specific names and who might change teams in a possible deal, are almost never right, and should be pretty much ignored. I put about as much stock in what Olney is reporting on what might get Abreu as I do in what Olney (or anyone reporting specific names/demands/desires) thinks will happen with NSA wiretapping: not much. That doesn’t meant that Abreu won’t move, but who he might be moved for is just about impossible to pinpoint.

    SF July 13, 2006, 3:27 pm
  • One can hope, right SF? That’s the fun around this time of the season; speculating, guessing, and making predictions. I do not put much stock in rumors either, but ignoring them seems downright boring, no?

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 3:38 pm
  • SF, you’re right and I probably shouldn’t have cited Olney or any reporter regarding the Abreu trade rumors. However, I stand by my larger point which is that it’s completely plausible, and not Yanks fans engaging in wishful thinking (well, maybe a little), that Abreu could be dealt for less than Hughes or Tabata. This optimism is probably unique to a Yanks fan because of the team’s priveleged place in the market (they’re rich, really rich and they have an owner who is unafraid of spending), but it’s valid.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 3:41 pm
  • I think we all know that at least 75 percent (probably closer to 85) of trade rumors this time of year turn out to be false. But so what? They’re fun! That’s the whole point — we can dream about what our teams will look like with x player on the club.
    That said, I do think a Philly salary dump to NY is pretty plausible — certainly more plausible than the Sox landing him for Nixon or spinning him for pitching (unless of course, the Sox really want Gordon and are willing to take Abreu with him). The prospect of the Yanks acquiring another declining outfielder is pretty exciting, but all the same, I’m hoping Abreu stays put or goes somewhere that’s not New York…

    Paul SF July 13, 2006, 3:51 pm
  • whe you say “another declining outfielder”, are you referring to Sheffield? I mean he technically was declining but he was pretty damn good these last two years and it wasn’t as if the injury was age-related.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 4:05 pm
  • I agree with your assessment of the Sox/Yanks situation in an open marketplace, Nick. However, by all accounts the Sox are “interested” in Abreu to the point that they have offered their starting RF and, from what I’ve gleaned, a substantial portion of Bobby’s contract. For that offer to, supposedly, be on the table, it is going to take a whole lot more on the yanker’s part than just picking up his salary to get Abreu (Phils out of contention or no). Also agreed is that big stein has $$$ and isn’t afraid to spend it. This isn’t 1002-2004 anymore though. The days of the MFY swallowing up contracts just because they can are over. I think we’ll see teams (like the Phhils) start to take advantage of the yanks grossly enormous payroll and their inability to just pile on more $ (e.g. trading prospects for players, just like th e rest of the league.
    I quit the AA meetings, BY78- they were interfering with my comeback attempt.

    Mayday Malone July 13, 2006, 4:10 pm
  • MM, Sheff’s and Mussina’s salaries are coming off the books next year while Giambi’s, A-Rod’s and Jeter’s get a little more expensive. So, there’s some money to divert to Abreu, which probably makes it less likely that the Yanks get someone like Zito. In this case, it’s not exactly swallowing a salary, it’s reprioritizing how they spend their money.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 4:17 pm
  • i wonder if anyone has approached the phillies regarding the availability of myers? just a thought.

    sf rod July 13, 2006, 4:42 pm
  • Myers would never be allowed to play on a Joe Torre-run team. I’d be shocked considering his fight against domestic abuse.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 4:45 pm
  • Yeah, it is fun, no doubt. But I can’t see attributing any degree of substance to the idea that the Sox have definitely offered Nixon to the Phils for Abreu (or any other speculative deal, substitute any team/player in for Nixon/Abreu). I mean, I am just completely skeptical that anyone in the Sox’ FO or the Phils’ FO is leaking specific information about the deal, other than to induce movement by another team (if they are even willing to do that at the expense of a relationship with a potential trade partner). If it’s been reported that Nixon has been offered for Abreu, then we can be almost positive that that deal will never happen. I could be wrong, of course, but I feel comfortable in my statement based on the track record of “reported offers” turning into “done deals” in the past.

    SF July 13, 2006, 4:49 pm
  • Myers would never be allowed to play on a Joe Torre-run team.
    Maybe not wife-beaters, but certainly drug users. If only Myers had done six lines of blow off a stripper, he’d be ok in pinstripes. D’oh!

    SF July 13, 2006, 4:51 pm
  • correction, SF: six lines of steroids off a stripper.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 4:52 pm
  • Cashman would be crazy to let Mussina go next year after the season he’s having so far (jinxjinxjinx). I picture him re-upping, albeit at significantly less than the $19 mil he’s making this year. Say they do let Sheffield go, and replace him with Abreu. Would you rather have Sheffield for two more years at $7-8 mil/ per, or Abreu for two more at $31 mil? They re-sign Moose and replace Gary with Bobby, there isn’t any salary coming off the books. Rather, Abreu’s $, combined with the increase in Jeter, Slappy, and HGHiambi’s salary would add to the staggering $200 mil georgie’s already floating.

    Mayday Malone July 13, 2006, 4:55 pm
  • Lookout! The Yanks just signed Sydney Ponson. Ha! This experiment won’t end well, I guarantee you that.

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 4:57 pm
  • I probably will post about this after my lunch but word on the street that the Yanks signed Ponson.
    That is Hilarious! The Bronx is about to a bit more fun!
    MM, good points, but I think you’re wrong to think that Sheff would have signed for less than $11 million.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 4:57 pm
  • Could a trade for Jose Lima be far behind?

    yankeemonkey July 13, 2006, 4:57 pm
  • I hope the Yanks don’t leave any accessible booze in the clubhouse.

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 4:58 pm
  • “Ponson, 4-4 with a 5.24 ERA in 14 appearances with St. Louis this season”
    That dosen’t translate well to the AL…

    Mayday Malone July 13, 2006, 5:09 pm
  • Here’s a question:
    How many “everyday” players has Theo traded in the run-up to the deadline, in order to beef up the Sox’ roster for the stretch run? In 2003 he moved Freddy Sanchez to the Pirates, though Sanchez was still a highly touted minor leaguer. In 2004 there’s the famous Nomar deal, but at that point Nomar was damaged goods in Boston and not 100% himself, physically. In 2005 he made no deals of note with regulars. So what makes this year a likely change from a philosophical standpoint? Have the Sox been interested in dumping their soon-to-be free agents for locked-in players? Seems like they’ve done just the opposite, almost always. Would logic dictate that Theo would move Nixon, who is playing superbly right now as part of a well-meshed team?
    I am not saying that this would never occur, but what is the absolute upside to a deal like this, where the Sox take on extra payroll, give the Phillies a guy who is in a walk-year (compensatory draft picks notwithstanding). I don’t see how this, in the end, makes the Sox a notably better team this year than they are now, or a more flexible team later. Substitute Abreu for Nixon over the first half, adjust for home park, defense, and how many games better are the Sox in the second half? Adjusting for regressions to means with Nixon and Abreu’s jump to the AL, how much better a team does this make the Sox in the second half? I am guessing not enough to make the deal worth it in the terms the Sox have established organizationally. Would I make the deal? Probably, particularly from a “rotisserie” point of view, since I think Abreu is a heck of a player and I’d love to know that he’s the right fielder for my team for a few years. But that doesn’t make it a logical deal for the Sox from an organizational, player development standpoint. They have known production from Nixon, an AL player, so that’s worth something, I would think. They have WMP (probably a pretty darn good bargaining chip, too, who hasn’t contributed much in 8 weeks). They have the draft picks if Nixon doesn’t re-sign or accept arbitration. Theo has always talked about roster flexibility combined with youth combined with signing the right guys; a Nixon-Abreu deal wouldn’t satisfy the litmus test Epstein has set for himself and the organization.
    Basically I just ask a simple logical question (which is “has the team exhibited any tendency to do deals like this?”) in the interest of showing why I think we can dismiss rumors like this one as disinformation.

    SF July 13, 2006, 5:12 pm
  • See, Nick: only COP-beaters, just not WIFE-beaters. I think we can dismiss the idea that there is a special plane of morality that the Yankees reside on. They aren’t any more discriminating than any other team in MLB. No pedestals, guys.

    SF July 13, 2006, 5:14 pm
  • Well said, SF. Also, I don’t buy the “they’d do it just to keep him away from Yankees” theory. That’s an awfully big chunk of salary to take on just for that. Disinformation to drive the price up seems a likely strategy. That said, I hope it doesn’t work!

    yankeemonkey July 13, 2006, 5:17 pm
  • The guy gives up homers, he hands out walks like it’s cool, and his K rates are for shit. I don’t get it. Maybe Cash knows something I don’t. Why not f’ing call up Ramiro Mendoza before you sign Ponson?!

    bloodyank78 July 13, 2006, 5:17 pm
  • Maybe they’re planning to use him, Pavano, and a bag of magic beans to make a trade for Santana?

    yankeemonkey July 13, 2006, 5:23 pm
  • I agree, SF, the trade makes no sense to me either, but it is the only one multiple people are hearing stuff about — which does indeed make it fishy and more likely a campaign to drive up the asking price for the Yanks. Something tells me if the Sox can force the Yankees to give up more prospects/money for Abreu than they would have, it probably far outweighs whatever moves NY made to try to up the ante in the Mirabelli trade…
    Likewise, I wouldn’t give up the draft picks Nixon would bring us just to have Abreu here. He doesn’t represent an improvement over Trot now, or an improvement over Pena later (both are poor defensively), and then you have Ellsbury and others on the way…

    Paul SF July 13, 2006, 6:06 pm
  • Incidentally, the “huge trade” that would be “bigger than A-Rod” that was bandied about on the Web and by Buster Olney? Ehhhhhh, not so big:
    Reds get: Relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, shortstop Royce Clayton, infielder Brendan Harris and pitching prospect Daryl Thompson.
    Nationals get: Right fielder Austin Kearns, releiver Ryan Wagner and shortstop Felipe Lopez.
    I don’t know as much about these guys, being an NL-only trade, but giving up Lopez for Clayton strikes me as horrible. Not sure how good Majewski and Bray are — they appear to be the main reason Cincy made the deal…

    Paul SF July 13, 2006, 6:24 pm
  • SF, I wasn’t suggesting that the Yanks were somehow more moral than other teams. On this issue, however, I think Torre, who has a quite a bit of power in the personnel-decision making process, would veto a Myers trade. His charitable organization is devoted to helping children who have been victims of child abuse.

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 6:33 pm
  • “He doesn’t represent an improvement over Trot now, or an improvement over Pena later (both are poor defensively),”
    Trot’s playing well now, but really, who’s more likely to be better in the 2nd half of the season and 2007 and beyond? Abreu is better than Trot and WMP, that’s not even up for debate, right?

    Nick-YF July 13, 2006, 6:35 pm
  • Abreu over the full season represented between the 05-06 All-Star breaks hasn’t been better than Trot this season or better than WMP projects to be… I think. UII could be wrong, but he’s not been the same hitter since ASG 05.

    Paul SF July 13, 2006, 6:49 pm

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