Originally written on The Garbage Time  |  Last updated 7/3/14
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport Just as the header here says, I believe there are several contenders who should or need to be on the phone with Ben Cherington and the Boston Red Sox about pitching help.  Of course the issue right now is that the Red Sox brass will drag their feet with a “wait and see” approach as they are “only” 6 games out. And, sure, they have a chance in a division in which no one seems to want ownership.  But doing so when they are 24th in the league of 30 and can only muster 3.79 runs per/game (3.3 runs last 3 games)? You are in a world of trouble this year and might cling to the dream of a wild card. Exacerbating the issue for me and many fans is watching them through 6 innings tonight possibly on their way to being no-hit by the Chicago Cubs. Especially when depending on whom you listen to say that the Red Sox have the 2nd or 5th deepest farm system in the majors? All that talent is almost solely in the area of pitching;  impressive with more than one pitcher leading the entire minor league at all levels in statistical categories. With all due respect to Mookie Betts and anyone else on the verge of being called up, they simply don’t have options to bring along now or next year who will have a high ceiling to produce offensive. I am going to start with the Red Sox best Starting pitching “chip” in John Lester. I must agree with a local talk show talent, Kirk Minihane, who tweeted today amazement that the discussion of trading Lester is even an issue given his age and the record of signing pitchers over 30 to long-term contracts. Although I personally think Lester “falls in love” to frequently with throwing his split-finger fastball in on right-handed hitters when up and the count and statistically gets “burned” on that pitch when he gets it above the knees, more than others, he is a “horse” and I’d put him up against the much ballyhooed David Price. I’d even say this year he is a bit better and more valuable. Why? Like Price he is left-handed, let’s start there. If we go further? They have a comparable number of overall wins the past three seasons. And both have respectable ERA’s with Lester at 2.92 and Price at 3.63. For Price too the lack of run support has been a detriment, and his team, too, averages just 3.79 runs a game. As for this year?  Lester has a batting average against of .248 and Price of .250.  Comparing another significant category –WHIP? Lester this year is at 1.18 and Price at 1.09. If we use sabermetric comparisons, DIPS (A pitcher’s estimated ERA, independent of the defense behind him) has Lester at 2.96. Price at 2.98. And another curious albeit it not entirely telling statistic is the ERC (A pitcher’s ERA based on the hits and walks he allowed, rather than actual runs).Here Lester currently sits at 3.06 with Price being at 3.16. Overall and why I’d challenge teams to come at the Red Sox with offers to get Lester as they will have to for Price? They are very comparable with maybe one notable exception. Lester’s post-season record is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has flat-out produced at a significant time of the year and one season removed from a Championship and his performances there is as far as prospective buyers should need look. Price on the other hand? A post-season mark of 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA and WHIP of 1.31. So where would be the best “landing place” should the Red Sox decide to deal Lester? My first and immediate thought are with the San Francisco Giants. Their starting pitching has as a group underperformed and Lester would be an anchor. With their current 3-7 streak and losing the sole possession of the lead in the NL West, they should be the most aggressive. Not a deep farm system, the Giants would need to be creative and if I were the Red Sox, discussions initially would need to include a prospect such as 1b/3b prospect Adam Duvall. With the solid experience starting staff that will oppose them in the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants must do something to improve in this area. The Giants make sense as a trading partner if they can bring something substantive to offer for closer Koji Uehara (who I previously advocated trading to a few teams for substantive value). The Giants have moved away from their closer Sergio Romo who was unable to consistently perform and few have been better in that role then Uehara. Again these needs have become more apparent for the Giants and Boston has the talent at the major league level and thee depth in their farm system if in pitching alone. John Lackey as a starter too. While my focus is one Lester, the Red Sox have the flexibility of consider moving Lackey and probably would like to move a seasoned veteran in Jake Peavey who is second to last in the league in run support this year and who’s record should not be considered in that evaluation There are other contenders who need to be calling on the Red Sox as the trade deadline will approach. And if realistic and wise, the Red Sox will see the need to make moves now for the future instead of getting into protracted off-season discussions and lose the likes of Lester and Lackey and even Peavy for relatively nothing. Detroit Tigers are desperate for a closer. And the Kansas City Royals, sitting only 3 games out of first behind James Shields and JasonVargas, could stand to add a quality starter and although not a lot of depth in their farm system would be wise to be creative in approaching the Red Sox if they believe they can compete this year. The Los Angeles Angels would benefit greatly from acquiring Uehara over current closer Jason Grilli. And although nowhere as desperate The Washington Nationals at ½ a game out of first place would also make  relatively smart and maybe  tremendous step forward acquiring either Lester or Lackey to go along with Stephen Strausberg and Doug Fister. Even though Lester has said he doesn’t want to discuss his contract now but would have no hard feelings if he were to be traded, the Red Sox see a trade now as giving in. I only ask what is worse, carrying on in marginal obscurity with no practical chance of doing anything this year? Or being open to improving yourself and building on that talent that is so vaunted? I think along with most realistic and practical Red Sox fans we understand the time to cut ties and build a future is now. And there are plenty of viable options to explore. We will be more upset if you do nothing. The post Contenders Should Call the Red Sox For Trades appeared first on The Sideline.
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