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July 31, 2013
Sox Gamble on Peavy, Fold on Iglesias
By Alex Smolokoff

Let’s start with what the Red Sox got before we get to what they gave up. Jake Peavy is no longer an ace; he hasn’t been in some time. He is a 32-year-old, oft-injured starter who likely will be plugged into the fourth or fifth spot in the Sox rotation. Peavy’s injury history is daunting; he has spent time on the disabled list for shoulder, ankle, rib, and elbow injuries over the last several seasons. Since his Cy-Young-Award-winning 2007 season, Peavy is 52-46 with an ERA of 3.75. His numbers in the American League, where he has played with Chicago since the middle of 2009, skew a bit higher than that. He has reached 200 innings pitched only once in that time - last season - while battling the injuries mentioned above. In short, the Red Sox are not getting the Peavy that won the Cy Young with San Diego six seasons ago.

What the team is getting is a solid fourth or fifth starter that will shore up the rotation while Boston waits for Clay Buchholz to return from the neck/shoulder injury that has sidelined him for nearly two months. By all accounts, the team is also getting an intensely hard worker who wants nothing more than to compete for a championship for the first time in his career. Peavy throws hard, throws strikes, and has the experience one looks for in a late-season addition to the pitching staff. Should the Sox make the playoffs, they could be looking at a rotation of Buchholz-Lester-Lackey-Peavy/Doubront that can compete with anybody. Peavy may not single-handily win a World Series for Boston, but he could certainly win some key games along the way. Pitching for a legitimate World Series contender for the first time in his career, I believe Peavy will surpass expectations, and play a key role in the Red Sox pennant chase.

In looking at what the Red Sox gave up, some perspective is necessary. Jose Iglesias is easily one of the best-fielding infielders in Major League Baseball. He may honestly be the best-fielding shortstop the Red Sox have ever had. Upon being called up to the Majors, Iglesias also was hitting far more than anyone expected, but sometimes batting average can lie. Without boring you with crazy sabermetrics, Iglesias’ batting average was inflated by a lucky streak like few players have ever experienced. For his first two months, nearly half of the balls he put in play were hits, while the MLB average is in the 30% range. Simply put, he could never maintain that average, as we began to see over the last month. Iglesias was always destined to be a light-hitting, Gold-Glove-caliber shortstop. Can that be helpful for a team? Absolutely. Is it irreplaceable? No, it isn’t.

More important than what the Sox gave up is what the team did not give up; namely, its top prospects. The team managed to get the piece it needed while keeping minor-leaguers Jackie Bradley, Jr., Will Middlebrooks, and Xander Bogaerts. The first two have both seen action in the big leagues this season, while Bogaerts - the 20-year-old power hitting shortstop - has soared through the minors and may see Major League action this season. In keeping these guys, the Sox already have a replacement for Iglesias, whether its Middlebrooks, Bogaerts, or a combination of both. Bradley, Jr., who has seen mixed success this season with the big league club, could also provide a pivotal spark during a playoff run. Keeping these players while getting the guy it wanted was imperative for Boston, and doing so was the best-case scenario for the team.

I wouldn’t call this a blockbuster trade, per se, but it is one that will help the Red Sox now and in the future. Adding a capable starter in a division with the white-hot Rays and pesky Orioles will allow the Sox to compete for a division title and beyond. Best-case scenario, Peavy finds his 2011 (or, by some miracle, his 2007) form and gives the Sox a good chance to win every fifth day. Worst-case scenario, the Red Sox have put their stock in Bogaerts as the shortstop of the future instead of Iglesias, which I’m more than okay with, in return for an injured or ineffective fourth starter. Either way, the Sox have made a bold statement with the trade; they are competing for a World Series this season, without giving up the top prospects that will allow them to continue to compete for years to come. If that’s not the perfect trade, I don’t know what is.    



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