AL East Standing: 1st
Weekly Record: 4-4
Current Record: 58-39
(Every Sunday I will attempt to give some brief thoughts on the past week for the Boston Red Sox. It will be filled with hopes, frustrations, exhilaration, pain, and puns. Lots of puns.)
Thorny Patch: The Red Sox made their first big move of the summer, trading away OF prospect Brandon Jacobs for veteran lefty reliever Matt Thornton of the Chicago White Sox. The 36-year-old Thornton had a rough first day in a Sox uniform, taking the extra-innings loss to the Athletics giving up the winning run in 2/3 of an inning, with one hit and a decidedly-not-pretty two walks. It’s hard to give a fair evaluation of the trade (Jacobs has been up and down his entire minor league career), but it needs to be said that Thornton is pretty much just a band aid at this point, neither a potential closer nor an equal replacement to the hard-throwing Andrew Miller. But he should be a relatively useful specialty reliever down the stretch.
Thornton’s loss capped a rough 7-game stretch out west for the Sox. They managed to take 3 out of 4 against the lowly Seattle Mariners, but the one loss was a doozy, Lester getting knocked around in his matchup against King Felix Hernandez. Allen Webster also put up a rough performance in an 11-8 win (2.1 innings, 7 ER), saved only by a flurry of Sox home runs. Good news, however, came in the form of two sterling efforts by the suddenly resurgent Felix Doubront (7 IP, 1 ER, 6K) and John Lackey (7 IP, 2 ER, 5K). And most delightful: Brandon Workman’s start in which he went six innings without a hit, threatening to throw a no-no one day after San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, flashing a nice fastball and a wonderfully sharp curveball that froze most of the Athletics’ lefty bats.
Speaking of Lincecum….
Targeting the Freak?: Alright go with me here. This isn’t exactly a heavily rumored trade (though there was a little bit of talk early last year), and you’d think after his no-hitter Lincecum would be in little danger of being traded. But a Tiny-Tim-to-the-Sox trade makes some weird sense. Observe:
Why The Giants Would Do It: Because they’re sitting at 43-51, 4th in the NL West, looking up at Arizona, Los Angeles, and Colorado. Because Tim Lincecum will be a free agent at the end of this year. Because maybe this is the time to sell high.
I would understand that Giants’ brass (as well as their fans) would do everything in their power to keep the World Series winning team together. But with a now-depleted farm system, and an uphill battle back to a playoff spot, if there was any situation to wheel-and-deal Tim Lincecum or Hunter Pence, this would be it. Luckily the Red Sox do have a strong farm, and could be willing to give up a prospect or two for the diminutive pitcher. We will certainly see soon how the Giants feel about their chances this year, but I wouldn’t be very surprised to see them be sellers at the deadline.
Why the Red Sox Would Do It: Well this is a lot more obvious. Even without his no-hitter this past weekend, Tim Lincecum is a tantalizing option. Yes, his last two years (and a bit) in San Francisco have been incredibly shaky, but the past few starts The Former Freak has started to turn himself around. The Sox have a deep farm system and probably wouldn’t have to turn in any of the major prospects (De La Rosa, Bogaerts, JBJ).
The worst case scenario is Lincecum takes his shaky command to the Red Sox bullpen, eating up some middle innings and filling in some spot starts down the stretch. This last need is crucial: the Sox have had a strong rotation when healthy, but that’s been a rarity so far this season. The upside, of course, is that Lincecum, bolstered by this change of scenery, reclaims his magic and becomes one of the better No. 4 starters in the American League.
Best of all? Teammates love Lincecum. You could see it in their reactions after the no-hitter. Even when he’s struggled he’s been major part of that clubhouse, with a great sense of humor and a personality that matches his crazy delivery. He’s also humble and manageable, not blinking an eye when the Giants asked him to be a reliever in the 2012 playoffs. Red Sox fans would be quick to adopt him as one of their own. While the Boston media can be relentless on incoming players, Lincecum would come in with low expectations and lot less demanded from him.
Is this all just blind speculation? Of course. But it makes sense!
(If you’ve got more knowledge of the Giants system than I do, and can figure out a possible package for the Freak, please leave it below! If you want to tell me I’m an idiot that’s cool too! I welcome your anger!)
One-Down: Goodbyes to Ace
I’m really proud of my restraint so far this article, as I’ve been calling for Alfredo Aceves to be moved out of Boston in a Hannibal Lecter mask, but even I was shocked at how this all went down. Reports emerged that Aceves had been outrighted, meaning that he had been waived and no team put in a claim for him. Even at his worst, Aceves was still a reliever who’ll give you an ERA around 4 and put in a spot start or two, a value set that you think at least one team would take a flier on. But this has to speak to how disruptive a force Aceves has been in the clubhouse, and how scared teams are of his time in New York and Boston. I do wish Ace well. I think that this will humble him a bit, and that it won’t be the last time we see him. Just hopefully not in a Red Sox uniform.
One-Up: Brandon Workman
I didn’t do him enough justice above. The 24-year old Texan had a less-than-welcoming introduction to Sox fans, giving up 3 ER in 2 innings. But his starting debut was a thing to behold. Prior to Coco Crisp’s run-out single in the 7th, Workman looked fantastic. Surprising for a rookie making his first start, Workman challenged Athletics hitters, and was certainly more pitcher than thrower. (Did I mention that curveball? Watch that thing move.) The Red Sox will probably move with caution on Workman, and there’s no need for him to be a regular starter come playoff time. But here’s hoping we get one or more good looks at him before he returns to the minors.
One-Up: Koji Uehara
Don’t look now (I am knocking on all of the wood in sight) but Koji is starting to really take to this closer thing. He hasn’t given up an earned run in July, and has only walked one batter this month. Koji has had three saves since the Red Sox’ 9-7 loss to the Angels, and is once again flashing that superb command along with his joyous demeanor. While he struggled a bit out of the gate, Uehara has a 0.79 ERA in 11 appearances as closer, with 8 saves overall. While there are concerns of tiring his arm out, he may be able to hold onto the role, preventing the Red Sox from needlessly acquiring another closer. This is certainly something to monitor in upcoming weeks.
One-Down: Clay Buchholz
I thought long and hard about putting Jon Lester here, but the truth is that he had a halfway decent performance his last time on the mound. The real issue is the lack of Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox ace has been MIA since June 8th, after his toddler brutally and viciously mangled his pitching arm (or something like that). While the team has somehow managed to keep on without him, they desperately need Buchholz if they hope to move forward in the playoffs. John Lackey and Felix Doubront are most definitely performing far above expectations, and it’s unfair to rely on Allen Webster to be a routine starter this season. At this point, Buchholz will be out past the trade deadline, but if he doesn’t come back soon thereafter, the Red Sox might be in deep trouble.
Coming Soon: Another Weekly. But I’m planning on writing 3,000 to 4,000 words only on Kelly Olynyk. So look for that.