Posted 07/23/2009 at 02:52 AM
Theo Epstein was the busiest man in baseball on Wednesday. The Red Sox GM engineered a pair of interleague deals that saw Adam LaRoche and Chris Duncan leaving Pittsburgh and St. Louis, respectively. The Red Sox gave up a couple of minor leaguers for LaRoche and sent Julio Lugo to the Cardinals to complete the two deals.
If the Red Sox do nothing else from this point, theyíll at least have gotten themselves some insurance for Mike Lowell, who just canít play 3B on an everyday basis anymore. LaRoche would play 1B on the days Lowell canít make it, with Kevin Youkilis sliding over to the hot corner. Thatís if LaRoche remains with the Red Sox. Iím wondering if he will and hereís why I feel he could be packing his bags again shortly.
The most pressing need for the Red Sox right now is for a leadoff hitter and an everyday shortstop. Boston has had a problem all season with the #1 spot in the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury seems to be a better fit down toward the bottom of the order right now. Jed Lowrie is finally back healthy and Nick Green has done a very nice job filling in at SS, but I donít think thereís any question that this is the weakest link in the lineup.
There is virtually zero question in my mind that Epstein is going to make at least one more deal, and perhaps more, and I firmly believe his wish list includes a shortstop who can fill the void at the top of the order. And thatís why I have a funny feeling a former Red Sox hero could be on his way back to Boston before too long.
Orlando Cabrera had a brief stay in Boston, but it was certainly memorable. Cabrera came over to the Red Sox in the huge four-team deal that involved Nomar Garciaparra. The trade was not at all well received in Boston when it took place, and Cabrera got off to a poor start with the Red Sox. He didnít hit much and cost them a game with a defensive blunder. But OCab got hot shortly thereafter and ended up being a huge piece of the puzzle as the Red Sox finally ended 86 years of frustration and won the World Series.
Theo Epstein hasnít made many mistakes as the Red Sox GM. But letting Cabrera get away following 2004 and instead spending big bucks on Edgar Renteria was clearly not his best move. Hereís his chance to bring back a Boston fan favorite and help solve the teamís most pressing current problem in the process.
Iím pretty sure Cabrera is available, simply because Iím pretty sure every veteran on the Oakland squad is available. LaRoche would be a decent fit for the Aís. Heís a free agent after the season, so the Aís could simply let him leave town or they could sign up for what would likely be a one-year contract at close to what heís making now. LaRoche will not be fielding a ton of offers this winter. We saw what the marketplace was like this past winter and I fully expect more of the same this winter. So the likelihood is that the Aís might be one of the few options that would be available to LaRoche, as heís nothing more than a mid-tier 1B. He even fits in Oakland right now with Daric Barton playing 1B in place of the injured and totally non-productive Jason Giambi.
As for the corner IF situation in Boston, my thoughts are that Duncan can be the extra 1B guy just as easily as LaRoche. In fact, while LaRoche is the better player, one might also argue that Duncan would be far more accepting of a bench role than LaRoche, who might not be happy about starting only a couple of games each week.
Cabrera is a perfect fit for the Red Sox. He may not have the range he used to, but heís still a good SS. Heís also just right for the leadoff spot. Cabreraís walk rate has been down this season, but heíd likely be more selective hitting in a better lineup. Meanwhile, OCab has been absolutely raking the ball the last month or so. Heís hit safely in 28 of his last 30 games, going 46/126 in that stretch. Given the state of the Boston attack right now, theyíd love to get that injection of offense into the lineup.
I have no idea whether this is what Epstein has in mind, but itís a swap that would hardly qualify as far fetched, and with the Red Sox clearly not done dealing just yet, it may be something thatís a possibility.
Scott Kazmir finally had a good game last start, but there were still indicators that the Rays southpaw is not yet right. Kazmir will have to show me more before I can feel comfortable with him. Mark Buehrle continues to be a win machine at home for the White Sox and with the price where it is, the home team looks like the play here.