Some may refer to me as an eternally optimistic Red Sox fan. Last year changed me. It restored my faith. Something I haven't had very much of at all these days. It made me appreciate each game on it's own and love the rare breed of fan that still exists. The people who high five you when you're hawking programs, trying to convince them that this team is still worth supporting. The people who stay the extra innings, even if their team has a losing record. Business and morale is better for everyone when the home town team is doing well. But I don't lie to people when I sell programs. I genuinely still care and believe in this team, despite how far back they are. Going to the park each day, still gets me excited. My voice is destroyed after this weekend, but I still had fun doing it, made a few bucks, and I honestly think this team can come back and make things interesting.
I'm positive that a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but that's half the fun of predicting trades and trying to figure out the intangibles that make things work. When you're a kid growing up and managing franchises in video games, the trades are half the fun. If I was able to pull a John Malkovich, this is what I would attempt to do.
I would offer Xander Bogaerts and Rubby De La Rosa for Troy Tulowitski. Blasphemy, I know. Two of the most valued prospects we've had in ages. But this is why I would do it. Jon Lester.
Lester is having a career year. He was recently and rightfully named to the All-Star team and has deserved far more wins than his W-L record shows (9-7 2.73 ERA 122 SO 1.15 WHIP and top 10 in the American League in all of those categories). In a contract year and career year, Lester has been proving time and time again that his focus is on baseball and not what he's getting paid right now. Lester has proven he can pitch in the big games and deliver. Good pitching and timely hitting win playoff games. The Red Sox have one of those things and have been absolutely devastated by the other. A dual edged-sword, if you will. The Sox need power. Why not bring in one of the best and pure hitters in the National League?
Troy Tulowitzki is crushing the ball for an under performing Rockies team and is unhappy. He is 29 years old, a proven player, and leads National League shortstops in fielding percentage. According to Mark Kiszla with The Denver Post, Tulowitzki has said, “That people need to understand about me is: Winning's my main priority. I've been around the game a little bit now, and I understand those years where we did win, how much more fun I had. And then there are years such as this." Tulowitzki should know just as well as anybody, that the Red Sox are known for their competitive nature and high expectations, after his Rockies were swept by the Sox in 2007. I'm sure Tulowitzki would much prefer to remembered with the likes of David Ortiz, Jon Lester, and Dustin Pedroia, as opposed to Todd Helton (who only played 15 career playoff games in an illustrious 17 year career). Tulowitzki would be signed through 2019, set to make $20 million a year, but he is the best at his position. He could be the first real power hitting shortstop since old friend Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004.
Don't get me wrong, I really like Xander and Ruby. X was huge in 2013. He could very well be the next Derek Jeter. But how much does David Ortiz have left? Is Lester going to leave after this year? The guys that brought us the unforgettable 2007 and 2013 (don't forget Pedey!) deserve one more go. Xander complained about being moved from shortstop to 3B and has been playing awful since (though he did get two hits, hitting at the bottom of the lineup today) But- who saw that throwing error he made today? Brock Holt is the real young star and has done everything asked of him and has been producing. He has a great instinct for playing the wall and looks great in the outfield. He is a great team player.
Tulowitzki would provide the pop, timely hits, and defensive stability the Sox have been craving all season. Stephen Drew, who is making a whopping $10 million this season, would probably be open to sliding to 3B as means to take some pressure off of him so he can focus on his hitting. He is well aware of the pressure on him and has been vocal about his effort to get better each game telling Brian Macpherson of The Providence Journal, “It’s something I’ve dealt with the whole career. Everybody deals with it. I know my talent. I knew it was going to be tough coming in, the way I started. I’m going to keep my head high. It’s going to come around. All these guys in here, they know as well. What matters most is the 25 guys in here and trying to win games.” Stephen Drew is a team player and perhaps his bat is finally starting to come around, hitting two home runs during the double-header on Saturday. Either way, he gets amnesty like his brother, J.D. because of clutch playoff home runs.Though having a variety of setbacks this season, Will Middlebrooks is knocking again.
I like Ruby De La Rosa, but I like Jon Lester a helluva lot better. I'd rather have Jon Lester end his career with the Red Sox. It's a much safer bet. Reward Lester with the long-term contract he deserves at the end of the season regardless of what happens. If moves are made to try and win now, I'm sure he'll be more much more willing to stay as well.
Tulowitzki would provide much needed protection for Big Papi and take a huge weight off the shoulders of lumberjack Mike Napoli. Remember when fans were worried he'd even play a full season when his hip was an issue? Though prone to strikeouts and often a streaky hitter, Napoli has been very serviceable at first base for the Sox. My lineup would probably look something like this:
1. Brock Holt (LF) LHB
2. Dustin Pedroia (2B) RHB
3. David Ortiz (DH) LHB
4. Troy Tulowitzki (SS) RHB
5. Mike Napoli (1B) RHB
6. Stephen Drew (3B) LHB
7. Daniel Nava (RF) SHB
8. A.J. Pierzinski (C) LHB
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF) LHB
Nava has been on a tear since coming back in June. Jackie Bradley Jr's defense in centerfield should keep him in the lineup to keep things exciting and prevent runs. You know your offense has been upgraded when the player with the 6th most RBIs on your team is now hitting 9th. Shane Victorino gets as much time as he needs to rehab and get healthy.
The Rockies certainly wouldn't be getting a bad deal either. Two top prospects, a young starting pitcher who throws gas and a playoff tested starting shortstop who is dying to play in his natural position in a hitter friendly park would be quite the return on a disgruntled player with a huge contract. Colorado fans would have some serious high hopes ahead.
I know the Red Sox are in last place and 9 games behind first place to the Toronto Blue Jays of all teams, but the AL East is garbage this season. Does anyone actually expect Mark Burhele to win the Cy Young this year? Besides Tanaka and Derek Jeter's farewell tour, the Yankees really don't have much going on for them this season either. C.C. Is down for the count. The Red Sox can definitely beat the Orioles. Even though they lost (please get rid of Fast Guy Eddie's), the fire to come back 5 late inning runs today, still shows they haven't given up yet. They just need some reinforcements.
Just to over complicate things, one could even consider the addition of Carlos Gonzalez to the outfield mix. I hate to be the devil's advocate, but is Mookie Betts untouchable? What's more important in the outfielders of the future mix, a bat or glove? Jonny Gomes is not a starting outfielder. He's good at talking crap and getting clutch pinch hits.
The real question that needs to be asked is would you rather have a potentially competitive team in the future or would you rather say you took a chance swinging and made the game winning hit and the glory? Would you rather have a strong farm system or would you rather have banners and bling? To some organizations, the prospect of winning a championship is once in a lifetime. In Boston, it is the golden standard.
When the Red Sox are calling me on the telephone, asking me to buy tickets to Futures at Fenway, you know they are having a hard time filling seats this year. A big name player would only help business and morale. Even if the trade doesn't save the season, you would still have a very special player at a high demanding position under contract for many years to come. Can anyone else imagine the double plays Tulo and Pedey would turn? The crowd would go nuts.
If this is the end, can we at least go out in style? I heard Johnny Damon is itching to come back. After the game, we could have Damon wrestle Gomes in a cage match for the 5th outfield spot.