McAdam: Five takeaways from the Peavy deal

McAdam: Five takeaways from the Peavy deal
July 31, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Now that the Red Sox have pulled off their biggest deadline deal in years, here are five takeaways from the trade that landed them Jake Peavy and cost them Jose Iglesias.

1) He hasn't even arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, let alone made his first start in a Red Sox uniform, and already, there's speculation about where and how Peavy will fit in.

The Red Sox remain upbeat that Clay Buchholz, sidelined since June 8, will return by early September, time enough for him to get in four or five regular season starts before the playoffs arrive.     

But let's say that Buchholz has another setback or two -- hardly a longshot, given the twists and turns of his current rehab.

Beyond the wild-card game which they hope to avoid, what three starters do the Red Sox use in a best-of-five Division Series? Or more to the point, what two don't they use?

Let's assume, for the point of this exercise, that Buchholz is healthy and productive. He would seem the team's best option for a Game 1 starter. Lester, because of his experience and standing, would seem to be a given, too. 

And it's hard, too, to think that, having gone through what they did to get him, Peavy wouldn't be in that group.

That leaves John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster on the outside looking in (from the bullpen) in a Division Series pitching rotation. 

2) It will be fascinating to see how the Red Sox handle third base in the coming weeks.

For now, the team appears to be committed to a platoon of Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder, a plan that would have been unimaginable at the start of the season.

On the face of it, the Red Sox can expect an offensive dropoff from the position. But given that Iglesias was in a month-long funk at the plate at the time of the deal -- with no extra-base hits and no walks over the last 17 games and a .205 batting average for the month of July -- it shouldn't be hard for the combination of Snyder and Holt to at least match that.

What they won't come close to matching, however, is the glove work of Iglesias.

Cherington gave no indication whatsoever that the team would pursue a deal for Michael Young before Wednesday's deadline. That in itself seems curious, since the Red Sox were known to have interest in Young before they dealt away their starting third baseman.     

Young's no-trade clause, which he could use to block a move to Boston, wouldn't seem to be a major impediment. While Young is known to prefer a return to Texas, where his family still lives, a baseball source said Monday that Young wouldn't rule out a deal to Boston.

But in a conference call after midnight Tuesday, Cherington said "I wouldn't expect" to make another deal before the deadline.

It's telling that the Sox chose Holt over Will Middlebrooks, at least for the time being. The Sox apparently weren't kidding when they said they wanted Middlebrooks to get his game in order before returning him to the big leagues.

Middlebrooks is hitting .257, but just .244 over the last 10 games. In that stretch, he has just three extra-base hits.

Further, how long will the Red Sox be able to resist promoting Xander Bogaerts? Bogaerts has an .854 OPS at Pawtucket, and unlike Middlebrooks, is on the upswing, with a .353 average over the last 10 games.

3) The Red Sox may now have a surplus of starting pitching from which to deal to this winter.

Yes, yes, one can never have too much pitching and some ill-timed injuries could threaten the Red Sox rotation depth in a hurry.

But let's assume that Buchholz returns and finishes the season well. That leaves the Red Sox with six veteran starters: Buchholz, Peavy, Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront.     

Now factor in the likes of Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa and Steven Wright and the Sox have 10 starters under their control.

That also happens to be the number that the Red Sox believe is necessary to withstand the vagaries of the season, with all its attendant injuries, setbacks and performance issues.

But that depth could lead the Red Sox to deal off a veteran or two to address other more pressing needs. For now, until the Red Sox decide to exercise the option for Koji Uehara for 2014, the team will not have a proven closer under control for next season.

Joel Hanrahan, who had the job at the start of the year, is a free agent and won't be ready to start the year anyway. Andrew Bailey remains under control, but, he, too, will be recovering from major surgery and will not be ready until the All-Star break.

Sure, the Sox could merely exercise Uehara's option and have him return in that role. But he'll be 39 next spring and that could be viewed as a gamble.

Might it not make sense for the Red Sox to deal off, say, Lackey or Dempster, clearing the way for Webster, Workman or de la Rosa? And don't forget, the likes of Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes, currently at Portland, aren't far off and could conceivably be ready to contribute in the big leagues by the second half of next year.

4) By not trading for bullpen help, the Red Sox are gambling that they have enough on hand to make it through the season.

The Sox found the asking price for Luke Gregorson to be high, and the Royals pulled back on Luke Hochevar.

That places lots of responsibility on rookie Drake Britton and Brandon Workman, who will now shift to the bullpen to make room for Peavy.

Britton has been stellar in the first two weeks of use, unscored upon in five outings. Britton has allowed just two hits over six innings and walked only one. But this is his first time pitching out of the bullpen and there will be challenges ahead.

Workman gave the Red Sox three very impressive starts -- all six innings or more, all two runs or fewer -- but will now have to transition to relief, something he hasn't done since college.

Undoubtedly, his success in the rotation will bolster his confidence, but there's a difference between having four days to prepare for a start and having only a few minutes notice before being thrown into a tight game in the late innings.

The Sox are also betting that Junichi Tazawa and Uehara can continue to handle the big workloads they've been given. Sometime later this month, Uehara will set a career high for appearances in a single season (he's at 49; he made 65 appearances in 2011) and it will be interesting to see how he handles the work.

Similarly, Tazawa, though he's been better since the break, was already showing signs of fatigue late in the first half.

5) The Sox have been untouched -- to date -- by the burgeoning Biogenesis scandals, but they were indirect beneficiaries of the mess late Tuesday night.

The Red Sox and White Sox had been talking about Peavy for the past week, but were unable to match up, because the White Sox were looking for a young power outfield bat -- a piece the Sox didn't have.

But then the Sox brought the Detroit Tigers into the mix. The Tigers were in the market for a shortstop to protect them in the likely event that Jhonny Peralta gets a lengthy suspension for his part in the Biogenesis mess.

That enabled the Sox to send Jose Iglesias to the Tigers, with the Tigers sending Avasail Garcia to satisfy the White Sox and the Sox landing Peavy.

Without the threat of a suspension hanging over Peralta's head, it's difficult to see the Tigers having enough interest in Iglesias. But because they faced the prospect of winning the division and heading into the post-season without a trustworthy middle infielder, the Tigers were motivated to move.