Forget Halladay … Red Sox Need a Bat

Roy Halladay has everyone salivating. GMs, players, and fans can’t help
but contemplate what the Doctor would add to their team.

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi says he’s willing
to move him within the AL East for the right price. That has sent Sox fans into
a frenzy thinking about what it would take to bring the former Cy Young Award
winner to town.

The question is, why? As good as Halladay is – and I think he’s the best
pitcher in the game – he would not be filling a hole for Boston. Entering last
night’s series finale against Oakland, the Red Sox had a 4.08 ERA as a team, the
third-best in the American League. Does that sound like a team in desperate need
of pitching?

Roy Halladay is a tremendous talent, the kind of pitcher you can build a
rotation around. But the Red Sox already have someone like that. Josh
Beckett
picked up his 10th win of the season Tuesday night, and is now
6-0 with a 1.81 ERA in 10 starts following a Red Sox loss this year. More
importantly, the Red Sox are 9-1 in those starts.

Beckett leads a rotation that has pitched very well since Daisuke
Matsuzaka
was placed on the disabled list. Over the past 11 games
(prior to Wednesday night’s start by Tim Wakefield), Red Sox
had posted a 2.94 ERA. In that stretch, Sox starting pitchers had struck out 49
batters while walking only 10.

Beckett has struck out 103 batters in his 17 starts this season, second on
the team to Jon Lester. Lester has 123 K’s on the season,
third-most in the AL. It is the first time a pair of Red Sox pitchers have
reached the 100-strikeout plateau before the All-Star Break since Curt
Schilling
and Pedro Martinez did it back in 2004.

And both Beckett and Lester have another start to go before the break. They
are arguably the best lefty-righty combination at the top of any rotation in
baseball.

Halladay would make the Red Sox better. He would make any team better. That
said, the Red Sox have one of the strong rotations in baseball. Do they need to
give up a truckload of talent to make it better?

If the Red Sox are going to package up some of their young talent, young
players with great expectations we’ve followed up through the system, they
should do it for a bat. Very quietly, the Red Sox offense has sputtered of late.
Through the first five games of the homestand, the Red Sox have only hit .210.
Last night’s starting lineup featured only one hitter with a batting average
over .300. That batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, was hitting sixth.

With teams having economic issues, and problems on the field, there will
undoubtedly be players available as we move closer to the July 31 non-waiver
trade deadline. Washington’s Nick Johnson has already been
rumored to be on the market. Colorado’s Garrett Atkins has been
in the middle of trade rumors in these early days of July. Everyone in a
Pittsburgh Pirates uniform is apparently available.

And then there are the Cleveland Indians. Eric Wedge’s team
took the field last night 18 games under .500, and Mark Shapiro
has to be thinking about moving players to rejuvenate the franchise.
Victor Martinez would be a player worth opening up the vault
for. He’s 30 years old and is on pace to set a new career high for home runs (he
already has 14 homers this season.) He could spell Jason
Varitek
behind the plate, and spend time at first base if Mike
Lowell
can’t play (with Kevin Youkilis at third.)

Last year, the Red Sox were one bat away from being able to beat the Tampa
Bay Rays in the ALCS. Once Lowell went down, the offense didn’t have enough
offense to take it to the next step.

As we’ve seen from this homestand, the Sox could use a little more offensive
depth. They’ve got the arms. They need a bat, not Roy Halladay.

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