Inside the Reported Failed Deal for Felix Hernandez


Aug 7, 2009

Inside the Reported Failed Deal for Felix Hernandez As the July 31 non-waiver deadline reached the 11th hour, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein reportedly dug deep into his bag of trade tricks.

According to the Seattle Times, Epstein sent a list of eight prospects to the Mariners and told them to choose five in return for 23-year-old right-hander Felix Hernandez. The M’s didn’t bite.

But who were those eight prospects and where do they fit into the Red Sox’ future plans? Let’s take a look.

No. 1 on the list was right-hander Clay Buchholz. He’s the most obvious major league-ready starter the Red Sox have, as evidenced by his current place in their big league rotation, not to mention his 2007 no-hitter at Fenway against the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander — who turns 25 on Aug. 15 — has had a bumpy ride in the majors over the past two seasons. He is 1-1 in 2009 with a 6.05 ERA and a 2.02 WHIP, after going 2-9 in 2008. He has the stuff to be a No. 2 or even No. 1 starter on a major league staff, but some scouts question his maturity and mental toughness. Still, the Sox believe he will be a vital part of their future. That’s why he’s still in a Boston uniform.

Some say Daniel Bard is more valuable to the Sox’ future than even Buchholz may be. But he too was on the supposed list sent to Seattle. Bard has been masterful in the eighth-inning role most of the season, with a blistering fastball that can top 100 mph. He has a 2.25 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and opponents are batting under .200 against him. His 11.25 K/9 ratio is astounding, as many believe he will someday be the heir to Jonathan Papelbon’s closer throne.

Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone were also on the list, but both were subsequently sent to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez deal Friday afternoon. Masterson was reliable in the eighth-inning spot — now occupied by Bard — last postseason, but was inconsistent in the Sox’ 2009 bullpen, which happens to be the best in the major leagues. The Indians plan on making him a starter. He has a devastating two-seam fastball and changeup, but will have to learn how to consistently retire left-handed batters if he wants to succeed as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the future.

Most people thought that landing Martinez without giving up either Buchholz, Bard or Michael Bowden was a steal for the Sox. But Epstein was reluctant to give up Hagadone, too. The 6-foot-5, 23-year-old left-hander is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2008. He has a live fastball that tops out at 98 mph. He was 0-2 with Single-A Greenville this season, but had 32 strikeouts in just 25 innings of work. Remember his name as he climbs through the Indians’ farm system.

Just behind Buchholz comes Bowden. Some scouts actually value Bowden over Buchholz. Bowden — a 6-foot-3 right-hander who turns 23 in September — is only 3-5 with Pawtucket, but has a 3.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in over 100 innings of work. He got his first major league win in 2008 given just one try, and pitched two scoreless innings of relief against the Yankees earlier this year. Scouts project him as a solid third starter in the majors, comparing him to a Jeff Suppan prototype.

A week ago, not many people had heard of Josh Reddick. But after hitting .313 with three doubles and a home run in his first four major league games, Reddick’s name has quickly become a popular one among Red Sox Nation. He was optioned back to Pawtucket before Wednesday’s game to make room for another arm in the bullpen, but if Jason Bay and J.D. Drew remain banged up, expect to see Reddick’s name in the lineup, especially if he continues to produce. Unless the Sox don’t re-sign Bay before 2010, there may not be a spot for Reddick in Boston long-term. But the higher the numbers, the higher his trade value becomes.

The two names on the list that you might not recognize are Double-A shortstop Yamaico Navarro and Double-A left-hander Felix Doubront. Navarro was called up from Single-A Salem to replace Argenis Diaz’s spot on the Portland roster after he was traded to Pittsburgh for Adam LaRoche. Navarro – undrafted from the Dominican Republic – was batting .319 in Salem with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 94 at-bats. He can play third and second base as well, but needs more plate discipline if he wants to fit into the Red Sox’ on-base-heavy approach. He’s still a work in progress at just 21 years old.

Doubront — another 21-year-old — is 6-4 with a 3.68 ERA in Portland this season. He has a fastball that tops out at 91 mph and is still developing a consistent changeup and curveball. Like his new teammate Navarro, he’s far from contributing on a major league level.

Who’s hot?
Brian Anderson
is batting .303 with three home runs and six RBIs in 10 games with Pawtucket since being traded to the Red Sox from Chicago for Mark Kotsay. Expect to see Anderson in the Red Sox’ dugout when the rosters expand in September, and expect to see him in the batter’s box or on the base paths if he continues to be productive.

Who’s not?
Chris Duncan
. Since being traded from St. Louis for Julio Lugo, Duncan is batting a dismal .176 in 15 games with the PawSox. He may be snapping out his funk, though. He went 2-for-4 with a double and home run against Norfolk on Thursday.

Quote of the week
"[Josh Reddick] took a lot of, probably nervous energy, which I'm sure he had, and transformed it to a guy that helped us win some games. I was proud of him. We all were. He's got a lot to learn. He's a young kid. But he came from Double-A, had all that nervousness, and he took some pretty good swings. He was aggressive, he was energetic. Guys liked him. There's a lot to like about him. He's just a nice country friendly kid that likes to play baseball. He's got some thunder in his bat. It's another exciting kid that hopefully is coming through that can help us win."
— Terry Francona on

What to watch for
Now is the time when the prospects begin to get excited about the prospect of getting called up to the big club in September.

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