Theo Epstein’s Trade Deadline Report Card Features Hits, Misses


July 30, 2011

Theo Epstein's Trade Deadline Report Card Features Hits, Misses Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has never taken a trade deadline completely off. There is always some wheeling and dealing, sometimes in an effort to gain an immediate fix, sometimes with the long-term state of the organization in mind. At times it has worked wonders, 2004 being the best example. Other years have seen some moves that didn?t amount to much.

Here is a look at each of Epstein?s maneuvers at or just before the July 31 deadline since he has been aboard, complete with a grade for each year.


July 22: Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez to Pittsburgh for left-handers Mike Gonzalez and Scott Sauerbeck.

This was just a setup for a flurry of deadline activity, most of which was done to bolster the bullpen for a playoff-bound club. Read on.

July 30: Phil Dumatrait and a player to be named later to Cincinnati for right-hander Scott Williamson.

Williamson struggled down the stretch with the Red Sox, but he provided a remarkable boost in the postseason, winning two games in the ALDS against Oakland and finishing the playoffs with a 1.13 ERA and 14 strikeouts in eight innings. He saved all three of the team?s wins in the ALCS against New York.

Injuries, some of which were questioned by none other than Curt Schilling, hampered an otherwise solid 2004 campaign for Williamson. Although he returned late in the year and finished with a 1.26 ERA, he was left off the playoff roster and had surgery while the team won the World Series. Williamson was a member of the Chicago Cubs the next year.

July 31: Mike Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez and cash to Pittsburgh for pitchers Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez.

At the time it felt like the culmination of a coup for Epstein, who had done plenty to alter the pitching staff, including an acquisition of Byung-Hyun Kim two months earlier. But this particular package didn?t amount to much.

Lyon didn?t appear for the team until September and was not part of the playoff roster. Suppan, considered the big prize after a solid first half with the Pirates, fizzled as a starter for Boston. Martinez had an ERA over 8.00

Gonzalez became a fixture, albeit an injury-plagued one, in Pittsburgh and Atlanta bullpens. Sanchez would win a batting title with the Pirates in 2006.

Overall grade for 2003: C


July 24: John Hattig to Toronto for right-hander Terry Adams.

Adams appeared in 19 games for Boston, posting an ERA of 6.00.

July 31: Henri Stanley to Los Angeles for outfielder Dave Roberts.

Stanley never played a game in the majors. Roberts played well in 45 games down the stretch and stole the biggest base in franchise history in the ALCS. Perhaps you remember.

July 31: Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to Chicago Cubs in three-team trade that brought back shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

So much happened to allow Boston to come together in the second half of the 2004 season, but this move is often given credit as the catalyst. At the very least, it gave Epstein the reputation as an extremely bold GM, willing, in just his second full season at the post, to jettison one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

But Cabrera and Mientkiewicz fortified the defense and Garciaparra had just one more All-Star season and never played in more than 122 games.

Overall grade for 2004: A+


July 19: Chip Ambres and Juan Cedeno to Kansas City for infielder Tony Graffanino.

Graffanino will forever be remembered for committing an error that led to three unearned runs in a 5-4 loss to Chicago in Game 2 of the ALDS, but he played very well in the final two months for Boston, which won the wild card by just two games. That should not be discounted.

Ambres and Cedeno, who never reached the bigs, were not significant losses.

July 30: Kenny Perez and Kyle Bono to Arizona for outfielder Jose Cruz.

Once a potent power threat for Toronto, Cruz was on his way down. He managed to play in just four games before being placed on waivers and picked up by Los Angeles. Perez and Bono never made it to the majors.

Overall grade for 2005: B


July 30: Luis Mendoza to Texas for reliever Bryan Corey.

Corey appeared in one game, was granted free agency and then picked up again by Epstein. The righty then made 15 appearances down the stretch, mostly in mop-up duty, before appearing in nine games with the team the following season.

Mendoza has gone 4-9 with an 8.43 ERA in parts of four seasons with Texas and Kansas City. He remains in the Royals system.

Overall grade for 2006: Eh.


July 31: Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and Engel Beltre to Texas for Eric Gagne.

The deal every critic of Epstein brings up when they want to bash him, this move failed when Gagne, seemingly a perfect piece in a bullpen that needed one more hard thrower, struggled severely. He had a 6.75 ERA in 20 games and was similarly ineffective in the playoffs.

Murphy is the only one still in the majors, serving as a part-time outfielder with the Rangers.

Hard to fault Epstein for pulling the trigger, for Gagne was very good with Texas. For whatever reason, he couldn?t carry that success over to Boston. The organization did get a pick when he left via free agency.

July 31: Joel Pineiro and cash to St. Louis for outfielder Sean Danielson.

A starter nearly all of his 12-year career, the Red Sox tried to use Pineiro out of the bullpen but did not have great results. He had a 5.03 ERA in 31 games. Danielson has never reached the majors.

Overall grade for 2007: C-


July 31: Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles and Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to Pittsburgh for outfielder Jason Bay.

Ridding themselves of Ramirez was a near-necessity with the way the left fielder was behaving. Getting a quality bat and a widely respected individual like Bay in return gave the team a huge jolt. After going 11-13 in July as Ramirez distanced himself from the team, frustrated the coaching staff and even took on the traveling secretary in a notable incident in Houston, Boston was 34-19 in the final two months.

Bay was a huge part of the playoff push and added 36 homers and 119 RBIs in 2009 before moving on to the New York Mets.

Hansen and Moss, both once highly regarded in the Red Sox system, gave the Pirates very little.

Overall grade for 2008: A+


July 22: Julio Lugo to St. Louis for outfielder Chris Duncan.

Lugo?s injury-riddled first half precipitated his departure after two-plus uneven years in Boston. Alex Gonzalez would be acquired in a waiver-wire move in mid-August and hold down the shortstop position down the stretch. That?s the move that made this one a good one.

Duncan, once a power threat for the Cardinals, would struggle in 27 games at Pawtucket before being released.

July 22: Hunter Strickland and Argenis Diaz to Pittsburgh for first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Just like in 2003 when Epstein had a lot of moving parts, this was just a temporary situation. LaRoche would be moved just nine days later for another first baseman, Atlanta?s Casey Kotchman.

July 28: Outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay to Chicago for outfielder Brian Anderson.

Anderson hit .294 in 21 games off the bench down the stretch. He was granted free agency that winter and has since tried to make it as a pitcher in the Yankees system.

July 31: Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland for Victor Martinez.

Martinez hit .313 with 120 RBIs in 183 games for Boston through the end of 2010. He was a fixture in the clubhouse, a great partner to Jason Varitek and a respected receiver among the pitchers. When he left for Detroit, many fans wondered if Epstein had let a good one get away.

Masterson has developed into a fantastic pitcher that the team would love to have around now, but his departure was necessary to bring in a bat as good as Martinez, who helped kick off a 29-13 stretch soon after his arrival.

July 31: Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman.

A Mientkiewicz kind of deal in that it gave the club one of the better defenders at the position, but Kotchman struggled at the plate. He did net the team Bill Hall in a deal the next winter and Hall became an extremely valuable member of the 2010 team.

Overall grade for 2009: B+


July 31: Chris McGuiness, Ramon Mendez and Michael Thomas to Texas for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Nobody really knew at the time how Saltalamacchia would factor into things, for there was still a chance Martinez would return and the future with Varitek was uncertain. But the organization always liked Saltalamacchia and saw him as a potential cornerstone going forward. He is making strides toward being that kind of player with a very solid 2011 season.

This was not a move designed to improve the team at the time. It set the Sox up for success in 2011 and beyond.

July 31: Ramon Ramirez to San Francisco for reliever Daniel Turpen.

After a few solid months in 2009, his first year in Boston, Ramirez was beginning to falter in the Red Sox bullpen. He has become an important part of the success for the Giants. Perhaps one of those guys that needed a change of scenery.

Turpen has since been traded to Colorado in a deal that netted catcher Michael McKenry, who has since been moved to Pittsburgh for a player to be named later and cash.

Overall grade for 2010: A



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