By Andy Lindberg
This week Jon Lester emerged like a phoenix from the ashes of the disabled list to remind Red Sox fans of what they had been missing with two stellar outings. Lester pitched a no-decision in the first game of the Kansas City series, hurling 5.1 innings of one-run ball followed by a Saturday outing against Chicago which saw Lester pitch eight innings of two-run baseball with eight strikeouts. Lester picked up his 11th win of the season in the process.
Saturday also saw Adrian Gonzalez break out of a 72-at-bat homerless streak with a bomb to right field off of former Yankee Brian Bruney. Sunday saw the Red Sox clinch the series with Gonzalez driving in two runs to add to his Major League leading tally of 89 RBI.
While 4-3 isn’t a stellar weekly record, Boston held the Yankees at two games back and made some interesting deadline moves to end the week.
The Red Sox traded utility infielder Yamaico Navarro and single-A reliever Kendal Volz to the Kansas City Royals for utility infielder Mike Aviles, who has played at third base, shortstop, and second base for the Royals this year. Red Sox manager Terry Francona also hinted that Aviles would be experimented with in the outfield.
I like this move, as Aviles is a solid bat off the bench and hits left-handed pitching well, hitting lefties at a .309 clip so far this season. This move also shows that the Red Sox may be concerned about when (or if) Jed Lowrie makes it off the DL any time soon and Aviles provides a decent bat in order to give the oft banged up Kevin Youkilis a day off here and there.
What the Red Sox really wanted to do was acquire another starting pitcher, more for depth than anything else. Clay Buchholz has just been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back, so he will almost certainly not pitch for the rest of the season, including the postseason of the Red sox progress that far. The Red Sox had a deal in place for Oakland’s Rich Harden, but the deal fell through due to medical concerns. Boston then went out and acquired Seattle lefty Erik Bedard in the complex three-team deal. In the deal, the Red Sox got Bedard and triple-A relief pitcher Josh Fields, who many consider to be a throw-in. The Mariners received outfield prospects Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers (whose appearance in this deal is still confusing) and outfield prospect Chih-Hsien Chiang from Boston. The Dodgers received three Boston prospects in the deal; catcher Tim Federowicz, reliever Juan Rodriguez, and starter Stephen Fife.
Acquiring Bedard is a risk, but a high reward risk, as Bedard has always put up very solid numbers when healthy, posting a career 3.69 ERA. The Red Sox still have Andrew Miller to use in the rotation, and it is still unclear as to whether there will be a platoon situation in that fifth starter’s position between Bedard and Miller, or whether or not Miller will be sent to AAA Pawtucket.
All in all, the Red Sox did not need to do much at the trade deadline. They got pitching depth and they got a utility bat. The Red Sox were not starving for production out of offense, defense, or pitching, and even with Buchholz on the DL Boston has still been winning. Some experts have branded Boston as deadline losers, but when a team possesses the best record in the American League in the toughest division in the American League, there is no reason to fix what is not broken. The next week will prove crucial to Boston with Cleveland coming to Fenway for four games beginning tonight and the Yankees coming in for three during the weekend.