Although the past few seasons have not felt like normal “Red Sox” seasons to the 21st century Red sox fan (i.e. long playoff runs, or even a post-season victory), the 2012 edition of the hometown team finds itself in a place that the organization has not been in for quite a long time. Mediocrity. Blame it on poor attitudes, injuries, new management, or any other reason, the fact is the 2012 Boston Red Sox have been a .500 ball club for the past 4 months. In other cities or other situations a team stuck in the middle pack of the standings would instantly look to shop their current assets for future investments. In places like Cleveland or Oakland, a .500 record would instantly mean trading big league talent or expiring contracts for upcoming prospects, bringing a sense of excitement for the future of these small market towns. However, for numerous reasons, no matter what the record of the Red Sox is come July 31, 2012, this team will not become sellers at the deadline.
The first reason to not expect the Sox trading pieces is the new rules wild card rules implemented by Major League Baseball for this season. Unlike the recent playoff structure of having three division winners and one wild card team in each leagues playoffs, Bud Selig has added another wild card spot along with an added one game playoff between the two non-division winners. This idea was to provide more teams with the belief that they were contenders, and to guarantee scenarios like last year, when the playoff seeding was decided on the final day of the season. With an added spot in October baseball available, the Sox are of the belief that they are and still will be in contention throughout the season. As of July 18th the Red Sox were one game back in the wild card race. After all that this Sox team has gone through this season, the fact that they are still involved in the playoff picture has to give the ownership a belief of optimism.
That leads to the next reason why this team wont be a seller; the ownership. There is no chance this ownership group will ever let the Red Sox be sellers. Its gotten to the point where this group cares more about the stupid sellout streak then the performance of the actual ball club. There has been much talk about how they have finagled many of the most recent “sellouts” either by fixing the numbers or offering dollar tickets at the door, but all that talk would be nullified if the Sox started to deal players from their roster. How does this ownership group expect to fill seats if they give off the idea that they are giving up on the season by selling at the deadline. Its just something that isn’t likely with what we know about this ownership group.
The final reason why the Red Sox wont be sellers at the trade deadline, and maybe the most important, is the value that their current players would bring back on the open trade market. The most common names in the absurd rumors recently, whether it be Crawford to the Marlins, or Beckett to anyone would bring back barely ten cents on the dollar. Take Crawford. This season he has played 3 Major League games due to injury, and last year was a disaster. He would still have 5+ years and over $100 million dollars owed to him. He even stated that he “is probably going to need Tommy John surgery”. Literally no team will be willing to part with respectable prospects for Crawford at this point, making it absurd to think about trading him. Beckett is still an overpaid, prima donna, who’s 2012 has been a roller coaster to say the least. Not only would the Sox have to eat a chunk of his contract, they would also receive virtually nothing of substance in return for him. Further example of this concept was shown by the recent trade of Youk. Granted it was a trade that needed to happen, but look at what the Sox received: A “project” guy in Zach Stewart and a player in Brent Lillibridge that the Sox have already designated for assignment. That is a very likely outcome for many trade scenarios with any of the players that the Sox would look to possibly move. It would serve the Red sox better to hang on to these players as they represent more value to Boston than any other organization.
Although it may be a popular ideology to blow this edition of the Boston Red Sox in hopes of building a strong contender in the future, there are many factors that will prevent this team being a seller. Don’t look for the Sox to be trading away major pieces come July 31st because of the new wild card rules, the ownership’s priorities, and the limited return these Red Sox would bring for the future.
Guest Article by Pat Horan. Follow him on twitter @Pathoran1