Friday, July 18, 2008

Why the Red Sox Should Not Trade for Relief Pitching

I have Brian Fuentes on one of my fantasy teams. Yesterday, I saw a flag next to his name indicating that there was current news on him. The news stated that the Red Sox would not get into a bidding war for his services as they did not see relief pitching as an extreme need. Forget for a moment, that improving the relief corps is a need for the Red Sox and instead focus on the good news; the Red Sox are not going to go after a mediocre NL closer in hopes that he may be decent in Boston. This is actually great news, not good news.

As I alluded to a few weeks ago, the Sox have had awful luck when it has come to mid-season bullpen acquisitions. It's not just Eric Gagne either. Off the top of my head I listed below each relief pitcher they acquired via an in season trade since 2001 and their stats upon joining the Sox. I think we can safely say that the Eric Gagne trainwreck was not an isolated disaster. Instead, it was just one in a long line of trades for relievers which more often than not lead to poor or awful results.

Thanks as always to for the below.


Ugie Urbina - 20 IP/16 hits/5 ER/32 K/ 3 BB/2.25 ERA/0.95 WHIP/.219 BAA


Alan Embree - 33.1 IP/24 hits/11 ER/43 K/11 BB/2.97 ERA/1.05 WHIP/.216 BAA

Bobby Howry - 18 IP/22 hits/10 ER/14 K/4 BB/5.00 ERA/1.44 WHIP/.306 BAA


BK Kim - 79.1 IP/70 hits/28 ER/69 K/18 BB/3.18 ERA/1.11 WHIP/.230 BAA

Scott Williamson - 20.1 IP/20 hits/14 ER/21 K/9 BB/6.20 ERA/1.43 WHIP/.253 BAA

Scott Sauerbeck - 16.2 IP/17 hits/12 ER/18 K/18 BB/6.48 ERA/2.10 WHIP/.266 BAA

Jeff Suppan* - 63 IP/70 hits/39 ER/32 K/20 BB/5.57 ERA/1.43 WHIP/.281 BAA

*sure Suppan wasn't a reliever but I just wanted to revisit his suckiness for old time's sake




Chad Bradford - 23.1 IP/29 hits/10 ER/10 K/4 BB/3.86 ERA/1.41 WHIP/.312 BAA




Eric Gagne - 18.2 IP/26 hits/14 ER/22 K/9 BB/1.88 WHIP/6.75 ERA/.325 BAA

So there you go. By my count, you could classify 3 of the above 9 as successes (Urbina, Embree, and Kim), 2 as minor failures (Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson) and the remaining 4 (Howry, Sauerbeck, Suppan, and Gagne) as out and out disasters. With that in mind, and realizing the cost of relief pitching these days in trades I see absolutely no reason why the Red Sox should risk delving into this market. The odds of them finding a valuable reliever just aren't that great regardless of what their stats on their seasons to date say. Remember, Scott Sauerbeck, Jeff Suppan, and Eric Gagne were all feted as major acquisitions when they were brought on. And last year with the Rangers, Gagne had a 2.16 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and a .195 BAA in 33.1 IP before coming to Boston. Those are indisputably great numbers. Just goes to show that you never really know what you are getting when you trade for relievers mid-season and with the returns as dicey as they often are, the safest and most practical route is normally to try an fix from within. Right now, it looks like that is the path the Red Sox are going down, and that to me is great news.

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