Boston Fortifies Rotation With Bedard by Jack Moore July 31, 2011 For many pundits, the Boston Red Sox were the clear best team in baseball this year. Ever since a 2-10 start, the Sox have won over two-thirds of their games, with a stellar 64-30 record. They lead the American League in both actual record and first-order (Pythagorean) record, and their 67.8-37.2 third-order record is a full two games clear of the Philadelphia Phillies. But even the best teams are rarely without weakness, and with Clay Buchholz’s status uncertain, the Red Sox found themselves with some shallowness in their rotation. Sure, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield would have no problem bringing an offense with as much firepower as Boston’s to the playoffs, particularly with an 8.5 game lead on Los Angeles for the Wild Card if they can’t hold their 2 game lead on New York in the East. But in the playoffs, the Red Sox will have to get by potent offenses such as the Yankees and the Rangers, and with Lackey and Miller as the third and fourth options out of the rotation, the Red Sox had a clear need to upgrade. Upgrade they did, as the Red Sox pulled a three-way deadline deal to add Erik Bedard from the Mariners. To swing the deal, the Red Sox sent prospects C Tim Federowicz, RP Juan Rodriguez and SP Stephen Fife to the Dodgers in order to acquire OF Trayvon Robinson, who was then flipped along with OF Chih-Hsien Chang to the Mariners, bringing RP Josh Fields back as well as Bedard. It’s fair to wonder if the Red Sox would have pushed so hard for a starter (An earlier deal for Rich Harden was nixed due to health problems. The sun rises in the east.) if not for the uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz. The 26-year-old righty was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Sunday and depending on the results of a second opinion on his ailing back, could be done for the year. Health is an obvious concern with Bedard, as his 91 innings this season are his most since throwing 182 in 2007. Seeing as his health — or that of any other possible acquisition — over the rest of the regular season will hardly impact the Red Sox playoff odds, Bedard made the perfect target for Boston. They needed a pitcher who could handle playoff-level offenses but wouldn’t come at much of a cost for the future (see Jimenez, Ubaldo). If he’s on the playoff roster, Bedard is a clear upgrade over Miller and Wakefield, and a good bet to improve on Lackey as well. SafeCo Field deserves an assist for his 3.31 ERA since his trade to Seattle, but he still checks in at a sharp 82 ERA-, and 4.3 WAR (based on FIP) in 255 innings is solid as well. Lackey could very well improve on his poor numbers to date (152 ERA-, 0.7 WAR), as he is coming off a 4.0 WAR season in 2010, but it’s awfully difficult to put a 6.20 ERA in a good light. Miller and Wakefield have been poor, each with an ERA over 5.00 and FIPs to match; Bedard’s superiority should be obvious. It did take four warm bodies to acquire Bedard, but that’s about it. None of the players moved by Boston appear on Kevin Goldstein’s top 20 organizational prospect list, nor do they appear in our Top 100 Prospects list or top 10 organizational prospect list. This isn’t to say they’re doomed to complete non-productivity in the Major Leagues — the prospects will be covered in a separate post — but the Red Sox don’t lose much from a good farm system and improve their chances at a World Series. Hard to argue with that logic.