The Red Sox trading for Chris Sale means two things. One, the Red Sox are now the clear cut favorites in the AL to go to the World Series, and two, they have way too many starting pitchers. On top of the 7 obvious ones, the Sox also have Joe Kelly and Henry Owens, who should be expected to go into spring training with the mindset to fight to be somewhere in the starting rotation, whether they have a chance or not. No matter how you slice it, the Red Sox have too many starting pitchers, and they shouldn’t be done dealing.
When you look at the 7 who should actually be taken seriously, a bullpen spot only makes sense for one for them, and that’s Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz has been a bullpen guy for the majority of his career, so being there opening day wouldn’t be anything new for him. Despite the fact that it might sting a little to move the guy you traded your top pitching prospect for to the bullpen, it’s the right move. Pomeranz also would likely be hard to deal considering his injury concerns the Padres hid from the Red Sox that are now public knowledge. Sale, Price, and Porcello are locks to keep their spots, so that leaves us with 3. Wright, Rodriguez, and Buchholz, and that's where it gets tough.
There’s a solid case to be made for why each player will make the rotation. Rodriguez is a young arm who’s shown a lot of promise in the last 2 seasons, and Wright was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the first half of last season. As for Buchholz, he’s one of Farrell’s guys. Buchholz is the only guy in this rotation that was around when Farrell was the pitching coach here, and despite the fact that Farrell did move him to the bullpen last August, I can’t see him doing it to start the season.
The Red Sox need to make a trade, and it should be Buchholz. Rob Bradford of WEEI wrote today that according to teams talking to the Red Sox, Dombrowski prefers dealing Buchholz over Pomeranz. The report means that the Red Sox plan on dealing one of the two before the offseason is over. They have to take the decision on the rotation out of Farrell’s hands for once, or he will make the wrong decision as usual. Wright and Rodriguez have earned those spots with their strong play, and Dombrowski can’t let Buchholz steal it away based on something as trivial as seniority. The Red Sox have decimated their farm system with the constant trading over the last year plus. Buchholz offers a way to get at least something back, and help put a band-aid on the crack in the dam if you will. The Nationals look to be an easy target after they lost out on Sale. The Marlins are also in need of pitching help after the tragedy they encountered last season. They won’t have much money left if they sign Jansen, so Buchholz may be a good option if the Red Sox will eat some of his 13 million dollar per season contract. If you can get just one of any teams top 10 prospects back for Clay, it would be a great deal. We may finally be saying goodbye to Clay Buchholz. After years of the constant teasing that he would be traded, I never thought this day would come.
For years, we’ve lived through the same thing with Buchholz. He’s great for the first half of the season, then he sucks the next half, or he sucks in the first half, then he’s great in the second half, or he gets injured and should be out 2 weeks and ends up out 2 months. It’s always something. Every time he’s good the Buchholz haters call for him to be traded while his value is high, and then the Buchholz apologists say that it isn’t a mirage and Buchholz they think Buchholz will continue to pitch well, but he never has become the consistent ace we all thought he could be way back in 2007. Part of me wonders what would have happened if Buchholz never pitched that no-hitter in 2007. If he hadn’t pitched that no-hitter in his second start, would we have viewed him the same way for the last 9 years? The truth is, for better or for worse, that no-hitter shaped Buchholz career. After that no-hitter we all thought Buchholz was capable of becoming one of the best pitchers in the game, and he could never live up to the expectations that we’re so high. After 9 long years of waiting for him to turn into a consistent ace, it’s time to say goodbye.
It’s time to say goodbye to the man we’ve loved to hate and hated to love all these years. It’s time to stop living the movie Groundhog Day with Clay. I will be the first to say it:
Farewell, Clay Buchholz. It was a pleasure loving to hate to love you.