Local sports radio contrarians Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti are railing against the Boston Red Sox for their trade for Jake Peavy. The dialogue can be summed up as follows: The Red Sox have a good starting pitching staff whose ERA is third-best among AL teams, therefore the trading of Jose Iglesias does not make the Red Sox better.
According to them, the Red Sox bullpen is one of the worst statistically in the AL and should have been the focal point.
While their statistics cannot be refuted, their analysis of the trade’s effect is way off. Peavy is not a top-of-the-line pitcher, but he actually makes the bullpen a lot stronger. By him joining the rotation, the Red Sox will add an arm to the bullpen. That will likely be Brandon Workman, but theoretically Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront could work in relief in a playoff series as well.
That’s why this deal works. Middle relievers are middle relievers because they’re not good enough to be starters or closers. There is no doubt in my mind that Dempster would be an effective middle reliever.
Right now, Workman is pitching too well to take out of the rotation. He looked better last night than Dempster has in a long time, pitching six effective innings with nine strikeouts en route to picking up his first win of the season in an 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Red Sox have to think in terms of winning playoff series now. If Clay Buchholz isn’t able to return this season, then this is a great insurance pickup. If Buchholz does come back and is effective, that would make Peavy the fourth starter in the rotation. To beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a seven-game series, the Red Sox needed to improve their starting pitching.
That’s what they did here, and that’s why this was a good move.