The trade deadline has passed, and the hammer has dropped on Clay Buchholz. These are your 2011 Red Sox--A.L. East leaders and World Series contenders--for better or for worse.
Erik Bedard In, Clay Buchholz Out
The Red Sox' trade for Erik Bedard came one day before the revelation that Clay Buchholz would likely miss the rest of the year with a stress fracture in his back.
Let's get this out of the way first: this is another black mark on the Red Sox' medical team. From Jed Lowrie, to Jacoby Ellsbury, to Dustin Pedroia, and now this, the Sox seem to be one of the best in the league when it comes to misdiagnosing players and mismanaging their rehabilitation. Maybe it's a matter of only seeing the cases that are actually relevant to the team we watch, but the Sox do seem to make a habit of it. Perhaps that's why the front-office is often so ready to put guys on precautionary DL stints.
As for Erik Bedard, well, it all comes down to health. If he can keep himself healthy for three months, then the Sox have likely found their much-needed replacement for Buchholz in the playoffs. The man can be a top-of-the-line pitcher when he's able to play. The problem is that he's always injured. There's really nothing to be done other than to cross our collective fingers.
Jon Lester Returns, Dominates
One man who hasn't let injuries slow him much has been Jon Lester, whose first two starts since returning from injury have resulted in three earned runs in just over 13 innings.
While Lester was held short in his first start, making just 89 pitches and tiring a bit late as the Sox fell to the Royals 3-1, Lester showed on Saturday that there shouldn't be any questions about his endurance, going eight innings and allowing just two earned runs on four hits and a walk to the White Sox, striking out eight men in the process. With the news on Buchholz, it's good to know that at least the top-two are locked down for the Sox.
The Curious Case Of Mike Aviles
It's hard to figure out the Mike Aviles deal. On the surface, Trading a higher-ceiling player like Yamaico Navarro for a lower-ceiling player filling the same role doesn't make much sense when their performances are relatively equal, but in this case there might be more to it.
Aviles has bounced back and forth between good and terrible years based largely on luck-influenced BABIP. Over his career-short though it may be-he's been an average shortstop. The Sox are entering 2012 with Marco Scutaro a free agent with two options (one team, one player) and an oft-injured Jed Lowrie. If Theo Epstein believes that this is the real Mike Aviles, then he may be looking to have Aviles fight for the starting job in 2012. He's likely to be much cheaper than Scutaro, and possibly more reliable than Lowrie.
It's not something Sox fans want to hear, really, but there's no answer at shortstop coming anytime soon if Jed Lowrie isn't going to be consistently healthy. The free agent market is limited to the hugely-expensive Jose Reyes, who seems very unlikely to be playing in Boston anytime soon, and the internal options are limited. Navarro himself seemed to be moving to third base having put on some weight, and Jose Iglesias has shown nothing with the bat, so adding another potential starter to the mix can do nothing but help. And if Aviles can be 2008 or 2010 Aviles, then there would be no cause for complaint.
Dustin Pedroia's Hitting Streak Ends
The 25-game hitting streak of Dustin Pedroia came to an end this past Friday as Gavin Floyd shut down the Red Sox' lineup for seven long innings.
Pedroia's .404/.459/.752 line during his hitting streak would seem unreal-especially for a second baseman-had he not already been hitting .390/.500/.644 in the 15 games from June 10-when he returned from a knee examination that reassured him of his health-and June 26.
If the end of the hit streak has had some effect on Pedroia, it's been hard to see. He's already working on another one, having picked up four hits in his last eight at-bats as the Red Sox fought back to take the series from the White Sox.
Carl Crawford Cools, Adrian Gonzalez Heats Up
After a solid start to his return from injury, Carl Crawford has fallen apart since the beginning of the Kansas City series. Striking out in five straight at bats between two games, Crawford's July will go down in history as 24 truly terrible at bats.
What's worse, it sounds like there's something physically wrong with his elbow, as he required a cortisone injection (think David Ortiz' knees in years past) last week. He did nearly provide a walk-off homer, against Chicago, and this is his first time facing Major League pitching in about a month, but the Sox had to be hoping for more.
At least he's drawn four walks?
Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez has shrugged off his post-Derby slump, going a ridiculous 23-for-43 in his last ten games. He's brought some pop back into things the last couple of games, too, finally homering again Saturday against the White Sox and adding a pair of doubles in Sunday's game.