The Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox this week as part of a three-team deal which sent Jose Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox also sent three lower level prospects to the White Sox.
Essentially, from a Red Sox perspective, the deal boiled down to Iglesias for Peavy. Let me repeat that– the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy for Jose Iglesias. It boggles my mind.
Take a look at what the Texas Rangers had to give up to get Matt Garza from the Cubs. The cost of getting Cliff Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies would have likely consisted of some package including Will Middlebrooks and either top prospects Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley, Jr. They’d most likely have to toss in one or two of their top young arms in Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby De La Rosa, and/or Allen Webster. Not to mention how much money and years are left on 34-year-old Lee’s contract (roughly $25 million per year through 2016).
Instead, the Red Sox capitalized on slick-fielding Iglesias’ hot start with the bat this season to land a former Cy Young Award winner. It was a proposition I wrote about in mid-June (and readers thought I was out of my mind) when Iglesias was flirting with a .400 average. Not in my wildest dreams, however, did I imagine that a pitcher of Peavy’s status could have been the return. Heck, I would have been happy only acquiring hard-throwing reliever Brayan Villareal straight-up for Iglesias. Did I mention the Red Sox acquired Villareal in this deal as well? Bravo, Ben Cherington. Excuse me while I stand and applaud.
Surprisingly, and I should know better, there have been detractors. More surprisingly, some of those detractors have been in the media (I’m looking at you Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, and Mike Mutnansky).
“Sure, Peavy won a Cy Young, but that was back in 2007,” they say.
“Peavy is always hurt,” they say.
“The Red Sox are trading for a name. Peavy is not the same pitcher he was. He’s lost a couple of ticks on his fastball.”
“If Peavy is so good, why did the Red Sox just have to give up Iglesias. If the Red Sox didn’t have to give up any of their top prospects for him, then Peavy must not be that good.”
Let’s start with the last comment. The White Sox did get a hefty return for Peavy. They got Detroit’s second-best prospect in outfielder Avisail Garcia. They also got the Red Sox three minor leaguers, one of whom is a pitcher who tickles 100 m.p.h.
Detroit is the one who dealt from a position of desperation. With the Indians and Royals making surprising runs at them, and with an impending suspension of Jhonny Peralta looming, the Tigers needed insurance at shortstop. Even with Peralta, the Tigers needed help defensively at shortstop with the cement-footed Miguel Cabrera playing third base. Their Detroit offense can afford to absorb the light-hitting Iglesias. They already have the likes of Austin Jackson, Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez.
It was a perfect scenario for the Red Sox to capitalize on and Cherington did a masterful job identifying it and capitalizing on it.
As for Peavy, I repeat, you only gave up Jose Iglesias for him. I heard a caller on talk radio this week say, and I paraphrase, but not by much, ‘If you’re going to trade Iglesias, I want a Pedro Martinez or Sandy Koufax type in return.’ In order to get a number one like a Cliff Lee or, say, a Felix Hernandez, the Red Sox would have had to given up the farm. Some people just are delusional and can never be placated.
As is, Peavy may come in and be the ace of this staff. Jon Lester is struggling. Who knows when or if Clay Buchholz will return? You want John Lackey on the mound in Game One of the playoffs? Ryan Dempster may not even belong in the starting rotation at this point. Felix Doubront is not efficient or consistent enough to be an ace yet.
Sure, according to FanGraphs.com, Peavy barely averages 90 mph on his fastball nowadays. In 2007, he averaged 92.5. But as Peavy has aged, he has evolved. His strength has always been the ability to throw a variety of pitches from a variety of arm angles. In recent years, he has even added a cutter to his repertoire which he threw at a career-high 21% of the time last year (only 9.3% of the time in his Cy Young Award winning season of 2007).
You want to question his durability? Peavy threw four complete games last year. Only Justin Verlander, R.A. Dickey, and Felix Hernandez threw more. Ever hear of those guys?
Some point to Peavy’s 4.28 ERA this year and scoff. The wise fan would know that Peavy had a 3.37 ERA last year. After his first eight starts this year, his ERA was even better at 2.97. That’s around the time he suffered a fractured rib and tried to pitch through it which resulted in two very ugly starts (combined 12 earned runs in a 6.1 innings).
That represents what could be the one vice that Peavy has. He is one of the most competitive players around, and sometimes that works against him when he is not honest with himself and his coaches.
That same competitiveness is what endears him to me (or is it me to him?). This is not Erik Bedard staring off into the upper levels of the stands in between pitches. Peavy has tunnel-vision focus. Brace yourself to hear his pronounced grunts after he releases every pitch. This guy is a warrior.
The other thing I love about him is he throws strikes. No wasted pitches. The thought of Peavy pitching seven innings, Junichi Tazawa pitching the eighth, and Uehara the ninth should result in several sub-three hour games. Sounds good, right?
Another bonus is that Peavy is signed through 2014. He is scheduled to make $14.5 million next year. Sounds better than the $25 million the Red Sox would have had to have paid Lee, right? Certainly sounds better than the $16 million that the Dodgers, and not the Red Sox, will be paying Josh Beckett next year.
Peavy will be fine in Boston. This is not Erik Bedard. Nor is this Eric Gagne, Joel Hanrahan, or Mark Melancon.
I’ll wait while you stop shuttering…
Peavy has the goods to succeed in Boston. He also has the potential to be the starting pitcher in Game One for the Red Sox in, oh, say, the World Series.
Iglesias would have been no better than the ninth place hitter in the Red Sox lineup come playoff time. He very possibly could have been a bench/utility player by the time playoff time rolled around. Iglesias may or may not become the next Ozzie Smith or, more possibly, Omar Vizquel. The Red Sox hope to have the next Hanley Ramirez who just happens to be tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A right now. There is little doubt Xander Bogaerts will be contributing in Boston in September, if not much sooner. And, hey, that Stephen Drew is playing pretty good, too.