List: Ranking Theo Epstein’s trade deadline moves
|07.21.11 at 9:52 am ET|
Of all the pressures a general manager deals with, the wheeling and dealing of the trade deadline might be the most intense. For contending clubs, a big move leading up to July 31 could make or break a season, as teams try to add that last missing piece for a title run. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has been at the helm since 2003, giving him eight different cracks at a deadline deal. As we approach the end of July, let’s take a look back at Epstein’s trade deadline history, ranking his moves from worst to best.
8. 2003: Traded Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez to the Pirates for Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez; traded Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland to the Reds for Scott Williamson
There are a lot of names flying around in this pair of deals, but for the first trade we can narrow it down to Sanchez for Suppan, which does not bode well for Boston. Sanchez soon became one of the best hitters in the National League, claiming a batting title in 2006 with a .344 average, and was a member of last season’s World Series champion Giants. Suppan, on the other hand, appeared in just 11 games for the Red Sox and posted a 5.57 ERA while allowing 12 home runs. He was gone for St. Louis by 2004, where he had a front row seat for the Red Sox’ World Series sweep. Williamson turned out to be a better acquisition than Suppan, as he posted a 1.26 ERA during the 2004 campaign.
Many World Series contenders need a successful midseason trade to get to the next level. Remarkably, the Red Sox made a disastrous deadline deal in 2007 and still managed to win it all. Gagne certainly had the reputation to justify the move, but his performance in Boston left much to be desired. Gagne blew four saves and posted a 6.75 ERA with the Red Sox, while Murphy still is a major part of a very potent Rangers lineup. As for the Pineiro deal, he’s working as a back-of-the-rotation starter in Anaheim, and Danielson has yet to reach the big leagues.
6. 2005: Traded Kenny Perez and Kyle Bono to the Diamondbacks for Jose Cruz Jr.
There wasn’t much urgency in the Red Sox front office a year after the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years, especially because the Sox were in first place heading toward the deadline. Thus, Epstein’s only move was trading two minor leaguers for Cruz, whose potential had all but fizzled out. Cruz played just four games in Boston before being designated for assignment, while Perez and Bono stayed stuck in the minors.
5. 2006: Traded Luis Mendoza to the Rangers for Bryan Corey
For the second straight year, Epstein mostly sat on his hands during the deadline, swapping relievers with Texas while the Red Sox slowly sank to third place in the American League East. Corey was having a solid season with the Rangers, but his ERA ballooned to 3.69 in Boston. The Red Sox kept him around for another year, although he only appeared in 18 more games and posted a 10.50 ERA in 2008. Mendoza did not fare much better. He only pitched four innings for the Royals last season, giving up 10 runs on four homers.
With an injury-riddled roster, Epstein did not have many healthy pieces to move. Still, he manufactured a backup plan in case Victor Martinez signed elsewhere, which turned out to be quite necessary. The Sox parted with two minor leaguers for the 26-year-old Saltalamacchia, whose eight home runs and 27 RBI this season have helped take some of the load off Jason Varitek. Ramirez struggled to a 4.46 ERA in his last year in Boston, but has found success in the National League, keeping his ERA under 3.00 in two half-seasons with the Giants.
V-Mart tore the cover off the ball in Cleveland from 2004-07, but a patellar tendon injury cut his 2008 season short. He recovered nicely in 2009, batting .336 with 41 RBIs in 56 games with the Red Sox. Martinez hit 20 homers in 2010 but never got the chance to prove himself in the playoffs. Masterson has panned out nicely for the Indians, leading the team in ERA (2.64) and strikeouts (101) midway through the season. As for the other deal, Kotchman had just 87 at-bats for the Red Sox before being moved to three teams in three years. LaRoche hit .325 down the stretch in Atlanta but hasn’t hit over .280 since.
It’s often said that the team that gets the headline player wins the trade, but the Red Sox could hardly get rid of Ramirez fast enough. “Manny being Manny” had worn out its welcome, and although Boston could thank Ramirez for his contributions in two World Series runs, two subsequent failed drug tests proved Epstein was wise to cut Ramirez loose when he did. What’s more, Bay was quite productive during his year-and-a-half stint in Boston, including 36 home runs and 119 RBIs in 2009.
1. 2004: In a four-team trade, sent Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Cubs and received Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins and Orlando Cabrera from the Expos; traded Henri Stanley to the Dodgers for Dave Roberts
Epstein wanted to upgrade the team defensively, and Garciaparra’s depleted range gave him the rationale to make a move. While the former face of the franchise was shipped to the Cubs, Boston welcomed three new teammates who played integral roles in ending the team’s title drought. Cabrera brought improved defense up the middle, and Mientkiewicz caught the final out of the World Series at first base. However, the Sox likely would never have made it past the ALCS without Roberts, who is responsible for one of the most famous stolen bases in history.
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