Here we are near the trade deadline. Pitchers are scratched from starts suggesting trades are imminent. Jake Peavy is one of those guys. He was scratched from his Tuesday night start against the Indians. All the rumors that linked Peavy to the Red Sox came true late last night when the Sox acquired him in a three team trade involving both colored Sox and the Tigers. The Red Sox gave up Jose Iglesias and three prospects – J.B. Wendelken, Francelis Montas and Cleuluis Rondon to nab Peavy and Brayan Villarreal. What should we expect from Peavy?
While Peavy is not the stud he was from 2004 to 2009, he is still a pretty a decent pitcher. He suffered a highly unusual injury in 2010. He is the only pitcher to have fully torn his right latissimus dorsi tendon – the tendon that connects the latissimus dorsi muscle to the humerus bone – completely off the bone. Peavy’s injury was so unusual that many thought his career was over. However, he rehabbed hard and came back to pitch a bit over 100 innings in 2011 and notched 219 innings in 2012. Since his 60 day DL stint for that injury, Peavy has been on the 15 day DL three other times, including his most recent stint for a rib injury (not arm related). He’s made two starts since returning from the rib injury (against Detroit and Atlanta). In those starts he went a total of 13 innings allowing 11hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts and 6 earned runs. The one problem he faces is the long ball. He gave up four home runs in those two starts.
A quick look shows you that Peavy is not the same pitcher he was before his 2010 injury, but that he has nicely reinvented himself. His velocity is down but surprisingly he is using his fastball more often. How can that be? He has increased his use of his slower stuff. His curve and change up usage are up significantly while he has decreased by about 50 percent the time he throws his sinker (another fastball like pitch for Peavy that clocks in around where his fastball does). It seems Peavy has become more of a pitcher then a thrower.
He has also improved his control, walking slightly fewer then two guys per nine innings and his strikeout percentage has increased over the last two years to 23.5%. It’s not what it was back in his heyday, but he’s brought it up since the injury. The one concern is the number of home runs he gives up. That could be his ballpark or that his stuff is not as nasty and when he does miss he is more hittable. It is pretty clear he hates to walk guys but the price he pays for avoiding the free pass is an increase in home runs. As long as they are solo shots, I can live with that.
Peavy strikes me as a slightly better pitcher then Ryan Dempster and probably less frustrating then Felix Doubront. Doubront has higher highs and lower lows. Peavy is under Sox control this year and next. The added rotation depth will be nice, given the uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz and his neck.
I don’t think the Sox gave up that much to get Peavy. Iglesias, while a fine fielder, was not the hitter his 330/376/409 slash line suggested. It appears that the league had figured out how to attack him. In twenty-three games in July, Iglesias was hitting an anemic .205 with one extra base hit (a double), two walks and twelve strikeouts. And, from my personal observation, while his fielding was slick, his own view of his abilities often caused him to try to make impossible plays that led to bigger trouble in an inning when he’d throw away balls he should have just held onto. I don’t think Iglesias will come back to haunt the Sox the way some people are haunted by Hanley Ramirez. After all, this is a clear signal that Xander Bogaerts is on the way, if not this season then most definately in 2014. The Sox have not yet indicated who is coming up to replace Iglesias; in fact, they’ve been a bit coy about that. It could be Bogaerts or Middlebrooks. My guess is they give Middlebrooks one more shot and let Bogaerts play full time down at Pawtucket.
Middlebrooks is not one of my favorites. It’s not that I find him distasteful, it’s that I don’t think he is a long term solution at third. Upon his return to AAA, Middlebrooks seemed to get a bit of the idea of what the Sox wanted of him – better plate discipline. In June, albeit in only 38 ABS, he hit 289/386/605 with 4 home runs. July, however, has seen a regression. In 103 ABs his line is 245/297/398 with 4 doubles and 4 home runs; more of the same stuff that landed him back in the minors.
Bogaerts on the other hand is in a different world. Since his move from AA to AAA, his line is 273/381/473 with 8 HRs and 6 doubles. This does not tell the whole story. After a Middlebrookian June where he hit 242/319/485 with 4 HRs in 62 ABs, he’s taken off in July with an impressive 302/423/512 with 4 home runs and 6 doubles in 86 ABs. Is he ready for the majors? Hard to say, but I can say he’s a better hitter then Middlebrooks.
I suspect they’ll leave Bogaerts down for August and see if Middlebrooks can do anything. With the heat of the pennant race though Bogaerts may force their hand and a move to third for the remainder of 2013. I don’t think we’ll have many regrets for the trade off of Iglesias for Bogaerts.
Oh, and by the way the Sox also acquired a reliever from the Tigers in the deal – Brayan Villarreal. After a solid 2012, Villarreal struggled out the gate in 2013 and was sent back to AAA Toledo. There he’s thrown 34 1/3 innings of 3.15 ERA ball allowing 26 hits, 26 walks and 41 strikeouts. That’s a lot of baserunners and a decent number of missed bats. With any luck, a few sessions with Farrell will put him on the right track to becoming a serviceable arm out of the bullpen. He’s no Jesse Crain, but he does not carry an injury history; his missed only 9 games in his entire minor and major league career. He’s a decent acquisition and, if they can teach him to find the plate more often, a solid one.
All in all, a good trade that has this season ticket holder excited. It’s going to be a fun September.