So basically Drek, you want Ben to conduct a rummage sale out of the Fenway garage?
Effectively, yes. Bargains on middling MLB vets for playoff contending teams.
Shoppach, Aviles, Punto, Matsuzaka, Cook, Padilla, Albers, Atchison, Nava, and Sweeney? I'll even throw in Lillibridge, too, although you didn't mention him. That's 40% of the active roster, but not one is an impact player.
Sure. Why trade an impact player when the team is still borderline in the playoff race? Better yet, what impact player can we even trade? Pedroia and Ortiz are clearly not even up for discussion. No one wants Gonzalez' contract, we can assume that. Crawford, Buchholz, and Ellsbury are damaged good right now. No one wants Lackey's deal and he's damaged goods. Other than that you've got younger guys/cost controlled guys who are worth more to this team in 2013 and beyond (Aceves, Middlebrooks, Lavarnway, Kalish, etc.). That leaves Becket and Lester, which as I said I'd listen to offers on but wouldn't take anything beyond a major haul of quality prospects. I don't see that being offered.
It just clears out a lot of junk. And every other aspiring playoff team already has a pretty full basement of their own.
Really? No aspiring playoff team has questions about a right handed OF bat (Ross)? Or a quality 4th OF (Sweeney/Nava)? Or a solid if unspectacular 4th/5th starter type (Matsuzaka/Cook)? And when was the last off-season that aspiring playoff teams weren't willing to spend a little on some relief help (Albers, Atchison, Padilla)?
Its all a matter of opportunity costs for playoff teams. The choice between betting on one of their own AAA guys and trading for a more proven vet hinges on the cost of that vet. What I'm saying is that the Red Sox should be willing to take on the riskier side of these propositions (settle for middling return even though they're still in the playoff hunt) to facilitate these deals happening. I say that for two reasons:
1. The guys being blocked by the veterans mentioned do not look to be significant downgrades for this year.
2. The guys being blocked all have greater long term potential to help the Sox win meaningful games.
Its the same rationale that was applied when moving Youkilis for middling return. The 2012 difference in production between him and Middlebrooks didn't seem to be significant and the 2013 and beyond guy was clearly Middlebrooks. So why keep a stopgap around who isn't a clearly better option?
Aviles/Punto with Ciriaco and possibly Iglesias
Atchison/Albers/Padilla with Tazawa/Mortensen/Inman/Wilson
2 of Ross/Sweeney/Nava with Kalish/Linares
Matsuzaka/Cook with a regularly starting Morales
All would likely give similar production as standing pat with the older, short term vet in 2012 but paints a much clearer picture for 2013. The return for the "rummage sale" is in some ways secondary, but you hold it so that you aren't DFAing guys with real MLB value and get something in return.
Another Zach Stewart type for example, ok AAA pitcher who still has options but very little "prospect" status left, would be a useful return from one of these trades for the 2013 season. Parlaying some of these vets into long shot low minors lottery tickets would be a fine return. I'm not expecting many, if any, even B level prospects. Maybe if you package Ross and a reliever you see a single quality prospect come back. Other than that I'd rather see the FO clear some 25 man roster space for the mid-20's guys we have knocking on the door so we aren't just finding out what we have with Ciriaco, Linares, etc. after the 2013 FA season has passed us by and we find ourselves scrounging waiver wires in 2013 for fungible replacements.