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July 31, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Bedard Off in Boston UPDATED

by Colin Wyers and Kevin Goldstein

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Josh Fields from the Mariners for OF-L Chih-Hsien Chiang. [7/31]
Traded C-R Tim Federowicz, RHP Stephen Fife, and RHP Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers. [7/31]

After backing out of the Rich Harden sweepstakes due to concerns about his medicals, the Red Sox turned to… Erik Bedard. It’s unclear exactly how far the Red Sox read into Harden’s medical records (I’m guessing the medical staff raised serious red flags after reading the cover page, but it’s possible they actually read what was in the file). Bedard, who has made just one start after returning from a left knee sprain, has to have at least as many red flags.

The Red Sox also have to be looking past the results of that first start, which lasted only 1 1/3 innings but resulted in five runs. Pitchers as good as Bedard still have those kinds of starts every so often even when healthy, so it’s not necessarily a portent of doom, but it does little to give reassurance that he’s healthy again.

If healthy, Bedard can be an impressive pitcher, and with a fastball he can still run up to 93 mph, there’s still reason to think he can be that sort of pitcher. The Red Sox are taking a gamble here—to shore up a rotation littered with question marks (Buchholz and Matsuzaka are on the DL, while Lackey and Wakefield have been ineffective), they’ve added another question mark. With playoff odds just a tick off 100 percent, they can afford to gamble—at this point they are mostly jockeying for better seeding as the division leader and trying to assemble a rotation for the playoffs. —Colin Wyers

Josh Fields has had a strange professional career. Between being drafted as a college senior and a long holdout, he was nearly 24 years old when he threw his first professional pitch, and he's never regained the stuff that once projected him as a knock-out closer, nor the control, as evidenced by a career walk rate of 6.4 per nine. What was once a mid- to upper-90s fastball is now in the low- to mid-90s, and the wipeout slider that some scouts put the rare 80 on in college is now merely a plus pitch in terms of movement, and he has trouble keeping it in the strike zone. The pure stuff to get big-league hitters out is there, and the Red Sox love projects, so he at least has a fighting chance. —Kevin Goldstein

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-S Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers. [7/31]
Traded LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Josh Fields to the Red Sox for OF-L Chih-Hsien Chiang. [7/31]

Robinson is hitting .293/.375/.563 for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, but that is in one of the best ballparks to hit in. He's more of a 10-15 homer player in the big leagues, but he's also a plus runner who can steal bases and a patient hitter who knows how to get on base. The biggest concern for Robinson is a high strikeout rate, and Albuquerque was the worst park for him due to his habit of forcing the power; his ability to hit bombs in a pinball machine was not helping him make the right adjustments. Robinson can play all three outfield positions well, and is at least a second-division starter in the majors. On a team getting zero production out of their outfield this year, Robinson will quickly get a chance to prove he's worthy of a 2012 Opening Day job.

A 23-year-old signed out of Taiwan six years ago, Chiang has been one of the biggest surprises in the minors this year, crushing the Eastern League to the tune of .338/.399/.647 and landing a spot in the Futures Game. Even with numbers that good, scouts have yet to really warm up to him, with one saying, “I just don't see much in him as far as tools go.” He's a below-average runner and limited to a corner, his arm is so-so, and he doesn't run very well, but it's hard to ignore those numbers, and much like Robinson's fate, there is plenty of room for outfielders who can actually hit in Seattle. —Kevin Goldstein

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired C-R Tim Federowicz, RHP Stephen Fife, and RHP Juan Rodriguez from the Red Sox. [7/31]
Traded OF-S Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. [7/31]

A seventh-round pick in 2008, Federowicz put up a 955 OPS at Low-A in his first full-season, but that's what college-based players are supposed to do in the Sally League. He's since come back to earth, with his numbers at Double-A Portland sitting at .275/.337/.397 at the time of the trade. That's about what you can expect out of Federowicz—a decent hitter with doubles power and a few walks, with enough catch-and-throw skills to profile as a solid backup.

A third-round pick in 2008, Fife has moved slowly through the system, and has lowered his ERA by more than a run this year (it's at 3.66) while repeating Double-A. He throws an average-velocity fastball with a bit of sink, and displays a solid curveball/change combination while commanding everything well. There aren't any dings against him, but there is nothing to be excited about, either. He projects as a middle reliever.

A 22-year-old Dominican who has been pitching out of the bullpen at Low-A Greenville, Rodriguez has struck out 88 in just 59 innings, but he's also walked 32 and has an ERA north of five. At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he certainly looks the part of a power pitcher, and his 93-96 mph fastball can light up a radar gun, but every other part of his game—from his below-average breaking ball to his ability to throw strikes—lags behind.

I spent 15 minutes after this trade waiting to hear which players I'm missing while simultaneously trying to talk Jay Jaffe off a ledge via instant messenger. The Dodgers took a perfectly good Top-11 prospect, a player who is having a great year at Triple-A and easily projects as an everyday outfielder, and received three pieces of fringe in return. You'd almost think Frank McCourt was running the team. —Kevin Goldstein

Colin Wyers is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Colin's other articles. You can contact Colin by clicking here
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who,  Erik Bedard,  Kevin Goldstein

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