Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saltalamacchia For Buccholz?

The Texas Rangers entered the off season in a unique and advantageous position: they had four, yes four, quality young catchers that could be in the big leagues in 2009 (Max Ramirez, Taylor Teagarden, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Gerald Laird). Catcher is notoriously one of the hardest positions to fill and having a long term option at catcher is priceless and extremely hard to come by. So it appeared as though the Rangers would be able to use their catching surplus to help address their horrendous pitching.

However, the Rangers have only moved one of their catchers so far (Gerald Laird to Detroit). Their pitching still stinks and without a few significant moves to upgrade their pitching staff, the Rangers will likely not come close to competing in the AL West this season.

It should come as no surprise that the Rangers are still actively trying to trade another one of their catchers. Recent reports suggest that the Rangers are trying to move Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who the Rangers acquired from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade. Saltalamacchia is highly regarded amongst baseball people even though his performance thus far in the majors has been sub par.

So who are the Rangers looking for in return for Salty? None other than former Red Sox wonder kid Clay Buchholz, who threw a no hitter in 2007 and is one of the Red Sox best prospects. The upside on Buchholz is tremendous because of his great breaking ball and plus fastball, but he is likely to be way down on the depth chart in 2009, and will probably begin the season in AAA.

Is now the time for the Red Sox to move Buchholz for Saltalamacchia? I say no.

This move would make tons of sense for the Rangers because they would be getting a potentially great starting pitcher at a very reasonable price. Acquiring Buchholz could change the face of the Rangers and actually give them a solid young starter to build around.

However, the Red Sox have no reason to make this panic move. the ceiling on Buchholz is way too high to simply give up on and even if he will not help in 2009, I suspect that he will play a major role in the the success of the Red Sox for years to come.

And sure it is difficult to find a quality, young catcher, but it is even harder to find a young, cheap ace who can potentially anchor the starting rotation for the next decade. That price would be too steep for the Red Sox.

The Rangers should continue to try to find a taker for Saltalamacchia. They need the pitching badly and should be able to get a pretty good young pitcher in return for Salty. However, I don't see the Buchholz deal happening. If the Rangers lower their request down to Michael Bowden or Daniel Bard, then I think the Red Sox would have to at least think about it.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

Tough choice. Though I'm not sure a young ace is necessarily more difficult to find. You wouldn't trade a young ace for a good catcher, you'd trade him for an All-Star catcher (which Saltalamacchia could theoretically be just as much as Buccholz could be an ace). There were 3 catchers on the NL All-Star team but 6 aces (Volquez, Zambrano, Lincecum are all young). I'd say it's about even between stud catcher (who plays 140 games and is extremely involved) and an ace (35 starts and a little more involved than extremely). Again, tough call. Both teams need what the other has, and each has a surplus at the position. I guess it just depends what other offers are on the table, but I think the deal makes sense for both.

Josh said...

theMARKsMITH: I just think Buchholz's potential is just too great to give away. Not to say that Salty won't become a great player, but I have not seen a pitcher with the kind of stuff Buchholz has in a long time.

But like you said, it's a tough call.

thanks for the comment.

Ron Rollins said...

I have to agree with Mark. Make the trade while you can. They get 12/14 years out of Saltamacchia (depending on FA) and with the money the Sox have, they can always go after pitching later if they need it.

Or just keep doing what they are doing now and developing young pitchers in the minors. But they already have a glut of startres, and need catching more than pitching right now.

And Saltamacchia's bat at Fenway? Good things to come there.