The Red Sox once again find themselves facing a host of injuries and uncertainties with the trade deadline approaching. The up-in-the-air status of Clay Buchholz and the likely season-ending shoulder injury for Andrew Bailey mean that the Sox face a need to deepen their bullpen and may need more rotation insurance to cover them in case Buchholz's return continues to be delayed.
A look at recent trade deadline periods suggests that the Sox have rarely made major moves in the trade market in response to injuries, more often making relatively marginal moves to stabilize impacted parts of the team. Indeed, the team's splashiest moves at the trade deadline have often had unintended and disappointing consequences, while either modest outside-of-organization acquisitions or homegrown prospects have offered the greatest impact.
Injuries: David Ortiz suffers Achilles strain on July 16. Ryan Sweeney breaks finger punching door on July 31.
In-house alternatives: None.
Result: The Red Sox ranked second in the majors in runs per game at the time of Ortiz's injury, plating exactly 5.0 per game. Without him, and with the subsequent losses of Will Middlebrooks and Carl Crawford as well as the deal to dispatch Adrian Gonzalez, the team scored just 3.9 runs per game down the stretch. On the fringes of contention at the trade deadline, the Sox saw their season go off the rails by mid-August, Resulting in the decision to trade Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.
Injuries: Clay Buchholz has non-displaced fractures in lower back, does not pitch after June 16. John Lackey has torn ulnar collateral ligament but continues to pitch. Daisuke Matsuzaka has torn ulnar collateral ligament, undergoes Tommy John surgery in June 2011. Rich Hill has torn ulnar collateral ligament, undergoes Tommy John surgery in June 2011. J.D. Drew suffers shoulder injury on July 20.
In-house alternatives: The Sox had Andrew Miller and Kyle Weiland as potential call-ups for the rotation. Josh Reddick had usurped Drew as the everyday right-fielder by the time the veteran landed on the DL.
Countermoves: None for the outfield. In the rotation, the Sox tried to land Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers only to be foiled when he exercised his right to veto a trade. The team agreed to a deal for Rich Harden with the A's only to see it unravel after a review of Harden's medicals. Ultimately, the Sox acquired Erik Bedard in hopes that he would offer rotation stability.
Result: With Bedard suffering an oblique strain in September and Beckett suffering an ankle sprain that sidelined him (and limited his effectiveness) in September, the Sox' rotation buckled en route to the biggest September collapse in big league history.
Injuries: Dustin Pedroia suffers fractured foot on June 25, remains out through trade deadline. Jason Varitek suffers fracture foot in late-June, remains out through trade deadline. Jacoby Ellsbury suffers rib fractures in mid-April, out (except for three games in late-May) through trade deadline. Mike Cameron suffers sports hernia in April, does not play again after July 30. The Sox also experienced devastating post-deadline injuries, with Kevin Youkilis experiencing a torn adductor muscle in his hand just after the deadline, and Pedroia's efforts to return in mid-August getting short-circuited by further foot woes.
In-house alternatives: Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish assumed significant outfield workloads. Utility man Bill Hall played almost everyday either at second base or in the outfield. After Youkilis went down, the Sox had Mike Lowell to plug in at first base.
Countermoves: Kevin Cash was acquired to complement Victor Martinez behind the plate.
Result: The absence of Pedroia, Ellsbury and Youkilis proved too much for the Sox to withstand. A team that was 5 1/2 games behind the Rays for the wild card at the trade deadline and 7 1/2 behind the Yankees in the division played roughly .500 ball over the duration of the year, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Injuries: Tim Wakefield, after an All-Star first half, suffers back injuries in mid-July and makes just four starts in the second half. Jed Lowrie's health uncertain after wrist surgery in April. Questions about Mike Lowell's health in returning from offseason hip surgery loomed.
In-house alternatives: Clay Buchholz came up from Pawtucket. Nick Green spent much of the year as the starting shortstop with Lugo and Lowrie unavailable.
Countermoves: Paul Byrd was signed off his couch in August to offer more starting depth. The team traded for shortstop Alex Gonzalez in August. With Lowell's availability/production in some doubt, the Sox added Victor Martinez and first baseman Casey Kotchman (after a brief, brief acquisition of Andy LaRoche) at the trade deadline.
Result: Buchholz and to a lesser extent Byrd stabilized the rotation, Gonzalez offered production at shortstop and Martinez proved everything the Sox could have hoped at first base and behind the plate. The Sox reached the playoffs but were swept by the Angels.
Injuries: Julio Lugo misses second half with torn hamstring. Mike Lowell suffered oblique injury in mid-August; also dealing with chronic hip issues. David Ortiz suffers torn tendon sheath in wrist on May 31, remains out until end of July (returning just before the deadline). Bartolo Colon suffers oblique strain in mid-June. J.D. Drew suffers oblique strain in mid-August, out for most of remainder of regular season but returns late in September and for the playoffs.
In-house alternatives: Jed Lowrie takes over for Lugo at short and delivers strong production at the position until a non-displaced wrist fracture makes hitting left-handed a struggle. With Ortiz out for most of two months, Manny Ramirez moves from left field to DH with both Jacoby Ellsbury and Coco Crisp playing the outfield.
Countermoves: With Colon out and Clay Buchholz struggling, the Sox acquire Paul Byrd, who offered back-of-the-rotation stability. The Sox likewise landed Mark Kotsay in August when Drew was sidelined; he ended up replacing Lowell in the lineup at first for much of the postseason.
Result: The combination of call-ups and minor trades -- in conjunction with the move to deal Manny Ramirez (and prospects) to land Jason Bay -- allows the Sox to reach the playoffs and to come within a game of the World Series.
Injuries: Curt Schilling missed seven weeks from late-June to early-August. Manny Ramirez suffers late-August oblique strain. The team was worried about overuse of Hideki Okajima at the trade deadline. Brendan Donnelly had a torn ulnar collateral ligament and needed Tommy John surgery.
In-house alternatives: Kason Gabbard and Jon Lester contribute in Schilling's absence. Ellsbury fills in as an everyday corner outfielder with Ramirez sidelined.
Countermoves: The Sox acquired Eric Gagne to offer late-innings insurance for All-Star setup man Okajima and to offset some of the innings lost by Donnelly's absence.
Result: Gagne was a bust, but Ellsbury and Lester both became important contributors both down the stretch and in the postseason en route to a World Series win.
Injuries: Coco Crisp was never right after suffering a broken finger in the first week of the year. Matt Clement never pitched after mid-June due to shoulder injuries that effectively ended his career. Tim Wakefield missed about two months from mid-July to mid-September as a result of a stress fracture in his ribs. David Wells missed almost all of the first four months of the season before returning to the mound on the day of the trade deadline. Hours after the trade deadline, Jason Varitek suffered a torn meniscus and was out until September; upon his return, he was ineffective. The next day, Trot Nixon suffered an oblique strain and missed all of August. Jon Lester's season came to a shocking halt when he was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of September. Keith Foulke missed roughly two months from mid-June to mid-August.
In-house alternatives: Wily Mo Pena became the primary center fielder in Crisp's absence. Gabe Kapler and David Murphy eventually assumed some of Nixon's workload. Lester initially served as depth before his diagnosis with cancer. Lenny DiNardo struggled as a rotation depth option. In Foulke's place, Jonathan Papelbon emerged as the closer (until his career nearly got derailed by a shoulder subluxation in September), while the Sox relied for stretches of the year on right-handers like Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen.
Countermoves: The Sox added catchers Corky Miller and Javier Lopez with Varitek out. The team went out of the organization for a succession of duct tape starters such as Jason Johnson, Kyle Snyder and Kevin Jarvis. With Foulke out, the team added Bryan Corey at the trade deadline.
Result: The injuries to Varitek and Nixon right after the trade deadline proved devastating, as did the injuries to the rotation. A team that had been in first place to that point fell apart in August, with most of the replacements brought in from outside the organization performing poorly.
Injuries: Keith Foulke underwent knee surgery in early July and was gone for the next two months, playing a considerable role in a mess of a bullpen. Curt Schilling missed three months from mid-April to mid-July and returned in a bullpen role for about a month and a half before finishing the year as a starter. A pair of players whom the Sox acquired with injury histories -- Wade Miller and Matt Mantei -- added to those injury histories.
In-house alternatives: Jonathan Papelbon made three starts, the first coming on the trade deadline with two more in August, before being moved to the bullpen.
Countermoves: In August and September, the Sox churned through a number of pitchers who had been released by other organizations, to little effect. The Blaine Neals, Chad Harvilles and Mike Remlingers of the world made little impact.
Result: The Sox passed on deals such as a swap of Kevin Youkilis for J.C. Romero, with Papelbon making a huge impact in the bullpen, both in 2005 and beyond.