Leading off the second inning on Tuesday night, Jose Iglesias roped a line drive off the green monster, then ran hard trying to stretch it into a double. The throw beat him to second, but he avoided the tag with the Dustin Pedroia patented "slide head first and lift up the left arm while trying to sneak in with the right" move. Unfortunately Iglesias was too far away to touch the base, although he did remain out of reach of the fielder. He jumped sideways, then hopped up and started sprinting back towards first base, still without being tagged out. Eventually he got caught in a rundown; but I'd never seen a play like that before, and I thought to myself, "wow, that's the kind of guy you want to have on your team."
And then a few hours later the Red Sox traded him. Here's my gut reaction to the news that Iglesias had been dealt for Jake Peavy, which still accurately sums up how I feel:
I think the #RedSox now must win the World Series to justify getting a few games better from Peavy this year vs maybe 15+ years of Iglesias.
— Mark Vandeusen (@LucidSportsFan) July 31, 2013
To me it seems like a huge gamble to give up a guy who could be a cornerstone of the franchise for well over a decade in order to get a slightly above average and often injured (Peavy has only stayed healthy for roughly half the season in 3 of the last 4 years) starting pitcher with a 4.28 ERA. If somehow Boston doesn't make the postseason (despite the favorable odds), it'll clearly be a regrettable decision. And even if they do and Peavy doesn't win a few playoff games, it still very well might be.
And then there's my nightmare situation: A Red Sox vs Tigers playoff scenario in which Iglesias comes up to bat with the series on the line and legs out a key infield hit when his replacement at third base can't quit make the play for Boston.
Besides my fan perspective, some numbers support my case as well. Baseball has a very detailed statistic called WAR (wins above replacement), which basically determines how much better a player is than the average guy on the bench behind him or in Triple-A. For the season Peavy's WAR is 1.0, meaning the White Sox were one game better with him that they would have been using the next best available option. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt and factor in his 5.2 from last year, that still works out to just 1.2 more wins for Boston over their final 53 games. Is it really worth potentially damaging your future for one or two more victories this season?
But here's the kicker: Forget about the long term effects, there's a decent chance the Sox could actually be worse right now. Jose Iglesias was having a very good season, though 63 games his WAR stood at 1.5. Depending on whether you compare that to Peavy's 2013 or 2012+2013 WAR, Boston projects to win either .02 or .77 fewer games with Peavy on the team instead of Iglesias.
Obviously these stats are very inexact, and many other variables come in to play as well. But the fact that this trade likely hurts the Sox later on, and may or may not even help them now, makes me very skeptical.