Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is Brad Penny Trade Bait?

Bob Ryan and Chad Finn may be on to something.

They contend, Ryan actually predicts, that Brad Penny will no longer be a member of the Red Sox come the trade deadline in late July.

Brad Penny has been a decent starter as of late, and we all know what teams need for the second half of the season: Innings-eating quality pitching. With Bowden, Buchholz and 'ole man Smoltzy in the waiting, the depth we've all heard about in Red Sox pitching should start seeing life with the big league team in June.

[By the way, Buchholz came extremely close to a perfect game in Pawtucket]

Look at some Penny fun facts:
  • 3 Wins in his last 5 starts against strong offensive teams: Tampa, Toronto and Twins
  • In those 5 starts, he's walked a total of 6 batters, none against the Twins on the road
  • Only 1 home run given up over that stretch
  • Penny hasn't given up more than 4 runs in any of those 5 starts
  • His ERA has dropped from 7.61 to 5.96
  • He had 8 K's against Tampa, 7 against Twinkies
And the not so fun Penny facts:
  • Opponents hitting .302 against him for the season
  • An 11.2 Hits Per 9 inning in 2009 (a career worst)
  • A career era of 4.12 while pitching almost entirely in the NL
  • Has a recent-shoulder history that would have many GMs nervous
  • Has a belly that says "Beer is a food group"
  • He's 31
The thing that Ryan and Finn don't really discuss what they might get for Penny, but the point of trade bait is a valid one and something you could see the Sox doing, especially as the move to get younger (aside from the freak Smoltz) takes hold. The Sox would probably need to package him up with some young player they are willing to part with (no one really comes to mind immediately, but we know the Sox have a coveted farm system).

Lord knows many of us would love to see Lugo go in a trade, so perhaps Penny might be part of that kind of package with a youngster. I pray.

I could easily see Penny being baited back to the NL West where the streaking Padres (not naked priests, you sickos, the 10 Ws in a row) could look to make a move against the Dodgers, or even the New York Mets who need more reliable starting pitching with all their recent offensive DL moves (Delgado, Cora, and today, Reyes and Church). The Mets are going to need pitching help soon.

The Padres make sense to me because they seem to love to trade former guys who played for the Dodgers like Maddux who was wearing those retarded camo uniforms one day, then in those crisp, white Dodger unis the next. Time to stick it back to the Dodgers, whale vagina town?

We're not used to seeing guys be traded at the deadline in the same division here in the AL East. That's nuts, especially in the same season.

The big questions remain on how Bucholz will react to coming back to the big league team, not to mention how Bowden will perform (and how much he will be used as a starter) and if Smoltz can be Smoltzesque in the AL against offensive powerhouses like the Rays and Yankees.

While Penny might seem excellent trade discussion fodder, it's not a bad thing to have 4 starting options if anyone should need to go on the DL between now and July 31 (or after). We've seen Beckett blisters boil up before, and I'm not convinced yet that Dice-K is at full strength after his recent medicore outing.

One thing is for sure: Penny will not be packaged with top tier talent for anyone.