Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Something's Happening Here

Ok, the Sox made a few moves this afternoon, and they're a little strange.

1) Designated Alan Embree for assignment.
2) Acquired 2B/3B Tony Graffanino from the Royals for essentially nothing.
3) Acquired OF Adam Hyzdu from the Pirates for less than essentially nothing.

Alright, easy stuff first. Theo got Hyzdu because Boston is facing three left-handers in a row (Fossum, Hendrickson, and Buehrle) and with Payton gone and Kapler not yet healthy, Nixon would be forced to play. Hyzdu ain't much, but he is an adequate (and cheap) platoon outfielder. Once Kapler is ready for prime time, Adam will reclaim the role he was destined to fill: AAA outfielder. Then you've got Graffanino - which is a little harder to understand. Tony is a great platoon infielder, as he murders left-handed pitching and can play 2nd and 3rd well and SS adequately. But it's hard to call him an upgrade over Cora. Perhaps Theo wants him to split time with Alex until Bellhorn gets back, but is it really necessary to trade for a guy for 2 weeks of platoon play? What are they going to do when Bellie returns and they have 2 backup infielders? The only explanation The Ninth sees for this is that either the Sox are fed up with Mark and wish to give away his playing time, or they are planning to move another infielder. We'll get to that. Finally, we have the release of old friend Alan Embree, which on its face makes no sense. Was the guy pitching well? Absolutely not. Has he been a bit better lately? I guess. Most importantly, does Boston have anything better? Nope. Not yet anyway. Here's the thing: Theo DFA'd Alan because he wanted a roster spot for Hyzdu tonight. But after Thursday, the Sox won't see another lefty for days, so Hyzdu will not be needed. And Tito will have one arm less in the bullpen because of it. There has to be a plan here. The Sox will not be going with Timlin, Bradford, and Myers as set up. So either Epstein is bringing up a kid, grabbing the recently released Shingo Takatsu, or he's making a trade. And wouldn't it make sense if the rumored Bill Mueller for JC Romero deal came through, as Boston suddenly needs left-handed short relief and has acquired Graffanino, a somewhat unnecessary 3B? We know that Bill Mueller recently had a closed-door meeting with Theo and Francona, and there's no way it was just about Billy taking some innings at second. A GM does not get involved at that level. So what if Epstein is laying the groundwork, somewhat awkwardly, for a mid-July move? Right now he's got too much infield and not enough bullpen, something he seems too smart to stick with. Let's see if something is shaking out...