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Red Sox Rumored To Be Interested In Pirates Shortstop Jack Wilson

The trade rumblings for the Boston Red Sox have steadily increased in recent weeks, mainly due to their surplus of starting pitching. But now that all of their potential starters are healthy and working, rumors of potential deals have begun to surface.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Jack Wilson is the latest in the rumored possible acquisitions for Boston, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting.

It was a somewhat well-kept secret through April and May that the Red Sox had at least seven Major League-ready starters. But now that John Smoltz is healthy and rehabilitating at Pawtucket, it’s become quite apparent.

What has also become apparent is the Red Sox’s deficiencies in the field, particularly at the shortstop position. While presumptive starter Jed Lowrie has missed significant time with a wrist injury, the Red Sox have platooned Julio Lugo and Nick Green. The result has been less than spectacular.

Lugo and Green’s 14 combined errors this season have dragged the Red Sox all the way to the bottom of the American League in fielding percentage. For comparison’s sake, J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia have six errors between them.

Having that kind of a liability at arguably the most important defensive position on the field can cost a team games, and it already has for the Red Sox; remember Green’s throw that sailed into the stands at Seattle?

It can also cost you a World Championship; Sox fans need not forget that it was the defensive overhaul that sparked the 2004 Red Sox to become one of the league’s elite teams and end their World Series curse.

Now we come to the player in question: Pittsburgh’s Jack Wilson. In terms of defensive ability, the Red Sox would be receiving a major upgrade here. It is comparable to the defensive upgrade that Orlando Cabrera brought over Nomar Garciaparra in 2004.

The Red Sox have been asking around the clubhouse, most notably former Pirate Jason Bay, about Wilson’s abilities and character, and apparently they have heard enough to pursue the shortstop in a trade. It’s important for fans who aren’t familiar with National League players to understand that the Red Sox would be bringing in a solid defensive shortstop should they acquire Wilson.

The 31-year-old Wilson may not bring the flash-and-dash that Alex Gonzalez brought to the team in 2006, but he is certainly well above-average with the leather at short and could have a Gold Glove or two if he was a better hitter.

About his offense…He wouldn’t be an upgrade in that department. He certainly couldn’t be much worse than Lugo or Green has been, but Wilson is a career .269 hitter with much left to the imagination in terms of pop or speed. At best, he’s the same as Lugo or Green at the plate.

Another concern is Wilson’s recent injury problems. He’s already made one trip to the 15-day disabled list with a finger sprain. He’s also injured his knee, calf and shoulder, causing him to miss 95 games since 2008.

Those things aside, the Red Sox would be acquiring Wilson for his defensive prowess above all else. They can absorb his lack of offense as long as he plays the great defense he’s known for; they could not absorb the offensive woes of Lugo or Green with their defensive misgivings.

What’s most important at this point is that Wilson has proved to be a serviceable everyday player at the major league level, and would likely be the starter if he heads here. Lugo would still get occasional playing time but be replaced by Wilson in the late innings for defensive purposes.

Green would likely head back to the minors and be replaced with Smoltz, or possibly Buchholz. If Brad Penny is not involved in the trade talks that are apparently taking place, the Red Sox could employ a temporary six-man rotation. But a more likely result is to see Penny be traded.

Is Wilson worth Penny straight up? Or more importantly, do the Pirates need a player like Penny when it’s becoming more and more apparent that they once again won’t contend for anything this season? The answer to both of those questions is probably no, which means the Red Sox could dip into their farm system to acquire Wilson.

Penny is more likely to go to a contending NL team in need of a starting pitcher; the Cubs, Mets and Phillies immediately come to mind. And Buchholz is one of the top prospects in the game, and would be good enough as part of a package to lure a Matt Holliday or Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. So for Wilson to come to the Red Sox, it will take something else.

With the depth in their farm system, and the obvious need for a shortstop who can play consistent defense, the acquisition of Wilson looks more and more every day like a move the Sox ought to make.

June 15, 2009 - Posted by | baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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