Mourning the trade of Jose Iglesias

I wanted to see Jose Iglesias play in Boston until I was at least 40.

I wanted to see Jose Iglesias play in Boston until I was at least 40.

I was having such a good night.

I had just hopped out of a cab on the way back from seeing the Black Crowes on the harbor in Boston, feeling warm and buzzed from the music and the jams and perhaps the Harpoon beer, when I pulled up the laptop to see what had happened in the rest of the world while I was lost in my little rock and roll sphere.

And there it was. The Red Sox had picked up Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team trade that sends three minor leaguers to Chicago and, most troubling, shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Detroit Tigers.

Peavy has been seen as one of the prizes of this trade-deadline season, a pitcher who, when healthy, can be the ace of just about any staff in the league. Iglesias is an all-field, no-hit shortstop who was blocked both at short by Stephen Drew now and Xander Boegarts later, and by Will Middlebrooks at third for the foreseeable future. It all makes sense, and hearing about this trade made me furious anyway.

I can see the numbers well enough. After a hot start (no one keeps hitting .400 forever), Iglesias was coming back to earth and a lot of those infield singles weren’t quite singles anymore. He’s hitting .330 as of this morning with 10 doubles and one home run, and it’s likely that average would’ve kept sliding.

And Peavy hasn’t been too bad this season since he came back from injury. He’s 8-4 in 13 starts with an average ERA (4.28), a decent number of strikeouts (76) and not too many walks (17). With Brandon Workman taking a turn every five days, the Red Sox needed another starter, so as far as that goes, this solves that. Plus, Peavy is under contract for 2014, so this becomes another player acquisition that’s more about building a team rather than a short-term rental.

That is the rational, reasonable breakdown of the trade, and it stands to reason that, if everything works out, the Red Sox will be better today than they were yesterday. That doesn’t mean the trade feels great.

I spent most of the last month worried that the Red Sox would wind up trading for Peavy, whom I’ve derisively dubbed “Erik Bedard Version 2.0,” and this was before Iglesias was thrown into the mix. Peavy made the most of some solid seasons in San Diego boosted by the fact he was basically pitching in baseball’s version of the Grand Canyon in Petco Park, won a Cy Young Award, and cashed in with a four-year, $52 million contract, later topped with a $29 million, two-year extension by the White Sox.

And then came injuries, fatigue, whatever else that kept him off the mound. All legitimate ailments, and all things that made him unable to throw a baseball the way he could when he was 26 years old. He’s 32 now, he had a major rib injury earlier this year, and he’s a key part of the Red Sox rotation.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Iglesias is now the Tigers starting shortstop, thanks in part to the impending drug-related suspension on the incumbent Jhonny Peralta. He has a chance to be their shortstop for a long time, and in another hitter-friendly park with plenty of sluggers surrounding him (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, to name three), he’ll be given a chance to develop and find his stroke consistently.

I suppose the lack of a chance in Boston is what stings the most. I liked the notion of Iglesias coming up through the system, figuring out how to hit Major League pitching, settling into his .260 groove and playing either shortstop or third base for the next decade. And while anyone can hit .260, not everyone can be that same whirling dervish in the infield. Some of those throws, even at third but especially in the hole at short, whipped across his body so quickly it made my head spin. I don’t know how many wins those throws amount to, but watching Iglesias play the field felt special. Detroit fans will see that soon enough.

Since, ultimately, this is just a game played by grown men in pajamas and none of it really matters, there’s no one way to be a fan, and this fan will be busy lamenting the departure of the smoothest-fielding shortstop he’s ever seen wearing a “B” on his cap. The Red Sox will probably be better, and I’ll still hate this trade.


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