Professional sports teams are under no great incentive to be honest with the public. Blunt truth is rarely something they're going to offer up. That understood, clubs indirectly reveal significant information through the actions they take (and don't take) on a regular basis, and Tuesday's three-way trade in the American League had some fascinating between-the-lines conclusions to consider.
To recap, here's the swap that went down: Boston picked up right-hander Jake Peavy (and journeyman reliever Brayan Villarreal); the Tigers welcomed shortstop Jose Iglesias; and the White Sox grabbed four prospects, headed by Detroit farmhand Avisail Garcia.
The Tigers can't come out and say it publicly but the organization obviously expects shortstop Jhonny Peralta to fall under the Biogenesis suspension umbrella later this week (a Black Friday announcement is looming). Iglesias brings a no-hit, good-glove reputation to his new club and that's fine; the Tigers score plenty of runs (whatever Iglesias does in the No. 9 slot doesn't matter much) but desperately needed help in their defensive infield. Ground-ball specialist Rick Porcello probably offered to pick up Iglesias at the airport.
Many contenders were chasing Peavy, but when the Red Sox put this deal together, it's a major statement about their Clay Buchholz uncertainty. Buchholz (neck) hasn't pitched since June 8, and although he's currently able to do some long toss, the team hasn't put a specific timetable on his return. As strange as it sounds, Boston's most reliable starting pitcher on the active roster right now is John Lackey. With Tampa Bay destroying everything in its path right at the moment, Boston needed to upgrade on the mound. Mission accomplished.
Peavy's fantasy value doesn't seem to change much through his changing of Sox, not on my clipboard anyway. Boston's offense is obviously a major upgrade - the Red Sox are the top scoring team in baseball, while Chicago is 29th. Both teams play in hitter-friendly parks, as everyone knows. Neither team has a lockdown bullpen but the Red Sox ERA is 0.30 lower in that department; he'll appreciate that.
The AL East is the hardest place for any pitcher to do business, given the opponents and the non-Tampa stadiums, but perhaps Peavy's new teammates will offset that negative. If you see a major stock change to Peavy, state your case in the comments. This is essentially a wash to me.
The Red Sox also have to fill their third-base hole, where Iglesias was playing. GM Ben Cherington hasn't tipped his hand on the hot corner yet. Is Will Middlebrooks on his way back to Boston? How soon is now for 20-year-old super-prospect Xander Bogaerts? Is Boston one of the interested bidders for Philadelphia's Michael Young? Brock Holt, anyone? Is Butch Hobson still dealing with those pesky bone chips?
Chicago's angle is the straightforward one, no guesswork required. The White Sox wanted to trim payroll and start reloading for the future, so it cut Peavy from the books and added some building blocks.
Garcia, 22, was considered a Top 75 prospect before the year and he's been robust in Triple-A through 33 games (.374/.410/.537, five homers). He'll head to Triple-A Charlotte for now but figures to get a Southside look before the season is out. The other prospects are long-term kids, three names from the Boston system (right-handers Jeffrey Wendelken and Francellis Montas, infielder Cleuluis Rondon). No one in that trio is old enough to drink; you scratch some lottery tickets, hope to get lucky.
• As wonderful as the age of enlightenment is with statistical advancement, defense remains one of the stumbling blocks, a fuzzy area where there's much more to learn and understand. That's especially true when it comes to defensive catchers. The maze is far from solved.
Yadier Molina's MVP case hit a snag Tuesday; his sore knee continues to irritate him and he's headed for the disabled list. Molina has been just about indestructible for several years (logging 136 games or more in four consecutive seasons), but everyone knew he was playing through a major injury and wasn't at full throttle. Superman needs a rest, at least a couple of weeks. We'll see what we learn from the scheduled MRI.
How much will Molina's absence affect the St. Louis pitching staff? There's the $64,000 question. The Cardinals rotation has the second-best ERA in baseball (3.29, only behind Pittsburgh) and it was fourth last season. The St. Louis hurlers deserve plenty of the credit, of course, but Molina's toolbox of skills do wonders for a pitcher's confidence and performance. Molina also offers a handy bat, something we can't say about primary replacement Tony Cruz.
If you're looking for a mixer plug-and-play while Molina sits, here are a few widely-available names to consider: Ryan Doumit (31 percent, offers at-bat volume); Jarrod Saltalamacchia (30 percent, tie yourself to an undertow); Wilson Ramos (10 percent; looks super since return); and A.J. Ellis (10 percent; everything's coming up roses in LA).
• Ernesto Frieri can't get out of Arlington fast enough, suffering two nightmare blown saves in two nights. A pair of homers tripped Frieri on Monday, while it was an inexcusable four-pitch walk that led to Tuesday's giveaway.
Is there a committee brewing with the Halos? Mike Scioscia didn't dismiss the idea out of hand following Tuesday's stomach punch. Here's Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
After the game, Scioscia admitted Frieri's confidence "might be a little nicked right now" and that he'll try to match up a little bit more in the ninth inning.
"Whatever decision they make, I have to accept that," Frieri said. "We need to win. We can't be losing games late. Hopefully I get through this and they give me their confidence again."
Lefty Scott Downs is no longer an option; he was shipped to Atlanta earlier in the week. Imposing righty Dane De La Rosa is struggling through his own problems, with a 6.08 ERA in July (he messed up the eighth inning Tuesday). Anyone for Michael Kohn? He's been steady but unspectacular in the middle of the bullpen. Does lefty Sean Burnett do anything for you? I don't see an obvious pickup here, and I suspect Frieri will be back in the big chair soon enough.