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Scutaro talks signal that Cherington isn't done

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  January 20, 2012 07:30 PM

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Ben Cherington has been refreshingly honest in his tenure as general manager of the Red Sox. So when he says there is no deal with the Rockies involving Marco Scutaro, it's not a smokescreen.

The Sox and Rox did talk about a deal. Colorado wanted Scutaro to play second base while the Red Sox were looking to free up $6 million. That money would then presumably be used to bolster the rotation. Roy Oswalt might not bite at $6 million but he probably would at $8 million.

The problem for the Red Sox with the deal was replacing Scutaro. In theory, Mike Aviles or Nick Punto could play the spot. But Aviles has not been an everyday shortstop since 2008 when he started 89 games for the Royals as a rookie.

Punto can play there, but he started only 32 games (at all positions) last season. It would be asking a lot to have him play every day.

In theory, Punto and Aviles could share the position. But that's hardly ideal. Shortstop is such an important position defensively that you want somebody established there.

Of course, had Jose Iglesias developed as hoped, Scutaro would probably be gone by now. But Iglesias has hit .261/.308/.316 over two seasons and 618 at-bats in the minors. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to throw a 22-year-old to the sharks and hope he can swim.

Look at this way: In those 618 at-bats, Iglesias has 27 extra-base hits. He needs a full season at Triple A to develop. The idea is to have a player earn his way up.

So if not Scutaro, then who could the Red Sox trade?

Untouchable: Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez.

Untradeable because of his contract: Carl Crawford.

Untradeable because nobody needs a DH who is going to make at least $12.6 million: David Ortiz.

Intriguing but unlikely at this point: Jacoby Ellsbury.

They don't make enough to be worth dealing: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, Mike Aviles, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney.

That leaves us with: Kevin Youkilis. He will make $12 millon in 2012. He has a $13 million team option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. There are few teams out there who would pick up $13 million. But you could find some takers for half of that.

The Sox could use Punto and Aviles at third and wait for Will Middlebrooks to come riding over the hill after the All-Star break.

Or perhaps they could deal Scutaro and hope a trustworthy shortstop emerges in spring training.

Regardless, it's evident that Cherington is still actively exploring ways to improve the roster.

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