Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Boston Ponders Clay Buchholz for Mark Buehrle

If he has not already, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein must decide whether to include pitching prospect Clay Buchholz as part of a package for White Sox ace Mark Buehrle.

Conversely, White Sox general manager Ken Williams must weigh whether Buchholz is a big enough chip in a deal that would likely include at least two other Boston prospects. Williams also must consider competing deals from Red Sox rivals, such as the Mets.

The deal is especially difficult for Epstein, who drove 100 miles to Double A Portland recently as if to give Buchholz one last, longing look. Buchholz did not disappoint, pitching five innings without surrendering a hit.

Buchholz, 22, owns a 6-2 record with a 1.69 ERA with 115 strikeouts in just over 85 innings, and projects as a future ace that would take Boston well into the next decade.

Buehrle, however, would be an ideal loaner for this year's pennant run, providing insurance should Curt Schilling continue to deal with injuries. Buehrle could also push Tim Wakefield to the longman, mop-up, spot starter spot in which he has previously excelled.

Boston invested a first round supplemental pick to acquire the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Buchholz, who compliments his 97-mph fastball with variety of off-speed offerings, most notably a sweeping curve that has batters backing away when umpires call a strike. But to mine gold, one must invest gold.