It looks like Kenny Williams is already thinking about next year. -- Would you expect anything less from one of the most agressive GMs in baseball? -- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Sox scouts are focusing closely on minor league pitching in preparation for an off-season deal that will send at least one of the Sox starting pitchers packing.
With McCarthy taking the spot of the departed starter, and (the recently promoted to AAA) Lance Broadway waiting in Charlotte, the Sox should probably look for a high-ceilinged starting pitching prospect at the AA level. A pitcher who, if everything breaks right, will be knocking on the door in the middle of next season, but shouldn't be needed if everything is going to plan on the Major League level.
For example, if the Sox were making a similar trade last off-season, I would have asked for Chad Billingsley. This season, I'd be asking for guys like Homer Bailey, Philip Hughes (not gonna happen, Cashman says he's untouchable), Andrew Sonnanstine (TB, again, not gonna happen), etc. It's not likely that anyone is going to be willing to give up top talent that's a year or less away from the majors, so the Sox may have to look a little lower. Nick Adenhart, who some think is over-rated, would be at the top of my list of guys who have yet to crack AA.
Also included in the article is speculation on whom the Sox will sent to the AFL. Lance Broadway is listed as a participant, and I want to go on record as saying that's a mistake. He was abused last season trying to get TCU deep in the CWS, and it showed when he struggled late in the season at Winston-Salem. He's at almost 160 IP this season, and with a couple weeks left in Charlotte, plus the playoffs he could be approaching 180 in no time. He should probably just shut it down, protect his arm so that the Sox can really see what he's got against near-major leaguers next season.
Such a move wouldn't be unprecedented. In fact, it's exactly what the Sox did with Brandon McCarthy two years ago. He had pitched 172 innings across three levels, and was far-and-away the Sox top pitching prospect. Originally scheduled to head to the AFL, the Sox sent Sean Tracey? (going by memory) instead.