Worth the risk.
First off, as many others have noted, top pitching prospects seldom meet expectations -- and the younger they are, the riskier they are. The minor leagues and high school athletic departments are filled with can't-miss guys who did.
Remember Casey Kelly? Boston's top pick from the 2008 draft had a 2.08 ERA in the minors as a 19-year-old, but in the MLB he's just 2-8 lifetime with a 6.39 ERA. What a waste of a perfect Boston baseball name.
Casey Kelly? Great name, lame game.
How about Craig Hansen, the Sox' first-round pick in 2005? He was supposed to take over as closer, but turned in a 6.15 ERA in parts of three seasons with Boston -- and was out of the majors by 2009.
Yes, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon were prospects that turned out fine, but don't forget that neither was originally a first-round pick. Pap, in fact, was a fourth-rounder. And for every one of those guys, there are dozens more stocking the shelves at Staples.
So whatever Baseball America says about Espinoza, this is a deal worth making. In fact, even if Espiona DOES turn out to be terrific, it's worth it.
If Espinoza is the next Pedro, so be it.
Picture the scene: the Red Sox are playing the Giants at Fenway Park in late October, a rematch of the 1912 World Series. David Ortiz, after smashing 42 home runs in his final season, caps his Red Sox career with one more chance to deliver in the clutch for Boston.
If the Red Sox hang onto Espinoza, the chances are very good that the last game Ortiz will play for the Red Sox is on Oct. 2 against the Blue Jays. Those of us who were there will always fondly recall Carl Yastrzemski's last game in 1983, but we would have gladly swapped it for a chance to see Captain Carl go out in a contest that mattered -- not on a last-place club.
Ted Williams homered in his final MLB at-bat for the 65-89 Red Sox of 1960. Think he would have traded it for a chance to face the Pirates in the World Series? You better believe it.
Unless Big Papi changes his mind, this is his last go-around. The Red Sox have a lineup that can compete with any team in baseball, and in David Price, Steven Wright, and Rick Porcello have three starting pitchers who they should be able to count on in the second half. They need a fourth, however, to have a chance at the postseason.
Pomeranz gives them that chance. Espinoza may be the bigger winner in the long run, but if the Red Sox want a chance to help their greatest clutch hitter finish his career in Bill Russell, Ray Bourque, or John Elway championship style, they needed to make this move.
Ortiz deserves one last shot -- and so do the fans.