With the calendar rapidly approaching June, the Red Sox are hovering a bit under .500, seven and a half games behind the somehow still in first place Orioles. They've looked much better over the last week, winning seven of their last ten games. It's possible they've started to climb out of the giant hole they spent April and much of May digging. Relevance at last.
But with their improved performance comes a looming dilemma. It's entirely possible the Red Sox are about to face the (mostly) enviable problem of having too many major-league quality players and not enough spots to play them all. The outfield, bullpen, and rotation are all likely to get very crowded within the next month, and it's not clear what Boston should do about it. Marc covered many of the players who face roster crunches on Monday, and a look at the roster in Pawtucket reveals a handful of players probably worthy of big-league jobs.
Kevin Youkilis has begun his rehab, and should be ready to rejoin the Sox quite soon. With Will Middlebrooks playing well, it seems ridiculous to bench or demote him, but Youk is the incumbent, and a player with a far longer track record of success. If nothing else, Youk has no trade value until he's gotten playing time. Daisuke Matsuzaka's close to a return as well, and with Clay Buchholz still less than excellent and Daniel Bard struggling of late, it might be time to bring him up and give him a few starts. If it's in place of Bard, should Bard head to the bullpen, and if so, should he stay there?
The Boston bullpen has been flat-out excellent for the last month, so it seems silly to mess with it. At the same time, Mark Melancon, Junichi Tazawa, and Clayton Mortensen, all of whom have shown an ability to shut down opposing hitters (OK, not this year in Melancon's case), are down in Triple-A and ready to go. Do we really trust that Good Matt Albers will stick around, or believe in Andrew Miller enough to play him rather than Mortensen? And what happens to the outfield once Ellsbury and Crawford are ready to play?
So for the morning, everyone put on your GM hats. Time to bring up Matsuzaka and give Bard some time off? Should the rumored trade talk around Youk become more than rumors? Figure out how to fit 30-something guys into 25 roster spots and still produce a winning ballclub. Best trade proposal/roster shuffle wins the opportunity to have Bobby Valentine yell at you while hopping.