Tonight, the Red Sox head into the rubber game of a series with the Chicago Cubs (I'm sorry, AP style tells me that franchise should be called "the Long-Suffering Chicago Cubs" on first mention). A win would put them back at .500, which would be almost vaguely psychologically satisfying.
Of course, their task becomes a bit trickier due to the starting pitching situation: scheduled starter Josh Beckett has been placed on the DL with shoulder inflammation, leaving lefty reliever Franklin Morales to get things going tonight. He's been stretched out a bit into a long man by Boston, but Morales hasn't actually started since 2009, making tonight's game a likely Johnny Wholestaff with an off day tomorrow.
Beckett's DL trip, along with Bard's struggles, raise the question of whether the Sox need to look around for available starting pitching. Conveniently enough, they find themselves playing this weekend in a store decently stocked with exactly that. Theo Epstein's Cubs are at the start of what's likely to be a long, painful rebuild, and they've got several guys that might be a big help to Boston.
Ryan Dempster, who shut the Sox down on Friday, is having one of the better years of his career. He's currently putting up 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a 3.0 K/BB. Each of those numbers would currently be second on the Sox staff (only Felix Doubront is striking out more, and only Beckett has a better BB/9 and K/BB). He's in the final year of a four-year, $52 million contract, so he'd likely be only a rental, and an expensive one. On the other hand, he'd therefore probably cost the least in terms of big-time prospects.
Old friend Matt Garza's basic numbers aren't quite as pretty as Dempster's (2-5, 4.04 ERA), but he's striking out an extra batter per nine. Garza, as we all remember far too well, comes with the coveted "Proven in the AL East" tag, as well as a lower salary and an additional year of team control. He'd cost more in players, but might be a better fix for the Sox rotation.
Which pitcher would you rather see the Red Sox pry away from Theo and Co.? Should they aim lower and snap up Paul Maholm as depth? Or should the Sox be looking at the Cubs' outfield for help in the form of David DeJesus? And what should Boston be willing to give up in order to patch their current team? Chat away.