Andrew Miller is the Red Sox' reliable lefty option out of the pen. If you'd told someone that in March, they'd have thrown you into Arkham. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Happy Bastille Day, all! No, wait, American pastime. No celebrating of the French Revolution here. Ah well. Good excuse for wine and fireworks, but anytime you celebrate a foreign holiday, Luke Scott cries, so... Wait, Luke Scott's on the Rays? I don't have to give any kind of a crap about him? Sweet. Damn, but I do hate the Rays. Can't we go back to the good old days, when they were the Devil Rays, and their petulant whining was vaguely adorable? Also the days when they were terrible at baseball and everyone understood that being lousy enough to have a top-three draft pick every year for a decade isn't, in fact, savvy franchise management? Alas.
Anyway, it was All-Star Week, and we can all agree that All-Star Week is the absolute worst. Four days without real baseball. It's like the offseason, but in the middle of July, so there's no apple-picking or family gatherings or copious stouts to ease the pain. But it gave us all time to think about the Sox, and more importantly it gave the Sox time to get healthy. A healthy Sox team would be something of a novelty, and one that I think we're all eager to see.
Recapping after the jump.
How weird, another bit of injury discussion that's mostly good news. Carl Crawford should be back on Monday. Clay Buchholz is starting tonight. And most importantly (at least given last year's numbers), Jacoby Ellsbury made his comeback. And as Marc pointed out, it couldn't come at a better time.
The Sox came into the All-Star break at .500, and now they're a whopping one game over. It's not the worst place they could be, but it does make things more interesting than they might otherwise have been. And even better, they now face a July that's only slightly easier than the average snake-based thesis defense. Why are they here? Well, as Ben points out, it's mostly about pitching, or a lack thereof. Our newest writer, Matt Collins, talked about where the Sox might pick up some pitching value on the back end of the rotation. Where can they expect to wind up? Matt Kory gave us a look at the schedule ahead, and Ben asked how well they need to get through it.
The end of that schedule? The trading deadline at the end of July. And that's where most of our focus wound up. I started off the week with a discussion of why trades dealt in anger are a bad idea. Along those lines, Ben wrote about the sudden speculation over trading Jon Lester.
The trade deadline was our main focus this week, with each of us taking a whack at running the Sox for a day. Matt Sullivan focused on 2013 and beyond. Matt Kory took a middle course, neither giving up on this year nor going all in on a 2012 title. Ben also took a long view, going hard after Justin Upton. I tossed surplus toward the future while grabbing Matt Garza for this year, and learned that Red Sox fans really don't like Matt Garza.
We also took less speculative looks at trades. Matt Kory took advantage of hindsight to consider Boston's offseason trades for bullpen depth and found them wanting. Marc gave us a hint that whatever the realities of the team's situation might be, the guys who've invested millions of dollars in them might not be willing to give up just yet.
There are 75 games remaining in the season. That's a pretty long stretch in which to make up the 1.5 games it would take to earn a playoff berth. The Red Sox have more than enough talent on the roster to pull that off, and enough surplus to keep the team contending until the rich farm system matures. That's what keeps us hopeful, and drives us completely out of our minds. As long as they're playing, we'll keep writing about them, you'll keep reading about them, and damn if that isn't better than the offseason. 7:10 tonight, they take on the Rays, and we'll all be drinking beers and rooting hard, even if it doesn't mean anything come October. It's July 14th, and the Boston Red Sox are still alive. Happy weekend.