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Trades: Oh, the possibilities! (Jack Cust, anyone?)

The Globe's Tony Massaroti took a good look at the Red Sox today and dissected it to see where the areas of improvement are. A couple areas are obvious: when it comes to trades, the pitching staff really doesn't need anything.

Although the Red Sox starting pitchers have been absolutely abysmal at times, the depth is there: John Smoltz, Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are all waiting in the wings for a shot at the big time. Meanwhile, there are also pitchers like Justin Masterson who could start in a pinch and other AAA'ers that would like a shot.

And we don't even need to talk about the bullpen. That thing is nasty. I just hope it stays that way the entire season (which, if I want to be honest with myself, won't happen).

The Mazz does find some problem areas though, namely the offense:

How the Red Sox can improve: From Matt Holliday and Adrian Gonzalez to Victor Martinez and Mark DeRosa, the Sox will have options here. It really is up to them to determine how much they want to sacrifice in the way of young talent. The pronounced disparity between home and road production is worrisome, particularly one when considers that Ortiz is hitting .161 away from Fenway Park. That suggests DH is the best place to make an impact, and the absolute best-case scenario would involve the Sox acquiring a younger and/or offensive-minded catcher (Martinez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia) who could help them address needs in the both the short term (offensively) and the long (behind the plate).

Thus far, the Red Sox have had below average production from three spots on the diamond based on OPS: designated hitter, shortstop, and center field. Given Jacoby Ellsbury's youth and game-changing speed, the first two seem like areas of priority. Addressing either would require the club to eat quite a bit in salary because both Ortiz ($13 million this year and next) and Julio Lugo ($9 million this year and next) are signed through 2010, but the Sox have shown a willingness to do that in the past (Edgar Renteria). Some of what the Sox choose here may well depend on how the rest of their roster comes together.

As we've talked about before, Victor Martinez really isn't a long term solution at catcher. How long can he stay behind the dish? (He's already played almost half his games at first base this year). And the Sox, at this point, really don't need another first baseman. Could Martinez be a DH for the rest of this year and of the future? That might be doable, but consider the production that Martinez could give us at that spot -- career high 25 home runs with a .316 batting average.

NOTE: Any production that is not David Ortiz in the DH spot is BETTER production. While it may look like I am knocking Martinez's numbers -- or anyone else's, really -- be aware that I am taking in consideration what the DH of yesteryear did. i am used to the 40 home run, 130 RBI caliber player in that spot. Aren't you?

The bottom line is this: something needs to be done about the designated hitter spot. Either bring in a new hitter all together or have a platoon with Ortiz, because the Sox can't keep carrying a .185 hitter as their DH. That will not win this team a World Series. Why not a right-handed power bat to compliment Ortiz's left-handed power bat umm, swing?

OK, this guy is not a righty, but how about Jack Cust? Is that too crazy of an idea? Sure, the guy strikes out a ton, but he can also hit the cover off the ball. He's Adam Dunn -- the lite version. He walks a ton, too. He hit 33 home runs last year. Wouldn't we like that out of our DH, huh?

The A's are also dead-last in the AL West. And, no matter how well they do, it seems like they are always sellers. I imagine Billy Beane wouldn't want a whole lot for Cust. He does have value, but I'm sure there's a prospect or two that could make this deal work. Beane would want a Michael Bowden in the deal, but would a Ryan Kalish/Bryan Price deal work out? Maybe even that is too much.

The name Mark DeRosa has also been thrown around. The thing I love about DeRosa is his versatility. He can literally play anywhere. I'm pretty sure if Tito told him to grab a mask, he'd go out and catch Tim Wakefield.

While I love his versatility, he's a bench player. He's a bench player and an effective one at that. He'd be an amazing bench player, too, but the question comes: what do the Indians want for him? I'm going to guess they're going to try and steal as much as possible for him. So why should the Red Sox give up (half ... maybe a quarter) of the farm for a bench player? Doesn't make much sense to me.

The last area of big concern, in my mind, is shortstop. Everyone says: "Jed Lowrie is coming back soon," but to be honest, I'm not sold on him just yet. I know he had a good season last year with a busted wrist, but I still have my overall concerns. And the biggest concern is just that: health. Sure, Jed could come back, but then a week later, his third wrist is broken again? (That sounds dirty. Excuse me.) He's a liability just for the fact he's never really been healthy. So if July 31 comes and goes and we still have Lowrie, Julio Lugo and Nick Green -- will that be good enough?

Personally, I love what Green brings to the table. He's a gamer, he can hit and he seems just solid all around -- except for that pesky defense thing. But, hey, ya' know, who needs defense? The Sox need defense, especially at that position.

Green, at least to me right now, seems like the better option than Lugo. Lugo is probably public enemy No. 1 here at OTM, but I really think it's time to cut our losses. Try to work Lugo up before the deadline and trade him. Eat some of the contract; I really don't care how it gets done. But with Green in the mix and Lowrie back, the Sox might be able to make a move for a shortstop that can actually play defense.

Mazz throws out the name Omar Vizquel. I'm not 100 percent opposed to that idea, to be honest with you. Keep all three on the roster if you can -- have Lowrie be the starter, the Defensive-SS-To-Be-Named on the bench and same with Green. Green is versatile -- he can play 2B, 3B and I'm sure he's not too shabby at the corner outfield positions (although I'd like to see him practice that before anything -- oh, looky here: three career games in right field. Thank you,

Now it's your turn to sound off. Vote in the poll listed below and throw out some names in the comments.