It's kind of like Christmas every year. July 31 comes around and Theo pretty reliably makes a move to get the Red Sox something that is a huge help to the team- last year, he acquired Victor Martinez, the year before he replaced an irate Manny with Jason Bay. This year, there are already all kinds of names being bandied about for potential trade targets for the Red Sox.
Obviously, this is not a team ready to make a playoff run in its current condition. Every day, at least one outfield position- frequently two- is manned by a AAAA player. 2nd base is covered by Bill Hall, who, while he's been useful to the team, is not competent enough at any position to warrant being an everyday player. Our main catcher, recently designated for assignment by one of the worst teams in baseball, sports an OPS of only 70 points over Victor Martinez' career slugging percentage, and I'm not sure that our backup catcher is even a baseball player. Our bullpen is a laughingstock, two of our starters are injured, and another 3 are performing much worse than they should.
But still, let's take a step back. The Red Sox are 5 games out of first and three out of the wildcard, and sporting the exact same record the 2009 Yankees did at the all-star break. All of this with the absurdly comic amount of injuries the Red Sox have faced. So let's take a look at where the Red Sox need the most help.
Of those problems listed, only the Bullpen really ends up being a huge deal.
Pedroia is expected out a total of 4-6 weeks, but is insistent on playing as soon as he hears he won't break off a bone. In his comments today, Francona seemed to agree with Pedroia. Barring a huge setback, he should be back a lot sooner than anyone expects.
According to Theo, Ellsbury is about two weeks away from a rehab assignment and is beginning baseball activities. Hermida (for better or worse) is beginning a rehab assignment.
Even the papier-mache man, Jed Lowrie is nearing the end of his rehab assignment- and while he's unlikely to come up to the majors immediately, he will provide added depth should Pedroia take longer than expected or should another injury occur.
Beckett and Buchholz both look ready to re-join the rotation next week, after each makes a rehab start this weekend.
Martinez is expected to be back very quickly once his swelling goes down. Varitek we'll have to see, but he has one of the less-serious injuries on the team.
Cameron has been looking great lately. He may not be at 100% this year, but he should be able to play enough to contribute in the second half.
Really, we're about 2 weeks from a team in very good shape- with all these players coming back to the team, what holes are there even?
Well, the bullpen. That's always an issue. Nevertheless, with Delcarmen ready to come back (he's making one rehab appearance), and hopefully ready to pitch acceptably- with Michael Bowden taking to his role in the Pawsox bullpen very well- with Atchison stepping it up lately, a decent pen may not be as far off as it seems. A pen of Papelbon, Bard, Wakefield, Atchison, Delcarmen, Bowden, and Richardson may well be able to hold their own.
Still, if a move is made, the pen is certainly where it seems most likely to happen. Someone like Evan Meek would make it a strong bullpen (though he would be pricey). Scott Downs is another possible alternative, though trading in the division is less than ideal. It may be that Theo waits it out and sees how the revamped bullpen is performing before making a significant move and ditching prospects.
This isn't to say that there aren't moves that would help. I still think Jayson Werth would be a huge addition to this team down the stretch. The question is just if there are any pieces available which will be worth more to the Sox this year than they would cost in future years- I don't see a whole lot of need assuming everyone comes back like they should. We'll see as the market unfolds in the next 2.5 weeks.