For more than a month now, the Red Sox have been a pretty bad baseball team. They are 12-17 over their past 29 games. That's a 67-win pace over a full season or, if maintained just over the rest of the season, only enough to leave the Red Sox with 77 wins. That's clearly not getting them into the postseason.
It's not too hard to figure out what's wrong. For the most part, the players who have been good on the year as a whole have been good in June as well. Xander Bogaerts has still been one of the better players in the league, with Mookie Betts right on his heels. Jackie Bradley Jr. has cooled down from his ridiculous hot streak, leaving him only at Betts' level in terms of production. David Ortiz still has an OPS over 1.000 on the month, and while Dustin Pedroia hasn't brought much power to the table in June, he's still getting on base quite a bit as his renaissance season continues apace.
I will grant you two position players have dropped the ball in Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw. They actually both fall below replacement level on the month. But it's a little too early to be giving up on Shaw as a whole given that he's still been an above-average bat on the season, and Ramirez has recently started showing the sort of power we haven't seen out of him since early 2015, which is reason enough to give him some more time to keep rolling.
No, the two glaring problems that the Red Sox need to address immediately are the same glaring problems they needed to address before this awful month got underway: left field and the rotation.
In left, some might want to just wait until the Red Sox get healthy. But even at full strength the Red Sox don't really have a starting left fielder. Chris Young is best as a platoon bat. Brock Holt shouldn't be counted on to handle the long end of a platoon. Blake Swihart should stop playing at a position where he's going to run into large walls and instead be used to actually give the Red Sox a productive catcher when Sandy Leon inevitably cools off since, y'know, that's what he is. No, even at full strength the Sox need a reliable left-handed bat to work with Chris Young.
And of course...the rotation. The Sox need a starting pitcher. Clay Buchholz is bad. Eduardo Rodriguez has been too. With Rodriguez the Sox might be able to say that they simply need him to be better, but with Buchholz expecting anything of the sort is just asking to be disappointed at this point. The Sox need a starting pitcher.
But this is not a black-and-white world we're living in of "no trade" or "blockbuster." Yes, the Sox could go out there tomorrow and throw their top prospects to the wind in order to find huge pieces coming back the other way. The likes of Benintendi, Moncada, Devers, and Espinoza could buy pretty much any player from any team that's not looking to make the playoffs in 2016. But the Red Sox know that at least Benintendi and Moncada are close enough to joining the current core to make keeping them around very much the preferred option.
While that blockbuster trade may still be coming for the Red Sox, at the moment that's not really what they need. Right now they have positions of extreme strength being dragged down by massive holes in the roster. They can make small trades to fill those holes with even just mediocre players and see significant improvements. Yes, if those improvements get them to the point where they're good enough to get Dave Dombrowski in the market for bigger deals, then at the end of the day the Red Sox might end up paying twice to fill a single position. But the actual difference in what they give up will be marginal. It's not going to take much to get someone like, say, Jeremy Hellickson. And while he might come to Fenway and put up a 5.00 ERA, it turns out the Red Sox would actually really appreciate that, since nobody else can seem to come in under 6.00 with any consistency.
This is all the Red Sox really need from Dave Dombrowski right now, but when I say right now, I mean right now. Before Clay Buchholz' next turn comes up in the rotation, the Red Sox need to have brought someone in to replace him. They need to have a major league player in left field. They need to have made the small, easy improvements on positions that haven't even been reliably mediocre. There's just no excuse not to.