MLB Trade Rumors: The Ever-Evolving Needs of the Boston Red Sox

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 23:  (**EDITORS NOTE** THIS DIGITAL IMAGE WAS CREATED WITH THE USE OF VARIABLE FOCAL PLANE LENS) Manager Bobby Valentine #25 of the Boston Red Sox stands for the national anthem before the start of the Red Sox game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on May 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

For just the fourth time this season, the Boston Red Sox have become a .500 team.

Not once have they eclipsed that mark this season, but they have been playing some solid baseball, especially since the whole Josh Beckett golf game/David Ortiz team meeting fiasco that happened on Friday, May 11th.

Since then, the team has been playing .769 baseball, going 10-3. They swept the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians in three games, took both games from the Seattle Mariners, split a two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays and then went on to take two out of three from both the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles.

Say what you will about the beginning of the season. Right now, in this moment, the Boston Red Sox are playing good baseball, despite their injuries and off-field fiascos.

That said, the team's needs are obviously changing.

Right now, Kevin Youkilis is being paraded at first base like a Weimaraner at the Westminster Dog Show. His value has only increased in his two games back from the disabled list. He's gone 3-for-6 with two runs, an RBI off a solo home run and a walk. Sure, it's a small sample size, but that's what the front office is looking for: big production in a short window.

Youk has obviously become the biggest trade chip the Red Sox have. Two weeks ago, the masses were calling for a Youk-for-X pitcher trade. Now that the starting pitching staff (save for Clay Buchholz) has hunkered down to some degree, the attention has shifted to the outfield, where the team has seen an absurd amount of injuries this season.

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 23: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 after scoring a run during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Mar
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Many fans share the opinion that the outfield can stand pat for now while waiting for the return of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and take your pick of Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross or Ryan Kalish; however, I do not share in this same belief.

The issue I see is based on the assumption that any or all of these injured players will be fully ready to produce upon their respective returns. Being on the shelf for an extended period of time can cause a player to lose his timing or even falter in some conditioning.

While I am not suggesting that to be the case with any of the Sox injured stars, I am saying that assuming the team will be "all set" in the outfield come July with the return of the fallen is not erring on the side of caution.

There is nothing wrong with an insurance policy. The fact of the matter is that the Red Sox have a surplus of first base/designated hitter types in Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and even Lars Anderson. 

In the outfield, relying on the youth from Pawtucket to compete long-term should Ellsbury or Crawford go down once again this season is just a foolish game plan. Here's a newsflash: Scott Podsednik is not the answer either.

Expect the team to be aggressive in their pursuit of another outfielder, as well as adding another pitcher, possibly even in the form of a 36-year-old former All-Star like Podsednik.