To say that the 2012 Boston Red Sox campaign has been troublesome would be a major understatement.
Plagued with injuries, controversy, and inconsistency throughout the first few months of the season, the Boston Red Sox sit at the bottom of the AL East and are trailing by over six games to the Yankees and Rays, who are tied at the top. At this point last season, Boston had the best record in the American League and were well over the .500 mark. (MLB.com)
Needless to say, it does not seem like Boston will confidently stay away from the .500 mark any time soon this season. Following a surge of victories that led Red Sox Nation to believe that Boston was once again a major competitor in the division, Boston is on a four game losing streak and have a record of 3-7 in their last ten games.
Boston's pitching has been very inconsistent. Clay Buchholz seems to finally be getting his act together, while Jon Lester is pitching like the shell of his former self. Daniel Bard has been a complete bust in the rotation and Daisuke displayed his struggles to pitch deep into games once again in his return last week.
The only real pitcher that have been solid and consistent throughout the season have been Felix Doubront, who just came off a loss to Washington, and Josh Beckett. While his 4-7 record indicates otherwise, Beckett has been absolutely dominant this season, despite one terrible outing last month that skyrocketed his ERA. The bullpen has also been very good, although showing some bad lapses at the beginning of the season.
As for the offense, it has been surprisingly good for such an injured lineup. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ortiz have performed exceptionally and there have been some nice surprises from Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, Will Middlebrooks, and Ryan Sweeney. However, without so many marquee players on the field, the offense could flat line at any minute.
Do the Red Sox need to make a splash by the trade deadline?
Amongst all of the trials and tribulations, many still believe that Boston can and will still be a legitimate contender this season. Looking at the facts, if Boston can regain Ellsbury, Crawford, Ross, and Bailey quick enough, Boston could once again be a force, but that does not seem realistic.
With others realizing that, there have been several discussions brought up about Boston needing to acquire a prime time pitcher or hitter in order to spark new life into the ever so dead ball club. With names flying from Cole Hamels to Wandy Rodriguez, almost every solid player has been deemed a possible trade target for Boston before the trading deadline.
Again, how realistic is it that Boston acquires a top tier pitcher or hitter? What does Boston expect to offer in return for such a player? Is acquiring Cole Hamels for the remainder of this year such a necessity if it potentially costs a long term prospect such as Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, or Will Middlebrooks?
In short, it just is not good for Boston to do at this moment. The best acquisition Boston can possibly acquire right now are their injured players because there are more than plenty of them right now. Instead of further depleting a farm system that is still suffering from the Adrian Gonzalez trade, why not hold on to these prospects and hold off their rebuilding to the offseason?
The 2012 season lies in the hands of the players currently on the roster and that is the way things should remain. With a lot of money available to Ben Cherington this coming offseason, he has plenty of time to work on bringing in someone such as Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, or Matt Cain. He can focus on re-signing David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury. All doing so without destroying the growing farm system.
As of now, the Red Sox season looks like one gigantic question mark, but they do not call it a bridge year for nothing. A sub-par season for Boston may be a good thing, as the last thing they want to do is strip down their minor league prospects. It simply is not worth trying to save one season.
Ben Cherington, if anything, should be selling Kevin Youkilis to further replenish the system. Prospects are the future, so why trade them away for a half year investment? Let's just sit back, hope some guys come off the disabled list soon, and see what happens. No need for a Theo Epstein-esque blockbuster trade.