The Boston Red Sox are on the brink of either being a World Series contender or experiencing a complete collapse, like 2006.
Team defense has been an ongoing issue.
Last night, Julio Lugo was unable to knock down a ball, which led to a run and a frazzled Brad Penny. Penny followed that up with a 93 MPH meatball that Ian Kinsler took over the wall for a 4-0 Texas lead.
The Rangers went on to win 5-1.
There has been talk of trading Penny, putting David Ortiz on the DL, trading for a Hanley Ramirez, and so on and so forth.
Without putting a massive dent into the farm system, here are eight ways the Sox can effectively right the ship and take home their third title in six years.
Here's a look.
Jon Lester is just starting to come around.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is just coming off the disabled list.
Tim Wakefield is fading a little. Plus, he's 41 and has a history of back issues.
So why WOULD you trade Brad Penny?
According to Boston Herald writer Sean McAdam, currently there is no interest in or value for Penny. McAdam states NL clubs are afraid of Penny because of his lack of work ethic.
Let's face it, by July there will be value for Penny. But the Sox should not deal.
According to reports, although John Smoltz is preparing for his comeback, Smoltz's stuff has been just average.
For the Sox, Penny has been solid. How can you complain about a guy who routinely goes six innings, allowing three earned runs, and he's your No. 4 starter?
Jed Lowrie is not going to rejuvenate your lineup, but he is a guy who can hit .280 and drive in runs.
Most importantly, he firms up shortstop defensively.
Last year he didn't commit an error at short (he had only two at third base).
Look at what the Sox have playing at short: Julio Lugo and Nick Green.
Green will be effective as a pinch hitter and a utility infielder His defense is what is hurting him from playing every day.
Lugo has been a bust in every way. He can't hit, can't field, and can't throw and has cost Brad Penny at least three games.
If Lowrie can come in, provide good solid defense, and hit decently in the nine hole, Theo Epstein won't need to panic into a trade.
Alex Gonzalez has one of the best gloves at shortstop in the game. He displayed that when he was with Boston in 2006. By far, the best defense. Red Sox fans, stop having visions of Hanley Ramirez at short.
The Red Sox need a low-cost upgrade at shortstop to help Lowrie when he comes back.
Boston also will need a late inning defensive stalwart.
Do not expect offense from Gonzalez.
Here would be the game plan for Gonzalez:
He's the late inning replacement for Lowrie, like Doug Mientkewicz was for Kevin Millar in 2004.
When Lowrie needs a day off, Gonzalez fills in.
Lowrie will be coming off the DL and need time to adjust, which will mean days off.
It's not sexy. But it's low cost and will not require giving up a premier prospect.
The Sox could look to J.J. Hardy out in Milwaukee. The Brewers are looking to promote Alcides Escobar, their premier shortstop prospect.
However, I'm not making that trade unless A.) Lowrie's rehab stint needs more time or B.) Lowrie flops in general. Yet that trade wouldn't be until the offseason.
Most importantly, it firms up the glaring hole the Sox have, shortstop.
Green has provided the Sox with some offense that they have needed in the bottom of the order.
Problem is, Green's defense at short has hurt the Sox badly.
With all the moves the Sox should make at shortstop, this is a simple one.
Send Green to Pawtucket, where he can play short everyday and fine-tune his defensive skills.
Green can also play third and second if needed. He is a versatile guy the Sox would love to keep. He needs a lot of time to work on his glove.
If Lowrie or Gonzalez gets hurt, he can help out when needed.
Once Lowrie comes back and Theo makes a trade for Alex Gonzalez, Epstein needs to cut his losses.
What has Julio Lugo provided for the Sox in his two-plus years in Boston?
He stole 33 bases in 2007.
Now he's not even stealing.
He's batting just over .240 since arriving in Boston.
His fielding percentage the last two years is under .950 .
Julio Lugo has been an incredible bust. Admit your $9M mistake and move on.
Six-game hitting streak or not, this is not the same David Ortiz.
There have been rumors of steroids. Now, there are questions arising about his actual age.
Regardless of the stories and rumors, Ortiz is on a fast decline. The Sox need to do something soon.
Platooning Ortiz with Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew can help this team a long way. Lowell and Drew are on the fragile side, especially Drew. Lowell is coming off hip surgery and will need rest for the stretch run.
It's unfortunate for Ortiz. He's been a hero in Boston, but it's a business, and the Sox need to move on.
The Padres are in rebuilding mode.
San Diego is looking to start over, as evident by the failed Jake Peavy trade attempt to the White Sox.
They are also trying to rid themselves of Adrian Gonzalez.
The Sox are looking to replace David Ortiz's bat in the lineup and give themselves a competitive lineup against the Yankees.
The proposed deal? Michael Bowden, Dan Bard, and Ryan Kalish to San Diego for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is 27 and is in the prime of his career. Put him in the middle of the line-p with Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Lowell, and the Sox have top to bottom a great hitting corps.
It seems like a logjam for Boston though. Think about what Gonzalez can do for you.
1. Hit DH.
2. Play first, move Youkilis to third, and either DH or give Lowell much-needed rest on that hip.
3. Allow Ortiz to find his swing and platoon at DH.
For San Diego, they load up in the bullpen and the rotation, giving them more flexibility to get a Peavy deal done.
Lowell and Youkilis won't see less action with this trade.
It makes sense, and it needs to get done. Soon.
Think about this. The Red Sox would keep Brad Penny in the rotation. Then trade Dan Bard as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
John Smoltz then becomes the X-factor in all of this.
If the Sox are smart, they move him into the bullpen as a sixth inning guy. Once he gets a couple of appearances in, the Sox can start to move him into a seventh inning or setup role.
Smoltz can also do two other things for you. He can be a "spot starter" and a closer if Jonathan Papelbon is tiring.
Daisuke Matsuzaka has been awful since coming back from the DL. Papelbon has been scary at best this year, and that's not a good thing.
Smoltz provides the Sox with so much flexibility.
He is the X-factor in all this.