MLB: 4 Things the Boston Red Sox Need to Do to Win World Series
Considering the fact that Boston got off to a 2-10 start in April, and didn't break .500 until May, Boston fans must be satisfied that they hold the best record in the American League and the second-best record in baseball.
That being said, there is still a lot of baseball to be played.
The grueling two-and-a-half month stretch after the All-Star break can influence a team's playoff contention. While the Red Sox are on a roll now, there are still some tweaks they need to make in the second half of the season.
With the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will be a major buyer, looking to strengthen his roster in any way.
Here is a look at four things the Red Sox need to do to put themselves in a position to make a run at their third title in eight years.
Trade for Carlos Beltran
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As of right now the Red Sox have five outfielders: Carl Crawford (DL), Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew, Josh Reddick, and Darnell McDonald.
Of the five, only McDonald is right-handed.
It has been no secret that the Red Sox have been getting limited production from their outfielders this season (exception Ellsbury and Reddick).
It is clear GM Theo Epstein needs to make a move to bring in a solid, offensive right fielder, preferably who hits from the right side.
Carlos Beltran is already a name that has been floating around in various trade rumors, and he is definitely on Epstein's radar. Beltran is entering the final year of a seven-year $119 million deal he signed with the Mets, and could be the ideal solution to the Red Sox' anemic production from their reserve outfielders.
Beltran has already stated that he will waive his no-trade clause to go to Boston (and who can blame him? He's with the Mets). That raises another question: If Beltran is acquired, who is the odd man out?
JD Drew: It is highly unlikely that JD Drew will finish this season with any club but the Red Sox.
Although he is in the last year of a five-year $70 million deal, he will be hard to move for several reasons.
His trade value right now is close to none given that his production is at an all-time low. Through the first 90 games of the season Drew is hitting .229, with four homers, 21 RBI, and an OPS of .646.
If the Red Sox were able to find a trading partner, let's say a team that needed a defensive right fielder who can hit righties, Boston would have to eat a majority of the $7-or-so million left on his contract.
Drew also has way too much money left on his deal for an outright release to make sense. Sorry Red Sox fans, you're going to have to put up with Drew for at least another 72 games, plus postseason. All we can do is hope he gets hot and goes on one of his extended hitting streaks.
Josh Reddick: The way Reddick is swinging the bat right now, I don't believe there is any way he will be optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Although it is still a relatively small sample size (61 at-bats), he's been a solid bat, hitting .393, with two homers, 15 RBI, a .429 OBP and an OPS of 1.101. In addition to recording 10 extra-base hits in his 23 games, Reddick has also played stellar defense.
Darnell McDonald: Darnell McDonald burst onto the scene last year when the Red Sox endured several injuries, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron.
A career minor-leaguer, it was nice to see him contribute to the big-league club.
However, this year McDonald has had a terrible year and, like Drew, has almost no trade value.
He is currently hitting .143, with two homers, nine RBI, and an OPS of.457.
The only thing he brings to the table right now is that he is the only right-handed Boston outfielder. But if the Red Sox are able get another outfielder, McDonald will get designated for assignment and will be traded, released, or re-assigned to Triple-A.
Add Depth to the Rotation
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Boston has already lost Daisuke Matsuzaka (60-day), Clay Buchholz (15-day), and Jon Lester (15-day) to the disabled list.
With no timetable for the latter two to return, the rotation consists of Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, John Lackey and lefty Andrew Miller.
Although rookie Kyle Weiland made his major-league debut in a spot start before the All-Star break, he doesn't seem to be a long-term solution as the fifth member of the rotation.
Also, John Lackey is having arguably his worst year as a starting pitcher. He is on a very short leash, currently 6-8 with a 6.84 ERA.
If he continues to struggle into August and September, he will either have a phantom DL stint or be bumped to the bullpen.
Excluding Lackey, the Red Sox essentially have three starting pitchers.
After the All-Star break, although both are struggling, the Red Sox should call-up either Felix Doubront or Kevin Millwood from Triple-A. Another possibility is to trade for a back-end starter.
Bolster the Bullpen
Boston's middle relief has been an absolute disaster this season, and Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler are big reasons why.
Bobby Jenks: 6.32 ERA, 17 K, 2.23 WHIP
Dan Wheeler: 5.08 ERA, 22 K, 1.16 WHIP
If the Red Sox want to make a legitimate run at a World Series title, they need to improve the bullpen.
Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon have been automatic this season, but getting to them has been a season-long struggle.
Theo Epstein already made a great move, trading for southpaw Franklin Morales in May.
Bringing in a reliable seventh-inning reliever could make a huge difference for the Red Sox, not only for the rest of the regular season, but in the playoffs.
Add Infield Depth
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Yes, the Red Sox have Drew Sutton, a pleasant surprise since joining the Red Sox in mid-May.
But I would expect Theo Epstein to keep his eyes and ears open in August when many waiver-wire trades are done.
With Jed Lowrie on the DL for the foreseeable future, and Kevin Youkilis banged up, another solid utility infielder can provide value to the club by coming off the bench and filling in as a middle infielder or at third base.
Yamaico Navarro is currently in that role, but is expected to be optioned back to Triple-A once Carl Crawford comes off the DL.