Lackluster offensive production from specific positions coupled with numerous injuries to the pitching staff indicate that the Red Sox have work to do before the July 31st trade deadline.
Though they hit the All-Star break on a six-game winning streak, the Sox have glaring needs in four areas: right field, shortstop, starting pitching and relief pitching. Let's take a look at a player at each position that the Red Sox should consider.
Let’s compare two possible right field acquisitions. Player A has a .285 average, 13 home runs, 58 RBI and has scored 52 runs. Player B has a .293 average, 11 home runs, 51 RBI and has scored 55 runs.
While these players may put up similar numbers in the batter’s box, their paychecks differ substantially. Player A is Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran, and his 2011 salary is roughly $19 million. On the other hand, Player B is Royals center fielder Melky Cabrera, who is only on the books for $1.25 million this year.
Cabrera has the ability to play all three outfield positions, is eight years younger than Beltran and has batted .317 in 60 AB at Fenway Park over the last three years. Furthermore, the Royals would be more than willing to deal him, as they are looking to bring up their promising young center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
Though much of Red Sox Nation would love to see a proven superstar like Beltran protecting the Pesky Pole, Melky Cabrera would be a cost-effective solution that could help the Red Sox save money and ultimately take a run at Hunter Pence or Andre Ethier this offseason.
The Red Sox have dealt with shortstop troubles ever since they dealt Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs midway through the 2004 season. Now, I’m not saying that Hardy will cure more than a half-dozen seasons of shortstop woes, but he will be a considerable upgrade from the injury-riddled Lowrie/Scutaro platoon that has underperformed for most of the season.
Hardy would provide the Red Sox with a consistent bat at shortstop that is capable of hitting upwards of .285 with 25 home runs. And at only 28 years old, he has some of the best power currently in the game at the shortstop position. The Orioles are trying to negotiate a contract extension with Hardy, but if a deal isn’t reached in the coming week, look for the Sox to make an offer before the trade deadline.
The Red Sox are faced with an interesting pitching dilemma as the trade deadline approaches.
When healthy, the Sox have one of the best rotations in the American League. Andrew Miller has done a nice job filling in for Daisuke Matsuzaka, and spot-starters/long relievers Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield are also capable of picking up innings. Not to mention, Sunday's starter Kyle Weiland and veteran Kevin Millwood, who are chomping at the bit in Pawtucket.
However, if the first half of the season has taught us anything, it's that you can never overvalue the health of your starting rotation. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholtz on the DL, Josh Beckett's knee still giving him problems and John Lackey's inconsistency, don't be surprised if the Sox look outside the organization for another starter.
San Diego's Tim Stauffer is arguably the best-kept secret in baseball. Though his record is only 5-6, the 29-year-old righty has been the Padres' best starter with a 2.97 ERA. To put in perspective how good Stauffer has been, he has allowed the same number of earned runs (39) in the same number of starts (19) as Roy Halladay.
A native of Portland, Maine, Stauffer would fill the pitching void for the Red Sox for multiple reasons. Not only is he capable of making quality starts, but his 1.87 ERA in 25 games as a reliever last year proves that he can be lights-out from the bullpen as well.
Acquiring Stauffer wouldn't be cheap, as the Padres would undoubtedly demand a weighty package in return for the former fourth overall pick. However, if Tim Stauffer keeps improving at the rate he is, it's only a matter of time before he becomes a household name. Trading for him now could prove to be a huge steal down the road.
Despite constant criticism, the Red Sox bullpen actually leads the American League in WHIP, as Daniel Bard has been nothing short of spectacular. Nonetheless, Rich Hill's season-ending injury and with Bobby Jenks underperformance leave many concerned.
With Hill on the DL, newcomer Franklin Morales is the only lefty in the Sox bullpen. If he were to struggle or go down with an injury, it would be a crucial loss for the entire pitching staff.
Marlins reliever Randy Choate would fit in perfectly as the second southpaw in the Sox pen. A lefty specialist, the veteran Choate is having his best season with a microscopic 0.96 ERA in 41 appearances. He has dominated left-handed hitters to the tune of a .098 BAA, and though his duties may be limited to a single batter at times, competitive American League teams such as the Yankees, Rays and Rangers have largely lefty lineups.
Prying Choate away from the sinking Marlins could ultimately give the Red Sox a late-inning secret weapon as they forge through the latter half of the season.