On the one hand, the Sox have won 16 of 19 games in July, and are still awaiting the return of star pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. On the other hand, players like Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Quentin, Rich Harden, Hiroki Kuroda and Tyler Clippard are on the trading block.
So, what should the Red Sox do?
Like most things in life, the answer is not so black and white. Boston does have its issues, but they are fighting through injuries and pitching inconsistencies while remaining in first place of an extremely tough American League East.
Let's go through a few of the potential deals and decide, individually, whether it is something the Red Sox pursue. How could we possibly make such a permanent statement of "yes" or "no" in deciding whether Boston should make a move.
In the week before the MLB trade deadline, every deal has a chance.
*Trade Rumors were found at MLBTradeRumors.com.
The dirty truth about Carlos Quentin is that he has really only had one good year in the Majors.
That year, 2008, Quentin played in 130 games, one out of only two times in his six-year career that he has played more than 100 games. So while Quentin is considered a legitimate power threat, let's not get too carried away with him being a middle of the lineup hitter for a contender.
If he joined the Red Sox, he would be an upgrade over J.D. Drew, sure, but I don't know if he would even hit over Josh Reddick right now. The rookie has been mashing since June.
The talk surrounding Quentin doesn't suggest that the Red Sox specifically have interest. But news outlets like ESPN have been saying that if Quentin is indeed on the block, the Red Sox would be interested.
For a guy who is terribly injury prone, and who doesn't fit the Red Sox mold of power hitters with a high OBP (on-base percentage), I would have to imagine that Boston will pass on the Chicago White Sox's No. 5 hitter.
Carlos Beltran is another guy who has had trouble staying healthy.
The New York Mets have gotten about three solid years out of Beltran, one of which was superb (2006), but he has been totally incapable of remaining healthy the past three seasons. Of course, in typical Carlos Beltran fashion, he has been terrific so far in what is his contract year.
Talks of him being traded to Boston continue, but ever since Beltran declared that he wanted to stay in the National League, the buzz has cooled significantly.
Obviously, there is still a slight chance that a trade can work out, especially with Boston's deep pockets and plentiful farm system. But expect the smooth switch-hitter from Puerto Rico to end up on a team in the NL.
I don't want to know how Hiroki Kuroda is 6-12 despite a very good 3.19 ERA, I want to know why there isn't more buzz surrounding the insanely consistent righty.
Look at these numbers:
2008: 3.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .253 BAA
2009: 3.76 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .243 BAA
2010: 3.39 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .243 BAA
2011: 3.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .252 BAA
As you can see, when Kuroda pitches, you basically know exactly what you are going to get. The dude is literally a machine. I would say that it must be a Japanese thing to play the part of a programmed robot like Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki. But then again, Daisuke Matsuzaka is from Japan. So much for that idea.
Either way, Kuroda is a very solid pitcher who has had some injury problems. But if healthy, go ahead and pencil in seven innings and three runs every fifth day.
Considering the Red Sox injury issues at starting pitcher, Kuroda would seem like a no-brainer. The problem is that the Los Angeles Dodgers don't really want to see him go. For that reason, he may cost more than he is worth.
"Rich Harden is having injury problems." Never heard that one before.
Without the injuries, though, Harden has some of the filthiest stuff in the game. He can flat out dominate when he's on his game.
As you can tell, Harden's game has a ton of "ifs" in it.
If only he was healthy. If only he had better control. If only he could pitch deeper into games.
At this point, baseball fans have come to accept Harden for what he is: a stunningly talented hurler whose injury problems derailed what could have been a Hall of Fame career. Yes, Hall of Fame. That's how good he is.
Now the question for the Red Sox is, does this injury-prone, damaged-goods, super-skilled pitcher have any value?
He has been OK this season, but if Boston has to give up anything more than a "player to be named later," I don't think they'll pull the trigger.
I wrote about the Ubaldo Jimenez rumors last week.
The heat is on the Boston Red Sox on this one, because unlike the other pitchers on this list, Ubaldo is a certifiable staff ace. He could easily be a long term solution for the third or fourth spot in the rotation. His fastball averages a smidgen above 96 MPH, he is only 27-years-old, and he has been one of the best starters in the National League since the 2009 All-Star Break.
Will he have trouble in the American League East?
Sure, nobody said it was easy. But as long as he doesn't overly rely on his fastball, I think he could make a pretty smooth transition. Remember, Toronto and Baltimore are still a part of the division.
Also remember, Boston's fourth and fifth starters right now are Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield.
Those guys don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, if you know what I mean. I love Wakefield, but he is nothing more than a spot starter. Miller? He has been winning, but his K:BB is one of the worst I have ever seen.
With Ubaldo, the Sox go into the playoffs with the best pitching staff in the American League, and possibly, all of baseball. Without him? They go into the playoffs with three studs and a question mark.
I think they should pull the trigger.
I absolutely love Tyler Clippard for the Boston Red Sox.
If the Red Sox only make one move this offseason, this should be it, no questions asked. The bullpen was supposed to get a boost from newcomers Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler, but they have been monumental busts.
Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales have given the bullpen an unexpected lift, and they are the reason the Sox have been able to maintain the leads in all of these close games.
But the Sox can't count on them forever.
Clippard, a former New York Yankees starting pitcher, has been phenomenal the last three seasons. He is an overpowering right-hander whose .148 BAA is tops for all pitchers with 50+ innings pitched. He could move right into the 7th inning position behind Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.
Another plus to Clippard?
If Papelbon decides to leave this offseason, Bard could become the closer, and Clippard could become the reliable set-up man.
This is a move the Red Sox should make if they have the chance. A relief pitcher like Clippard, for the amount of money they are paying him ($443K), doesn't come around often.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!