The 2010 Red Sox have been battered, bruised and beaten.
Well, not quite beaten: they are still in the thick of the American League East race. Before Thursday night's action, the Red Sox stood just five games back from the first place Yankees and three back of the Rays.
But battered and bruised is definitely accurate.
The Red Sox have a Major League-high 11 players on the disabled list right now. Starters include Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Martinez and Clay Buchholz. And yet -- somehow -- they have a shot at winning the division. This makes the Boston Red Sox buyers once again this July 31.
The Red Sox are buyers in the sense they will add a player or two to try to round out the team -- but don't expect any blockbusters.
With the Red Sox teetering on the luxury tax threshold and General Manager Theo Epstein already saying a big move isn't likely, the team may add a small piece or two. But there will not be an Adrian Gonzalez. Or a Dan Haren. Or a Billy Wagner. Wait, that was last year.
At Over the Monster, we've had the discussion a couple of times regarding what the Red Sox need. Every time the answer has been what it seemingly is for every Major League Baseball team: a relief pitcher.
The Red Sox are currently operating with one great reliever (Daniel Bard), a formerly great reliever that is now just kind of good (Jonathan Papelbon) and a whole cast of misfits that will shut out a team one night and give up three home runs the next (Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, etc., etc.).
Whether it's a lefty or a righty, it doesn't really matter for Boston. They just want a pitcher that can get outs. If the Sox can find another Wagner on the market this year it would work out beautifully, but it doesn't seem to be a feasible option this time around.
Another need of the Red Sox may or may not be another outfielder. This all depends on who will get healthy when. Ellsbury has had 15 different second opinions on his cracked ribs and only he knows when he'll be ready to go. Jeremy Hermida just started a rehab stint Thursday, so he is close, but the Red Sox may want a bigger bat in the lineup. J.D. Drew (surprise!) has been fairly healthy this year while Mike Cameron had the injury bug but seems to be OK now.
The Royals' David DeJesus has come up in Boston trade talks, but he most likely is the type of player that will/should/needs be in the lineup every day. If Ellsbury comes back, does DeJesus get benched? If DeJesus comes over, does Hermida get cut?
Boston has also made it known in the past month or two they'd like a defensive-minded shortstop. This most likely would be a small move because a) the player would be a backup to a so-far-great Marco Scutaro and b) there aren't too many great defensive-minded shortstops available.
WHO'S ON THE BLOCK?
As far as big league talent is considered, the most obvious Red Sox on the block is Mike Lowell. The Sox have been trying to trade Lowell for months now but haven't had any takers. It will be even harder come July 31 since Lowell is right now -- SURPRISE! -- sitting on the disabled list. If the Sox somehow trade Lowell, they would most likely have to eat his remaining salary and not get much in return. It's a better bet to guess he gets DFA'd in August.
Here's a name that might surprise you: Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury is a fan-favorite among Pink Hats. Among the die hards, he's just pissing people off. (Sidebar: rib injury? RIB INJURY?! Get back in left field, ya' sally! It's been three months!) Not only is Ellsbury irking some fans the wrong way, but even Kevin Youkilis questioned his whereabouts, saying, "there's a lot of guys here that are hurt and supporting the team. We wish Jacoby was here supporting us, too."
Still, the likelihood of an injured outfielder being traded is low unless he comes back and proves what he can do. Could Ellsbury be traded this offseason, though? That wouldn't be a shocker by any means.
As far as minor league talent is concerned, none of the bigger prospects will be up for grabs. If Epstein isn't willing to make a blockbuster, he isn't willing to trade any of the big prospects. Two of the middle-level players could go for a reliever or an outfielder, but Casey Kelly or Ryan Kalish are off-limits.
WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR THE RED SOX ON AUG. 1?
A new reliever that probably won't even be that good. The Red Sox will most likely take a chance on a guy and hopes he sticks. That has failed before, so don't be surprised if it fails again. I don't see the Red Sox getting an outfielder unless Ellsbury has more injury concerns than the public is actually aware of. Even then, the aforementioned Kalish is dominating Triple-A Pawtucket right now and could be a difference maker later in the season -- just like Ellsbury in 2007.
Previous team previews: