It’s the eve of the trading deadline in Major League Baseball. The Red Sox have yet to make a deal, despite the fact that they clearly have a sub-par bullpen, one so bad that it almost ensures the Sox will miss the playoffs. Everyone seems to agree on this point; everyone except, perhaps, Theo Epstein the man whose opinion matters most.
I’m not sure how I feel about the Red Sox chances to make the post season at this point. They are 7.5 games behind first place Yankees in the AL East and 5.5 games behind the wildcard-leading Rays… and don’t forget the Minnesota Twins who just improved their bullpen and are only two behind the Red Sox.
The Red Sox goal each year is to win 95 games, which they think gets them to the playoffs. The Sox will have to win 37 of the remaining 60 games to reach that win total. That means they will need to win at a .610 pace. Do-able, but difficult. And, I don’t think 95 wins actually will do it this year. Not unless the Rays (or Yankees) implode. It may take 96 or 97 wins.
There were those who said not to worry about the Red Sox slow start in April. It’s a long season, they argued, and the Sox can catch up. When they got within a game of first in June it seemed these pundits were right. But now is when we really begin to feel the effects of losing nine games in the first two weeks of the season. If the Sox had played even .500 ball in early April, they would be a lot closer to a playoff spot now, and Theo might feel the need to make a trade. As it is, he will continue to dither — not sure whether he is a buyer or a seller.
If you think I’m off-base here, read this article from the Boston Globe, and pay attention to these two paragraphs:
At 58-44, the Sox are in third place in the American League East. That is close enough to contemplate making improvements, but not at the expense of the organization’s best prospects.
Within two weeks, general manager Theo Epstein will have a much better feel for how aggressive he should be. A four-game series in New York against the Yankees Aug. 6-9 will be telling.
Think about that. Theo might wait to see the outcome of a key, four-game August series with the Yankees to decide if the team needs help. Isn’t that a little like waiting until after you drive your car into a tree to determine if you should fasten your seat belt?
Look, I don’t know what Theo should do at this point. I don’t blame him for being miserly with his prospects. Yet, there’s a part of me that fears they will be harming their own future by over-using Daniel Bard. Bringing in a reliable bullpen arm NOW, might save the Sox this year and for years to come. It might also make the rest of this season more exciting. But we’ll wait until after the trading deadline to decide if we need to fasten our seat belts for this ride.