As of late, the Boston Red Sox seem to have found their groove. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are winners in five of their last eight games. Up until June 18th, the Red Sox looked to be out of playoff contention, and definite sellers come the trade deadline.
But then a home-and-home against the Atlanta Braves happened, in which they took two 0f four. Then they went to Kansas City and won two of three. A tough series in Baltimore was then followed up by taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. In their latest series, they took three of four from the hard hitting Toronto Blue Jays, displaying a different facet of their game in each match. In this time period, the Sox have moved to within six games of first place, which in a weak AL East, is not that far out.
So the question has become after this stretch, will the Red Sox be buying or selling come the Trade Deadline?
They have a surplus of top prospects, but so far it seems as though Ben Cherington is not willing to deal any of them. Back in March when the stove on Cole Hamels was as hot as ever, the Red Sox were a front-runner to land Hamels, but were not willing to budge when it came to giving up top prospects such as Blake Swihart, Brian Johnson or Henry Owens.
The path the Red Sox should take this deadline is not to go for Hamels, but to simply go for players that would not require giving up top prospects. If the Red Sox were to give up someone like Johnson for Hamels, it would likely cost Cherington his job if things didn’t work out.
It’s no doubt that if the Red Sox decide to be buyers, they will be after starting pitching. Some pitchers that wouldn’t require a top prospect in return are Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija. The Red Sox would have to give up less to get Kazmir, but Samardzija is a solid guy to take a chance that is big enough to land a big impact but small enough to not decimate the future of the Red Sox.
Another area in need of a big upgrade is first base. Current first basemen Mike Napoli is batting under the Mendoza line and really shouldn’t be starting, or playing, for any ball club in the big leagues with those numbers. Players the Red Sox should think of picking up are Adam LaRoche and 2014 National League Batting Champion, Justin Morneau. Both are in the latter stages of their careers and could be huge in the middle of the Sox’ lineup. LaRoche has tons of power to go along with a good track record of hitting for it. Morneau does not have as much power, but edges out LaRoche in hitting for average and leadership in the clubhouse–something the Red Sox desperately need.
That’s IF the Red Sox decide to buy. And again the question is raised: should the Red Sox be buyers or sellers this year?
If they continue their hot streak, they will naturally be in contention again in the AL East this year. They are about to embark on an eight game homestead that sees them face the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and New York Yankees. If played correctly, those should be three series they could win.
The Red Sox have had success against the Astros at home in the past few years. The Marlins are 35-46 this season and the series against the Yankees could prove pivotal in gaining ground in the AL East.
If they do choose to become buyers, the Red Sox should not try for players that command top prospects in return: go for players that will require an average prospect, draft pick or player in return. Low-risk, high-reward players are what will help the Red Sox the most.
If low risk players are acquired and the Red Sox flop come August and September, nothing will happen. It’ll be looked at as a “well, at least they tried” move. But if the Red Sox snag someone like Hamels or Johnny Cueto and give up an important piece of the farm system for them and then flop come August and September, heads may roll in Beantown.