Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day. Thank goodness Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved us from those Aliens.

As we approach the All-Star break and the trade deadline, I got to thinking about what the Red Sox need to do. I think the answer is nothing. Let me explain. They have Andrew Bailey coming back which will allow Alfredo Aceves to return to the set-up role. They have Daniel Bard trying to work things out in Pawtucket and when he is on, he is one of the best set-up men in baseball.

They have Carl Crawford playing in rehab games and they have Jacoby Ellsbury playing in rehab games. The additions of 2/3 of the starting outfield, the closer and primary set-up man should be very good things. Of course Crawford’s only claim to being an elite player is that he is paid like one.

Other important moves for the Red Sox included getting Adrian Gonzalez back to being a good baseball player. At the moment, he is average with an OPS in the .700s. Again, he is being paid like an elite player but isn’t playing like one. Also, Jon Lester has been so very disappointing. Perhaps someone can figure out his problems.

The Red Sox have as much talent as any team in baseball, but they probably have more underperforming talent than any other team. And don’t whine about injuries. Take a look at the Yankees if you want a great example of overcoming injuries:

CC Sabathia – DL
Andy Pettitte – 60-DL (probably out for most of the regular season)
Mariano Rivera – Out for season
Joba Chamberlein – Out for season (or most of it)
Brett Gardner – Out until late July
Michael Pineda – Out for season

That’s 3/5 of the projected rotation on the shelf, a primary bullpen arm, a closer (best ever) and starting outfielder. They’ve had as many injuries as any team, yet they lead the AL East by 5 games and are playing .600 ball. Their stud first baseman is not playing up to expectations, their third baseman is getting old, their shortstop is playing wonderfully, but has tailed off of late. They know how to win, the Red Sox do not, it would appear.

Of interest is the Red Sox rotation: Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka and Lackey. This was the projected 5 man rotation, and they all have long-term deals in place (or are in the midst of said long-term deal). On the other hand, Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook do not have long-term deals and are filling in admirably.

Perhaps the Red Sox strategy of locking up young players with fat contracts isn’t the way to go, especially when you take into account their character. To quote Dean Faber, “Fat and happy is no way to go through life son.” ***

I guess now that I am done rambling, my conclusion is that the Red Sox need to be sellers at the trade deadline. Partly out of necessity as they have too many players for too few spots, but also a major starting pitching change may snap some players out of their comfort zone. Yes, being traded when you make $12mm a year isn’t so tough, but it is tough on the player’s family and the desire to avoid that pain can be a major motivational factor. Shake it up Red Sox, because what you’ve been doing has produced a 42-39 record at the mid-point, that’s not going to cut it.

***edit/confession: I intentionally changed the Animal House quote as I thought it unfair to call Sox starters Fat, Drunk and Stupid. But I do confess to thinking it was Dean Faber when in fact it was Dean Wormer. Thanks for calling me out Peter.