After a promising start in Seattle, the Sox saw the final two games slip away to leave them with a split. They stand at 3-4 on this road trip and are now eight games back of the Yankees in the AL East race, five behind the Rays for the wild card.
The Sox are in a bit of a bind now. Their latest glaring weakness - relief pitching - was exploited for all to see. Delcarmen and Okajima were horrendous. And now serious choices have to be made. Rob Bradford from WEEI.com has a great piece on their problem. Put simply, they either have to overpay for a reliever or they hope someone from the minors can get the job done.
And "overpay" is putting it mildly. The Blue Jays want Casey Kelley AND Jose Iglesias for Scott Downs. No, that's not a misprint. And as Bradford put it, you are talking about "a pitcher who most likely isn't even going to be the bridge to the closer, but rather a bridge to the pitcher who pitches just before the closer." Is that worth giving away two of your best prospects?
Joakim Soria would demand a similar haul. The Yankees are rumored to be looking at him and names like Jesus Montero are being bandied about as part of what the Yankees would have to give up. So say goodbye to Kelly or Iglesias at least in return for Soria.
And keep in mind that these two options would bleed the Sox farm system of enough talent that it would be next to unlikely that Boston could pursue Adrian Gonzalez (should he be available) in the 2011 season. Which then leads to the third option of recruiting from within. Felix Doubront could become a reliever/starter for the stretch run (and being a lefty doesn't hurt). Michael Bowden (despite Bradford's doubts) I think could be an option out of the pen as well.
Personally, I think the third choice is, compared with the other two, the only choice Boston can make. Let's be frank for a moment; 2010 is a season on the edge for Boston. Too many injuries to too many key players has put Boston in a hole. The question is whether it is worth it to try and "salvage" the season by impacting your competitiveness in future seasons. And my answer to that is "no."
I think Bowden and Doubront could stabilize the bullpen along with a rejuvenated Scott Atchison. And did Dustin Richardson disappoint anyone in his appearances with Boston? Between June 26 and his last appearance in Oakland on July 20, he allowed just one run. Let's bring those guys in for a month or so and see what they can do. Put Delcarmen and Okajima on the DL until the September roster expansion. At some point we need to know if our younger players can get it done or not. So why not now?
The idea of giving up Kelly and Iglesias for Scott Downs makes me want to vomit. I'd rather the Sox finish last in the AL East than make a short-sighted, knee-jerk trade like that. It's disappointing that the Sox could sweep the Mariners. But that doesn't mean it is time to make a trade so stupid it would make the Eric Gagne trade look brilliant by comparison.