General manager Ben Cherington insisted Friday morning that he thought the sub-.500 Red Sox could make a run over the final two months of the season and qualify for the playoffs, but didn’t sound like he would be willing to mortgage the future in order to try to add a big piece by Tuesday’s trade deadline.
“Hopefully we can do something that can help our team be better by Tuesday in a way that’s prudent and doesn’t sacrifice anything significant in the long term,” Cherington deadpanned in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI.
The Red Sox enter Friday’s key series against the Yankees in the Bronx a whopping 10 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and 4 1/2 games back in the chase for a wild card spot, behind seven teams.
Cherington was quick to point out that making up 5 games in the loss column over the course of two months has been done before, even while acknowledging that passing at least six teams was a little more daunting a task. The list of those ahead of the Sox in the wild card include the Athletics, Orioles, Rays, Indians and Blue Jays, teams that don’t exactly strike fear when examining their rosters.
"When we look at where we are in the standings, I guess particularly the teams that are right ahead of us in the wild card chase, we don't believe that any of those teams are better than us, or necessarily more talented than us,” Cherington said. "So in that sense we're not of the mindset to give in on anything. We want to try to win, and if there's ways to improve our chances of winning and catching those teams, we want to do that."
Those Sox fans expecting a bold move to bolster the Red Sox rotation will probably be left wanting when Tuesday’s trade deadline passes, Cherington acknowledging it was very much a seller’s market for starting pitching. He added, however, that the Sox weren’t about to become sellers, either.
The team is not planning on dealing struggling left-hander Jon Lester, a league source told ESPNBoston.com earlier this week, and Cherington basically ruled out a trade of Josh Beckett, who is also having a sub-par season.
"Taking Josh Beckett off this team is not necessarily improving things," he said. "We need to add, we need to improve the rotation, if anything -- improve internally or add to the rotation. I think we're sort of stuck in neutral if we start taking guys out of the rotation that are good major league pitchers."
Though not naming them, the GM said he has taken calls about players on his roster that could be valuable to contenders looking to add pieces (think guys like Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Kelly Shoppach), but he maintained the Sox are approaching the deadline as buyers, not sellers.
"There are certainly plenty of guys on our team other teams would like to have. Right now, we're looking to improve, not take away,” he said. "That's our mindset going into this weekend."
Cherington said how things go this weekend in New York could alter the team’s thinking.
“We need to adjust every day,” Cherington said. "If we do really well between now and Tuesday, it will help us in one direction. If things don’t go well between now and Tuesday we’ve got to listen to that, too."