Buy Or Sell?
FACE FACTS: GOING FOR IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
The Red Sox haven't been to the postseason since 2009 and haven't had a playoff victory since 2008, but I don't think they should sacrifice any future assets -- no matter how small -- just for the sake of taking a shot at it this season.
Sure, there's an extra playoff spot for the first time, and yes, the Sox are just a handful of games back with two months of baseball still to go. But unless Ben Cherington is planning on dealing for Felix Hernandez, it's time to start thinking about next season.
Consider this: Even if the Red Sox do manage to go 39-20 over their final 59 games and sneak into the playoffs (an unlikely enough scenario as it is), what are they actually accomplishing? All that does is get them into a one-game playoff against a team that likely will have one of the best pitchers in baseball (Justin Verlander? Jered Weaver?) waiting for them.
Is that scenario -- a long shot, for sure -- worth giving up a prospect such as Ryan Kalish, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes or Jackie Bradley Jr.? Because that's what it would likely take in order to add an impact player. It's not like this Red Sox team is a minor piece away from putting it all together.
A smarter move would be to stand pat at Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, or even sell off some short-term assets (Cody Ross? Mike Aviles? Kelly Shoppach?) in order to add to the farm system. The second wild card has made it a seller's market; the Sox would be poised to cash in if they decided to sell instead of buy.
Yes, it would signal they're waving the white flag on the season. But it would also signal an understanding of the inevitable and, much more importantly, put them in better position moving forward.
David Lefort is an editor for ESPNBoston.com.
THEY'RE IN IT TO WIN IT
The Red Sox are not going into sell-off mode, not when they are four games out of a wild-card spot and have won three straight games. Not in this market, not with a 62-year-old manager who is not here for the long haul, not with an ownership group that can't abide the impact a third straight season of missing the playoffs would have on the bottom line.
"We're in it to win it," Bobby Valentine said over the weekend, and Ben Cherington is looking for ways to enhance the team's chances in the season's last two months. A team source said Monday night that the Sox won't deal Josh Beckett, and even though they made it known they would be open to a trade, I can't imagine they would have made one unless they were reasonably certain of acquiring another starting pitcher.
They have surplus pieces to sell, although outfielder Ryan Sweeney is off the market after hurting his hand Monday night, but they will not make a trade that would significantly weaken them for the stretch run.
I'll admit, the quiet in the hours just before the deadline always make me a bit nervous: The Sox have a history of claiming they're making only minor tweaks, then swing for the fences, the way they did when they traded Nomar Garciaparra (2004) and Manny Ramirez (2008), and when they acquired Victor Martinez (2009).
Cherington, as a first-year GM, is under some pressure to deliver, and Larry Lucchino has been thinking "bold." The Sox may well decide that they have all the necessary pieces to make a run, and they should by no means sacrifice the future for the type of uncertain return a Josh Johnson would bring, but by Tuesday afternoon, I predict you'll see movement.