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2009 Trade Deadline Preview: Boston Red Sox

Buyers or sellers?

Buyers. The Red Sox are among the group of big market teams that is almost always buyers. The team is currently riding a five game losing streak, and odds are GM Theo Epstein is going to do whatever it takes to right the ship. The wheeling and dealing began yesterday for the Red Sox when they acquired Adam LaRoche from the Pirates, and Chris Duncan from the Cardinals. Those moves may just be a small piece of the puzzle for Epstein because odds are he isn't done dealing yet.

Short-term need

A month ago all we could talk about was how the Red Sox had the deepest rotation in baseball, but suddenly things are starting to change in that department. With the recent injuries to Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the inconsistency of 42-year-old John Smoltz some folks around bean town are beginning to become a little worried. Thankfully for the Sox they still have Clay Buchholz waiting in the wings, but suddenly the depth at starting pitching has become a legitimate concern. Another area the Red Sox may want to sure up is getting a real backup catcher, primarily someone who can throw out base runners. Jason Varitek and George Kottaras have thrown out fewer than 20 percent of runners this year, and in a division with B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner that can be a serious problem down the stretch. Additionally, the Red Sox look like they may need to add another bat to this lineup (calling Manny Ramirez), which has been struggling severely as of late. They've been rumored to be looking at the Indians Victor Martinez, but after acquiring LaRoche it's likely they'd be creating a corner infield log jam, plus they'd probably have to give up Buchholz, and they don't seem to have any interest in doing that. The Red Sox also have been linked to Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay. If they wanted to make a move to sure up their rotation that might be something they look at, but again I doubt they want to give up Buchholz, and also the picture is a little unclear about whether or not the Blue Jays are willing to trade him within the division. Overall, I'd expect Epstein to do what he normally does, and look for some affordable role players to fill in various spots around the diamond. I don't expect the Sox to make any blockbuster deals, but if they were going to make one Victor Martinez would probably be it, but that's a long shot at this point.

Long-term need

With a team like the Red Sox it's hard to identify a long-term need because essentially there is no long-term. Teams with money and unlimited resources have the ability to make quick fixes to potential long-term problems in the drop of a dime. But for sake of the discussion we'll say that the Red Sox biggest long-term need is finding suitable replacements for an aging roster. Taking a look around the diamond the Red Sox have six of nine starters who are over the age of 30, including Jason Varitek, 37, David Ortiz, 35, Kevin Youkilis, 30, Jason Bay, 30, Mike Lowell, 35, and J.D. Drew, 33. Furthermore, they have two starters in their rotation who're over the age of 40 in Smoltz and Wakefield.  Looking into the offseason the Red Sox are going to have some decisions to make when it comes to resigning players'. They've several key players who are set for free agency including Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Bay, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie Justin Masterson, and Hideki Okajima. The Red Sox might look real different in a few years.

Big leaguers on the market?

When you're competing for a World Series year in and year out you don't put big leaguers on the market. Teams like the Red Sox add to their big league roster they don't subtract. Barring the Red Sox making a deal for Roy Halladay or Victor Martinez nobody is leaving this big league roster. If by some chance they pulled off one of those deals the only two likely to move would be either Buchholz or Lowrie, or possibly both in the case of Halladay.

Minor league strength

The Red Sox have developed one of the better minor league systems in the game today under the watchful eye of GM Theo Epstein. They have a great mixture of high school players', college players' and international free agents that has helped produce a very balanced farm system.

The top end of their system is loaded with some really talented players, which of course starts with Buchholz. He is considered by many scouts to have top end rotation potential, and so far he hasn't done anything to discredit that notion. However, it will be interesting to see if he's still a member of the Red Sox in the next week or so. Following Buchholz you have two flame throwers in Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard both can just light up the radar gun, and seem like they will be mainstays for the Red Sox really soon. They also have some really solid position players as well. Their best position prospect is first baseman Lars Anderson who John Sickels of Minor League Ball has ranked as the teams number one overall prospect. Additionally, they have a few other nice outfield prospects in Josh Reddick and Ryan Westmoreland, and also good young infield prospects in third baseman Michael Almanzar and shortstop's Yamaico Navarro, Oscar Tejeda and Argenis Diaz.

Overall the Red Sox are deep, which should help with their somewhat aging roster, but ultimately most of these guys will probably just be pieces to acquire major league talent somewhere down the road. When you're the Red Sox and you live in a nuclear arms race with the Yankees it's real tough to rebuild from within.

Take on short-term money to win?

Yes. Again the Red Sox are among that small core of baseball elites that always have the capability of taking on money.

For more coverage of the Red Sox check out Over The Monster.