Will Sox make any changes to right ship?

Will Sox make any changes to right ship?
May 19, 2014, 1:45 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON - Even as the losses pile up, the Red Sox continue to preach patience. John Farrell has vowed that there will not be wholesale changes and just last week, referring to the struggling troika of young players that constitute the lower third of the team's batting order, declared: "These are our guys.''
But then came a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, a set which featured exactly one hit with runners in scoring position and a grand total of three runs scored.
On the one hand, it is relatively early. Memorial Day, when teams traditionally assess what they have and where they are, remains a week off.
And there's this: despite the Red Sox' eminent mediocrity, they've yet to play themselves out of contention in a division where every single team managed to lose on Sunday (the Yankees sprinkled in a win by splitting a doubleheader).
Clearly, however, the arrow is pointing in the wrong direction as the Sox sit on their longest losing steak since the Bobby Valentine Error.
As they sift through the options Monday, a scheduled off-day, here are three changes they could consider.
1) Sit tight
The team's front office knows that, beyond the well-documented issues with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, there are others not playing up past performance: Dustin Pedroia, A.J. Pierzynski, Shane Victorino, Grady Sizemore and others are all, to varying degrees, underachieving.
Over time, these dips tend to self-correct. And should most of those veterans begin to play as they have in the recent past, the Sox would surely be in a better position, needing only to worry about the maturation of the rookies.     

It may be easier for management and ownership to show patience, months after a World Series, as the team currently has a reservoir of goodwill left over from last October.
Then again, it's never easy to preach patience in a market as demanding as Boston.
2) Make some moves internally
Frankly, the options here are limited. Sure, the Sox could dip into their system and make some changes. But there, the choices are either to lean on journeyman players who dot Triple A rosters, waiting for the chance to fill in because of injuries, or to promote other young players before they're fully ready for the challenges of the big leagues.
If Will Middlebrooks, who has more than 650 big league plate appearances and 34 homers, struggled in Boston, what are the odds that Garin Cecchini -- who has less than two months experience above Double A -- could come to Boston and make an impact?
The same goes for catcher Christian Vasquez or Deven Marrero or Mookie Betts. None is ready yet.
3) Make some deals
This is the most logical option and yet, there are drawbacks here, too.
It's difficult to make a big deal before the annual first-year player draft, which doesn't take place for another two weeks. Front offices everywhere are focused on preparing for the draft, and general managers are often on the road, cross-checking prospects identified by the scouts.
Moreover, the expanded playoff format has had the effect of deluding teams into thinking they have a chance at reaching the post-season. Thus, teams are reluctant to break up their everyday lineup in mid-May, effectively throwing in the towel on the rest of the regular season.
Further, what could the Sox hope to land in a trade? And where would they start?
And there's this: if the Sox traded for a starting center fielder, likely one whose contract extends past this year, what does that mean for Bradley? Are they willing to give up on him bases on a little more than a month as the regular center fielder?
Finally, there's the eternal Stephen Drew question.
Yes, the Sox could stabilize short and move Bogaerts to third for the time being, thus getting a more dependable, experienced glove in the middle of the infield and helping out with the team's brutal numbers against righthanded pitching.
But Drew, if he were to be signed today, would need nearly a month to get ready to help out at the major league level. And even if the Sox were to go in this direction, what evidence is there that Drew and agent Scott Boras would be willing to come back?
Drew is two weeks away from being freed from draft pick compensation, which disappears once the draft takes place. Wouldn't Boras be more likely to wait and see what teams step forward when the shackle of a draft pick comes off?
As tempting as it might seem at first, Drew isn't the answer.
The cold hard truth is, there are no easy ones for the Sox, who, difficult as it might be for the fan base, might take Option No. 1 -- and hope things turn around sooner rather than later.