How the Red Sox look now that the dust has settled

How the Red Sox look now that the dust has settled
July 31, 2014, 4:00 pm
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(AP Photo)

It started early with a bombshell: Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes going to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes

And from there, the Red Sox just kept making trade after trade on the wildest Deadline Day ever:

-- John Lackey to St. Louis for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly

-- Andrew Miller to Baltimore for minor-league prospect Eduardo Rodriguez

-- Stephen Drew to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson

When the dust settled, one of the players who'd asked to be traded -- first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp -- was still around. But the Sox had almost completely reshuffled the rest of the deck, leaving them with a projected 25-man roster that follows: 

STARTING PITCHERS: Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo (who is being called up and will start Friday night in Lackey's spot against the Yankees)

RELIEF PITCHERS: Craig Breslow, Burke Badenhop, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Koji Uehara

CATCHERS: Christian Vazquez, David Ross

INFIELDERS: Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Kelly Johnson (currently on the DL)

OUTFIELDERS: Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp

DESIGNATED HITTER: David Ortiz

Some quick thoughts:

  • The die for this upheaval was cast in the last nine days. The Red Sox' 14-1 victory over Toronto on Monday, July 21, their eighth victory in nine games, lifted their record to 47-52 . . . not great, but they were only 7 1/2 games out in the A.L. East and 6 games behind in the wild-card race. They were in a position to make a run at the postseason, and if the hot streak had continued it's doubtful much, if any, of this would have happened today. Instead, they proceeded to lose eight of their next nine, dropping them to 48-60 and prompting management to make the decision to overhaul everything.
  • The Sox have two holes on the roster -- they're missing a sixth reliever with Miller gone, and a fifth infielder with Johnson on the disabled list -- that will have to be filled before Friday night.
  • While Carp is still here now, he'll probably go -- either in a waiver trade or by being designated for assignment -- when Will Middlebrooks is ready to be activated from his rehab assignment.
  • At that point, Bogaerts will go back to short (speculation is that Holt will hold down the position in the interim) and Middlebrooks will take over again at third base.
  • Holt then may once again become a roving regular, playing any one of seven positions on a given day as he gives one of the regulars a rest or if manager John Farrell is looking for a platoon or matchup advantage.
  • The offense will be better, with a 3-4-5-6 combination of Ortiz, Napoli, Cespedes and Craig available in some order. 
  • The defense will be worse, particularly on the left side of the infield. The Bogaerts/Middlebrooks combination was bad enough at the start of the season that it prompted the Sox to bring Drew back to play shortstop and move Bogaerts back over to third . . . a move that, in retrospect, failed spectacularly.
  • The starting pitching will be unproven, to put it mildly. In essense, this will be a two-month tryout period for Kelly and the youngsters; how well (or poorly) they do will determine how deeply the Sox leap into the free-agent pitching pool this winter.
  • The bullpen's not as deep without Miller, who's having a superb season. Quick thought: Will this be their opportunity to move De La Rosa -- whose eventual role may be in relief -- to the bullpen?

Bottom line: The last two months will now be rather interesting as a lead-in to 2015. Will the offense live up to its potential? Which of the young pitchers will take advantage of the opportunity they're being given, and which will flub it? Can Bogaerts regain his lost mojo now that he's a shortstop again? And, most importantly, can this rejiggered roster be the core of a contender next season?

Stay tuned.