Danger before the deadline

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Danger before the deadline

Starting tomorrow night against Rays, the Red Sox have 17 games before the trade deadline. All things considered, it's a stretch that will likely determine the course their season.

The way I see it: Once Jacoby Ellsbury rejoins the line-up on Friday and Carl Crawford returns on Monday, the Sox will be short on excuses. All of a sudden, aside from Dustin Pedroia, the Woe Is Me card (also available in "brick" form; go to redsox.com for details) won't work and there will be no good reason for Boston to be stuck in mediocrity.

If these 17 games pass without improvement, and the Sox are still as dysfunctional as ever, don't they have to consider dropping a bomb at the deadline?

Eh, you hope so. But you never know with these guys. What you do know is that they'll be looking for any reason to keep this core together. That any sign of life will be considered grounds to stand pat and make another misguided run at the playoffs.

So, like I said, the next 17 games are huge. The outcome will likely determine which road the Sox choose: Roll the dice or bring down the hammer?

For those in favor of the latter, I've got some good news: The Sox have a brutal schedule between now and the deadline.

They start with three in Tampa, which is never easy. Especially when you're facing Hellickson, Price and Shields. Then, it's four games against Kevin Youkilis and the first place White Sox. (On the bright side, it looks like they'll avoid Chris Sale.) After Chicago, the Sox have a quick three-game breather against Toronto, before heading to Texas for three games, then the Bronx for three games and then coming home for three against the Tigers.

That's a ridiculous stretch. And call me crazy but I like it. After all, if you're going to let the outcome of 17 games determine the course of your season, it might as be 17 games against the American League's best. How else would you want to measure the worth of this Red Sox team?

Ooh, I know one way.

Put the team up for sale!

Come on, Mr. Henry . . . what do you say?

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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