By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
Tampa -- In less than three weeks, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will arrive, offering the Red Sox one more opportunity to upgrade their roster and fill needs.
For now, it's difficult to say definitively exactly what those need are. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz currently on the disabled list and Josh Beckett unableunwilling to pitch in Tuesday's All-Star Game, the starting rotation is, to put it charitably, problematic.
But most of the injuries to starters are minor in nature and it's likely both Beckett and Lester will resume their regular turns within the next week.
Moreover, the starting pitching is so threadbare that there's little in the way of front-line pitching available - even if the Sox were willing to make a bold move.
That leaves three areas for the Red Sox to address by month's end.
1) Right field
J.D. Drew has provided 10 extra-base hits in the first 90 games and the production at the position has been almost non-existent.
Some big names (Carlos Beltran, perhaps Michael Cuddyer) are available, but every indication is that the Red Sox are not thinking big at this position. Beltran will be owed 6 million at the deadline, and while ownership will be willing to increase payroll somewhat, that's a significant investment leap.
With the highest-scoring lineup in the game, there's no compelling need to land a big bat. Instead, it's far more likely that the Sox will be more inclined to add a complementary part, someone such as Jeff Baker of the Chicago Cubs.
Baker crushes left-handed pitching and is affordable.
The Sox don't need an everyday All-Star; they'd settle for a better version of Darnell McDonald.
The answers here might come from within.
If Bobby Jenks can stay healthy and give the club another experienced late-inning power arm, the Sox would be in better shape.
Similarly, if Franklin Morales can throw as well as he has in recent weeks, the urgency to find a lefty reliever would quickly lessen.
If, however, one or both pitchers stumble, the Sox would likely view their bullpen as inadequate for the demands of September and beyond.
Almost every contender seeks a bullpen upgrade at the deadline; the Sox would be no different.
Jed Lowrie (shoulder) hasn't swung a bat in weeks and likely won't return until August. Marco Scutaro has been fine as the starter, but he, too, has a history of breaking down.
If something were to happen to Scutaro in the coming weeks, the Sox would be caught with few options at a critical position. Drew Sutton is a useful role player, but would be exposed as an everyday infielder. Both Yamaico Navarro and Jose Iglesias lack the experience and polish to take over on a full-time basis.
Acquiring an experienced, tested middle infielder isn't just prudent - it's essential.