The Boston Red Sox season has, so far, been a disaster with the team, which entered the season picked by many baseball experts to win the American League East, now slogging along in last place. The past two weeks have seen an upswing in the team’s fortunes and according to some rumors, the team is looking at deals that would bolster the roster for what would be a spectacular second-half comeback.
After playing their 81st game — the exact halfway point of the 2015 Major League Baseball schedule — on Wednesday, the Red Sox stood six games out of first place at 37 wins against 44 losses. But since a seven-game losing streak that ran from June 9 to June 15, which was the low point in a season full of low points for the Red Sox, Boston has won 10 of their last 16 games.
While that pace is not exactly scorching, it does represent a.625 winning percentage that, if the Red Sox were to maintain it for the remainder of the season, would see them end up with 88 wins.
By comparison, the first place Baltimore Orioles, based on their record throughout the season, are on pace to win 86, as are the New York Yankees. The division’s other two teams, the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, would win 84 each at their current pace.
In other words, based on their recent performance, the Red Sox who appeared hapless through May and the first half of June — compiling a sickly 15-28 record over those six weeks — appear poised to stage a comeback in the second half of the season and maybe even a run at a miracle division pennant.
And there are indications that General Manager Ben Cherington and the team’s front office are thinking about exactly that. The top baseball correspondent for WEEI.com, the web portal of Boston’s venerable sports-talk radio station WEEI, reported on Wednesday that the Red Sox will indeed be in the market for reinforcements before the July 31 trade deadline.
Other reports stated that Cherington was “thinking about” the Red Sox becoming a “seller” as they were last year when the GM unloaded seven key players at the trade deadline, including four of the team’s five regular starting pitchers.
But if indeed the Red Sox go into the deadline looking to buy, writes WEEI’s Rob Bradford, do not look for them to make major deals for big names such as the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels or the Cincinnatti Reds’ Johnny Cueto.
“According to a major league source, the Red Sox priority leading up to the July 31 deadline is to find younger pitchers who are under team control beyond just this season,” write Bradford. “Also per the source, it isn’t likely the Red Sox would be chasing pitchers already owed a substantial chunk of money.”
Who those young pitchers might be, Bradford didn’t say. But the Boston target list could conceivably include such names as Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, who does not hit free agency until 2019, and is putting up a stellar season for a team with little realistic hope of contention anytime soon.
Another candidate might be 25-year-old right-handed starter Danny Salazar of the faltering Cleveland Indians, who has posted a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts with a stunning 101 strikeouts against just 24 walks in 85 1/3 innings this season. Salazar would be under team control until 2021 and not even arbitration eligible under 2017, coming until then at a bargain price in the mid six-figures.
Of course, acquiring Ramos, Salazar, or another, similar pitcher would be an expensive proposition, requiring the Red Sox to part with some of the prize prospects in the Boston organization. But in return they would receive young prospects who have already proven themselves, to some extent, at the Major League level — and those are the type of players that recent Red Sox history proves that the organization prizes most of all.
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