To buy or sell becoming a real dilemma for Cherington
It all seemed so simple at the All-Star break. The Red Sox would get Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back to start the second half and go on a nice little run. Then Ben Cherington’s trade strategy would be simple. He would add a piece or two to help the Red Sox get that extra push for their pursuit of a playoff berth.
And like clockwork, they ripped off five wins in their first seven games, the last of those five a thrilling win on a Cody Ross three-run walkoff shot.
How many games have the Red Sox won since Ross got bathed in a splash of Gatorade? That would be zero. The Sox have lost four in a row to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, and four behind the A’s for the second Wild Card spot.
So now what does Cherington do?
“I mean, we hope not,” Dustin Pedroia said, when asked if the Sox could become sellers by July 31. “That second wild card, it could come down to the last week of the season. I was talking to Gary Tuck on the bus. He tells me every year, ‘Look at the standings Sept. 15 and see where you’re at.’ Usually every year, I remember 2010, we had half of our starters hurt and we look up Sept. 15 and we’re still there. We’ve got to keep fighting. That’s our mindset.”
But Cherington has to protect the Red Sox both this year and going forward. To help this year’s team, he might have to mortgage a future trip. And he must ask himself in that case: Has this team justified giving away future chips for?
There is always added tension in a clubhouse at this time of year, as rumors make their way from team to team. Almost to a man, the Red Sox say they aren’t thinking along these lines.
“All we can focus on is going out there and playing the game today,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “That’s all we can control. That’s what I’m pretty sure everyone feels in here. We’re not focused on the trade deadline. I don’t even know what today is to be honest with you. Actually I do know. today is the 23rd. that means it’s my daughter’s eight-month birthday. That’s the only reason I know what today is.”
Cherington is fully aware of the date. Back in 1987, the late Lou Gorman released veterans Bill Buckner and Don Baylor, and let the kids – from Ellis Burks to Mike Greenwell to Sam Horn to Todd Benzinger to John Marzano — play for the rest of the season.
Could Cherington take a similar approach this year with prospects like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias and unload a few veterans?
The Red Sox are likely going to determine his path with what they do on the final five games of this crucial road trip through Texas and New York.
“It’s the same mood,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “We’re trying to win. We’ve got to go out there and battle. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do best, and that’s stay in there and grind. We’ve got to pitch better. We’ve got to play better. We’ve been playing decent baseball since the break. Obviously, the last homestand wasn’t great, but other than that, we’ve been playing all right.”
To become a factor in 2012 — and to buy instead of sell — the Red Sox need to start playing better than all right real soon.