You seem to think having those other teams within five in the loss column is dire. I don't. This season right now is still a humoungous success. If you think it's dire because you truly believe the Sox have a real shot at the playoffs, then I agree with you.
Of course I believe we have a real shot at the playoffs. I think we need to improve some areas to be a favorite to win it all, but if we stay healthy, we are good enough to compete as is (fixing the closer issue from within). However, that is not a good enough reason to stand pat. We can make some minor to midland moves to improve on what we got.
I agree with the big righty bat problem, but I'm not sure how that is readily fixable without giving up a lot of minor league talent. In 2011 the Sox did pretty well without that big righty bat--it was the collapse of the pitching in September that did them in. So right now I lean toward sticking with this lineup.
The kind of right bat I have in mind would be very costly. I agree that it might not be the time to make that kind of move. Unlike softy, I do not like Soriano for that role, even if the Cubs pay half his deal.
Closer, no question, a big problem. Uehara has the temperament, but maybe not the stamina. But again the Sox have not had much luck in bringing in a closer from elsewhere. I favor promoting someone.
I think Uehara and Tazawa can fill the role, but who fills theirs? Yes, Miller, Breslow, and others may do OK, but our pen will be weakened. Pens are easier to trade for, but as you pointed out, it's not been a high succes are for us in recent years.
Starters, I think, are OK assuming Buchholz gets over this neck thing fairly quickly. Lackety looks good. Dempster is OK. Lester, I continue to believe, can get out of his slump because he is healthy and throwing hard. Doubront is decent. Aceves might be the best spot starter in MLB right now.
I have always believe you can never have too much starting pitching, but getting a quality and durable SP soon would also be very costly.
Of the three problems, I think the righty bat is the one the Sox might make a deal for provided they can get a rental. Someone else suggested Young, for example.
I'm not a big fan of Michael Young, but he's certainly better than MWB right now. Another name might be Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers, who are out of it right now. He is 35 and is owed $16M next year. He's dropped off a lot from 2012, but still hits lefties over .800 (.718 vs RHPs). Last year, he was 1.049 vs LHPs and .853 vs RHPs. He led the NL in 2Bs with 50 and still had 27 HRs and 105 RBIs. He makes $10M this year, so only about 3.4m will be owed after the deadline. There is a mutual option for 2015 with a $4M buyout, so essentially, he is owed about $23M for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. That would mean one of 2 things:
1) We wouldn't have to give up much in terms of prospects to take on his salary.
2) The Brewers would pay part of his contract in return for better prospects.
Michael Young is 36 and has a .760 OPS right now (.682 last year). He is better vs LHPs this year (.858) than Ramirez. He's also better vs RHPs (.730 to .718), but he was much worse last year: .794 vs LHPs and .643 vs RHPs. He makes $16M this year and then is a FA. That would come to about $5.5M after the deadline.
Other big RH'd bat options from teams out of it or looking to rebuild:
Miami: G Stanton (OF), Justin Ruggiano
NYM: D Wright (3B) (it would take a ton of prospects to pry him loose.)
Philly: John Mayberry (OF)
LAD: Juan Uribe (3B), Matt Kemp (OF), Scott Van Slyke (OF)
SD: Chase Headley (3B), Carlos Quentin (OF) (add H Street?)
Minn: J Willingham (OF)
CWS: Alex Rios (OF) (add Jesse Crain)
SEA: Kyle Seager (3B) but bats lefty, Mike Morse (1B/OF), K Morales (1B/DH) #, J Bay
LAA: Bourjos (CF), Trout (CF), Trumbo, A Callaspo # (3B) would cost 2 arms and 2 legs for just 1, and these guys are all part of the Angels' longterm plans.
Some multiple player deals could include:
Young and C Lee from Philly
A Ramirez and Gallardo from Milw.
Rios and Crain from CWS
Headley and Street from SD