Maybe he'll send a C-list prospect or two to San Diego for one of the Padres' countless middle relievers. Or take a flyer on someone like Cleveland's Rafael Betancourt, a quality pitcher having a horrendous year. And a stopgap at shortstop could be added to the shopping list if Jed Lowrie somehow fails to live up to Julio Lugo's high standard.
But baseball logic suggests there will be nothing approaching a blockbuster this year, no deals reminiscent of the franchise-altering swap of Nomah in '04 or even the Eric Gagne debacle of '07. Part of that is because the asking price for even mediocre "talent" is so steep (someone is going to grossly overpay for Colorado lefty Brian Fuentes), and the Red Sox are right in their reluctance to deal an asset such as Michael Bowden for an attempt at a quick fix.
Mostly, though, the Sox will likely stick with the status quo because they are in the enviable position of having potential, and possibly superior, solutions within their own organization. The idea of plugging an unproven but obvious talent such as Justin Masterson into a late-inning relief role is much more appealing and offers a potentially great reward than bringing in one retread or another. With good health and reasonable improvement in certain areas (we're looking at you, Delcarmen), the Red Sox will be a playoff team and a championship contender without any significant alterations to the roster.
Of course, that won't stop us from devouring the rumors and enjoying the daydreams, as unrealistic and illogical as some may be. The days leading up to the trade deadline are some of the most enjoyable of the season - who doesn't love good baseball gossip? So why not have some fun with a few of the names we're sure to be hearing in the coming weeks . . .
Matt Holliday: The perception is that last year's runner-up for the NL MVP could eventually be the ideal replacement for Manny in left field. While the disappointing Rockies may be proactive and trade their signature slugger now, his contract expires after next season. His agent, Scott Boras, has a knack for getting into John Henry's wallet, so it's certainly possible that Fenway will someday be his baseball home. But upon cursory inspection of Holliday's baseball-reference page, that notion isn't quite as appealing as it might seem. If your eyes didn't tell you that this guy is pretty damn good hitter, the numbers might convince you that Holliday is his generation's Dante Bichette, strictly a Coors Field creation. In his five-season career, 78 of Holliday's 117 homers have come at home, his batting average is 87 points higher (.364/.277), and his OPS is greater by nearly 300 points (1.086 to .792). At Coors, he's a Hall of Famer. On the road, he's Skip Schumacher (.792 OPS this season). I realize that argument is not without it's flaws - of course he's superior to Skip Schumacher, dummy - but the larger point remains intact: The team that pays Holliday something approaching nine figures to leave Colorado behind will be taking a mountainous risk.
Mark Teixeira: You might recall that at this time last year, I was caterwauling for the Sox to do just about anything within the boundaries of the law to acquire Teixeira from Texas. My flawless reasoning was that there was no chance Mike Lowell would be as productive in the second half as he was in the first, and the Sox would need offensive firepower when he eventually went south. Um . . . whoops. I haven't been that wrong since I told my sister Terence Trent D'Arby would be the next Michael Jackson. (I just sent everyone under 35 scrambling to Wikipedia.) I'd still be geeked to see the prime-of-his-career, switch-hitting slugger anchoring the Sox lineup at some point, but if it happens, it will likely be after this season, when he collects his jackpot in free agency. (Perhaps if Manny departs and, say, Kevin Youkilis moves to left? No?) Even then, chances are he ends up elsewhere in the AL East (he's from the Baltimore area and his dad is allegedly a Yankees fan), and depending upon how realistic the Braves are about their chances this season, he could join an enemy sooner rather than later.
Fuentes: You have to have some respect for any pitcher who's had success pitching in Colorado, but the dearth of available quality relievers means the price will be steep, and for some reason I get a Scott Sauerbeck 2.0 vibe from him. (Maybe it's the 14 hits and seven runs he allowed in 9.2 innings last postseason.) Put it this way: I don't want him to end up in Tampa or New York, but unless his sticker price is greatly reduced, I don't particularly want him here, either.
Adam Dunn: J.P. Ricciardi's favorite player is the ultimate Three True Outcomes slugger - in just over half of his plate appearances this season (189 of 360), he's whiffed, walked, or homered. But he'd appeal to the Red Sox this season only if Papi has an unexpected setback in the next two weeks, and even then, the 28-year-old's Varitek-like average (.225 heading into Saturday) means he's too inconsistent to play a significant role for a team with postseason aspirations.
As for that once-feared slugger hovering around in free agency (no, not you, Sexson) . . .
Barry Bonds: To the Red Sox? Purely WEEI conjecture. C'mon, you know Theo wouldn't sign him even if Papi couldn't come back from his wrist injury and Manny ran off to fulfill his secret dream of being a lion tamer in the circus. For good or bad, Bonds will forever be known for No. 756, but here are some other relevant numbers: 44 (his age in 10 days), .248 (his batting average in the second half last year), 0 (major-league at-bats this season), 5 (charges of perjury and obstruction of justice). Yeah, Theo covets that guy. There's a better chance of Brett Favre playing for the Red Sox.
As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Farewell to a truly classy Yankee.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.