Since opening July by winning four straight, the Red Sox are 5-7. They have played a handful of marathon games in that stretch, sent Pablo Sandoval packing, placed Joe Kelly on the disabled list, and activated Brock Holt. They have seen their problems at third base loom larger, their bullpen stretched farther, and some of their core players struggle offensively.
Ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, it seems the team is surrounded by growing consternation. Should they solve their bullpen problems or their third base problems at the deadline? Or, somehow, both? Should they do anything at all at the trade deadline? If their core players — Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, et al — get in gear at the plate, will much of the rest get straightened out?
We scoured reader comments on Red Sox stories for the last few days to see what answers could be hiding there. Some comments call for more personality on the Sox, citing the absence of David Ortiz, while some state that a leader needs to step up. Some wonder when a spark will come and who will provide it? There are suggestions on how to tweak the lineup, and which players should be called up from Triple A Pawtucket (Sam Travis, namely). Others ponder when and how Betts, Bogaerts, Ramirez, and the other key bats will wake up out of a slump and produce.
We plucked the highlights and organized them into three categories: Lineup/roster moves, trade deadline suggestions, and leadership/personality. Here they are, along with the commenter’s username, date and time of the comment, and which story the comment was on:
Comment: “They need a leader in the clubhouse. Zero runs in 22 innings will not make the grade. Hanley is not the answer. Dustin won’t do it. Who is going to step up? Trading for a third baseman won’t solve the problem …’’
— Jim1949, July 16, 8:10 p.m., Where is Red Sox’ biggest need, at third base or in the bullpen?
Comment: “My observation of the Sox is that they do not have the temperament to be a championship team this year. Offensively, they more resemble Hanley than Pedroia (streaky; all-in or half-out; giving up on bats, etc.). That is a real shame. I believe that the Sox have the talent to go far. They just lack the will that it takes to be the best.’’
— MGOAD1, July 18, 1:51 p.m., Red Sox need more production from current roster.
Comment: “The Sox need veteran gamers and a big bat in the middle of the line-up. Besides Petey, the team is bereft of players with grit and personality. They are frontrunners as they were last year. One win trailing in the 9th inning does not a make championship team. They need a new Millar, Gomes, Napoli type to get these guys going.’’
— No, No, Nanette, July 18, 1:34 p.m., Should Red Sox shop for more than a third baseman?
Comment: “The Sox are lacking big bats and an inspiring personality. Missing Papi. Hopefully someone on the roster will spring to life. Not so fun sitting through low to no scoring games.’’
— YogaSong44, July 18, 3:13 a.m., This dry spell proving costly for Red Sox.
Comment: “The team is full of soft players, lacks leaders and boring to watch. The manager is clueless. No wounder fewer people are watching. How many more days until the Pats training camp starts?’’
— JJZC, July 18, 9:04 p.m., Should Red Sox shop for more than a third baseman?
Comment: “It’s past time to shake up the lineup, maybe move Pedroia to lead off, Benintendi up a few spots, give Travis some starts at DH or 1B, swap Bradley and Bogaerts (at least JBJ is making hard contact). Pedey, Benintendi, Betts, Bradley, Travis, Hanley//Young, Bogaerts, Vazquez, Holt. Or something like that.’’
— Long-Gone-John, July 18, 10:51 a.m., This dry spell proving costly for Red Sox.
Comment: “Moreland was hitting great until he broke his toe on a foul ball. It’s not mere coincidence he’s stopped hitting since. Put him on the DL until it’s healed and play Travis. Forget the idiotic LHP vs. RHP match ups. Just play ball. And Hanley continues to be a drain in the middle of the lineup. His physical abilities are overtaken by his stubborn, ego-driven stupidity at the plate. As a result, everyone else is overcompensating trying to cover this waste of space, flailing away trying to pull pitches that low and away, far outside the strike zone. Just frustrating to a lineup of talented players underperforming so badly. All they have to do is play basic baseball…lay off the pitches you can’t hit and go with the pitches in the strike zone. This shouldn’t need to be explained to players at this level.’’
— Tooner, July 18, 10:09 a.m., This dry spell proving costly for Red Sox.
Comment: “I would like to see the Sox put Sam Travis at first base for a week straight, maybe more and see what he can do. Otherwise, send him down to play every day.’’
— Punisher3, July 18, 2:31 p.m., Red Sox need more production from current roster.
Comment: “Hanley should be sent back to the minors to do some serious work on his hitting problems. He is really bad. David Ortiz is sorely missed.’’
— -Figmo-, July 18, 5:21 p.m., Should Red Sox shop for more than a third baseman?
Comment: “I sense the entire team is pressing at the plate. Batters cannot do their best work when they press. In response to another article, one commenter proffered the advice that each of them should just go out and play basic baseball, and focus on their game, not trying to do too much. Sound advice, but hart to implement in practice.’’
— NotNecessarilyLiberal, July 18, 4:46 p.m., Red Sox need more production from current roster.
Comment: “Relax, Devers will be brought up by end of August. He will electrify the team and the Sox will win it all.’’
— BoHare1, July 19, 6:40 a.m., Red Sox lose out to the Yankees again — this time for Todd Frazier.
Trade deadline suggestions
Comment: “All the possibilities mentioned are garbage! The Sox might just as well stay with what They have. Maybe go get a DH /1b type’’
— RFXW, July 19, 2:19 p.m. Red Sox continuing to explore trade options at third, bullpen.
Comment: “I think if we add Justin Wilson a hard throwing left hander from Detroit it would solidify the bullpen. They could then have a strong 8th inning man. His salary is only 2.7 million and the sox would control him next year also.’’
— Stan9509, July 18, 2:27 p.m., Should Red Sox shop for more than a third baseman?
Comment: “Our biggest need is at DH. Our offense fails too often and then booms. We need to trade Hanley for Cabrera. What we would be gaining, and Detroit losing, is the difference between the two. We need a major prospect to cover that gap. Think how much stronger our line up would be with Cabrera hitting third.’’
— Mogli, July 16, 9:41 p.m., Where is Red Sox’ biggest need, at third base or in the bullpen?
Comment: “The Sox should get Clippard now. He’s been screwed up badly earlier in the year and Yankees hate him. But he’s showed signs and was good in Washington. And the White Sox have no reason to keep him. And he’d be cheap.’’
— Local86, July 19, 8:23 a.m., Red Sox lose out to the Yankees again — this time for Todd Frazier.
Comment: “Prefer old friend Lowrie to Frazier, for versatility and more consistently competitive ABs (at the expense of HRs). Cost should be similar.’’
— User_1242650, July 18, 1:55 p.m., Red Sox need more production from current roster.