TORONTO — The trade deadline is fast approaching and the Red Sox are holding their horses.
No reason to do anything just yet.
The hitters who weren’t hitting — Stephen Drew (three-run homer, four RBIs Monday night), Xander Bogaerts (three hits), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (two hits, two RBIs) are now hitting.
The pitchers continue to perform well, including John Lackey, who had another strong game (seven innings of one-run ball) while also receiving plenty of support in Boston’s 14-1 win over the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox have won eight out of nine, so what that some of the wins were against the White Sox, Astros, and Monday night vs. an injury-plagued Toronto team?
“There’s just a positive vibe in here right now,” Red Sox catcher David Ross said. “It’s feeling more like last year.
“There’s a long way to go, but we feel we have time to get this where we want to be. It’s great to see guys like Bogey and Dirt [Drew], and Jackie start to get it going. Having Vic [Shane Victorino] back has made a big difference to the energy level.”
Ross is correct. Boston’s season is starting to turn because the guys who weren’t hitting — and you can add Daniel Nava to that — are now raking.
General manager Ben Cherington was pursuing a righthanded bat — but now Victorino is back. And while Victorino didn’t play Monday night because of turf considerations, he already has added energy to the lineup.
There is still some time to figure this buyer and seller stuff out.
Jon Lester and Ross have both mentioned how they’d like to see if they can convince Cherington to buy at the deadline and make another run.
If the Red Sox continue to climb and keep chipping away at the wild-card and divisional deficits, they can do a little of both.
While the Cardinals had initial interest in Jake Peavy, and then backed off, they are still considered a possible trade partner. The Giants didn’t get the best news on Matt Cain’s elbow, and perhaps now they could be a player for Peavy as well.
The Red Sox also have Felix Doubront, whom they could dangle for a bat or more relief help. And they have prospects they could deal for established players if they ever got fully back into this thing.
Remember those stories about the Red Sox being done? Maybe they were a bit premature. The Sox have 12 straight games against AL East opponents coming up. They control their own destiny.
All along one constant has remained true — they can pitch with any team in their division. Good pitching has kept them in games.
All the one-run games they lost earlier this season were because of the fact that they simply couldn’t hit when it counted. That has begun to turn, which is why Cherington didn’t go completely crazy tearing this team apart. He kept saying he believed in the talent and the approach, but they couldn’t seem to get everything in synch.
Having Drew, Bogaerts, and Bradley contribute offensively is huge.
Drew was brought in to stabilize the defense, which he has. But he hadn’t held up his end offensively. He batted sixth Monday night; he’s swung the bat a lot better lately. Missing spring training caught up to him, but now he seems to be more in regular-season mode.
With those three players plus Nava hitting again, with David Ortiz breaking out of his 1-for-17 slump with a pair of two-run homers, and with Mike Napoli (homer), who has had to shake off nagging injuries the first half, now hitting with the righthanded power the Red Sox need, this team has an entirely different feel to it.
Brock Holt continues to impress in all phases of the game. He made a tremendous catch against the wall in right Monday night. He may turn into a pumpkin at some point, but he has gone from fringe major league player to very good in two months. He has been a good leadoff man for a team now minus Jacoby Ellsbury’s elite speed and game-changing ability.
Overall, the Red Sox have pitched well and played defense the entire season. You now add some well-timed hits, and this has become a pretty good team.
Is it too late? Sixty-three games remain.
It isn’t impossible to envision a big turnaround, but everything has to fall into place as it did last season.
The trick now is to ride this out. The Red Sox are both developing young talent at the major league level and also trying to win. They remain intrigued with Rubby De La Rosa, so we will see a lot more of him. As we will Brandon Workman.
And forget this notion that Lester could suddenly be “distracted” by contract talk. Lester has been told he’s won the lottery and is just waiting for his payday. I don’t think you or I would be too distracted by that.
Since A.J. Pierzynski’s release the Red Sox got better. The good thing about Pierzynski leaving is that Christian Vazquez came up. The best thing about Bogaerts moving to third is that the Red Sox have an excellent defensive shortstop in Drew, and if they are indeed making their run, that is what they signed him for.
“You can just see [the hitting] coming little by little with Stephen,” said manager John Farrell.
Jonny Gomes has also gotten some of his mojo back — big hits, a feel for the moment.
Cherington, who decided to ride out the slumping younger players and Nava and Drew, may be getting rewarded for his patience. The trick now is to decide which moves could benefit this revival.
Cherington and Farrell said all along they were not raising the white flag.
And now that they’re winning and gaining ground, there’s absolutely no reason not to take this right down to the July 31 deadline.
What seemed so clear two weeks ago — sell, sell, sell! is now unclear again.
The players clearly are trying to sell management on buy, buy, buy!