The Red Sox have been entertaining in recent weeks, particularly their younger players. But it doesn't change the fact the pitching staff needs a major overhaul for the team to contend in 2016.
The Sox cannot report to spring training with the same group of starters they have now. They need an ace and you can be sure Dave Dombrowski won't make the mistake of trying to win with five mid-rotation types.
Globe colleague Nick Cafardo posed an interesting question in his Sunday notes column a few weeks ago, asking if you would trade Xander Bogaerts to the Mets for star righthander Matt Harvey. The Sox need pitching and the Mets need offense, so why not?
It made for a good discussion at the time, but just that. The Mets would never trade Harvey, after all. He's a cost-controlled ace, the kind of starter every team wants and few have.
Then Harvey, agent Scott Boras, and the Mets became embroiled in a controversy over how many innings he should pitch this season coming off Tommy John surgery.
What the Red Sox should see is an opportunity.
Harvey will be 27 in March and cannot become a free agent until 2019. The Red Sox could have him under team control for three seasons, all at a prime age. Harvey would be a perfect fit for the Sox as they wait to see if an ace develops from within the organization.
Harvey is from Connecticut and is a proven big-stage performer. He'll also be well clear of his surgery and able to throw 200-plus innings. Sure, Harvey is cocky and can be a pain in the butt. But the Red Sox survived Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Curt Schilling. They can deal with Harvey.
The Sox also may be uniquely qualified to make a deal because of their talent base. They could build a package around Bogaerts, Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart. Or try a group of prospects led by Yoan Moncada and Manuel Margot.
Because of his age, trading for Harvey is a better risk than signing an expensive free agent like Johnny Cueto or David Price. Plus the Red Sox would not lose their first-round draft pick if that proves to be unprotected.
The Sox have never made a blockbuster deal with the Mets. Maybe now is the time.
A few other thoughts and observations on the Red Sox:
■ Dombrowski does not seem to be in any hurry to hire a general manager. Here’s an idea: John Farrell.
Torey Lovullo is doing a fine job as interim manager and whether it's with the Red Sox or another team, he deserves a chance to manage. Farrell fits the profile of a general manager and perhaps that transition would make sense to him as he recovers from lymphoma.
Farrell's knowledge of pitching would serve the Red Sox well in the front office. His familiarity with the organization also would be an aid to Dombrowski.
■ It’s understandable why so many fans are upset about Don Orsillo being fired by NESN. Don is a terrific broadcaster, one of the top guys in the country, and he’s getting a raw deal.
Via email and Twitter, some folks are saying they won't watch games as a result. Let's be realistic. You're not going to watch "Wheel of Fortune" at 7 p.m. all summer. You're going to watch the game.
Such talk also is a slight to Dave O'Brien.
Dave is not some carpetbagger. He has done Sox games on the radio for nine years and is a native of Quincy who now lives in New Hampshire. He is also one of ESPN's top play-by-play guys.
The television business is a transitory one and the Red Sox are not immune to that.
■ Permit me a personal word about Orsillo.
Back in 2012, Jerry Remy missed some games and NESN asked me to join Don in the booth for two games in Chicago against the White Sox.
It was a terrifying prospect but too tempting to pass up. Don made it easy, setting me up to make points during the broadcast and coaching me between innings to talk more slowly.
Until you sit in that booth with a headset on, it's hard to appreciate how difficult that job is or just how well Don does it.
Don is a good friend, a trusted colleague on NESN and a constant source of encouragement. Television people can sometimes be pompous, but Don is every bit the good guy you think he is, even better. How he's handled this situation is further evidence of his character.
■ Back on June 2, principal owner John Henry made a comment that the Red Sox should have more doubles based on their internal projections. Since he said that, the Sox lead the majors with 182 doubles, seven more than any other team.
■ Good luck to Pawtucket Red Sox general manager Lou Schwechheimer. He is leaving that organization after 37 years and will pursue other ventures in minor league baseball.
Schwechheimer is one of the people who helped make Pawtucket a model franchise with his creativity and business acumen.
■ As David Ortiz approaches 500 home runs, the Red Sox media relations staff put together a packet of information on his exploits. It’s full of interesting tidbits.
Ortiz has six home runs against Roy Halladay, his most against any pitcher. Big Papi is 12th in American League history with 497 homers and fourth among players from the Dominican Republic. He also is 11th among lefty hitters, tied for 13th in games with multiple home runs with 49, and seventh all-time with seven walk-offs in the regular season.
■ Hall of Fame watch: Ortiz is 21st in career doubles, 21st in career extra-base hits, 33rd in RBIs and 27th in home runs. When discussing his Hall chances, it’s important to remember Ortiz won’t be on the ballot until 2021 or 2022. By then, the electorate will be younger, more willing to look beyond traditional statistics, and quite likely less concerned with punishing those suspected of PED use. Voters who understand the Hall of Fame is a museum, not a church, will slowly replace crotchety old timers bent on self-aggrandizement.
Ortiz may not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But time will fade the bruises on his career resume and he'll eventually get in. Anybody counting him out now doesn't grasp how voting will shift over time.
■ Prediction: Hanley Ramirez never plays for the Red Sox again. Ramirez has not played since Aug. 28 and with every day that passes, it will become tougher for him to ramp back up to play again.
Come the offseason, the Red Sox will come up with a way to trade him and that will be that.
■ Mike Napoli has had only 39 plate appearances for Texas since being traded to the Rangers on Aug. 7. He has an .899 OPS at least. Shane Victorino, alas, has a .526 OPS for the Angels in 25 games. Daniel Nava has a .657 OPS in 24 games for the Rays, far better than he had with the Red Sox but still well below what he achieved from 2013-14.
■ Here’s an easy, common sense fix for baseball: Once rosters are expanded on Sept. 1, teams have to designate 25 or 26 players before every series. It’s silly that in games affecting the pennant race, one team could potentially have 15 more active players than the other. Get it done, Rob Manfred.