The Boston Red Sox finish the first half of the 2013 MLB season at the top of the AL East standings. While that is great, the Sox are far from assured anything. Every team in the division is within one game of a .500 record, and all teams are a hot streak from first place.
The Red Sox have run into serious question marks in their bullpen and in the starting rotation. Any Red Sox fan can tell you, whenever Alfredo Aceves gets a start for the Sox, there is trouble with that staff.
Red Sox rookies Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Webster have proven that baseball in the Bigs isn’t as easy as guys like the Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig and the Pittsburgh Pirates Gerrit Cole are making it look.
The Red Sox will be major buyers here soon. Look for them to add a starter and another reliever before the trade deadline. The Sox farm system is as strong as it has been in a long, long time. They had a fantastic draft this year, and have plenty of talent in the high minors. Guys like Matt Barnes could be a real centerpiece to get a Matt Garza type.
Another guy that I believe will make an impact down the stretch is Xander Bogaerts. He has demonstrated serious power since his promotion to AAA, but has struggled getting on consistently. Once he raises his batting average, and if the power remains, Bogaerts will be a difference maker on the left side of the infield that is suddenly a complete log jam.
The Red Sox currently have Stephen Drew, Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks as big league options at short and third, but expect Bogaerts to come up by September and suddenly have studly Garin Cecchini making an impact in the minors. While Cecchini is still a full year or two away, the emergence of Iglesias and the promise in the system just might make Middlebrooks expendable in a trade.
The Red Sox have a strong offense. While their pitching has been somewhat unreliable, they have the depth in their system to make some real moves. So long as Ben Cherington makes the moves in early July rather than late July, the Red Sox have a real shot to make a run at the American League Pennant.