USA Today Sports

No trades, still plenty of questions for Red Sox

Rob Bradford
September 01, 2018 - 12:18 am

CHICAGO -- It was absolutely no surprise Dave Dombrowski didn't make a move before midnight. It didn't, however, make things any less uneasy.

While the Indians were topping off their roster with Josh Donaldson a day after the Yankees fortified their lineup with Andrew McCutchen, the Red Sox were announcing the promotion of five familiar Triple-A faces -- Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Poyner, Robby Scott and Willam Cuevas -- as their big moves of the night. Oh yeah, there was also the activation of Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Christian Vazquez from the disabled list.

Thanks to the combination of already having already built a roster that entered Friday night 51 games over .500, and the unenviable position of being last in the American League waiver order, Dombrowski planted his flag in the ground without buying up any more land.

Ready or not, these are your Red Sox. So what now? Try figuring out for once and for all what exactly Alex Cora is dealing with. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' meeting with the White Sos Friday night, click here.)

For the last month (and more), the mantra for this team has been one suggesting it has the necessary talent to be more than a really good regular season team. It's just a matter of surfacing the right guys at the right time. Now is the time to figure out if this was a wise approach or wishful thinking.

Thanks to the coming and going of the final trade deadline, there is no turning back.

As August turned into September there was undoubtedly more uncertainty than Dombrowski bargained for when singing the praises of his current roster. The idea was that guys such as Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly and Tyler Thornburg all had enough in them to make up a serviceable set-up grouping. Maybe. Now there is some thought that Wright could be added into that mix. Perhaps. Or how about the idea of a starter, such as Nathan Eovaldi, being dropped into the seventh or eighth innings? It is a possibility.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, these were the same uncertain landing spots for these scenarios back in early July and early August when formulating a plan. There was supposed to be some sort of evolution to the answers by now.

Eovaldi's performance before the 2-hour, 9-minute rain delay wasn't a step in the right direction. For the fourth straight start, he was hit a whole lot harder than the Red Sox would like. Maybe the move pretty soon is to start defining if a bullpen role is suited for the righty, because with Rodriguez coming back time is running out for a legitimate shot at any postseason start.

Prior to Friday night's game, Cora insinuated that this process of elimination was getting ready to kick off, saying that he was going to start running Drew Pomeranz out as somewhat of a lefty specialist, with Wright most likely getting a crack to exist side-by-side with Ryan Brasier in high-leverage, eighth-inning opportunities.

There are other items to uncover.

If Dustin Pedroia is determined to give playing a try when he meets with the team Friday, where will he fit?

Can Jackie Bradley Jr. stay on his current road of consistency heading into October?

Can they get the rotation to a place where going head-to-head with the likes of Cleveland's or Houston's starters is palatable?

Knowing what we know now about the ups and downs of this group, it is a more than fair to suggest Dombrowski overestimated what he had. A guy like veteran reliever Joakim Soria probably should have been prioritized a bit more considering what he has continued to do for Milwaukee after being dealt from the White Sox on July 26. 

But Dombrowski kept pounding the idea that any guys he could get -- with the exception of Kelvin Herrera -- wouldn't be an upgrade of relievers he already had. It was plausible then, but is it still?

The days of hoping and projecting are over. It's time to figure out what these Red Sox are dealing with.