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Red Sox think they can win as is. But can they?

Rob Bradford
July 25, 2018 - 3:02 am

BALTIMORE -- Five hours before Zach Britton was traded to the Yankees, Chris Sale was asked the question that usually gets surfaced this time of year.

"How good do you feel about this team if no deal is made prior to the non-waiver trade deadline?"

Sale spread out his arms, looked around the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards and began to explain why he genuinely didn't believe any alterations were needed.

"It’s like good teams add this time of year and technically speaking we’re supposed to add, but where? Who do you want to take out of our lineup?" Sale told "I mean we got (Steve) Pearce, which was a huge addition. I wouldn’t want to take anyone out of our bullpen, honestly. I’m sure you could, but I don’t really want to. I’m glad I don’t make those decisions."

Two hours after the Red Sox discovered Britton was switching teams -- having been privy to the news thanks to a rain delay in the midst of the Red Sox' loss to the Orioles -- Sale's rotation-mate Rick Porcello echoed his teammate's sentiments.

"Absolutely," said Porcello when asked if the Red Sox could accomplish their goal as is. "We should be able to get it done. We have a really good ballclub from top to bottom. It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever been on. There aren’t a lot of holes. We’re all pretty confident in what we’re doing, so we’re going to keep doing that. I don’t think any of us in here are wasting too much time thinking about (the trade deadline). We’re just focused on us. Whatever happens, happens."

There is and has been the feeling among the Red Sox that the group is good enough. That's easy to surmise considering we're talking about a team 39 games over .500, but that's not always case with elite teams this time of year. Take last year's world champs for instance. The Astros pouted their way to a 10-17 record in August after their front office failed to make the kind of non-waiver trade deadline move that club (which was 33 games over .500 on Aug. 1) was banking on.

Houston ultimately turned those frowns upside down thanks to the Justin Verlander acquisition in late August, and all was right with the world.

The Red Sox think their world is pretty right on already.

It's not only the players. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has said numerous times he would have no problem if this was his team going forward. And Dave Dombrowski still isn't identifying if he has a priority when looking at the trade market, presumably because he is very cognizant of upsetting a clubhouse balance most teams dream of.

"It's very good, including our coaching staff. Everybody," Sale said regarding the Red Sox' clubhouse. "One of the best I've been around, for sure. It’s hard to find 40 people be around each other every day, get along and have fun."

All well and good. But are the Red Sox really good enough?

The Yankees clearly are covering themselves in case that No. 2 starter doesn't emerge in the trade market, preparing perhaps to go all Cleveland on the Red Sox with five innings of lock-down relief. With Britton in the fold, it's a dynamic that should be appreciably more uncomfortable for Cora and Co. to contemplate. Same goes for the prospects of facing the Indians after they reeled in two high-leverage relievers from San Diego.

The Red Sox can still keep up in every facet of the game, with one possible exception: that position that Britton mans. Maybe Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier and Brandon Workman can be good enough. Perhaps Joe Kelly can rediscover himself. And maybe someone like Ty Buttrey and/or Durbin Feltman can offer a revelation from the minors. At least they have a maybe to work with, which isn't a terrible place to be this time of year.

Cora pointed out Monday that there are no certainties when it comes to trade deadline acquisitions, suggesting the 2007 Red Sox' trade for Eric Gagne was going to guarantee them a championship. That obviously didn't work out as planned. Sometimes they don't.

But when you're in the kind of race the Sox find themselves in you better make sure taking those chances on an extra piece isn't worth it. Because if you don't, and the good vibes start thinning out come September, that will lead to a big old fat legitimate second-guess.

Right now, this team seems content in taking their chances, even with its rival not taking any.

"It is what it is," said Porcello of the Britton trade. "We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing."