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Epstein: Sox more likely to add position players than pitchers

07.05.11 at 8:47 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, in an appearance on NESN prior to Tuesday’s game, said that a complementary position player is the most likely avenue for his team to upgrade via the trade market between now and the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades.

He suggested that the cost of pitching on the trade market is likely prohibitive, particularly given that the Sox feel that they have some pitching depth available (Felix Doubront, Kyle Weiland and Kevin Millwood) for reinforcements in the minors. As such, he suggested that a role player — likely a right-handed bat off the bench who would fulfill the role that had been intended for Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald — represented a likely target.

“I think for us, probably position players [are the most likely trade targets] at this point. I don’t see a ton of pitching help out there,” Epstein told NESN. “The few guys who can really make an impact, it would take half your farm system or your whole farm system. So we’re going to pursue it. I don’t see it as realistic. I think we would benefit from a complementary position player who would really fill a need for us in the right spot.

“We could end up with a pitcher. We could end up with a position player. But just looking at the landscape, there are probably more position players that could fit for us than pitching right now. There is some pitching depth. There are some areas, because of injuries, both up here and in the minor leagues, we don’t have as much position playing depth at the moment. Now, two, three weeks from now, if we get healthy, we might have that depth here.”

While Epstein did proclaim pitching depth a strength, he also took stock of a pair of concerns in the Red Sox rotation. He suggested that there are no obvious solutions to the season-long struggles of right-hander John Lackey (5-8, 7.47 ERA).

“As an organization we’ve got to find some answers. A lot of times this year, he just hasn’t been good enough and has taken us out of games. We know he’s working hard and we know he wants to get better,” said Epstein. “Right now, there aren’t answers. Otherwise he would have applied some things and taken some steps forward. There are questions, not answers. It’s our job to find the answers. We’ve got to keep working at it and get better. It’s definitely got to get better. He has a chance to be an important part of this team, wants to be, and has the talent to. It’s just not happening right now.”

Epstein added that, for the time being, Lackey will remain in the rotation, though if he continues to struggle in a fashion that gives the Sox little chance to win, the organization will have to reconsider its options.

“I think that work that has to happen for him to improve can take different forms. It’s something that can happen while he’s pitching,” said Epstein. “If he’s able to go out there and keep us in games, then yeah, he should get the ball. If he’s not, then we’ve got to look deeper. But he’s in the rotation. He’s got a chance to go out there and make it better.”

Meanwhile, Epstein said that the team is hopeful that Clay Buchholz will receive confirmation on Wednesday, when he visits Dr. Craig Brigham in Charlotte, that he is in a position to pitch without risking a significant injury.

“It’s essentially a third opinion, essentially confirming that it’s just a muscular issue. If it’s muscle, it will resolve in time,” said Epstein. “Hopefully we’ll get a feel for how long it will be and confirm that it’s safe for him to push through and get out there, get back on the mound.”

For video of the interview, click here.

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