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Posted August 4, 2005r
Sox are Content
By Paul Noonan

              With all the Manny talk creating a big buzz around the trade deadline, it looked like the Sox were going to pull off another blockbuster deal.  But even before Manny hit what could have been his last RBI as a Sock in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game with the Twin’s the deal was a bust.  Manny was to remain in Boston for at least three more months.  So, the Sox only late summer activity got as much attention as the deal for Dave Roberts did last year.  Theo seems content with putting just about the same team on the field in September as he did in April.  As of now, that doesn’t seem like a bad plan.

              Barring the recent return of Gabe Kapler, the Sox have only made five deals this year, acquiring Chad Bradford, John Olerud, Tony Graffanino, Alex Cora and now Jose Cruz ,Jr..  With the exception of Bradford, none of the four were added with the intention of them being everyday players.  Olerud is essentially taking over the Doug Mientkiewicz role from last year (although maybe not now, with his recent hitting tear).  Tony Graffanino and Alex Cora were acquired because of Belhorn’s injury and poor play, as well as to provide some more depth in the infield.  Newcomer Jose Cruz, Jr., will probably split time with Kapler filling in for the injured Nixon as well as giving some of the other outfielders a rest. 

             This is exactly what helped the Sox win the World Series last year.  Although the depth on the mound isn’t as strong, it was the Sox’s overall depth which helped lead them to the title last year.  Dave Roberts, Kapler, and Mientkiewicz all pitched in, often in big ways, to help the Sox win.  This year the Sox have even more depth.  With six outfielders and nine infielders (excluding the catchers), the Sox have the ability to rest guys at will and strategize better than any other team in the league.  Not to mention that all the back ups are players who could play every day on at least 20 of the 32 MLB teams.

     The problem again might be that the Sox have too much depth.  When Nixon, Foulke and Belhorn all return to the lineup, the Sox will need to make room for them.  Who they choose will be important.  With the youngsters (Papelbon, Delcarmen, Youkilis, Vasquez) likely atop the list to get the cold shoulder, the veterans may be able to breathe easy.  However, is it in the Sox’s best interest not to give some of the youngsters some playoff experience?  That decision will be a tough one for Francona, Epstein and crew.  It’s a decision they had to deal with last year too.  And if last year is any indication, I’ll bet the Sox make the right picks.

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