How Active Should the Red Sox Be at the Trade Deadline? Where did the first half of July go?

Just days ago, we were watching fireworks, still feeling optimistic about the return of beloved Red Sox starters Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Josh Beckett … to name a few. But here we are at July 17, and still, no one is back.

It's worrisome, because the Red Sox are depending on these players to come back and pull them out of their current rut, but how close is the team to getting its boys back?

Should Red Sox GM Theo Epstein continue waiting, or should he make moves before the July 31 trading deadline?

It's obvious there are moves that have to be made, and in the past, Epstein has made some great transfers at the trade deadline. But the Red Sox roster has not been this depleted in a long time. Will they have anyone to bargain with to make a big move, or should they preserve the reserves and make a small move?

Let's explore the options.

We've talked about the weaknesses in the outfield and in the batter's box in the past, claiming this is where the Red Sox need help, but let's face it, the team could use more arms in the bullpen. Names like Kerry Wood, Scott Downs or David Riske have been tossed around, and acquiring one of these guys probably wouldn't take much. Though the Red Sox have been known to make big splashy moves at the deadline, an understated but consistent reliever may be the answer to the team's prayers until players come off the DL.

Then again, these are the Boston Red Sox, and they're contending for a World Series run, whether it's through the AL East crown or wild card, so why shouldn’t they expand the purse strings a bit? There's been a lot of talk about not wanting to go over the luxury tax when acquiring new players at the trade deadline, but this hasn't been a place the Red Sox have shied away from in the past, so why not go out and grab a big name? Maybe a trade deadline jolt is what the team needs to snap back into a postseason contender.

The Red Sox offense has been just about the only thing going well for the team lately, but a big bat never hurts. Some extra offense could pull the weight of a struggling bullpen, and though defense wins games, a bursting offensive bat from a new face could be what brings the fireworks back to Boston.

Or should the Red Sox continue to play the waiting game? Beckett and Clay Buchholz are scheduled to return within the next week, and hopefully, Martinez will follow in their footsteps shortly thereafter. It's a bit longer wait for Pedroia and Jason Varitek, but the Red Sox have waited this long. Can they hold out a bit longer?

The Red Sox definitely would have to give up some key prospects (Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson) to make a substantial trade, and maybe this should be a time where they preserve those young players to bring them up through the system. As always, it's a tug-of-war type battle, and Red Sox fans never know what Epstein has up his sleeves.

So what kind of moves do you think would benefit the Red Sox most come July 31?

Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN’s Red Sox GameDay Live or Red Sox Final.

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