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Can Theo Relieve Bullpen Struggles?

Will Papelbon Get Some Help? (Jason O. Watson/US Presswire)

There’s no easy way to say it: the Red Sox bullpen needs help. Jonathan Papelbon, despite struggles, has been solid; Daniel Bard has been fantastic; and the best of the rest is… Scott Atchison?

Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima were all counted on to perform at a level much better than they have this season. Even with injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Martinez, and Josh Beckett, the Red Sox have stayed just on the cusp of the playoffs, but without another trusted bullpen arm it will be a struggle to advance unless Bard and Papelbon start pitching every day. As usual, there is no shortage of relievers available, but the cost could be more than the Red Sox will pay before the clock strikes tomorrow.

Scott Downs

The Blue Jays big three relievers; Down, Kevin Gregg, and Jason Frasor;  are all available. Downs is the most coveted of the bunch with a 2.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 3.5 K:BB in 2010. However the Jays are asking for Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias so don’t expect this to get done unless that price falls significantly.

Matt Capps

The Nationals closer was traded Thursday for Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos and relief prospect Joe Testa.  Ramos, the second best Twins prospect according to Baseball America, has struggled in Triple A this year, but he was in for a tough path to the majors in Minnesota while blocked by Joe Mauer.

Michael Wuertz

The A’s setup man for 2009 Rookie of the Year closer Andrew Bailey has regressed from his 2009 levels posting a 5.01 ERA and WHIP of 1.54.  His big problem this year has been walks, the righty has allowed 4.6 per nine innings.  This will make him cheaper to acquire, but with Bailey possibly headed to the disabled list, the A’s may change their mind about his availability. With former Sox lefty Craig Breslow also in the mix for saves in Oakland – and on the trading block – Billy Bean could set up shop for a small fire sale should he choose to.

Trevor Hoffman

“Hell’s Bells” is unlikely to be playing in Fenway Park any time soon. While the saves leader is available, the Red Sox are one of the teams on his no-trade list.

The Rest

That leaves Kerry Wood and Mike Gonzalez as the two big names left on the relief market. Both have had their ups and downs and have missed large portions of the year due to injury.

However, with neither the O’s or Indians anywhere close to competing, they could be moved at bargain prices. Would Kerry Wood’s arm hold up? Hopefully. The Red Sox have also been connected to David Ardsma, who has reinvented himself in Seattle over the past two seasons, but he’s likely to cost more than Wood in terms of prospects.

One thing to keep in mind: Theo has made a big trade every deadline since 2004 with the exception of 2005 and 2006. Orlando Cabrera, Eric Gagne, Jason Bay and Victor Martinez all arrived in Boston at the deadline. Given the Red Sox determination, they probably have targets not in the news yet. One rumor is a trade with the Padres sending an outfielder from the Sox for a reliever. Don’t get your hopes up for Heath Bell or a large Adrian Gonzalez deal at this point though.

About Mike Carlucci

Mike Carlucci writes about the Red Sox for Sports of Boston and can be found blogging about baseball and technology. He has a J.D and enjoys palindromes and espresso. You can follow him on Twitter @mikecarlucci or on Google+.

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