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Subpar defense by left fielder Hanley Ramirez (left) and third baseman Pablo Sandoval (center) will force the Red Sox to consider positional changes but the presence of David Ortiz (right) eliminates DH as an option.
By Alex Speier Globe Staff  July 31, 2015

The notion that the Red Sox are not buyers in the conventional sense is obvious enough, yet the team has a chance to start its attempt to address some longer-term needs. The club doesn’t have the same assets it did last July 31, when it could commence a reshaping of its roster by dealing Jon Lester and John Lackey for big league pieces (albeit ones that offered disappointing returns), but the trade deadline represents an opportunity to start defining those areas with at least the possibility of addressing them, even if the bulk of the work on those fronts is likely to take place in the offseason.
Here, we’ll focus on the Red Sox’ position player needs. The lineup was supposed to represent the strength of the 2015 team, a group capable of delivering average to above-average offense at virtually every position, with an expectation that average to above-average defense might be possible at enough positions that it would cover the ongoing positional development of Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts.

Instead, the Sox have seen an unexpected wealth of shortcomings. If one looks at the categories of average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and defensive runs saved (as calculated by Baseball Information Solutions), the Red Sox’ numbers are below the American League average for their position in 16 of 35 (46 percent) categories.
There’s no denying the far-reaching nature of the disappointing performances. The Sox must make a determination about whether the performances that have fallen short of expectations are reversible.
“This is a team that’s underachieved big-time, especially on the offensive side,” said Mike Napoli. “It just really hasn’t clicked. It’s been tough, but if I was going through free agency and looking at this team, maybe adding a couple pieces it’s definitely a good team. With the hitters we have here, and Pedroia coming back, I don’t think it’s a bad situation. People around here just have to live up to what they are and produce how they usually do.”
Yet the …Read More