The Orioles aren’t fading and the Red Sox have underachieved. The Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti on the choices facing Boston GM Theo Epstein.

The general manager, like his players and his fans, speaks now with frustration seeping from his voice. And amid the waves of disappointment, one cannot help but wonder if there is more than a hint of resignation.

Maybe these Red Sox [stats, schedule] simply are not that good.

“This is difficult to fix, to be honest with you,” a calm and controlled Theo Epstein (above) said yesterday at Wrigley Field, where the spiraling Red Sox lost, 7-6, to the Chicago Cubs. “So many people are performing below our expectations and below our projections that this isn’t easy to fix. If this is the best that this pitching staff can pitch, then I really miscalculated and it’s time for changes.

“This is my fault. The guys have to play better or we’ve got to make some changes. I think we’ve allowed something like (77) runs in our last 10 losses. We’re out of games. It’s time for changes. Soon.”

The Red Sox need pitching help – and lots of it. The rotation is weak. The bullpen is failing miserably. And the Red Sox may not be good enough to repeat as champions even if Epstein starts unloading prospects like Hanley Ramirez and Jon Papelbon.

Make no mistake: If Epstein and his assistants do not feel good about this team’s chances, they will not make a trade solely for the sake of making one. They will not mortgage their future, too.

“We take those things very, very seriously,” Epstein said when asked about the prospects for a deal. “But what we have right now isn’t working. It’s clear. It’s my fault and we have to fix it. The status quo is not really acceptable.”

For now, at least, Epstein is not offering specific solutions. The Sox have significant money invested in some players, insignificant money invested in others. They could release the likes of Matt Mantei and John Halama, low-risk players signed for short money. They could move Bronson Arroyo to the bullpen. They could cut bait with Alan Embree. But that still does not address the issue of replacements, particularly at a time when many teams are still in contention and few (if any) quality players are available by trade.