Who amongst you figured the Red Sox had enough firepower to hang around with the Yankees after yesterday’s trades for 1B Adam LaRoche (above) and OF Chris Duncan? Not the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who insists GM Theo Epstein has “saved his big chips in case he wants to do something bigger – maybe trade for a pitcher – yet still tried to improve a slumping offense with a lefthanded batter who can hit righthanded pitching and who traditionally has been a better second-half hitter.”

Epstein has to have his hands in the Roy Halladay hunt. No longer can anyone say pitching is not a need for the Red Sox. The once-deep rotation is now minus 11-game winner Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka, with two No. 5 starters in John Smoltz and Brad Penny who aren™t cutting it, and a youngster in Clay Buchholz who to some degree is still on training wheels.

Epstein knows building a farm system is for two purposes – to keep player costs down by developing your own players or to use them as chips for impact players. With the Sox farm system in great shape, it might be time for the acquisition of an impact player such as Halladay, who not only helps now but also gives you a Josh Beckett, Halladay, Jon Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield/Justin Masterson rotation in 2010 – if you trade Buchholz. The Sox also have the resources to sign Halladay and Beckett long term.

As for the bigger picture, the Red Sox have now fired the first salvo among American League East contenders (OK, the Yankees did obtain Eric Hinske earlier). If the Sox continue to fall behind the Yankees and if Tampa Bay keeps coming up behind them, Epstein might have to be really aggressive in a shake-up.

œI think [the Red Sox] need Halladay more than ever,™™ said one National League GM. œThey can make the deal if they want to. If they don™t and allow someone else in their division to get him, they™re in trouble.™™