Though the further emergence of Jonathan Papelbon (and the likely progress of Jon Lester , above) provide a modicum of hope, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan fills his readers with dread while surveying the Red Sox’s starting corps for next season.

Four months away from the start of spring training, the Sox appear to have a glut of starting pitchers under their control, but the number of conditions involved with the 10-or-more incumbent rotation candidates tends to generate uneasiness rather than elation. Unlike last winter, when a half-dozen potential No. 1 starters were available on the free agent market, there is a dearth this offseason, beyond A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood, which will probably require the Sox to fill from within.

That Sox group comes out of this season deeply flawed, however. Three of the five starters who finished 2005 “ David Wells, Tim Wakefield and Curt Schilling “ will be age 39-or-older. One starter (Wells) is indecisive about returning next year and is scheduled to undergo knee surgery, one (Schilling) never made a full recovery from ankle surgery last November, and another (Matt Clement) was unable to come out of a gradual slide over the second half of the season. It’s just part of the story why the Sox required 10 different starting pitchers in 2005 after not missing a single start to injury in ’04.

Under the circumstances, I’m not sure Steve Trachsel’s trade value could be any higher. And given his strong 2nd half, the Mets might finally find a taker for Tom Glavine, if they’re so inclined.