As speculation continues to fly concerning a possible trade of left-hander Mark Buerhle to the Red Sox, the Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti declares, “With a host of attractive prospects to develop or deal, Epstein is now in a spot to make an array of trades, big and small. As things stand, the soon-to-be middle-aged general manager of the Red Sox seems to be holding all of the cards.”

With regard to Buehrle, know this: He is eligible for free agency at the end of the season and previously expressed a desire to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals near his home in Missouri. According to sources, the White Sox have no intention of allowing any club interested in Buehrle to negotiate a contract extension as part of a trade, which means Buehrle may very well prove to be nothing more than a three-month rental.

Also, according to sources, the White Sox want at least one top-level Red Sox pitching prospect, probably Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester. Chicago also might be in the market for a catcher or middle infielder, perhaps someone like minor league shortstop Jed Lowrie, though a pitching prospect almost certainly would have to be a centerpiece of the deal.

Now comes the tough part: For the Red Sox, what price is too much?

While the starting rotation has been among the best in baseball, the addition of Buehrle could fortify the club on a number of different levels. Assuming the eventual return to health of Curt Schilling, Buehrle would give the Sox a durable left-hander who also is a proven winner. Manager Terry Francona also could fortify the bullpen with Julian Tavarez, giving the Sox relief corps a right-handed arm it needs.

For the Sox, on all fronts, it would be a win-win situation, and that would be especially true if they sign Buehrle to a contract extension that would keep him in a rotation with Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka for at least the next few years.

I’m sure you’re pleased to know there’s no longer any ill-will between Chipper Jones and John Smoltz following the latter’s insinuation the former was jaking it. Much as I’m equally thrilled to note the Braves’ 5-0 loss to the Tigers and Andrew Miller (the man who rendered Matt Maroth surplus to requirements in Motown) was Atlanta’s 5th consecutive, 4 ’em resulting in shutouts.