For the second straight summer, the Red Sox are in the thick of the postseason race at midseason. This should make for a busy next couple of weeks for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to decide which tweaks are necessary to put the franchise in the best position to make a World Series run.
One area the Red Sox feel they are set in is starting pitching. While there could be an addition or two to the bullpen, Dombrowski's focus will likely be on the offense -- particularly third base.
"I'm a believer that if you're going to do something to help your club, you need to do it by July 31," said Dombrowski. "Because after that, you don't control your own destiny. Before that, you do. Sometimes you're fortunate and things still do happen, guys get through waivers. We're not at the top of the waiver-claim process. We're way down in the process.
"I think you just continue to watch, analyze. Our guys are playing well, but I also think you have to be careful you don't take things for granted. Any club can always get better."
More production is needed at the hot corner, and Dombrowski will be searching in all directions to find it. Kansas City's Mike Moustakas is an intriguing option, but the Royals are just 3 1/2 games back at the break. As far as trade chips, lefty Brian Johnson has rebuilt some value after a couple of strong efforts for Boston, including a shutout on May 27. Catcher Blake Swihart, a top prospect not so long ago, might benefit from a change of scenery.
What are they playing for?
The Red Sox feel they have a championship-caliber team -- one that is built well for the present and future. For that reason, Dombrowski likely won't move another major prospect as he did in trades for Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale.
The road ahead
One area that should favor the Red Sox is a home-heavy schedule in the second half. Boston has 42 games left at Fenway and 31 on the road. Considering manager John Farrell's team is 25-14 at home and 25-25 on the road, this shift in balance could be significant.
"Any time we can play in front of our fans and our crowd, it's advantage, Sox," said Farrell.
Following the retirement of David Ortiz, the Red Sox expected Hanley Ramirez to be their best run producer. However, the slugger has just 34 RBIs at the break. For the lineup to truly click, Ramirez needs to be a force in the middle. He was red hot in the second half last year, and the Red Sox hope that will be the case again.
Prospect to watch
Third baseman Rafael Devers is having a monster season at Double-A Portland, and he could make it to Boston by September -- maybe even a little sooner -- if he continues to rake at such a prolific clip.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.