After years of punching the pessimist card and exerting the required emotional energy to maintain my street credibility as a Boston sports fan, I regret every word of the next paragraph.

The Red Sox made precisely the right moves and non-moves at the trading deadline.

I’d love to tell you that Eric Gagne will slowly morph into Larry Andersen every time his bulbous body trots to the hill in the eighth inning, but he won’t.

Nothing would give me more masochistic glee than to report that Kason Gabbard is about to emerge as the next Tom Glavine or even Jamie Moyer, but he isn’t.

It’d be so easy to cut away at a belt-high fastball and lament all the reasons that Mark Teixeira and Jermaine Dye aren’t swinging for the Pesky Pole and the Coke bottles, respectively, but I can’t.

Boston behaved in a manner befitting a franchise that, despite the requisite speed bumps and hand-wringing of a 162-game season, has owned the best record in baseball for 98 percent of the summer. For Theo Epstein to take out a second mortgage at this stage would have been so Brian Cashmanesque.

If you carve out a seven-game lead with glaring holes in your starting rotation or without balance in your lineup, by all means, wheel and deal ’til you’re dizzy. But if you have reasonably tight chemistry and only one glaring void, fill it by the least punitive means necessary and put your wallet away.

The traditional Red Sox fan is too worried about two things: The Yankees, and the farm system.

Look, the current divisional alignment and wild card system make that New York-Boston arms race less significant than ever. If the double-zero decade in baseball has taught us anything, other than the fact that steroids make you really, really big, it’s that all you need to do is make the show.

Ask the 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox and 2006 Cardinals. Ask the Yankees, who haven’t lost an American League East title since 1997 but haven’t won a World Series since 2000.

Boston being equipped to spend money more quickly than the House of Representatives, Sox prospects are nothing more than night crawlers to be dangled in December and July fishing trips.

Nobody’s crying about the loss of Hanley Ramirez now that Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell are all-stars. And no tears shall fall for Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz if they help lure a future replacement for Curt Schilling or Manny Ramirez.

Gagne complements Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima perfectly. He may put Papelbon in position to join the rotation next spring. With this pitching staff, I’m content to take my chances with this lineup.

This week’s relative inactivity gives the Sox a splendid shot to win this fall and gives Theo the ultimate bartering power in ’08 and beyond.

Wow. For the cantankerous, curmudgeonly columnist, talk about a big-league bummer.


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