Red Sox Sign Aaron Cook

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox have signed former Colorado Rockies starting pitcher, Aaron Cook, to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.  The agreement will be final pending a physical. 

Primarily a sinkerball pitcher, Cook has an inate ability to induce a great deal of ground balls (55-60% GB%).  Against the backdrop of an airtight defense, this skill is a major asset.  In Boston, he’ll have two of the best defensive players on the right side of the infield in Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, which should greatly help him neutralize left-handed pull hitters like Mark Teixeira.  This will be is especially true if he can consistently keep the ball low in the zone.  The left side of the infield will be a different story as Marco Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis have average to below-average range.  Still, it shouldn’t matter quite as much since Cook has been far more successful against righties (3.97 career FIP) than lefties (4.82); especially in recent seasons.  Unless Cook is plagued by some bad luck on balls in play, the left-side defense shouldn’t be too much of a factor.

Like most pitchers who heavily rely on their sinker, Cook doesn’t generate a great deal of strikeouts (9.8%).  He throws three pitches (curveball, slider, and four seamer) in addition to the sinker with some regularity, but only the curveball registers a double digit whiff rate (11.2%).  Moving from the NL West to the AL East won’t likely help this matter as he’ll no longer be afforded the luxury of facing the pitcher two or three times a game.  Additional contact increases the likelihood of giving up a hit, and more hits increases an opponent’s run potential.  Once you factor in his 7.2% walk rate (which isn’t poor, but in comparison to a 9.8% K%, it’s not great) and his worse than league average HR/FB% (10.2%); we can probably expect his projected ERA to increase anywhere from 0.25 to 0.50 runs per game as a result. 

While I have concerns about Cook’s ability to pitch effectively in the AL East with his criminally low strikeout numbers, that’s not really the point.  He has a servicable arm with a decent track record (13.6 fWAR between 2006 and 2009), and gives the Red Sox some much needed rotation depth.  Provided he can stay healthy and benefit from a little bit of good fortune defensively, he should be able to provide some value given the low risk his contract provides.  If it turns out he’s not fit for the rotation, the Red Sox can either move him to the bullpen; send him to the minors as insurance; or release him outright at no real cost to the club. 

The Cook signing certainly isn’t sexy, but these are the kinds of depth moves every contending team needs to make.

Categories: Aaron Cook Boston Red Sox

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

10 Responses to “Red Sox Sign Aaron Cook” Subscribe

  1. Walt in Maryland January 9, 2012 at 2:16 PM #

    It's clear the Red Sox are determined to stay below the luxury-tax threshold, so this kind of move is probably the best they can do. And it makes sense. If you're going to pay the luxury tax — and it would be 40% this year on ever dollar over the threshold — you don't want to do it because you signed someone like Edwin Jackson. The Yankees won 97 games last year with Garcia and Colon in the rotation, and they were similar-type signings.

  2. Mowses January 9, 2012 at 2:37 PM #

    So does this signing to a minor league deal count regarding the luxury tax?

    • TroyPatterson January 9, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

      Only if he is moved to the major league roster.

  3. @Brandon5tewart January 9, 2012 at 3:48 PM #

    Amazing how much different the article would look if instead of left side being Youk, Scutaro… Inglesias, Middlebrooks. Then potential Gold Glovers at all four spots.

  4. Jayman36 January 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM #

    The trade off Brandon of course, is no hitting production.

  5. Bbynum January 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM #

    Although he's no longer facing pitchers, his HR/FB% could very well improve pitching his home games outside of Coors Field, particularly early and late in the season with the colder weather.

    • ChipBuck January 11, 2012 at 8:10 AM #

      True, but colder weather exists in Colorado early and late in the season too. His HR/FB% is more of a function of below-average stuff than it is anything else. He might have been a little unlucky, but sinkerball pitchers with fastballs in the upper-80s have a habit for giving up gophers despite their extreme ground ball tendencies.

  6. MadMc44 January 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM #

    It's too bad BenC couldn't find a trade partner for Youk that would allow him to play 1 b and would have a #4 or #5 starter they could return to the Sox. With a guy like Cook as a number 4 and perhaps Doubrount or Miller as a #5 the Sox could leave Bard and Aceves in a very strong pen.

    • ChipBuck January 11, 2012 at 8:09 AM #

      Cook looks like he'd be a five at best at this point. He's had trouble staying healthy, and I don't think his stuff is good enough to be anything better. Miller could become a #5, but he'd need to drastically improve his command seemingly overnight. As a result, it seems unlikely. The club seems to see Doubront as more of a lefty out of the pen. He has a decent fastball and an effective change, but his curve tends to be loopy and hittable. Without that third pitch (or plus-velocity), he'd get lit up as a starter in the majors.

  7. Cory January 12, 2012 at 1:26 AM #

    This may be something to look into at the trade deadline. Middlebrooks needs more seasoning. Either give up Youk for a solid pitcher and let a rookie play out the season, or let Bard/Aceves take the rotation. Both are risky.