Still Waiting…Sox Need to Add a Starter

I like the fact that GM Ben Cherington has put an emphasis on adding Triple-A depth with regards to starting pitchers, but at some point the real need needs to be addressed.

This team needs at least — and I emphasis AT LEAST — one more dependable fourth or fifth starter at the major league level. Period.

There have been plenty of rumors spread about: Roy Oswalt, Edwin Jackson, Gavin Floyd. But here we are, only a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training and MLB.com has the Red Sox depth chart set with Dice-K as the fourth starter and Daniel Bard as the fifth starter. There are two things wrong here: One, Dice-K is going to miss at the least the first half of the season and control is typically that last thing that comes back after missing such time from such an injury. Given how poor Dice-K’s control was before the injury, I think it would be a  miracle if he came back and was a real asset upon his return. The second issue is simply expecting Daniel Bard to smoothly transition into the rotation. Though there is plenty of reason for optimism, there is always that variable of: He hasn’t been a starting pitcher since 2008. Even if he does succeed, his innings will be limited.

In other words: minor league depth is great, always a plus to have, but let’s not forget that this is the AL freaking East and that this rotation needs not only to be deep, but rock solid in depth.

When we write down the names Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, we see a solid trio of starters. That’s the sort of 1-2-3 that could dominate in the playoffs. The only problem(s) is(are) that starting pitchers often – especially this group — miss a start here or there, find their way to the disabled list, or even miss more than a month or so due to injury.

Josh Beckett has had his ups-and-downs as a starting pitcher for the Sox. He seems to have developed this habit of pitching well, if not dominant, in odd years (see below).

Year Age W L ERA IP ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2006 26 16 11 5.01 204.2 95 1.295 1.6 3.3 6.9 2.14
2007 27 20 7 3.27 200.2 145 1.141 0.8 1.8 8.7 4.85
2008 28 12 10 4.03 174.1 115 1.187 0.9 1.8 8.9 5.06
2009 29 17 6 3.86 212.1 122 1.192 1.1 2.3 8.4 3.62
2010 30 6 6 5.78 127.2 75 1.535 1.4 3.2 8.2 2.58
2011 31 13 7 2.89 193.0 147 1.026 1.0 2.4 8.2 3.37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/29/2012.

This, of course, can be chalked up to randomness, but it does go to show that Beckett has been far from consistent with regard to not only his performance, but his health as well. He’s the type of pitcher that teams would love to plug in as their ace, except for the fact that he has had to deal with nagging injuries throughout his career. Lester, on the other hand, had pitched over 200 big league innings every season since since 2008, aside from last season in which he threw an injury shortened 191.2 innings. Buchholz struggled with a back injury last season — I hate back injuries, because they tend to linger — and besides the health worries, Buchholz continued to post a below league average K/BB rate (1.9 compared to the league average 2.3) and his home run rate regressed as we here at Fire Brand thought it would.

When Ben Cherington traded Marco Scutaro away, my immediate assumption was that there was a move on the horizon that would bring a solid starting pitcher into the fold. Since the Scutaro trade the club has signed Cody Ross, a decent outfielder with good numbers against left-handed pitching, but no move has been made to sure-up the rotation.
If Cody Ross is it, which I doubt, then the Scutaro trade will have been a waste. However, if this team acquires a solid, proven starting pitcher within the next few weeks, then all (Scutaro) is forgotten.
Until then, however, Red Sox Nation will continue to wait…impatiently.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Edwin Jackson Gavin Floyd Josh Beckett Roy Oswalt

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

14 Responses to “Still Waiting…Sox Need to Add a Starter” Subscribe

  1. Ed Talbot January 29, 2012 at 9:10 AM #

    Bud Selig should tell the Cubs to send pitcher -oh whats his name — the guy whois always spitting you know– toBoston for Bostons best double A pictcher as settlement for the Theo' deal. Ed Talbot

    • GUEST January 29, 2012 at 9:16 AM #

      You Mr. Talbot should really stop smoking CRACK if you think there is any chance whatsoever that the Sox get Garza as compensation

      • ChipBuck January 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM #

        I shouldn't laugh, but lol.

      • Cory January 29, 2012 at 5:48 PM #

        I read somewhere that Selig was going to send a good player to the Sox because he doesn't want GM's and others to be "traded." Not sure if that was just bull mess, or not.

    • marcos January 29, 2012 at 12:48 PM #

      The fact that this guy doesn't even know the pitcher's name shows how ignorant he is

  2. cdchi January 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM #

    Garza would seem to be an ideal fit,AL East tested,seem to pitch his best against the Sox.Is it in the Sox best interest to pay the steep price it would incur to acquire a pitcher of his stature? Some combination of Middlebrooks,Bogarts,Barnes,Ranaudo,ect. Did they offer this type of package to the Athletics for Gio Gonzales ? I would have been awfully tempted to pull the trigger on a deal for Gonzales .What,in terms of prospects would it cost to obtain Gavin Floyd? I view Floyd as no more than a back of the rotation starter for a team with championship aspirations . How does the probability of an additional wild card playoff team affect the Sox way of doing business,or does it?

  3. don January 29, 2012 at 1:15 PM #

    i think the best solution for the Red Sox would be to make the Cubs take John Lackey……………..that would free up about 17 million to sign Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt……………………………

    • ChipBuck January 29, 2012 at 2:16 PM #

      Good luck with that one. No way that happens, especially with him out for the 2012 season.

    • rjs January 29, 2012 at 2:56 PM #

      It would never happen, though it would be nice to see Theo eat his own lunch on that one.

  4. Dave January 29, 2012 at 3:13 PM #

    an AL GM said that he believes Selig will give the Sox a significant player in return for Epstein. He wants to deter execs from leaving a team while still under contract and that's the best way to do it.

    Buster Olney pointed out that if the Rangers sign Oswalt they will have an over crowded rotation and will need to find something to do with the underrated Matt Harrison. Cue Red Sox trying to trade for him, though he might be too costly.

    • Cory January 29, 2012 at 5:53 PM #

      Harrison wouldn't cost us that much–meaning prospects and money. I do like him because he has played in a hitters park, and while he wasn't an ace while pitching at home, he was serviceable.

      Another option could be Kyle McClellan (assuming the Cards sign Oswalt or Jackson).

  5. G-man January 29, 2012 at 4:34 PM #

    I think if Selig makes Theo and the Cubs pay whatever it would cost to get Heidi Watney to change her mind and come back; I would be happy with that.

  6. eduff56 January 30, 2012 at 9:07 PM #

    It would be great to get a quality starter before the season and let Bard ease into the role as the fifth starter, but in reading Cheringtons comments on payroll, budget, as well as how the team is currently constructed, I just don't see it happening. And, to be honest, I have no problem with it, look what the Yankees did last year with bargain basement guys in the four and five spot. I say give it to Cook or Silva or Doubrant, let them have 4-5 starts and then determine if a move is necessary.

  7. justins06 January 31, 2012 at 2:33 PM #

    As a side note, thoughts on how Ortiz's arbitration factors into the Sox pursuing a free agent starter? Obviously, Ortiz had a monster 2011 and deserves to be financially compensated, but he must be aware that the purse strings are tight and that his insistence on a monster raise will likely handcuff efforts to bring in a quality 4th starter to improve the team. As much as I love Ortiz as a person and what he has done for this team, I am reminded of offseason rumblings of there being too many selfish players in the clubhouse. There are plenty of players who take a pay cut to play for a competitive team. As a veteran of the AL East, I would think Big Papi would understand that taking a pay cut of a couple million could put the Sox in a much better position in the league's toughest division. Instead, it looks like he's going to drag it out until Spring Training…