With the additions of Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley, the Red Sox undoubtedly solidified the middle and back end of their rotation, but Boston is still in need of an ace. After losing out on the Jon Lester sweepstakes and acquiring three new arms, general manager Ben Cherington admitted that the team is still on the lookout for the allusive top of the rotation starter. While Boston can’t afford to go into the season without an ace atop their rotation, the team can afford to wait and see what offers become available between now and April. Perhaps the Philadelphia Phillies lower their asking price on Cole Hamels from three or four top prospects, to two of an organizations best. Or maybe the James Shields market will create an opportunity for Boston to obtain their former AL East rival. The latter of these two scenarios seems to be the most likely for the Red Sox. Shields, who is coming off his eighth straight 200-plus innings season, is a proven commodity atop a starting rotation, as exemplified by his overall numbers in both Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Boston, however, should be weary about just how much they allocate to the right hander. Shields, who will turn 33 later this month, has a lot of milage on his arm over his 9 year career. While a starter with a workhorse reputation is nice to have, the team has to wonder if and when the wheels will begin to come off. Therefore, Boston may want to use their “low years, high money” strategy to lure the right-hander to Boston. If the team offers, say, 4 years, $85M, it would pay Shields around $21M annually until his age 36 season. While four years isn’t a lot, it’s enough to give Shields some stability. Also in signing Shields, the Red Sox could run a rotation of Shields, Porcello, Buchholz, Miley, Masterson and remain competitive in 2015, while they wait for what should be a loaded 2016 free agent starting pitching market.
- While the money was very different, the Red Sox were at least willing to match the Chicago Cubs offer on Jon Lester in terms of years, but the contract conscious Red Sox front office didn’t just move on to the next best thing on the open market. Instead, Boston took a payroll savvy approach to the offseason by acquiring three pitchers for the price of one season of Lester’s new deal with the Cubs. Still, the team seems set on finding an ace plant atop their rotation, and seem willing to wait out the market. (A less perilous road: Red Sox’ short-, long term balancing act leads to trade market)
- One thing that all three of the Red Sox new additions have in common is their ability to operate effectively in the bottom third of the strike zone. Thanks in part to an expanded zone, the trio of new arms have throw over half of their pitches towards the bottom of the zone — with Wade Miley tossing an astonishing 63%. In turn, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, and Rick Porcello’s ground ball tenancies should work like a charm at the small confines of Fenway Park. (On the ground floor: Focus on ground-ball pitchers could play big at Fenway)
- While the rotation is still an unfinished project, what’s done seems to parallel what the Red Sox did in the 2013 offseason. While the club has allocated big money to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, Boston managed to find three pitchers with a lot of upside without having to shell out huge money. Wade Miley and Justin Masterson offer two strong bounce back candidates after strange number spikes and injuries plagued their 2014 seasons. As for the 25-year old Rick Porcello, Boston can expect to see an increase in his otherwise mediocre numbers now that the ground ball pitcher has a solid defense behind him. (With Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson, Red Sox take a 2013 approach to pitching)
- The Red Sox went to the Winter Meetings in search of an ace, and came back with a trio of middle of the rotation arms. But while the Red Sox weren’t able to fill the void in their rotation by sparking a reunion with Jon Lester, the team was proactive in seeking out a potential top tier arm. According to reports, the Red Sox met with free agent right hander James Shields on Wednesday night. The soon-to-be 33-year old is coming off his eiegth straight 200 innings season, and represents the best starter on the open market behind Max Scherzer. (Reports: James Shields met with Red Sox during MLB Winter Meetings)
- Tweet of the day: This got me choked up…