Headed into the 2011-12 offseason, the biggest need of the Boston Red Sox was starting pitching. With the way the pitching staff performed down the stretch in September, it was clear change needed to happen.
But, to this point, the Red Sox have not done much to address the hole in their roster.
Two underwhelming pitchers, Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla, have been signed to minor league deals but neither should have an impact on the starting rotation in 2012 barring any major injuries.
Cook started 17 games in 2011 for the Colorado Rockies with a 6.03 ERA and 3-10 record. Padilla pitched just 8.2 innings in 2011 for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 4.15 ERA.
Neither of the two pitchers is guaranteed a roster spot, and it wouldn’t shock anyone if both were left off the major league roster come April.
With Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett all expected to be 100 percent in spring training and Daniel Bard expected to transition to a starter in Fort Myer’s, the Red Sox have one open spot in the rotation.
The longer Ben Cherington takes to address the hole in the rotation, the player pool to choose from will diminish. The New York Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda and theArizona Diamondbacks re-signed Joe Saunders, who were both believed to be Red Sox targets at one point.
But there is still a very serviceable pitcher left on the market that finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting just a year ago: Roy Oswalt.
There is talk that Oswalt could be had at the price of $8 million over one year, a bargain for a pitcher of his caliber.
It is no secret that Oswalt isn’t the pitcher he was back in the mid-2000’s when he won 20 games in consecutive seasons for theHouston Astros—but the Red Sox don’t need him to be that guy.
If he can post the numbers that he did last year in Philadelphia, a 3.69 ERA and a 1.338 WHIP, the Red Sox would be ecstatic, considering what they got out of the back end of the rotation this past season.
At a 50 percent pay cut from last season, Oswalt is probably the biggest bargain on the market right now. And with John Lackey out for the season and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s status up in the air, he would provide some stability in the rotation that the Red Sox did not have in 2011.
The report that the Red Sox cannot afford to sign Oswalt seems a bit far fetched for a big-market team such as Boston. The team has some big issues if they can’t afford to sign the former Phillie for $8 million.
Cherington would be wise to draw up some papers for Oswalt’s agent as he would solidify Boston’s rotation as one of the best in baseball entering the 2012 season.