Boston Unlikely to Add Starter

According to Alex Speier, the Red Sox are unlikely to add another starting pitcher before the season begins. The Red Sox have been linked to both Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt in recent weeks, but neither player currently sees Boston as their landing spot. Jackson allegedly has better offers elsewhere, and it’s been widely speculated that Oswalt wants to pitch close to home next season.

Outside of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox’s last two spots in the rotation are up for grabs. With Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and Aaron Cook all vying for those slots, the Red Sox could benefit from adding an effective veteran like Jackson or Oswalt. While back injuries limited his effectiveness this past season, Oswalt still managed to put up a 2.5 WAR in just 139 innings pitched. He’s much less of a risk on a one year deal, but that’s somewhat moot if he doesn’t want to play in Boston. Jackson would also be a good fit and won’t require a lengthy financial commitment, but the Red Sox reportedly only offered $5 or $6 million on a one year deal.

The Red Sox could choose to increase their other to both players, but the team is dangerously close to surpassing the luxury tax. While the Marco Scutaro trade was supposed to clear up salary for another starting pitcher, that money might be reallocated if the Red Sox have to go to arbitration with David Ortiz, who filed for $16.5 million. The team countered with a $12.65 million contract — a small increase from Ortiz’s $12.5 salary in 2011. Unless the Red Sox are confident they can beat Ortiz in a hearing, it seems likely that he’ll receive a raise. As with most cases, the team might be better off avoiding a hearing altogether and settling with Ortiz for something around the midpoint.

While the Red Sox could certainly use another starter, their desire to stay under the luxury tax may prevent them from significantly raising their current offers to Jackson or Oswalt. Unless Jackson or Oswalt are willing to lower their asking prices, it sounds like the Red Sox might just enter spring training with their current collection of starting pitchers.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

25 Responses to “Boston Unlikely to Add Starter”

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  1. Dave says:

    They are over. They have been over since the start of the offseason. It is just a matter of how much do they want to be over by. Foolish, in my opinion.

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  2. Jonathan says:

    My Bostonian nature makes me want to panic, but the realist in me remembers that Tim Wakefield was our fourth starter for both 2004 and 2007 with Bronson Arroyo and Julian Tavarez filling in the remaining spot in those respective years (For that matter, our 2004 and 2007 number threes were Lowe and Matsuzaka, neither of whom performed well anyway).

    All told, as much as it’s hard to fathom, we’re actually in better shape rotationwise than we were either season anyway. Would I love to add Oswalt or Jackson on a one year deal? Absolutely. Do I think it’s necessary to make the playoffs? Not so much, no. A pile of warm bodies should be enough to equal what we got out of the three through five spot in both 2004 and 2007 and warm bodies we’ve got.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      Your division wasn’t nearly as good back then, either.

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      • ben w says:

        ^this. the 3rd to 5th place teams won 78, 70, and 67 in 04 and 83, 69, and 66 in 07. there are 4 teams who think they can win 90ish games in the division next year and, provided ricky romero doesn’t take a major step back, i’m not sure any of them are wrong.

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      • Jonathan says:

        The Sox only did one game worse last year in the AL East than the 2007 Red Sox did and that was without a viable number 3-5 starter for about 2/3 of the year.

        Improvements by the Rays aside, as long as Buchholz can start at least fifteen games, we’re a playoff capable team right now.

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      • Jonathan says:

        @ben w, while the Blue Jays will be a threat, I don’t see very good odds of them improving a full nine wins this year. They’re still another couple of years away from really competing.

        Yeah, the division’s improved, but so many people are counting the Sox out based on a SSS. They failed last year because of an epic September collapse that everyone seems to be effectively counting on them repeating. Buchholz made all of three starts from June on, yet the Sox still managed to go 50-27 (A W% of .649) in remaining 77 games from June through the end of August (And five of those losses can easily be attributed to Tito trotting Wakefield out there every fifth day to try to get to 200).

        So they went .649 from June through September with only two viable starters, yet everyone wants to focus on the one month sample size while ignoring a sample size of three times as many games.

        The demise of the 2012 Red Sox is a tad premature.

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      • ben w says:

        @ Jonathon I think we agree, but are approaching this in different ways. No one in this thread should be calling for the demise of the 2012 Sox.

        However, I get that it’s becoming not uncommon to write the Sox off because of the collapse. Clearly, those who are overvaluing the recency of September’s collapse are wrong to do so as the Sox remain one of four really good teams in the division.

        However, because of that increased difficulty, it’s not really worthwhile to compare them to their World Series teams of the past. The Sox are going to be good, absolutely. The thing is, so are 5 or 6 other teams…and with an assist to the unbalanced schedule, both LA and Texas might have lesser true talent, but more wins in the end than 2 of the AL East teams. Boston could win the WS or miss the playoffs entirely, and either outcome wouldn’t shock me.

        As for toronto…we’ll see. If Lawrie’s base is really .280/20/20 and AA turns his minor league pitching depth into Matt Cain or someone at the deadline, I’m not sure Toronto is that far back. Those are big “Ifs”, of course…

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  3. Preston says:

    I just don’t get it. Why would you trade Scutaro, why wouldn’t you sign Jackson? The cash strapped Rays went out and signed exactly what they needed. The Yanks made the pitching moves they needed to make. The Redsox were in third in the AL East last year, and they look like the third best team today.

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  4. Mr Punch says:

    I wish I could agree with Jonathan, but … the problem for the Sox is not in fact the number of starters they have, it’s the number of innings they get. Last year they didn’t have a pitcher in the top 50 in IP. Buchholz, whom everyone’s counting as one of their solid starters, has only gone 100 IP once, and is coming off an injury. Buchholz plus the six guys listed above as vying for the 4-5 slots pitched just over 400 ML innings last year combined; Aceves had the most (114).

    In 2004 the five-man rotation didn’t miss a start, I believe (though Kim was traded out for Arroyo); 2007 was more of a mixed bag but Matsuzaka pitched 204 innings, the in-and-out injured guys were Beckett and Schilling, and the late-season call-up was Lester — this staff doesn’t look much like that one.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Their problem last year was the lack of IP plus a lack of options behind them and a reluctance by Lackey to go on the DL. Despite the fact Cook, Padilla and Silva are not great starters, any one of them should be capable of outperforming Lackey’s numbers last year. People ignore how close that offense got the Sox despite an almost complete lack of a starting rotation. If Buchholz pitched 100 innings or Lackey was replaced with just about anyone else in the MLB, the Sox would’ve made the playoffs.

      Lackey on the DL is full fledged addition by subtraction and while Buchholz topping 150 IP is a valid question, even that 150 IP would be a boon for this team.

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    • afrogoose says:

      To be fair, Buchholz has only topped 100 innings once in his MLB career because he’s been unable to stay on the major league team. If you add in minor league and major league innings, last year was the first year he didn’t top 100 innings. He’s still young enough that there shouldn’t be any question that he can fully recover from his back injury.

      What’s more concerning to me is that his K/9 have plummeted from 12+ (his days as a minor league prospect) to last year’s pedestrian sub 7 K/9. This steady decline is reason for worry and also investigation.

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      • afrogoose says:

        I don’t mean investigation as in “criminal investigation,” more so that the Red Sox should be trying to figure out why.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Frankly, it looks like a matter of more of an attempt to pitch to contact. His K/9 has plummeted from nearly 1 K/IP to the mid 6 K/9 territory he’s been in since 2009. His GB% has gone up too, though while keeping a steadily low BABIP and watching his BB/9 drop steadily through his MLB career.

        His BABIP has obviously substantially dropped since his prospect days, but without a GB% readily available for his MiLB stats, it’s hard to conclude decisively, but it looks at first glance like he’s making a concentrated effort to keep it in the strike zone and induce weak contact, which the increased GB% and decreased BABIP seem to indicate.

        Lending more likelihood to that theory is that he started using a cutter last year, a pitch that tends to induce weak contact for an easy out.

        The decreased K/9 MAY be cause for concern, but the current trend indicates there’s good odds that Buchholz is just going for weak contact over strikeouts.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Anecdotally, I’ll add that Buchholz got torn apart in the bigs in 2008, the last season where he sported a high K/9, went back to the minors for 2008 and came back with a substantially lowered K/9, but dramatically improved results.

        Maybe he simply isn’t destined to be a big strikeout pitcher at the big league level.

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  5. Rex says:

    Forgot to mention Fat Lackey

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    • Greg says:

      He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery. Aside from his effect on the payroll, he’s no more a candidate to pitch in 2012 than Bill Lee is.

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  6. MustBunique says:

    Anyone else get this error message when trying to access David Ortiz’s player page:

    This webpage has a redirect loop
    The webpage at http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=745&position=DH has resulted in too many redirects. Clearing your cookies for this site or allowing third-party cookies may fix the problem. If not, it is possibly a server configuration issue and not a problem with your computer.

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  7. Rey22 says:

    Unbelievable that a team with the Red Sox’s resources is coming in with huge question marks at 4-5 and even their 3rd starter, while good, was injured last year. Not to mention Beckett’s injury problems of his own.

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    • razor says:

      Spot on!!The sox live in fear of spending as much..or more..than the Yanks.After all,a good portion of the “extended”Sox nation are more Yankee haters than they are Sox lovers…and many times its because they believe the Yanks “buy” championships!The Sox gave out a tragic contract to Crawford,then attempted to replenish their farm system(depleted by the A-Gon trade)by offering arbitration to Ortiz,who they valued at 2yrs/18 million…The delayed announcement of A-Gons new contract was obviously a collusion by both parties to avoid the luxury tax,and so is the decision to not add to this pitching staff!The sox obviosly went”All In”last year and now they are trying to be “fiscally responsible”….PAY YOUR TAXES

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  8. MudvilleNine says:

    Does Padilla’s criminal investigation change your opinion?

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  9. Steve says:

    Right, and Padilla might be detained in Nicaragua for failure to pay child support.

    So you can add deadbeat dad to his already impressive resume of alcoholic head-hunter!

    Should ease those clubhouse concerns from last season…

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  10. bill says:

    “As is” the Red Sox are a 4th place finisher in the Eastern division….Why..The Yankees vastly improved their starting rotation, the Rays have a very good proven young starting rotation,,, Toronto,,,,yes Toronto with their excellent manager with skills in the pitching arena are now going to be 3rd…..Unless something is in the wind to get an ACE that we are not aware of…and why should we be…Good thing we have hitting..

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  11. pft says:

    If Beckett, Lester and Buchholz can stay healthy for a whole season, big if, the Red Sox win 95 games (barring disaster to key position players). That should be enough for a WC spot, especially if there are 2 WC’s/

    Folks don’t understand how bad the Red Sox starters were last year after Beckett and Lester, with Daisuke and Buchholz on the DL. Lackey, Wake, Bedard, Miller, etc were awful. Yet they played 650 ball for 80% of the season. Bard and Aceves will be upgrades, even if they only start 240 IP combined with the left given to Doubront, Miller, and the reclamation projects.

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  12. ben iannozzi says:

    What Scott Kazmir has agreat arm and would worth the risk what do others think?

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