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C.J. Wilson and CC Sabathia will both be free agents in a matter of days, but that does not mean that the Red Sox need to pay hand over fist for either of these pitchers. Yeah, what a concept, free agents that the Red Sox don’t have to sign. Call me crazy, but the Sox don’t really need either of these guys. It’s true that the Red Sox pitching was an absolute embarrassment at the end of the season and the team’s in dire need of some impactful roster changes, but not like this.
I hate the idea (and have always hated the idea) of the Sox throwing money at problem to make it go away. Because in reality, I think, at least, the Sox believe that they have to throw large amounts of money around to keep the fans happy. They feel that they have to show the fans that they are keeping up with the Yankees and all that other garbage that has created a “nation” of people who think Fenway is actually just a place to be “seen” and take pictures of yourself getting wasted. The fans are upset at the team and management understands this, but they shouldn’t rush into any big signing to appease the fan base. They might end up signing the wrong guy (John Lackey), again. Then, the team is stuck with another player who can’t do anything in right in a Sox uniform.
Even though Sabathia may opt out of his contract with the Yankees this winter, he’ll probably just turn around and re-sign in pinstripes. While he has four years, $92 million remaining on his current deal, he still may opt out with the chance to earn even more.
Now, if CC does stay in New York, then that would make Wilson the top starter on the market in this paper-thin off-season. Don’t get me wrong, Wilson is a fine pitcher (16-7 with a 2.94 ERA in is second year as a full-time starter), but I’m chalking it up more towards good timing that’s making him the ace of the free agent class. Wilson is already 30 years old and is going to want a contract that will probably take him to 36/37 years old. His asking price may end up being in the $60-$80 million dollar range. This could very well be a recipe for disaster. He’s unproven in the post season, where he’s 1-5 with a 5.32 ERA. The Red Sox absolutely do not need to bring those numbers to Boston, especially if they have to over pay.
A smart move for the Sox to make this winter may come in the form of signing long time White Sox SP Mark Buehrle. He’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the past decade and one of the most durable. He has pitched in at least 30 games every year and in 2011 averaged 6.2 innings per start (205.1, overall). Of course, we all remember that going past the fourth inning became a problem for some of the boys down the stretch. Sure, he’s older than Wilson (33), but at his age he understands that not too many teams are going to give him a long contract worth more than $9-$10 million dollars.
This suggestion might get me laughed at, but here it goes anyway: Bruce Chen. Why not? He’s a veteran, he’ll have a low asking price and he pitched well on one of the worst teams of the decade, Kansas City. He posted a 3.77 ERA, 12-8 record and he had 155.0 IP. One team’s ace is another team’s fifth starter, right?
Finally, why not Edwin Jackson? He’s solid, nothing more, nothing less. In 199.2 innings last season, he went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA. That’s not bad. I mean, is Wakefield going to do any better? Jackson’s a third starter on almost any other team and he’ll make a fine “end-of-the-rotation” guy in Boston.
Last season was a horror show and no one is denying it. The Red Sox rotation’s ERA was 4.49, and 22nd overall. This is not to mention September’s 7.08 ERA and the fact that the staff hardly averaged five innings a night. It was a failure to end the season and a failure overall, but it’s not going to happen again. It’ll come together next year. If Josh Beckett and Jon Lester lay off the fried food, if Clay Buchholtz can stay healthy and if John Lackey gets traded, the team will be OK. This is what the team needs to focus on this winter, because honestly, the Sox just don’t need to spend another $100 million on band-aids and duct tape.