- Baseball in the Garden of Eden, A Book ReviewPosted 772 days ago
Hey Mr. Valentine, When is the Time to Act?
- Updated: February 1, 2012
New Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine has gone on the record as saying that adding a starting pitcher isn’t at the top of his priority list. He thinks they have plenty of arms in the mix when they get to Ft. Myers in three weeks, so for right now, it’s not at the top of his wish list.
Um, excuse me, Mr. Valentine, but if not now, when?
While everyone is focusing on the team’s epic September collapse, let’s not also forget the team’s dreadful start to 2011: 2-11. It started with an opening-series sweep at the hands of the Rangers. Fine, I’ll grant you, they were the defending AL champions and just happened to be on their way to heading right back to the World Series. I get it, one of the best teams in the league knocked ‘em around a little. But then you get to Cleveland and get swept? Come on.
The Red Sox scored a total of 11 runs in those first six games while their opponents took extra BP and scored 38. That kicked off a month that ended in an 11-15 record. Clearly the traditional cliché of a marathon versus a sprint applies, as anyone who watched game 162 with baited breath will tell you. It simply cannot be understated how important it will be for this 2012 team to get off to a good start.
Which brings us back to the issue of the starting pitching staff. This year’s team features not a single pitcher who reached the 200-inning plateau in 2011. While Josh Beckett and Jon Lester each had fine seasons (September struggles not withstanding), neither of them reached that critical marker. Add to that the losses of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka to Tommy John surgery. Then add to that the Clay Buchholz injury watch. Then add to that the unknown of Daniel Bard pitching as a starter instead of as a lights-out setup man. Do you see where this is going?
The Red Sox finished with 90 wins last year, a number that for all intents and purposes should have assured them a playoff spot (stay tuned for the introduction of the second wild card this year). The problem is all intents and purposes get checked at the door to the AL East.
The Yankees mixed and matched all season until they found a mix that clinched the division. Then in the offseason they’ve added an underrated workhorse in Hiroki Kuroda, wresting him away from possibly playing in Boston, and traded for an act on the rise in Michael Pineda.
The Rays, who did what the Red Sox couldn’t on September 28th last year to claim the Wild Card, have arguably the best pitching staff in the American League in David Price, James Shields, rookie phenom Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis. They didn’t stand pat either, bringing in a couple lefty bats in Carlos Pena and Luke Scott, both with plenty of experience in the AL East, to help back that staff.
So now the ball is in the Red Sox’ court. They had a shot to get Kuroda and missed. Now they’re in supposed conversations with Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson. One guy gets hurt (meaning he makes your bad back look like a stubbed toe), the other guy has played for six teams in eight years. They simply don’t know what to expect from three-fifths of their rotation, whether it’s injury concerns or simply not knowing who will take the ball the next day. They’re taking it down to the likes of Carlos Silva, Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, Justin Germano, Clayton Mortenson, and last year’s pitching hero, Alfredo Aceves. Leaves you feeling all warm and tingly inside, doesn’t it?
So it’s time to ask again: if not now, then when?