The 2012 season has been sunk, and it's been sunk by our lack of quality pitching. Some of that may turn around next year with bounce back years from guys like Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, and maybe John Lackey returns to his 2009 form, but I still think we need one or two decent pitchers if we want to make a real run at the 2013 playoffs.
I made a post in April (link) where I determined that the Red Sox should pursue Scott Baker, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy, and Aaron Cook. I feel that for the most part, that list will hold up. Baker is out for the year, but will be ready for Spring Training in 2013. Having dealt with injuries the last two years, he can be brought in on a minor league deal. Peavy is finally healthy and has been excellent all year, he is a large part of why the White Sox are in first place in the Central division. Dempster has likewise been excellent, but because of his age and possible demands for a multi-year deal, I am going to drop him from our list. McCarthy is hurt again, but is already working on a rehab stint in the minors. Given his injury history, I think he could be had relatively cheap by the Sox. Finally, we're going to drop Aaron Cook from the list. Cook has performed very well, which is his downfall with Boston, who would love to have him back on a minor league deal, but have no room for him in the rotation.
So after review, our list of targets is Scott Baker, Jake Peavy, and Brandon McCarthy. Three potentially solid pitchers. But now that we're more than halfway through the season, let's take a look at some of the other pitchers who we previously crossed off the list.
Dan Haren has been disappointing in Los Angeles, and it is likely that his $15 million option will not be picked up. I previously crossed him off the list because I was certain the Angels would keep him. Haren currently sports a 3.99 xFIP and a 4.23 FIP, which is okay for a back of the rotation starter, but not worth fifteen million. However, Haren's strikeout and walk ratios are not that far off from his 2007 campaign that lead to him starting the All Star game. He has also had back issues that have hurt his velocity, leading to a higher home run rate than normal. With a full offseason to rest and recover, he could return to being the Dan Haren of just last year. We'll put him on the list as a great buy-low candidate.
Jorge de la Rosa is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but he could potentially return to the Rockies rotation in September. If he's back on form, we get a pitcher who has been good to very good in a very pitcher-unfriendly ballpark. He's owed $11 million if he chooses to exercise his option, but he could take a gamble and look for a multi-year deal elsewhere.
Gavin Floyd is being bitten by an anomalously high walk rate this year, he was just activated from the DL and has an option for $9 million. I don't think he will become a free agent, but if he does, he jumps to the top of my wishlist given hid ground ball tendencies and the Red Sox infield defense.
Francisco Liriano is still missing bats, and would be a nice consolation prize if none of the other players work out. Color me less than interested though unless he can cut his walk rate in half.
Colby Lewis would be an interesting buy, but having just recently undergone Tommy John surgery, he likely would not be ready to pitch until mid-July. For the right price, I would bring him in because we all know that with the Red Sox luck, having him come back in July will be absolutely necessary, with half our rotation on the DL.
I would love to make a run on Shaun Marcum, but with Matt Cain and Cole Hamels recently extended, I have a feeling he's going to be paid John Lackey money, and I'm not interested in that again. Ditto for Anibal Sanchez.
So there you have it, my personal targets for a Red Sox team in need of starting pitching:
Jorge de la Rosa
and Colby Lewis
Looking at those names and their reputations around the league, I'm a bit more excited about our potential targets than I was in April.