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The Starter Conundrum.

All right. Obviously we've all had some time to let the news sink in. Curt Schilling will be missing, at the least, the first half of the 2008 campaign (ed: I wouldn't be entirely shocked if he's thrown his last ML pitch). Here's what he gave us last season:

  • IP: 151
  • K: 101
  • WHIP: 1.245
  • ERA+: 122
The issue isn't really whether the Sox can replace the innings. The issue is that he was probably (assuming health from the beginning) going to be one of the better middle/back-end pitchers in the ML. I'm not sure how "replaceable" that is, and I've seen several options tossed out in the last few days in terms of replacing that production. Let's start with...
  • Internal
    Now clearly, the Sox have two young hurlers "waiting-in-the-wings", both talented and up to the task of starting games in the bigs. But hold on just a second there sport. Let's consider that we're going to want at least one of these pitchers available for the postseason (especially since we can't count on Wake to be a paragon of health).

    Including the postseason, Jon Lester threw 163 professional innings last season. Let's say a reasonable bump would be to 180-185 innings. Now, we're obviously in a perfect world, and assuming that he'll be healthy the entire year. Given that, and considering that he's now probably the 4th starter at the least, he could reach that mark well before the postseason begins. Now consider that Clay threw < 150 professional innings last season, and you see the conundrum this puts us in. One or both will be burnt out by the playoffs, and we'll have to count on Wake to go along with Daisuke and Becks. This doesn't mean it's NOT an option, and it's clearly the cheapest in terms of both financial and prospect costs.

  • Lighting in a Bottle
    You might also refer to this option as the Veteran Reclamation Project. This is where Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, etc. fit in. You could probably argue some other names, though I think the pitchers that fall in this category have to be considered possibilities to replicate or surpass the kind of performance we thought we might get from Dr. Curtly.

    You might already note a disdainful tone in my non-voice. I loathe this option, if only because if we spend $$, it should be on someone we can reasonably count on to protect the innings limits we might want to put on our young'uns. Freddy Garcia might be up to the task of throwing 160-180 high-quality innings. Then again, his shoulder might not prove up to the task, and we're back at square one. And Colon is cooked, and probably wouldn't be brought up without having Mariano Rivera or Johan Santana's Cy Young on his mantle.

  • He's Crap, But He'll Give Us 30 Starts
    This could also be known as Certain Mediocrity. Hello Josh Fogg, hello Kyle Lohse. I really have no elaboration here. There are others out there, and some who would fit in this category if they were more reliable, but that's the whole point of the guys in this category: lack of injury history. Protection for the whippersnappers. I'll go ahead and get the "ugh" out for you.

    Julian Tavarez kind of fits in here as well, though I worry about burning him out 1st half and McCracken being completely useless in any role by August Maybe I shouldn't be, as that would be plenty of time to keep Buch in Pawtucket to control his workload.

  • Get Bent Over a Barrel
    Or, the trade market. Obviously there's Joe Blanton. I'm not thrilled with that option, for a myriad of reasons (ed. cost, he's not that good, Beane will extract the very soul of our MiL system, also, he's not that good). Others? Well, at this point, only teams with a true pitching surplus, which are few. Matt Morris is certainly a surplus for Pittsburgh, but he sucks anyway, so f that noise.
I don't know. This is just what I came up with, I'm sure there are some better ideas out there, or some trade possibilities I didn't explore (ed: likely, since I only explored/shot down two).