It's been a slow
day week for the Red Sox. Since the trade for Andrew Bailey, about all we've heard about the boys in Fenway is that they might be interested in Paul Maholm, and are big fans of minor league contracts.
At the nexus of these two points lies Aaron Cook, who joined the team on a minor league deal last night. Not an exciting name, but one that could end up being a decent plus to the Red Sox all things considered. While he's not quite Paul Maholm, he's cut from a similar cloth. High ground balls, low strikeouts, and up until the last couple of years not too many walks.
Even now that he's lost a couple miles on his sinker and seen his walk rate balloon, Cook has managed to maintain a FIP of 4.57 the last couple of years, with Colorado doing its usual thing to help prop that rate up a few points. Unfortunately, his ERA has not been so respectable, with a particularly high .345 BABIP leaving him Lackey-like last year.
Not a kind comparison, I know.
The thing is, Colorado is not Pittsburgh, and the Rockies are not the Pirates. While Maholm's difficulties can easily be explained away by the fact that the Pittsburgh infield couldn't stop a ground ball if it was on a string, players like Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, and Mark Ellis aren't exactly known for their defensive butchery. And while there was a great deal of turnover at third base, in general it was a solid-to-good infield.
So is it just a matter of bad luck in a relatively small sample size? Or is Cook getting beat up for pitching poorly? Without watching 97-or-so innings of work, it's hard to say, but the key is that Cook is a minor league signing with no real impact on the budget. Where last year we had Andrew Miller and Kyle Weiland giving games away with some regularity, with Cook the Sox are at least given a chance to let their defense do the work. It's a marked improvement as far as I'm concerned.
So long as there is still a name--preferably two--to come, then the acquisition of Aaron Cook is a very positive move for being a minor league deal. It's very hard, after all, to get anyone even remotely decent to come in knowing they are likely the sixth or seventh option. Between Cook, Silva, and Wilson, the Sox should be able to line things up in the first few months so that we're not quite as terrified of the spot start as we ended up being last year. And if it doesn't work out, then it's no real skin off our backs.