The Roy Oswalt saga of the off-season is not one many Red Sox fans care to return to, even if they would like him to be part of Boston's club. As we talked about earlier Friday, Oswalt worked out for the Red Sox (as well as tonight's opponent, the Phillies) near his home in Mississippi, throwing a bullpen session where he looked like he was in spring-training shape.
Whoever wants Oswalt is going to have to move fast, as, according to Ken Rosenthal, he would like to be signed in a week, with an eye on a mid-June return. Presumably, once he looks like he's in mid-season form, and not like a guy who didn't throw in anyone's spring training, April, or May.
Unless someone is injured on the Red Sox pitching staff in a next week, it's hard to believe they will push as hard as another team with a more obvious hole in their rotation. Boston's rotation might not be the best in the majors, but those who are underperforming aren't being replaced by Oswalt, and there are many reasons why shifting Felix Doubront or Daniel Bard out of the rotation for a temporary solution don't make sense in the grand scheme of all things Red Sox. He's not about to settle for an Aaron Cook-esque role, either: Oswalt is going to have a job in a rotation.
There's also the whole problem with clearing room on the 40-man roster and the 25-man, which, while normally not an issue, we are talking about a team with seven players on the 60-day DL -- four of which need to be on the big-league squad within the next two months -- in an organization that doesn't like to waste resources.
As an aside, it feels kind of nice to not feel like Boston needs Oswalt, huh? Quite the change from a few months ago.
Everyone knew Matt Barnes had an excellent fastball, with plenty of velocity and movement on it. Someone with a plus fastball is capable of decimating the lower levels of the minors as he has, even if their secondary stuff isn't up to snuff. In order to prepare for his second time through High-A -- as well as his eventual stop in the high minors -- Barnes has replaced his inconsistent four-seam circle change with a two-seam iteration of the pitch.
Barnes has continued to focus on his changeup with Salem. He's now made five starts since altering his grip from a four-seam circle change to a two-seam circle change, and he's getting more comfortable with it with each time out.
"I like it a lot," he said. "I've seen an improvement in the bullpen, and I'm using it more in games. I feel more confidence and more comfortable with it."
"A changeup, it's a comfort pitch. It's something that has to feel good for you," said Walker. "At this point right now, he's just looking to find something that feels good that he can throw just like his fastball. When he's aggressive and he stays on top of it, the sell that he gets with his arm action is the most important thing we want -- it looking like a fastball."
He's already got his curve inducing swings-and-misses against High-A batters, and the addition of another pitch he can rely on would make those thoughts about an improved ceiling more realistic than they are today.
Miss Josh Reddick? Maybe not necessarily in a production sense -- Ryan Sweeney has done a fine job in his absence, and we have yet to see what Andrew Bailey's capable of, but given his past, it's safe to say that will be worthwhile, too. But the whole idea of Josh Reddick: the wrestling championship belts, the retweet-happy Twitter account, the mouthguard, the way everything he does on the field is aggressive. He's a fun player to watch, even when he can sometimes be maddening.
Today at Baseball Nation, I took a look at his success in 2012, and why anyone who has been following him over the years shouldn't be surprised that, in his second attempt at the majors, he's hitting homers and gunning down opposing baserunners often. Plus, there's a gif in there of Reddick tossing out a runner at third, so you know you want to click.
Speaking of gifs, from Sam Miller's Baseball Prospectus piece and Thursday night's game, here is Andrew Miller making Jose Molina look silly. Sillier, even, than Molina has made opposing hitters look thanks to his framing of pitches.
That new, side-to-side slider is just wonderful. Hitters everywhere say thank you, Andrew.