Boston Red Sox: GM Ben Cherington Says Sox Rotation Is Good to Go
Monday night, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington participated in a panel discussion featuring himself, Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, MLB TV analyst Sean Casey and New York Yankee Curtis Granderson.
During the panel discussion, Cherington stated that he believes the Red Sox rotation is good to go while expressing his awareness of opportunities that may arise:
We’re going to keep our eyes open and continue to talk to teams or free agents as things present themselves—I don’t know if we’ll do anything in the short term. If there are ways to add to the rotation now, we’ll do it now; if it’s in spring training or in-season, we’ll do it then. We don’t feel a need to do anything now.
This statement coming a week after making offers to both Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson. With neither pitcher biting at their respective offers, the Red Sox are left to round out a rotation utilizing two of five potential candidates: Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook or Vicente Padilla.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how each candidate matches up against one another. In an effort to keep the statistics as balanced as possible, I took the following categories into consideration: K/9, BB/9, HR/9, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB, ERA, FIP, xFIP, WAR and WHIP while spanning the years across a three- year period, starting in 2009.
Among his peers in this race, Bard posted the best scores in K/9: 9.73, HR/9: 0.73, ERA: 2.88, FIP: 3.22, xFIP: 3.24 and WHIP 1.056.
Bard also had the second-best HR/FB with 9.50 percent and WAR with a 4.2.
Now, of course, it is difficult to truly compare each player from different leagues, playing in different parks, but these figures are pretty impressive—especially when compared to the other dogs in this race.
Bard, in my mind, is the clear choice for the fourth starter. Sure, he has a lack of experience in the starting role. In fact, he's only started 22 games in his career, all 22 coming in the minor leagues. However, Bard has come a long way from his days in Single-A Greenville.
With Bard taking the fourth spot, it also raises another solid question: Would you take Aceves out of the bullpen if you're already losing Bard?
Alfredo Aceves scored second highest in many of the categories examined. He posts a K/9 of 6.47, BB/9 of 2.66, HR/9 of 0.81, ERA of 3.00, FIP of 3.98 and a WHIP of 1.095.
He scored the highest in BABIP with a .236 and HR/RB with a 6.80 percent.
With that in mind, Aceves is the single-most solid piece the Red Sox would have in their bullpen. Could the Red Sox survive losing both Bard and Aceves to the starting rotation? If comparing apples to apples, it should result in that happening.
The problem is that personally, I can't see the Red Sox placing both men in the starting rotation.
Vicente Padilla, at 34 years old, scored third highest across the board. While he didn't finish highest in any category, he placed second in xFIP with a 4.09 while maintaining a pretty solid third rating across the board in categories like K/9, BB/9, BABIP, LOB%, ERA, WAR and WHIP.
The obvious concern with Padilla is his injury history of the past couple of seasons. Having only pitched in 25 total games in the past two seasons, one has the right to be concerned.
According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, Padilla is not even a main contender for either starting position.
The most glaring concern a Red Sox fan can have regarding Carlos Silva is the unavoidable fact he did not throw a single inning of work in 2011.
In a piece by ESPN's Bruce Levine last March, this is what was said about Silva being released from the Cubs:
"Obviously we're dealing with a man at this stage of his career who's not willing to face the facts," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "What he's done for the last few years in his career, except for a two-month period, is way below major league standards. And he seems to have the continual problem [of] blaming everybody but himself."
I wouldn't classify that as a glowing job recommendation. It appears with Silva, the front office is hoping for some semblance of the 2005 version who started 27 games for the Minnesota Twins, posting a 3.44 ERA with a 1.173 WHIP.
The likelihood of that is slim, but, as it has been proven, the front office is a fan of acquiring low-risk/high-reward types of players (Brad Penny, John Smoltz etc.)
Having only 2009 and 2010 stats to go by, Silva still placed fourth in the race, even with an abysmal 2009 performance.
It appears as though Cook will be the odd man out of the equation. While he does have the highest WAR (4.6) of all the candidates, his other numbers do not prove strong enough (historically) to earn a spot in the starting rotation. Take that statement with a grain of salt, especially after reading about Silva and his history.
The most interesting race going into the spring for the Red Sox will not be at shortstop or right field. It will be for the fifth starting role on this rotation.
While I believe that Aceves will return to the bullpen, that means it is up to Silva to prove he has something left in the tank. If he does, the fifth spot is his to lose.
On the flip side, Cook has everything to gain by exhibiting a bit more control. If he can manage to bring his ERA and WHIP down a bit and refrain from giving up home runs, he could prove to be a serviceable fifth starter.
With that in mind,
No.1: Jon Lester
No.2: Josh Beckett
No.3: Clay Buchholz
No.4: Daniel Bard
No. 5: Carlos Silva