Red Sox: Curt Schilling on the Shelf, Bartolo Colon in the Closet

Scott WeilCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2008

Heading out for a hot date, you reach for the shelf and see that your tried and true scent is not there.  No reason to fret.  Simply peak into the closet for the best of what’s left, and you’re all set.

In this metaphor, it’s the Boston Red Sox who are grooming for an outing.  And the hot date? 

Well, that’s the 2008 baseball season…and it’s just around the corner. 

The shelf?  That’s the BoSox pitching staff, while the “tried and true” old favorite is our very own Curt Schilling. 

The closet represents the free agent pool, and the best of what’s left is Bartolo Cologne…I mean, Colon.

This whole scenario mimics the events of the late preseason move in Beantown when Colon was signed to a one-year minor league deal worth about $1.2 million—of course, that’s if he does in fact make the 40-man roster at Spring Training’s end. 

The move is described as a “no-risk, high-reward” deal.

Bartolo Colon, 34, had spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians before moving on to the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), the Chicago White Sox, and finally landing with the Anaheim Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), in 2004.

Coming off the last year of a five-year deal with the Angels in which his ERA ballooned to a career high 6.34 and he endured one of his worst win/loss records (6-8), Colon has a lot to prove. 

He executed lesser performances in just two seasons.  In 2006 he compiled a scintillating 1-5 record, and his initial 1997 showing ended with four wins and seven losses.

Colon has received two all-star game selections and the coveted Cy Young Award.  Just three years ago he won 21 games, lost only one, and took home the hardware.

He was also the second winningest pitcher from 1998 through 2005.  Colon went 146-95 with a 4.10 ERA since 1994, as well. 

It should be noted that Colon battled with a sore shoulder in 2005 and experienced elbow problems last season, too.

The Red Sox decided to pursue this hefty right-handed hurler—last year jokingly placed on the DL for his weight by’s Page Two—because their crafty veteran starting pitcher Curt Schilling has suffered a possible career-ending tendon injury.  Schilling has opted for shoulder surgery and says he will participate in rehabilitation for as long as it takes to get healthy.

But every member of Red Sox Nation, including Schilling himself, is well aware that this illustrious and heroic career of over 20 seasons may come to an end sooner than expected should the shoulder fail to retain its once great pitching form.

Boston’s pitching rotation is rock solid and as good as any in the American League—even as good as any in the National League, for that matter. 

It consists of ace 2007 Cy Young runner-up Josh Beckett, Japanese import gyro-ball phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka, cancer survivor Jon Lester, crafty veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and the highly touted no-hit hurling rookie Clay Buchholz.

Adding another veteran presence and Cy Young Award winner like Colon is a no-brainer for Manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein.  The move could do wonders for the young staff while providing depth to a rotation that is solid, yes, but questionable when it comes to the stability of its younger members.

“It takes more than five starting pitchers to get through a season,” Epstein explained.

Bartolo Colon has pitched recently, seeing action earlier this month in the Caribbean World Series, so he should have no problems coming to camp this week and stepping right into the program.

Colon is the second former Indian draft pick and minor league project that the Sox have picked up this offseason.  They signed (former) slugger Sean Casey earlier this winter to fill the role of “off the bench lefty” hitter. 

Casey could provide Kevin Youkilis with some spells at first.  His presence could also allow Youk some time at his natural position in the hot corner, third base—giving Mike Lowell a rest if necessary.

The worst case scenario: All Colon will do is push the younger pitchers harder to earn their spots in the rotation.  The best case scenario: He will become a stable 3-5 starter in the rotation come April.

In any case, it’s a good move and should prove worthwhile for all involved as the Boston Red Sox prepare for a valiant, and feasible, attempt at back-to-back world championships.