Brian Wilson at the 2012 ESPYs
Within the last week, two American League contenders made moves to bolster their bullpens. Francisco Rodriguez was dealt to Baltimore a few days ago, and within the last 24 hours, ESPN reported the Detroit Tigers grabbed Jose Veras.
Meanwhile, despite the acquisition of Matt Thornton, the Boston Red Sox's bullpen is still foundering. In the last 30 days, it posted a 3.36 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. On the season, Red Sox relievers are conceding the fourth-worst OPS in the majors.
We won't be seeing Andrew Bailey or Joel Hanrahan for the rest of the season, and Daniel Bard has been so disappointing that he has been sent down to Pawtucket. This essentially leaves Boston with no closer save for Koji Uehara in a stopgap situation. Thornton hasn't been particularly stellar either, with a 3.86 ERA and 1.93 WHIP since the trade.
Boston doesn't need a reliever for the playoffs—it needs a reliever now. The AL East race could potentially be a four-team race, with Tampa Bay breathing down the Sox's necks, and Texas and Cleveland have a chance to edge out the Sox for the second wild-card spot.
With many of the best names off the table, I think it's time the Sox gave consideration to Brian Wilson, whom the Giants let walk after missing nearly all of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
From 2008 through 2011, Wilson recorded 163 saves and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. In those four seasons, he had only 23 blown saves against 218 games finished. During that time, his WAR was 5.0.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com noted Wilson worked out for a number of teams last Thursday, with additional workouts likely coming this or next week. The same article and others posit Wilson as landing anywhere from the Dodgers to the Grilli-less Pirates.
What's the relief solution for the Red Sox?
It's absolutely unfathomable to me that the Red Sox are in the situation they are, but haven’t given “The Beard” a look.
Obviously, signing Wilson carries some risk that the old Wilson is gone forever. After all, a number of teams have passed on Wilson since he first began his rehab. But the Red Sox are only risking money if they sign Wilson; the future infield or future rotation are not on the line.
Furthermore, there's a dynamic in the Wilson race that I believe has been overlooked. Wilson was born and grew up in Londonderry, New Hampshire. If you're from New Hampshire, there's really only one MLB team you root for. It's the Red Sox.
In short, Brian Wilson to the Red Sox needs to happen. Now.