John Smoltz: What Should the Red Sox Do with Him?

Evan BrunellFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 20:  Pitcher John Smoltz #29 of the Boston Red Sox on July 20, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There are several options that the Red Sox have when dealing with John Smoltz. But, when he is pitching, they seem to be giving away games. So, those options need to be explored.

But, don't panic.  Smoltz is an intelligent pitcher, and although he may no longer have lights-out stuff, he still has enough in his arsenal to get hitters out if he uses his mind.

His stuff looks decent enough, but his command seems to be lacking. We can say that he will start to command his pitches in time, but how much time? How long will it take him to get his stuff together?

He is 41 now, not 35. He is coming off an injury. And he was a risk when Theo Epstein signed him—although Smoltz was a smart acquisition even if he doesn't work out.

The options the Red Sox have are as follows:

A) Simply wait it out and hope that Smoltz will regain command of all his pitches. This is definitely an option, as he hasn't exactly pitched a half season or anything.

But the Red Sox cannot afford to just give away games right now, not in the heat of a pennant race. Plus, they are competing with teams such as the Yankees and Rays—both very good if not great teams.

B) They could trade Smoltz, but they would be selling low and they will most likely little in return.

But this would allow Wakefield to slot back in the rotation. Dice-K (maybe) and Michael Bowden would be the insurance in case Wake gets hurt again or if Buchholz is ineffective. Even with the absence of Smoltz, there would be plenty of depth there, just not quite as much.

C) They could approach the veteran Smoltz and ask him to make a trip to the DL in order to work on his command.

It wouldn't be disrespectful, although I do not know how well he will take it. He is a veteran, and he probably believes he still has plenty left in that arm—even if that may not be true.

If he doesn't budge, they could simply place him on the DL anyway, with some "phantom injury" as Evan likes to call it. You have to do what is best for the team.

When watching Smoltz, and I am no scout, I see good enough stuff to get the job done. But if he is going to have trouble with command, for whatever reason, then the latter two options may make more sense.

Because, in the AL East, there just isn't room for failure right now, not successive failures by the same pitcher. There is definitely no room for an ERA north of 6.00

But Epstein and crew will make the right call, as they typically do. And I haven't rung my panic bell just yet; I am just exploring the options and trying to get ideas from others.