Boston Red Sox: The Time Is Right for Bartolo Colon

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IMay 16, 2008

Clay Buchholz fans be warned, your golden boy should watch his back.

Now, I don't mean to demean Buchholz in any way, but I have a long held theory that experience wins ballgames. I'm not saying that Clay Buchholz doesn't have the tools to become a top of the rotation starter somewhere down the line, but I do believe that his inexperience could serve as a liability to the Red Sox, especially if they need him to come up big in a pressure situation.

It may be early now, but if Clay Buchholz is still in the starting rotation come September, Red Sox Nation may reach for the panic button.

How then can we alleviate this problem? There's got to be someone better lurking on the horizon. Luckily, there is in the form of an ex-Cy Young Award winner who the Red Sox signed off the scrap heap in the offseason.

The rap on Bartolo Colon goes like this: He's got a bum shoulder that affects his delivery and may cause him to spend a long time on the disabled list. He's also a guy who probably has never said no to a fifth helping at The Old Country Buffet, meaning that his weight has been an issue for the balance of his career.

Because of these potential hazards, several GMs around the league saw him as damaged goods, a guy whose best days were clearly behind him, and who lacked the motivation to return to the form that made him a dominant pitcher in the American League.

However, one Theo Epstien believed differently. He thinks Colon's got plenty left in the tank, and judging the way he's pitched in Triple-A, he's probably right.

If the old adage proves true, and the numbers don't lie, consider this: In his start yesterday for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Colon allowed one hit over six innings while striking out four against the Buffalo Bisons.

Judging from those numbers, I'd say the guy is ready to help out the big club. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz clearly struggling, it can't hurt to give the big guy a chance—especially in a city like Boston that has always had a win-now mentality.

To me, Colon could make a big contribution to the Red Sox. He's still only 32 years old, and I find it hard to believe that a guy who won the Cy Young Award in the American League just three short years ago could fritter away his talent so quickly.

Plus, he's experienced. He pitched in a few playoff games for the Indians and Angels back in the day. While he may not have a reputation for being a big-game pitcher, he is at the very least adequate enough for the role the Red Sox wanted him for.

As a Red Sox fan, I'd feel much more comfortable giving the ball to the experienced Bartolo Colon rather than an inexperienced Clay Buchholz in a pressure situation. Thus, the choice is clear—it's time for Bartolo to get the ball.