After speaking about the offensive side of the ball, it is now time to focus on the pitching side of the ball.
In the championship year of 2007 the pitching was outstanding. The team was first in the American League with a 3.87 ERA. On top of that, the Sox were first in runs allowed or last depending on which way is easier to understand.
For the 2007 Boston Red Sox team, if the starter could give you six innings, the game was over. The seventh was for Manny Delcarmen, the eight was for Hideki Okajima, and the ninth was for Jonathan Papelbon.
This year though, completely different story. The ERA was at 4.01, which still isn't bad. The problem though, was those three who were so reliable in 2007, were not consistent in 2008.
With the exception of Papelbon, Okajima saw his ERA rise a half a run. Not to mention a lose in confidence from manager Terry Francona. In '07, Oki could be used anytime and he was guaranteed to get the job done, '08 was hit and miss.
Same story with Manny Delcarmen. His ERA was a RUN higher in '08 than it was in '07. He was supposed to be the secondary closer when Pap needed a rest. All he turned out to be was a 5th inning maybe 6th inning guy. He definitely took a step back.
The starting rotation was overall pretty good. Josh Beckett had a down year. Right from the get go in Spring Training he seemed to be out of shape and never really got into gear. He was on the DL to start the season and then once again during the year with tingling in his elbow.
As if his year was non-Ace like already, he suffered an oblique problem during his last start during the year and had to be more finesse as opposed to power during the postseason. He was more gutsy than anything this year.
Jon Lester was simply excellent and there is no other way to say it. He was the Ace, the work horse, Mr. Reliable, and anything else you could say. He threw a no hitter, won 16 games, and became a dominant lefty in a very tough American League East. The development of him makes the 2009 staff right now VERY VERY scary.
In his second season here in America, Daisuke Matsuzaka also made strides. He won 18 games with a stunning 2.90 ERA. Problem with him is he needs to throw more strikes and last longer in games. The bullpen was very taxed this year and he did not help them out. He was the opposite of Lester.
Alas, the No. 4 spot. For the last decade plus, Tim Wakefield has done the same thing every year. Pitch a lot of innings, give up 2-4 runs and keep the team in the ballgame. This year was nothing different.
Even though he only won 10 games, his ERA was 4.01. He easily could have had 4-6 more wins had either the bullpen kept the lead or had the offense done some scoring for him.
Now the No. 5 spot is very interesting. The Sox have a ton of prospects that are on the verge of being big time major league starters. These include Clay Buccholz, Michael Bowdon, and Justin Masterson.
Masterson's role is the set up man going forward unless the Sox trade for a big time bullpen guy. Buccholz had way to high of expectations and I think he just tried way to hard. Since he tried to hard, he was in way over his head.
When this happened, the Sox tried to mess with his mechanics and this really set him back. I hope they leave him alone because his stuff is that good. He will figure it out with experience and will eventually be the Ace of the staff.
Bowdon made his major league debut last year and wasn't bad. However, he is not ready and was only used because of the injuries the Sox had. He too has a future, but according to my last article, he is going to be traded for Jarrod Saltamacchia.
I think the Red Sox need to sign a few veteran guys like they did last year and see what happens. This is going to come as a big surprise, but BRING BACK PEDRO. This does sound funny and near impossible but think about it.
Pedro Martinez is only good for about 15-20 starts, 25 if you're lucky. If you give him a 1 year deal for $7m. Theo can get creative and add 3-5m additional in incentives. If I'm the Red Sox and I wound up giving Pedro all of that, I would be pretty happy with myself.
Not to mention, he would bring some more swagger back to the club. He helped put the Sox back on the map. Not to mention, who was the last player to rock number 45? It was Pedro.
By doing a signing like this with Pedro, or maybe even Mark Prior, Curt Schilling, or Kris Benson puts the Red Sox in a good spot. Anna Benson would look so hot in Sox red huh? Oh uh anyways.
The No. 5 starter is supposed to be average, nothing outstanding. Best case for the Sox would be someone like Pedro. You can use him the 15-20 times and not rush Buccholz. Buccholz and Pedro as the No. 5 starters would more than do the job.
Not to mention, Pedro loves the Boston media, has no problem speaking what he thinks and is a very good friend to Big Papi.
The bullpen does also need some work, however, there is not much out there. All of the good ones are going to be way to much money. Maybe the Sox try to sign Keith Foulke or the hot head but flame thrower Kyle Farnsworth.
I firmly believe that Mike Timlin's spot in the bullpen is going to go to rookie Daniel Bard. He throws close to 100 MPH and after struggling earlier on in his minor league career has developed into a pretty good reliever. He was a starter his entire life, including at UNC, with current major leaguer Andrew Miller.
By bringing up Bard, you can work him in slowly so he gets used to the big show, and maybe by the All-Star Break, he is ready for big time innings.
That's really all there is to do. The Sox have the pitchers to be an outstanding bullpen. Delcarmen was dominant following the All-Star break and that's what the Sox need him as. Justin Masterson is the bridge to Papelbon. Of course, Pap shuts the door. So the eighth and ninth are set.
If Oki can handle the 7th, now we're back to starters only needing six innings. That should not be a problem.