Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The 2007 Red Sox Pitching Staff

The Red Sox trimmed their roster down to 26, today, leaving just a battle for the 12th man on the pitching staff left to be settled. With Timlin starting the season on the DL and Papelbon back in the bullpen, here's how the 12 man staff shakes down:

C. Schilling
J. Beckett
D. Matsuzaka
T. Wakefield
J. Tavarez
J. Lopez/M. Delcarmen
K. Snyder
J. Pineiro
H. Okajima
J. Romero
B. Donnelly
J. Papelbon

I'd rather see Delcarmen make it than Lopez, partially because they already have two lefties with Romero and Okajima, but mostly because I still think he's very good and could end up being the primary set-up guy by mid-season (that is, if Francona gets over his crush on Timlin). Beyond the 12th spot, though, I'm concerned. Pineiro still scares me, Donnelly's been solid but in decline over the last few years, and Okajima is unproven. Given Theo's track record with acquiring relief pitchers, I think my skepticism is warranted.

I do like Romero and Snyder, though, for different reasons. Romero had a brutal 2006 in Anaheim, and his peripherals are nothing to write home about, but his splits against lefties were still very good (2.49 ERA vs. 11.35 against righties). With Okajima and possibly Lopez on the staff, he could be a very good strict LOOGY, which the Red Sox haven't had since Mike Myers left town. Snyder, meanwhile, always got hit hard the second time through the order while starting last year, but he was better out of the 'pen and he's been nasty this spring (small sample size, I know, I know...). For a 5th/6th option, you could do a lot worse (like, say Craig Hansen).

The rotation obviously doesn't look as good as it did a few weeks ago, but the top three all have ace potential if they're healthy, so I can't be too upset about that. One injury to that top three, though (even just a one-monther, like Wang's), and they're in for some trouble. Wake is fine as a #4, and Tavarez sucks, but at least you get him out of the bullpen, which is addition by subtraction.

So how good are they compared to the rest of the AL? It's hard to tell with so few rosters finalized by now, but I'd have to guess top five. They've got the best three starter combo, and one of the best closers, but there's a lot of roster filler in the middle - plenty of teams are surely deeper - and a more than a few health questions. Off the top of my head, Detroit, Anaheim, Oakland, and maybe the Orioles and Yankees could be in their class.

And yes, I'm probably short-selling the Yankees, but I just can't get over the Pavano on Opening Day thing. I mean... just... wow.

(UPDATE: Lopez won the final spot. Damn.)

1 comment:

Warren said...

Fans of most teams often say that their rotation (or team as a whole) has a larger-than-average range of possibilities - high upside, but real suckitude potential. But I think this is especially true for the Red Sox this year - that top three could easily be the three aces everyone talks about, and it's just as easy to imagine Schilling getting hurt, Beckett repeating his 2006, and Dice-K having trouble adjusting to MLB.

The bullpen isn't great, but that's true of a lot of teams (the Mets have Aaron Sele and Chan Ho Park, and they're considered to have a good bullpen).