It’s an honest question, really: with the season all but over, what should the Sox do with midsummer acquisition Jake Peavy? With His ankle mostly healed but his elbow not responding well to a comebacker last week, Peavy’s previously questionable status has since become a point of contention; one school of thought says to get him back for one good go-round to make sure the pieces all work, while the other says there’s no point in having him pitch meaningless games. Both ideas are right, but unfortunately both are wrong as well.
Let’s for a second assume the best. Let’s say Peavy’s elbow is no big deal and he’s back to the form that won the 2007 NL Cy Young Award. Then what? What, really, do the Sox get out of No. 44’s return to the bigs? Two, three wins? A 4-20 September instead of a 2-22 September? A respectable third place instead of a floundering fourth? No one’s saying Peavy’s return would be worthless, but it’s hard to see how it would be anything but useless.
Now let’s take the other tack and say Peavy’s healthy but the Sox decide to simply shelve him until 2010 as insurance. Are the Sox really any worse off for it? They won’t win too much without good pitching, but at the same time the Sox haven’t really established a pattern of winning with good pitching this year. Peavy’s an acknowledged competitor, and his pride might be a little wounded, but we have to have faith in the idea that he understands the position in which his team finds itself; considering his willingness to help San Diego save a few bucks on payroll, this seems like a safe bet. The Sox end up about where they would have, and Peavy gets a nice payday for not doing his job. No one wins, but no one loses – except the Sox, but they’d be doing that anyway.
What’s important isn’t the decision the Sox make; what’s important is that, for all the wrong reasons, they can afford to make it at all. Do they really need a good pitcher to help them finish out a bad season? Do they dare insult themselves and their new star by calling it a day? The answer, sadly, doesn’t matter because at this point, the season doesn’t matter, either.