Next year is still a long way away, but it’s probably safe to say at this point the Sox will need to acquire another starting pitcher between now and Opening Day 2009. At the very least, Jose Contreras’ inury will probably spell retirement and at most, Javier Vazquez has proven himself totally capable of huge strikeout numbers but also totally unreliable when the team needs him most.
Clayton Richard certainly proved himself more than adequate when the Good Guys called on him, but what if the Sox choose to make a big move on the free agent market?
First of all, we can probably just assume the Sox won’t pay C.C. Sabathia the huge dollars he’ll command, which might be alright considering his David Wells-in-waiting stature and how the Brewers killed him down the stretch.
Should he be granted his freedom from Canadian exile, A.J. Burnett could be an intriguing option. He’s a superb power pitcher, and they’ve seriously explored acquiring him before, but the Sox would be wise to stay away from an injury history like that. Ditto Ben Sheets.
So who’s left? Look no further than the ongoing NLCS series: Dodgers ace Derek Lowe, who will be free to walk this winter and made a mighty case for himself in 2008. He’s a sinkerball pitcher, proven himself durable (minimum 32 starts since moving to a starting role in 2002), and no stranger to being a gamer/big gaminess/grindyness/grit/whatever. More importantly, he’s a groundball pitcher – 62% of balls put in play, to be exact, which cannot help enough at our friendly neighborhood launch pad.
However, Lowe has also benefitted greatly from moving from the AL to the NL; his first line in Los Angeles was roughly twice as good as his final line in Boston, no doubt benefitting greatly from the pitching haven the Dodgers call home. Add to that four years of moving down a division populated by perennially low-power lineups, and the fact that Lowe just turned 35, and suddenly he looks less like the guy the Sox need and more like the guy best employed by, well, the Dodgers