Many felt that Daniel Bard's return to the beleaguered bullpen should be permanent, with Aaron Cook an easy replacement as the new No. 5 starter. That creates a discussion as to whether a guy with two career starts to his credit, the latter of which saw him walk seven men, or a 33-year-old who had a 5.49 ERA in his last two years in the pitcher-friendly NL West should be your fifth starter. The fact that the debate even took place speaks to the organization's lack of pitching depth.
Some possibilities to correct things:
Trade for a starter: It's too early to know who the buyers and sellers will be, but some notable names that may be bandied about as time goes on are: Jake Peavy, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Correia, Jason Marquis, Brett Myers (currently a closer), Carlos Zambrano and others. A Cole Hamels-to-Boston rumor has been tossed around.
Trade for a reliever: Acquiring relievers is an unpredictable trade but Boston will need to try. Among those in contract years and strong trade candidates include Grant Balfour, Micah Owings, Jon Rauch, Brandon Lyon, Frank Francisco and Huston Street.
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Sign Roy Oswalt: It's been discussed since Christmas.
Hope for Matsuzaka magic: Yep, Daisuke has taken a big step in his return from Tommy John surgery. He threw four innings in a rehab outing at Single-A Salem earlier this week. Matsuzaka may be back by Memorial Day.
Do nothing: Maybe Alfredo Aceves grows into the closer role and Franklin Morales emerges as a legit eighth-inning option and Matt Albers looks like he did in the first half of 2011. They're big ifs.
This is an odd time in baseball. In this era of 1-0 contests, perfect games and steroid-less (we think) lineups, one can fall into a trap when analyzing pitching; it's easy to expect your team's staff to be outstanding. After all, this is a pitching-heavy league. The next no-hitter is right around the corner.
The same scenario emerged during the slugging 1990s when teams and their fans could bank on having a few 30-homer guys sprinkled throughout the lineup. They grew on trees back then. Steroid trees.
When surveying the Red Sox situation, however, we must be mindful of two cliches, which happen to go hand in hand: good pitching is STILL hard to find, and, because of that, you can never have too much of it.
That's why we have debates like the one that raged earlier this week after Daniel Bard made a relief appearance.