The Red Sox continued to stockpile on veteran pitchers this week, inking Justin Germano and Aaron Cook to minor league contracts. Both hurlers — along with Carlos Silva — will have the chance to resurrect their major league careers.
Despite those acquisitions, a move to sign established starters Roy Oswalt, Joe Saunders or Hiroki Kuroda could still be on the fringe as well. So while general manager Ben Cherington continues to monitor the market, let's answer your questions for this week's mailbag.
It seems like the Sox have signed many older starting pitchers. All of them are coming back from issues, medical mostly. It would seem that they will need a home this spring and that home will be Pawtucket. Will they effectively block all of the young, drafted, lower level pitchers resulting in slower development of our young talent? I don't see a lot of starts available now. Should Sox fans be concerned?
–Pete, Manchester, Conn.
There's no reason to be concerned, Pete. These are low-cost moves with the possibility of a high-reward outcome. By giving Germano, Cook and Silva the opportunity to compete, there's a chance one — or more — may have gas left in the tank.
Look at the Yankees last year. Before spring training, they signed Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia to minor league deals and both wound up contributing in the rotation. Colon tallied an 8-10 record while Garcia produced a 12-8 record.
The Red Sox could be looking to follow that blueprint, so it's not a guarantee they will all head to Pawtucket. And if they don't pan out, the team could simply cut their losses and it wouldn't cost them much at all.
But Silva is just a year removed from a 10-6 season with the Cubs and Cook suffered a freak accident — he broke his right finger while slamming it into a door — that likely affected his sinkerball. It's a worth a try to look into them.
Is there any chance that Ben Cherington is saving money this season, and then uses Dice-K's salary to sign Yadier Molina next season via free agency?
–Jack Delaney, McKinney, Texas
With Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings, that's just unlikely. Once he gets the seasoning he needs in Triple-A, Lavarnway could be taking over full-time later this year or the beginning of the 2013 season.
There's no point in chasing Yadier Molina to start. Plus, after losing Albert Pujols to free agency, the Cardinals will probably look to extend the three-time All-Star's contract and keep him behind the backstop for the foreseeable future.
Will the Boston Red Sox offer Jacoby Ellsbury a long-term deal similar or better then Carl Crawford and when? I don't want to let him get away.
–Dan Peters, via Facebook
I don't envision a long-term deal or extension at the moment. It would be wise for the team to monitor and evaluate Jacoby Ellsbury's play over the first few months of the 2012 season just to make sure he wasn't a one-hit wonder.
That could be the plan. Considering his injury history in the past, the Red Sox should proceed meticulously either way. But if Ellsbury maintains his hot streak early on, a long-term deal could be in the works sooner rather than later.
Those odds, of course, hinge on whether the outfielder would prefer to stay in Boston or to test the market elsewhere.
I just want to know what the Sox are going to do to solidify the starting rotation and if they are going to do it soon?
–Philip LaForme, via Facebook
I expect the Red Sox to continue to wait it out. As each day passes, the pressure for Edwin Jackson, Saunders, Kuroda and Oswalt to drop their respective asking prices continues to mount. Remember Kuroda is a 37-year-old asking for between $12 million and $13 million.
In the meantime, the Red Sox could continue to stockpile on low-cost veteran pitchers and allow them to duke it out in spring training. But a trade for Matt Garza may not be on the horizon after Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein downplayed the trade talks on Wednesday to Chicago reporters.
Is Boston going to nursing homes or rehab centers for some of these players they are signing? Hmmm makes me wonder. Aaron Cook, he never really panned out in the majors…. Hope Mr. Cook has some gas left in the tank after all these seasons being hurt. I hope he can help maybe as a starter or a spot starter and long relief what role will he play?
While Cook isn't a superstar, he isn't a throwaway off the street, either. The former Rockies right-hander strung together two strong seasons in 2008 and 2009, combining to go 27-15 with a 4.06 ERA. He was also an All-Star selection in 2008.
Am I saying he's going to be an All-Star again? No. But a reunion with former pitching coach Bob McClure could be the key to reviving his career.
Last year, Cook simply wasn't healthy — he battled shoulder stiffness and a broken finger. If he's healthy and effectively possesses his trademark sinkerball, Cook could emerge as a spot starter or as an option in the bullpen.
It remains to be seen whether his pitching can translate to the AL East.