Red Sox Need to Sign Roy Oswalt to Maintain Chances for World Series

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Does new Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington know something that the rest of us don?t? Or is this just a new, frugal version of the Red Sox?

Something seems amiss in Beantown considering how quiet the franchise has been in free agency this offseason and with an apparent gaping need for starting pitching behind the Big Three of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on Feb. 19 and Cherington has said that it was "unlikely" that he would add another starter before then. The team did make an offer to free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson but it was only for one year. He opted for a one-year deal instead with the Washington Nationals last week.

Jackson would have been a perfect fit at No. 4 in the rotation as he has ace-type stuff (when he has control) and is an innings eater. He's also durable, which can't be always said of Beckett and Buchholz. Boston needs a CC Sabathia-type workhorse as no Red Sox starter has topped 215 innings since 2007. Boston thought it had a workhorse in John Lackey, but that hasn't been the case so far. The 28-year-old Jackson was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 199 2/3 innings last season, which was split between the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

Bovada?s 2012 World Series Futures Odds

Philadelphia Phillies: 6-to-1
Los Angeles Angels: 13-to-1
New York Yankees: 13-to-1
Detroit Tigers: 9-to-1
Texas Rangers: 9-to-1
Boston Red Sox: 11-to-1

Boston can't count on Daisuke Matsuzaka to return from Tommy John surgery until likely after the All-Star break and of course Lackey is out for the season. So that leaves finding two starting pitchers among a group that includes former relievers Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves along with reclamation projects like Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva and Andrew Miller.

There is still a potential solution on the free-agent market: Roy Oswalt. The Red Sox have kicked the tires on the 34-year-old right-hander but haven't gone on a full-court press for his services. Oswalt was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts last season. The Cardinals and Texas Rangers are reportedly on Oswalt's radar along with the Red Sox and perhaps Reds. St. Louis and Texas appear to have their rotations set but Oswalt remains very interested in both because he wants to play close to his Mississippi home. That could work against Boston.

As of today, the Red Sox are well behind the division rivals the Rays and Yankees in terms of strength of rotation, after New York added Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda this offseason. Oswalt isn't perfect, landing on the disabled list twice last season because of back issues. But adding him would at least narrow that pitching gap in the AL East.

With the Yankees, Rangers (Yu Darvish), Los Angeles Angels (Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson) and Detroit Tigers (Prince Fielder) all making big additions this offseason, Boston has slid behind that quartet on Bovada's odds to win the 2012 World Series. The Sox are 11-to-1.

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