I know many fans and media members have been fed up with the Red Sox pitching staff for awhile, but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt to at least start the season. After Opening Day, and seeing the dominance of Clay Buchholz, I thought that maybe I would be wrong about this group of guys and they could propel this team to one of the best in the big leagues. Unfortunately, I was really, really wrong. After last night's ace-like performance from Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox starter's ERA is 6.03, which is the worst in baseball.
Not only are the Boston pitchers getting shelled on a nightly basis, but they are also not able to get out of the 2nd or 3rd innings more frequently than any of us would like. Last night pretty much summed up what the first month or so of the season has been like. The Red Sox get up early, provide a decent cushion for their starter, who gets rocked early, then they have to rely on their bullpen for 5 or 6 innings. Speaking of their bullpen, it has been a surprising bright spot in the young season. For the most part, they have been able to keep the Red Sox in most games and giving them a chance to get back into it. Varvaro and Ugando have been great to start, while Tazawa and Breslow have been consistently solid in their minor roles. Uehara and Mujica have struggled, which is something that Boston will have to address if it starts to become a normality.
However, this is not the way to win a World Series. One would think that the Red Sox may just be using the 2015 season as a "bridge year" because of the phenomenal aces that are going to be available in the offseason, but they have he 3rd highest payroll in all of baseball. A team that is paying their players close to $200 million does not have bridge years. GM Ben Cherrington needs to trade for an ace if he wants his team to have any chance in the playoffs. Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz are not going to be able to lead a team to the World Series.
However, the Red Sox could choose to bring up Brian Johnson or Eduardo Rodriguez and I would truthfully be okay with that. Boston should move Justin Masterson to the bullpen and let the young guys provide a few spot starts to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. If they struggle, then they can put them back down in Triple A, but if they flourish, then everyone benefits. The Red Sox will win a few games that they may not have before, while the youngsters will gain experience and confidence that you cannot get in Triple A.
However, if this team wants to win a World Series, then they will need to bring someone in.
I also don't think that Cole Hamels is the answer. Don't get me wrong, he is a phenomenal pitcher and would look very good in a Boston uniform. But, Cole Hamels is closing in on the proverbial wall of 2000 innings, and is still owed close to $100 million for the next 4-5 years.
Now, please enter Johnny Cueto. In short, this guy is absolutely filthy. This TRUE ace will take the baseball every fifth day and give you a chance to win every single time. Not only is he younger and better than Cole Hamels, but he will also cost you a lot less to acquire. While he is only under contract for this season and will more than likely require a Max Scherzer-type of deal, the opportunity to get him if the Reds fall out of contention is more than there. You won't have to give up Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts like you would in a deal for Hamels.
And if you don't think deals like this happen, you were actually part of one last year. I hate to bring up a sore subject, but the Red Sox trading Jon Lester to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes is exactly what the Red Sox are looking to do now. Cueto could be one of the few missing pieces to bring another World Series to Boston. If Boston can land Cueto and fortify their bullpen (Papelbon?), then they are in business.
Please Ben Cherrington, get an ace, he's our only hope.
By Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS