Yankees pitching upgrade should force Red Sox into action

Despite Hal Steinbrenner saying he didn’t want to expand the budget to go after an expensive free-agent pitcher that would help their shaky starting rotation, the New York Yankees got a whole lot better on Friday.

First the Evil Empire pulled off a major deal with the Seattle Mariners, acquiring the young 23-year old stud in Michael Pineda and prospect Jose Campos in exchange for highly touted Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi.

Then Steinbrenner gives Cashman the green light to go out and sign free-agent Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal worth $10 million.  You will recall Kuroda was one name that the Red Sox were kicking tires on, much like the Yankees were said to be doing.  Looks like the Yankees strike again and because of it they might force the Red Sox hand to add to their rotation.

I for one am getting sick and tired of hearing about this damn luxury tax threshold and what a death grip it is starting to have on the Red Sox spending abilities.  Kuroda would’ve been a nice addition as the number four or five guy in the rotation and he went as far as to express interest to the club that he would like to sign here or New York.  For $10 million dollars for one lousy year Cherington wouldn’t bite on it.  Or maybe he thought he could afford to be patient seeing as how the Yankees were just “kicking tires” on the former Dodger.  Well Ben, let’s hope that you learnt another lesson from the Yankees on this one.  Good things come to those who wait, but not too long.

There is still one nice option for Cherington to sign and that’s Roy Oswalt.  Recently I did a post on how both Kuroda and Oswalt had dropped their price tag, hence the Yankee signing.  In the post I commented on how I’d rather see Oswalt sign than Kuroda for a number of reasons, but if you look at the lineups Kuroda had been facing during his four years in the majors, he’s in for a rude awakening in the AL East.  Throw in the fact that Oswalt is playoff tested and battle worn and he’s the better option, shaky back and all.

With the rival Yankees improving their rotation by a large margin, Cherington may now be forced to go out and sign Oswalt. Give him the $8 million he’s asking for, exceed the luxury tax threshold and let’s try and win the damn thing will you please?

Suddenly the Yankees have a rotation of Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova and an option for the fifth spot between A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes.  Compare that to the Red Sox starters of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and one of Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook or Jesse Carlson.  While the Red Sox still look pretty good, the one notable for New York is Pineda.

In just his first season in the majors he went 9-10 with an ERA of 3.74 to go with a WHIP of 1.099.  He averaged 9.1 strikeouts per 9 innings and 2.9 walks per 9 innings in 28 starts, was voted to the All-star game and finished fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.  He’s only 23 and is under the Yankees control through the 2016 season.  No where do the Red Sox have anything close to that.  The only comforting fact is that he’s going from a large ballpark in Seattle to a small ballpark in the Bronx.

So Ben Cherington can continue to sit back and wait for the market to come to him, sign pitchers who are coming off injury riddled seasons and hope that somewhere he can find a diamond in the rough.  Or he can get aggressive, something his teacher Theo Epstein would do and go out and sign Roy Oswalt, bolstering the Red Sox starting rotation.

The rivalry is heating up and it’s only January.  We ask you in our latest poll:

Can the Red Sox win the AL East with the current rotation?

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Tags: A.j Burnett Aaron Cook Alfredo Aceves Andew Miller Ben Cherington Boston Red Sox C.C. Sabathia Carlos Silva Clay Buchholz Daniel Bard Freddy Garcia Hector Noesi Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Jesse Carlson Jesus Montero Jon Lester Jose Campos Josh Beckett Michael Pineda New York Yankees Phil Hughes Roy Oswalt Seattle Mariners

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