August 24, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke (23) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Filling "Next Dynasty" Sox Rotation: FA, trade, or home-grown prospects?


Job One for the Red Sox brain truss is their gaping “Ace hole.”

Flush with money–$260 million– from the Dodger Dump, the Sox should spend the biggest chunk on a proven #1 starter—either Zack Greinke or Brandon McCarthy.

Thanks to the Dodger spending spree, the Red Sox are now on the hook for just $45.6MM in 2013, $34.4MM in 2014, $12.75MM in 2015, and $2.45MM in 2016.

HOME-GROWN PROSPECTS

Although Allen Webster, acquired in the Dodger deal, and Sox farmhand Matt Barnes both have the potential to become a #1 rotation starter, to begin to  seriously compete in 2013, the team needs a veteran ace to lead rotation.

If the Sox were to sign either FA starter Greinke or McCarthy, the 2013 rotation might look like this:

Greinke or McCarthy

Lester

Buccholz

Doubront

That leaves the infamous “Fifth starter” slot vacant, but, besides digging up another Cook or Carpenter, the Sox might use their hottest starter at Pawtucket or Portland as a filler; such as: Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Drake Britton, Stolmy Pimentel, Anthony Ranaudo, Brian Johnson, Brandon Workman.

[SEE: The Bright Future: Red Sox Top Right-Handed Pitching Prospects by my colleague Conor Duffy.

http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/10/29/the-bright-future-red-sox-top-right-handed-pitching-prospects/]

And, how about the guy that many believed was the key to the Dodger/Sox swap:  Rubby “Dub Dobby” [or "Rubby Doobie"] de la Rosa?

Although Barnes or Webster may be pushing their way into the rotation as early as late 2013 or early 2014 and may evolve into the #1 rotation stud, the Sox need to fill their gaping “Ace-hole” in the interim with a Greinke or, at least, a McCarthy level starter.

TRADE

Then, there is the trade route; we have speculated before [http://bosoxinjection.com/2012/07/09/bens-gaping-ace-hole-show-them-your-package-get-king-felix/] about the Sox acquiring “King Felix” from the Mariners; to wit:

King Felix for

Brad Brentz [OF]  since Sox are knee deep in OF.
Brandon Jacobs [OF] since Sox are knee deep in OF.
Kolbrin Vitek [3B] since he is blocked by Middlebrooks.
Jose Iglesias [SS] since Deven Marerro and  Xander Bogaerts are better.
Blake Swihart [C] blocked by Salty, Lavarnway.

Another way to do it would be to swap Ellsbury and a few of these prospects for King Felix; in this scenario, the Sox would keep Jackie Bradley.

FREE AGENT ACES

Zack Greinke:

By far, the best and most expensive starter in the 2013 FA market, his stats for the last two years suggest he is entering his prime years:

2011, 16-6, 4.0 WAR; 2012 15-5, 5.1 WAR

His Career stats:  91-78, 3.97 WAR

Greinke could be the staff ace for 4 years for the Sox, but would want more than his last contract: 4 yrs./$38M (09-12); the good news: his agent it not Scott Boras.

Signing Greinke to a 4-5 year deal for $40-$50 million would solve the Sox #1 problem: their gaping Ace-hole.  The Sox have money to spend and this is the key position that requires the most attention and the largest outlay.

Brandon McCarthy:

He could become a #1/2 starter in the Sox rotation.  Besides the famous head injury, which is now resolved with this return for the ALCS, he presents an injury risk and has been averaging just 80.1 Innings during his 4 yr. MLB career. The trend is positive; recently he has increased his inning total: 111 [2011] and 170.2 [2012].

The upside is that, the more time he goes to the mound, the better he looks:

Year Innings Pitched Games Started fWAR Team
2012 111 IP 18 1.8 Athletics
2011 170.2 IP 25 4.8 Athletics
2010 N/A N/A N/A Rangers (minors)
2009 97.1 IP 17 1.4 Rangers
2008 22 IP 5 0.2 Rangers

[Source for chart: http://jaysjournal.com/2012/10/30/brandon-mccarthy-is-he-worth-the-injury-risk/]

He received $4.275 million from Oakland for 2012 and would likely be seeking a 4-5 year deal for $25-$30 million.  Scott Boras is not his agent.

While A’s fans would love to keep him in the Oakland rotation, Billy Beane’s wont is to move players when they demand real money.  If Beane is an A’s believer, he might try to sign McCarthy and Stephen Drew, but, with young arms lined up from MLB to the low minors, and the team’s very survival in the inept hands of Bud Selig, he will more likely stick to his future franchise-building mode.

But, before making a move on McCarthy, it might be instructive to check out his injury history charts:

Date On Date Off Transaction Days Games Side Body Part Injury
9/6/12 10/12/12 DtdDL 36 26 - Head Surgery
6/20/12 8/10/12 15-DL 51 43 Right Shoulder Strain
6/8/12 6/19/12 DTD 11 9 Right Shoulder Soreness
5/18/12 6/2/12 15-DL 15 13 Right Shoulder Strain
5/3/12 5/12/12 DTD 9 7 Right Shoulder Soreness
3/21/12 3/28/12 Camp 7 0 Left Fingers Laceration
8/12/11 8/12/11 DTD 0 0 Right Knee Contusion
5/19/11 7/3/11 15-DL 45 41 Right Shoulder Stress Fracture
7/29/10 11/1/10 60-DL 95 61 Right Shoulder Recovery From Stress Fracture
6/20/10 7/29/10 Minors 39 0 Right Shoulder Stress Fracture
6/11/10 6/19/10 Minors 8 0 Right Shoulder Inflammation
4/26/10 6/3/10 Minors 38 0 Right Shoulder Stress Fracture
6/5/09 9/1/09 60-DL 88 77 Right Shoulder Stress Fracture
3/1/09 3/12/09 Camp 11 0 Right Shoulder Soreness
9/16/08 9/29/08 DTD 13 11 Right Fingers Strain
3/30/08 8/23/08 60-DL 146 129 Right Forearm Inflammation
3/3/08 3/30/08 Camp 27 0 Right Forearm Tightness
2/26/08 3/7/08 Camp 10 0 Right Elbow Soreness
9/21/07 10/1/07 DTD 10 9 Right Forearm Tightness
8/11/07 9/11/07 15-DL 31 27 Right Shoulder Stress Fracture
6/10/07 7/2/07 15-DL 22 19 Right Fingers Blisters
5/26/07 6/9/07 DTD 14 13 Right Fingers Blisters
6/16/06 6/16/06 DTD 0 0 Left Knee Contusion

 

Year IP fWAR rWAR WARP
2005 67 0.5 1 0.1
2006 84.2 0 0.9 1
2007 101.2 1.3 0.5 0.7
2008 22 0.2 0.4 0
2009 97.1 1.4 0.6 0.1
2010 - - - -
2011 170.2 4.8 2.9 2.4
2012 111 1.8 2 1

 

[CHART SOURCE: http://network.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/12143140?headline=cubs_interested_in_brandon_mccarthy&linksrc=mb_right_col&mailing_id=1966&sport_name=mlb]

If the Sox are unable/unwilling to sign the more projectable Greinke, they may go after McCarthy for less money and hope he will grow into the staff ace.

If the Sox head into 2013 and beyond with a gaping “Ace hole,”—unwilling to spend enough to obtain a quality Greinke-level stud, or trade for a King Felix-level rotation leader—they will repeat the disaster of 2012, where a dog team without a lead dog ran the Sox sled off the trail and over the edge into an abyss.

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Tags: Brandon McCarthy Zack Greinke

  • John Fahrer

    Dan Haren could serve a good short-term purpose. DeLaRosa has ace potential. Anthony Ranaudo does too. 2013 will be put up or shut up time for him. Hopefully it’s the former.

    Greinke’s past emotional issues are a huge red flag. LA’s technically a big market, but it’s not exactly a fish bowl either.

    • http://www.facebook.com/steve.peterson.10 Steve Peterson

      Could not agree more on the Greinke comment. It doesn’t matter which way I look at it, Greinke in Boston is a bad fit.

  • John Fahrer

    If the Angels decline his option, Haren’s by far the best FA starting pitching target Cherington should try to sign. If he can’t do that, try to acquire King Felix. Bogaerts and Bradley have likely been dubbed untouchable. Hopefully they consider Henry Owens (could be our Bumgarner), Garrin Cecchini (will be better than Middlebrooks when he hits the bigs), and Blake Swihart (franchise catcher like a Buster Posey or Joe Mauer, better than Lavarnway) near untouchable. Don’t have a problem with dealing Vitek, Brentz, Jacobs, DeLaCruz, Workman, Britton, and one of Barnes/DeLaRosa/Webster in trades.

  • Jim R.

    While I like Brandon McCarthy, by what possible standard does he qualify as a “proven #1 starter” or an “ace”?

    • John Fahrer

      Agree with that statement too. Never made more than 25 starts a season nor pitched more than 170.2 innings in a season. Most Ks in a season is 123. Decent buy-low rotation filler, but not the guy to dub an ace, especially after he got hit by a liner. Many guys are never the same after something like that happens.