The acquisitions of Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino seem to have generally under whelmed Sox fans. Neither is seen as the kind of player who can turn a team around. But whether or not Napoli and Victorino succeed with Boston, there are serious pitching problems that need to be addressed. Let's begin with the starting staff.
At present, the one and two starters would seem to be Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. But the discouraging part is who will not be at the top of the rotation. Former ace Jon Lester is far down on the list. Former no. 2 man Josh Beckett is in LA struggling for a comeback. As for John Lackey, let's say we hope he can keep his ERA under 6.
The Townies need another competent pitcher somewhere in the rotation. The names of many hurlers have appeared in print. As of this week, we were hearing about free agents Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Marcom, Ryan Dempster and Cliff Lee, among others. But in looking at these hurlers' careers, problems can be seen. Lohse was 16-3 in St Louis last year, but his lifetime mark is close to .500 with a 4.45 ERA. He is also 34 years old. Jackson is only 29, but has bounced through seven teams with a 70-71 overall mark and 4.40 ERA. Dempster, 35, is coming off a 5.09 season, and his lifetime marks are similar to those of Lohse and Jackson. Shawn Marcom is 30, has had Tommy John surgery, and missed two months of 2012 with elbow problems. Lee is 34, but as a former Cy Young winner, the Phillies would probably want Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe more. Ben Cherington says he does not want to trade Ellsbury, and the hope here is that he means it. Ellsbury still has great potential if he is healthy and as a coming free agent, his value has decreased.
An intriguing name is Justin Masterson. Once thought to be a future star in Boston, he pitched here in 08 and part of 09 as both a starter and reliever. Masterson was traded to Cleveland for Victor Martinez, who after two strong years split for Detroit.
Masterson, 27, has spent three and a half seasons with the lowly Indians. His best year was 2011, as he went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA and earned a lucrative contract. His won and lost record in Cleveland is not good, but his 4.27 ERA is better than nearly every Sox starter in 2012. At 6'6" and 250 pounds, he seems strong and durable, averaging over 200 innings a year since 2010. His 34 starts last year led the AL. He can also throw a sinker, a valuable asset at Fenway.
The ever-rebuilding Indians would probably trade Masterson for some prospects. Don't get me wrong- Masterson is not Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander. But an advantage to the Sox would be a reuinion with John Farrell, his former pitching coach. It is unlikely that he would have a huge impact on the starting staff, but at this point, there is nowhere to go but up. Better Masterson than Alfredo Aceves or Andrew Miiller.