The Red Sox need help. Their bullpen is suddenly a shambles, and the person key to fixing it, Daniel Bard, finds himself penciled in as the fifth starter in the rotation. Boston can’t afford to use a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to Andrew Bailey. There’s a chance the surgery on Bailey’s thumb could sideline him for months. The solution: immediately sign Roy Oswalt. Make Oswalt an offer he can’t refuse. He has shown a reluctance to go to Boston all spring, but money talks and Boston has that in spades.
Signing Oswalt would solve many problems facing Boston’s immediate future and would provide stability going forward. Oswalt could take over the fourth-starter role and Bard could return to the bullpen as the most logical choice as closer. Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Vicente Padilla have been rumored to be the top three candidates to fill in for Bailey. Not one of those pitchers fits the closer role as perfectly as Bard.
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If the Red Sox stay put, their starting five looks like this:
The Red Sox have a strong starting three, but Doubront is a question mark and Bard is completely unproven as a starter. When you add those questions marks to the uncertainty at the back end of Boston’s bullpen, the entirety of the Red Sox pitching staff begins to look like nothing but a house of cards.
If the Red Sox do sign Oswalt, their starting five would be:
Signing Oswalt and gaining his veteran presence erases two key question marks with one stroke of the pen. He gives the Red Sox a solid track record as a starter and allows Boston to put its best reliever back in the bullpen.
Signing Oswalt would also allow Melancon to stay in the role he has prepared for all spring: set-up man. Singing Oswalt also allows Bobby Valentine to use the versatile Aceves in multiple roles.
The 34-year-old Oswalt can still eat up a respectable amount of innings (139 last season). He also posted a strong 3.69 ERA for someone the Red Sox would most likely use as a fourth starter.
While not a magic bullet, singing Oswalt to a one-year deal is the right thing to do for the Red Sox. Oswalt is there for the taking. There’s no reason Boston shouldn’t make an all out push to sign Oswalt as soon as possible.
Contributor: Brian Hendrickson