Last week, the Red Sox kicked off the Winter Meetings with two big signings Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino before going silent for the rest of their time in Nashville, and remaining silent for the nearly seven days since.
Now, normally this wouldn't be a problem. After all, at this stage in the offseason, the Sox picture is typically a little more clear, with their line-up and rotation essentially set in stone. However, this year is not normal. Or maybe, this is the new normal. Either way, here on December 10, the Sox still have a lot of work to do if they have any aspirations of end their three year playoff drought. And as usual, as was the case in September 2011 and for most of 2012, the major issue is starting pitching.
It was their biggest problem heading into the offseason, and it's the one problem they've yet to address. As it stands now, their rotation of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales doesn't stand up to the competition, and there's no depth behind them. Nothing there to help cope with the assortment bumps, bruises and missed starts that every staff faces over the course of 162 games.
And guess what? Thanks to the Sox lack of involvement in the arms race (combined with a weak class, in general), there's not much talent left. In fact, unless they revisit or ultimately pull the trigger on a Jacoby Ellsbury trade, the Sox will have a hard time improving their rotation at all.
So, who's still out there?
There's 34-year-old Kyle Lohse and 28-year-old Anibal Sanchez, both of whom are asking for much more than the Sox will or should give them. There's 29-year-old Edwin Jackson who's been serviceable but far from consistent over the past few seasons, a major factor in him playing for six teams in the last five years. There's 35-year-old Ryan Dempster, who still seems better suited for the NL. There's 30-year-old Shawn Marcum, who I like but who also might be asking too much. After that, I don't know? Do the Sox and Rich Harden finally come together after years of close calls and rumors? Do they bring Bronson Arroyo back for a one-year deal? Do they roll the dice on Francisco Liriano?
At the end of the day, they might have to roll the dice on a few guys and just hold their breathe that one or two of them works out. Sort of the same thing they did with position players back in 2003.
Is that ideal? Of course not. But when it comes to the current state of the Sox, "ideal" no longer exists.