Ben Cherington said earlier this week that it was unlikely the Red Sox would add a starting pitcher before spring training. But he also said that he couldn't rule it out.
To the best of my ability, here are the unsigned starting pitchers who could come to camp and actually pitch:
Oswalt, obviously, is the prize of that group. He seems intent on the Rangers and Cardinals, two teams that do not need a starter. The Cardinals could try and clear room for him. At this point, the only way he gets to the Red Sox is by sucking it up and taking a bargain deal. Or John Henry realizes that his No. 5 starter might be Aaron Cook.
Pete Abe goes through the trouble of compiling that list, and then tells you wy every single one of those pitchers would make for a terrible signing.
The case against Oswalt is simply that he doesn't really want to come to Boston. Granted, we've had many players suit up for the Sox over the years that would rather being donning someone else's logo, so it's not as if it would be some sort of disaster. He'd pitch out the year, make a few million less than he had hoped and then head off to greener pastures in 2013.
Harden and Ohlendorf have platinum memberships to their local ERs, so there's a ton of risk with bringing either of those two guys aboard. Although Pete states, and I wholeheartedly agree, that he'd rather have Harden competing for a spot in the rotation than someone like Padilla or Silva. Not that Harden is much of a pitcher any more. He did come back and pitch the second half of last season, but his 5+ ERA and 17 home runs surrendered over 15 starts sum up what you can expect from him.
Brad Penny was garbage in his brief stint with the Sox, then went off to the NL and morphed into a serviceable pitcher (shocker!), then headed back to the AL to pitch for Detroit last season and, well, turned right back into garbage. If you're looking for a bright spot in Penny, he can give you a lot of innings. Innings full of extra base hits, and many runs surrendered. But innings nonetheless.
Which brings us to Wakefield. If the Sox do invite Tim to camp it will be clear that his roster spot is not guaranteed and he'll have to earn it. What a tough spot to put not only Wake in, but Bobby Valentine and new GM Ben Cherington. You know what you're going to get with Wakefield at this point; there are no surprises. Knowing this, you either think he's good enough to make your team better and plan on having him suit up in the regular season. Or, you don't think he still has it and you're just making a nice gesture to a long-time Sox. If they do end up cutting him, they're now the guys that jerked around Sox great Tim Wakefield for a spring.
Looking at that list of available pitchers feels like going to a Chinese Buffet right after dinner. Everything worthwhile is out of stock, and the dishes that are available have been sitting out under the heat lamps for the past 3 hours. So you fill up your plate with a couple scoops of Carlos Silva, a bowl of Aaron Cook and a side of Padilla and hope you don't spend the next 6 months vomiting.
Rest of the links:
WEEI - Choosing the hard way: Why Aaron Cook embraced a Red Sox deal with no guarantees | Herald - Rangers should say ‘no thanks’ to Josh Hamilton bidding war | ESPN - Super Bowl picks from Boston athletes