Looked up “pitchability” in the dictionary. Nothing.
Thank goodness Scott Merkin was there for me. He writes, “That's probably because pitchability isn't really a word.”
Whew. Kerry Close was starting to sweat.
“It's more of a descriptive term, unique to the game of Major League Baseball. If a particular hurler has this pitchability, it usually indicates that he doesn't possess a fastball able to whiz by hitters at 95-to-100 mph on a consistent basis. Bobby Jenks has raw firepower, for example, with a hint of pitchability.”
OK, so let’s use it in a sentence then. “Matt Clement’s pitchability is a travishamockery.”
Setting aside for a moment the progress of Jonathan Lester and Craig Hansen's "pitchability," as Red Sox GM Theo Epstein puts it, it's quite evident that Boston has a thirst for pitching right now, so desperate that TBA is still scheduled to start Tuesday in Yankee Stadium. Lester will not be making the trip to the Bronx, Epstein confirmed, to make his major league debut despite a 3-0 record with a 1.04 ERA over his last five starts at Pawtucket.
Obviously, Lester will help the club down the road, as will Hansen, assuming his "pitchability" reaches a desired level. But you can still bet that the Red Sox will be actively sniffing around in the trade market for pitching help, and secondarily getting involved to block deals that will help their direct rivals.
Better hope the kids are all right, otherwise the Sox very well could end up with another Jeff Suppan (how about that Freddy Sanchez, anyway?). The Nationals' Livan Hernandez could be had, along with his (NL) 5.10 ERA. How about that and Clement as a 4-5 punch? Yikes.
Need some lefty help in that bullpen? Newsday's Ken Davidoff says that the Sox might take a run at Randy Choate (pitching in the Arizona organization) and C.J. Nitkowski (pitching in the Pittsburgh organization). I know, calm down. Breathe through the nose. Too much excitement, I got ya.
But what about:
1. Dontrelle Willis: It's not going to happen, if only for the reason that the lefty is likely to be the most coveted pitcher at the trading deadline, which means it will take a king's ransom to pry him from Florida. Among the teams whom have been mentioned with interest in Willis: Boston, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Colorado. Add to that the fact that Marlins GM Larry Beinfest pretty much has already gotten what he liked out of the Red Sox farm system in the Josh Beckett-Mike Lowell deal, and you can hardly see him coming back for seconds unless those helpings involve the likes of Jacob Ellsbury, Hansen, and Lester. It's doubtful the Sox would give up that much for Willis (he of the 1-6 record and 4.93 ERA), and with so many teams involved, that's essentially what it would take.
2 Barry Zito: Have you seen what Zito has done lately? After a terrible April, Zito, who is a free agent at the end of the season, went 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA in May, and kept it up last night with a four-hit dazzler against the Twins. I admit, he's a personal favorite so I'd love to see the 28-year-old land in Fenway, but he's often too inconsistent to be paid and depended upon like a No. 1 starter. Oakland GM Billy Beane has been good in the past about getting value in return for his soon-to-be-free agent pitchers (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder) but has held on to Zito, fueling discussions that he'll be able to be had come July, particularly if the A's are out of it (doubtful; they're just 3½ games out in the AL West and are a traditionally strong second-half team). He might be able to pry Lastings Milledge from Omar Minaya, but the Yankees, who have long been rumored to be Zito's next career move, are sure to be involved, but might not have much in the farm tank that Beane wants (if not now, when he hits free agency at the very least). And with that in mind, any team would be crazy not to have an extension be a necessary component of any possible deal.
3 Kerry Wood: He has been good, not great, in coming off the disabled list. In the final season of a three-year, $32.5 million contract, Wood has pitched in just 46 games over that span. Methinks the Cubbies won't exactly be picking up that $13.5 million option for next season. In which case, they might as well grab something for him while they can. The Yankees will most definitely be interested, which means Boston might have to get involved. He has a no-trade clause, but becoming part of a pennant race rather than just another summer in the dumps with the Cubs could persuade him to waive that. If healthy, he'd be a coup for whichever team could land him for the stretch run, but if it's Boston, don't expect any overtures for a long-term deal. Greg Maddux might also be able to be had, but he has said he'd like no part of the American League.
4 Jason Schmidt: The Sox inquired about him last year, but he would have cost far too high for their liking. He's due to be a free agent, and very well might be a commodity to make GMs salivate come deadline day. Then again, so did Suppan at one point three years back. It's called the desperation trade for the sake of doing something. If the Giants fall out of it (they're four games back in the competitive NL West), expect Schmidt to be the target of this year's furry.
5. Kyle Lohse: He might have been a somewhat exciting proposition about three years ago when he was a 14-game winner with the Twins, but bringing up his name now reeks of desperation. However, Boston does need a starter at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, and it very well could be Lohse for all we know, the Sox not wanting to rush their primo young arms, but also not exactly willing to toss Dave Pauley as the sacrificial lamb either.
Kyle Lohse? Yes, it's that desperate right now. Makes you wish there were some way to speed up the pitchability process, eh?