So what if the only thing Bartolo Colon refuses to stick a fork into is himself?
With the shoulder injury to Curt Schilling, the Red Sox obviously felt the need to seek out another overweight starter to add to their arsenal of pitching, agreeing on a minor league deal with one-time stud Colon that could shake up Boston's starting staff, or at the very least, Boca Grande's estimated 2008 profit margin.
Theo Epstein could have a steal on his hands with the 34-year-old Colon, three years removed from a Cy Young Award, or he could have the next Wade Miller. Either way, it will cost Boston next to nothing. Low-risk, high reward. Whatís not to like?
In all likelihood, Colonís best days are behind him. The roly-poly righthander has just 7 wins to his credit over the past two seasons, during which the Angels paid him $26 million, or $3.71 million per victory. To put that in some perspective, Grady Sizemore, the young Indians All-Star who was the centerpiece of the Expos-Indians trade for Colon back in 2002, made $750,000 last season, and will get a raise to $3 million in 2008. That's two seasons of Sizemore for what the Angels dished out per win over a two-year span.
At the very least, he could be a once-every-five-day attraction in Pawtucket. But if Colon magically reverts to something near the form that resulted in a 21-8 campaign in 2005, you can pretty much start printing up that ďback-to-backĒ paraphernalia. Realistically though, donít expect much.
As recently as last week, it had been reported that Colon was seeking a one-year deal in the $8 million range. Nobody was going to seriously entertain that sort of deal, especially after scouts actually watched him pitch over the winter. Hampered by a torn rotator cuff, Colon has seen a major decrease in his velocity, his fastball topping out well below the mid-90s that it once hit in its heyday. He was reportedly throwing between 87 and 89 and had no life on his fastball this winter in the Dominican, leading the Mets and Indians to both back away from any additional serious interest.
The White Sox had been mentioned as one of Colonís possible suitors, along with the Cardinals and Astros. Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen saw Colon pitch in the Dominican Republic last month, and according to the Chicago Daily Herald, came away impressed.
Then again, there was this less-than-glowing report from a Pittsburgh Pirates scout who also caught Colonís act in the Dominican: "For two innings, he looked great. There wasn't much after that, but you're still talking about Bartolo Colon here. This is someone who knows how to pitch."
Sure. So does Koufax, but I donít see anyone lining up to ink him to a deal anymore.
Santana Martinez of the Dominican Republicís Impact Sports writes (roughly translated):
We wish the best for Bartolo.
On reaching one of the best teams in baseball.
If you can not make the team, then we believe that the end is near, because with the money I won I do not think it is prudent to move to venture into other venues outside of the Major Leagues.
The Red Sox at least you are giving them the opportunity to show you can still help a team of older, and they do it by the situation facing the veteran Curt Schilling.
What we saw from Bartolo in winter ball did not convince many. The deal will have to prove otherwise.
So, what really to expect? The Hardball Times predicts a 4.40 ERA and 120 innings for Colon this season, reasoning that his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was more than 1.5 lower than his 6.34 ERA last season, and the fact that his 6.83 strikeouts per nine innings was just below his career mark of 7.03.
Writes the Timesí Josh Kalk, an admitted physics and math geek:
Colon's repertoire includes a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball (sinker), a slider and an occasional change-up. His sinker is his bread and butter pitch and he throws that more than the rest of his pitches combined. It tops out in the low 90s, which is a hair better than most but it also doesn't "sink" as much as others (6.88 inches compared to 4.71 inches for league average).
What really sets Colon's sinker apart is the large horizontal movement he gets with the pitch. Compared to a pitch thrown without spin, Colon's sinker moves 8.85 inches in toward a right-handed batter. That is more than an inch better than the league average of 7.62. Colon's four-seamer checks in even better. Last year his average fastball was thrown at 94.75 mph. Many pitchers would kill for a fastball like that. While his slider and change are pretty average pitches, it seems to me that Colon still does have the physical ability to pitch in the big leagues.
I see. Maybe the Spanish translation made more sense.
Still, this is the type of deal that Epstein certainly had to jump at. If it works out, the Red Sox have significantly deepened their starting staff. If it doesnít, it costs them nothing. Plus, we can only imagine the in-between innings escapades that will ensue among Colon and fellow countrymen Manny Ramirez and Julian Tavarez.
In fact, the fine folks over at Surviving Grady think this completes the Red Sox. Not on the field, theyíre fine there. But in life as a sitcom, they sort of needed the fat man, didnít they?
From Surviving Grady:
Think about it. It's the only sitcom-y element that's missing from this team. We've got the straight-laced straight man (Tim Wakefield), the wacky neighbor (Julian Tavarez), the potentially dangerous neighbor (Mike Timlin), the neighborhood tough with a heart of gold who dispenses valuable advice at the end of each episode before kicking someone in the testicles (Josh Beckett), the short fiesty guy (Dustin Pedroia -- actually, I can also see him as a sort of "tough in training" working with Beckett, kinda like Fonzie's nephew Spike), the big huggable guy (David Ortiz), the Latka-esque silly guy with accent (Manny Ramirez), the drunk uncle who shows up at family dinners and makes an awkward pass at his 18 year-old niece (Doug Mirabelli), the friendly guy with a dark secret (Sean Casey -- haven't quite figured out what this secret will be, but it likely involves a string of unsolved murders in the Lake Ontario region and an Aquaman costume), the local cop who understands that sometimes kids just need to be kids (Mike Lowell) and Coco Crisp.
But where's the fat guy? Think of Newman on Seinfeld. Or Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live. Or Al Roker before he had that slimming surgery. While the Sox are already a pretty loose bunch, a fat guy would absolutely push things over the edge.