Originally posted on Fenway West  |  Last updated 10/27/11

The news that John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss 2012 might look somewhat positive at first glance. The man obviously has problems both off and on the field and would be a huge question mark for the 12 rotation.

The Sox, however, are still short of starters. Even if Clay Buchholz comes back and John Lester and Josh Beckett start earning their millions again, problems remain. I don't believe the answer is another big free-agent signing.That is hit-or-miss, as Theo found when he brought in hurlers like Lackey and John Smoltz.

Boston's farm system produced strong hurlers for a number of years; Lester and Buchholz attest to that, as well as Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, despite his late slide. Justin Masterson may have also worked out except for a rather ill-advised trade. But in the last two or three years, the system has produced little. If Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, and Kyle Weiland are the best they can produce, there is trouble. We hear little about  Matt Fox, obtained form the Twins organization. He had a fairly good year at Pawtucket, but the team did not even bring him up in 2011. Further down, the Portland Sea Dogs had a poor year with a 59-83 record. Their top pitcher seems to be Stephen Fife, who was 11-4 but gave up more hits than inning pitched. There are no hurlers that are talked about on the Sunday sport page as future stars.

The Sox minor league system may need an overhaul, and they should start with pitching.

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