Originally posted on Fenway West  |  Last updated 12/27/11

The Red Sox starting rotation, as most fans would agree, is still up in the air. The only sure things seems to be Josh Beckett and John Lester. Clay Bucholz also may qualify, but he is coming off a long-term injury. I do not believe John Lackey should start the year in the rotation. Off his work in the last two seasons, he deserves to begin as a middle reliever and spot starter, despite his salary.

Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard have been mentioned, but Aceves was primarily a reliever in '11, and his loss would seriously hurt the bullpen. Bard's situation is even more of a question. Will Mark Melancon be able to take Jonathan Papelbon's spot? Will Bard be the closer or go back to the setup role?

In Nick Cafardo's Sunday column, he lists two interesting options- Wandy Rodgriguez and Roy Oswalt. Oswalt is getting up there at 34, but has an excellent 157-91 career record and 3.21 ERA. With the Astros, he was a three-time All-Star selection, with a 20-win season and near-Cy Young performance under his belt. Back problems bothered him last year, but he can give innings and, most importantly, is a free agent.

Rodriguez, a southpaw, is 32 and had a career year in Houston in '09, but has struggled a bit since. His overall won-loss mark is average, but if Oswalt fell through, it's a chance the Sox could take. He would require a lot of money, but according to Cafardo, the Astros are willing to take some of that on for prospects. How many prospects would be the question.

After the pitching collapse of 2011, some strong action must be taken. At least one more starter has to be added to the equation.


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