SoxProspects News

January 9, 2012 at 5:24 PM

First Take: Sox add another Cook to pitching broth

The Move: Red Sox sign RHP Aaron Cook to minor league contract

The Take: As with Carlos Silva last week, the Red Sox added another relatively established major league starter to the competition for the number five spot in the rotation on a minor league contract. But although Cook, 32, is on a minor league deal, I have sincere doubts that he will pitch in Pawtucket for any significant length of time this season, if he does so at all. Make no mistake – Cook and Silva may have signed minor league deals, but that is simply so that they can come into camp on the cheap. Cook’s deal calls for him to make $1.5 million if he makes the club, and his contract almost surely has an opt-out clause, my guess being that it can be exercised in early-to-mid April.

A player who relies heavily on his sinker, Cook battled injuries early last season that kept him out of action until June. He was uncharacteristically wild when he did pitch, allowing more than 3.4 BB/9 for the second straight year after not going over 2.7 in the previous five seasons. For a pitcher who relies on generating contact, a lack of control can be a death sentence. If Cook’s wildness the past two seasons was injury-induced, then he could represent a great value to the Sox if he is now healthy. If it is instead a trend for a player on the wrong side of his prime, albeit not by much, then it is unlikely he will make the club.

One last thing: although the group of pitchers competing for a spot in the rotation as of now is starting to grow – hereinafter, I’ll refer to this group as “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” – these signings do not mean that the Sox are out on the bigger-name free agents like Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt. At worst, the Silva and Cook signings are low-risk insurance options in case the club is unable to bring in such a big-name pitcher to man the number-four spot in the rotation. At best, this is the Sox acquiring the depth necessary to make it through the spring and, if necessary, the early part of the season, with an off chance that one of these guys gets his groove back and winds up becoming this season’s Aceves-level bargain bin steal.

Others affected:
Carlos Silva – Cook is basically a version of Silva that actually pitched in the majors last season, beyond just being another player competing for a major league spot. In fact, the players are so similar that Cook is #1 on the list of similar players on Silva’s Baseball Reference page (Silva is #6 on Cook’s list).
Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront – Cook's addition gives this group another guy to compete with for a rotation spot.

Chris Hatfield is the Executive Editor of Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.

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