I must admit that I laughed when I read that the Sox signed Bartolo Colon to a minor-league deal. What are the odds he was on round 3 at the Golden Corral. This guy may miss the strike zone an awful lot, but he certainly never misses a meal.
But the more and more I think about it, the signing comes at a perfect time. Boston just found out a few weeks ago that Schill used 'em for a cool $8M. I still envision they'll take him to court and the judge will rule he be awarded 8 schillings, instead. At least we know from his less than impressive stint on Celebrity Jeopardy that he's aware of what they are. Despite losing a fading #3 pitcher at best, it gives Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester an opportunity to saddle in at 4 and 5 behind Josh Beckett, Dice-K and Tim Wakefield. While there's no solid "starter" depth beyond that, I feel confident that the likes of Kyle Snyder, Devern Hansack, and David Pauley could fill in quite fine until Theo finds help.
This, for Colon, is perfect. He reportedly has shown up to camp looking like Butterbean at a weigh-in - with no concern for a weight limit and the miscontrued theory that fatter=better. Although the Sox were impressed with his ability to pick up a baseball and throw it 120 feet, we had kids in Little League who were throwing it over the center field fence from home plate. What's the big deal in that? Pitching coach John Farrell admitted they were unhappy with his less than aesthetically pleasing body.
Brief side bar here: The Metro's Joe Haggerty reported that Manny Delcarmen shed 15 lbs this offseason. He claims doing so with his brother at an area Gold's Gym. Any chance he's lying to cover up the fact that Colon actually just ate the weight off of him? I'm just saying...
Anyway, there's no denying that Colon is a proven commodity when healthy. He has a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90's who had a great stretch from '98 to '05. He threw over 200 innings in seven of those eight seasons and had an ERA under 4.00 in six of them. Lest we forget, the guy won 21 games and the Cy-Young just three years ago. Since then, he's had a myriad of injuries and hasn't hit the 100 inning plateau in either of the last two seasons. The guy was gassed in the fifth inning of his final outing in the Caribbean Series.
The Red Sox and its medical staff seem to do well bringing back players, particularly pitchers, from injuries at a pace that allows them to fully recover and maximize their performance. Just look at Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin, and Jon Lester in '07, plus Wakefield every year. Keith Foulke was an exception, but nobody cared after his Burger King comment anyway. The key here for Colon will be to adhere to their medical and professional advice and follow the pitching program to a "T". In no way do I expect to see this guy on the Opening Day roster. They won't need him until June. If he stays in extended spring training, they can help him shed that weight like a dog's coat of fur. Hopefully he doesn't leave it all over the place, though.
After the season starts, he'll have the chance to work his way through a few "rehab" starts, gaining confidence in locating his fastball and splitter again while building stamina before a return to the major leagues. Chances are, we've seen the last of Curt Schilling. And even moreso, chances are that all five projected starters won't last the entire season without missing a start or two. The Sox have capable, temporary solutions already in place, but this no-risk, high-reward scenario with Colon is an ace up the sleeve. Don't use it because you have it; use it when you the time is right, and you'll maximize production.