Rumors are flying around Boston that the Red Sox are pursuing Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt. They've even been offered contracts, according to these rumors. These rumors aren't flimsy whispers, either. These are the loud, shouting, firm rumors. The kind that originate from the Red Sox' Front Office through their network of leaks and anonymous sources.
Either pitcher would help solidify the Sox rotation. The Sox cannibalized their bullpen in order to fill the gaps in that rotation, and there's no guarantee that a guy like Bard will be able to cut it as a starter. The Sox could use something a bit more concrete.
Jackson won 12 games with a respectable 3.79 ERA last season, split between the White Sox and Cardinals. He's far from an Ace, but he's a guy who can throw a decent 200 innings at the bottom of your rotation.
Oswalt isn't as appealing, but he might be cheaper to get. I doubt he'll recapture much of his 2010 form, when he was 6th in NL Cy Young voting. But the 33 year old still has something to offer.
So either guy improves the rotation, provides some depth, some insurance, some solidity.
But the Sox need to sign one of them for different reasons, for off-field reasons. I got an e-mail from RedSox.com last night, telling me that a majority of tickets go on sale tomorrow.
The Sox need something to keep the fans happy, to give them hope in 2012.
This off-season started with rage and frustration and an overwhelming desire for change. And apart from getting a new manager, losing a GM, and losing a closer, the Sox haven't changed much. No big ticket free agents. No blockbuster trades. No stud prospects coming from AAA. What is there for Sox fans to be excited about? What is there to drive them to spend money on tickets?
The Sox also have to compete with the Patriots, who are going to their 5th Super Bowl in 11 years. The Bruins just won the Cup and will likely see their season extend deep into the warm months. People in Boston only have so much money to spend on sports. And those dollars are shifting away from the Red Sox.
The Sox haven't made the playoffs since 2009. Haven't won a playoff series (or even a playoff game) since '08. Their TV ratings are going down. They still have that sellout streak, officially, but we've all seen more than a handful of empty seats at a few games.
The Sox need to make some sort of noise. They need to make it at least appear as though they want to win a World Series. This weekend is perfect to do so. The Pats have a week off. The Bruins are in an All-Star break. Time to fill the sports sections of the Globe and Herald with rumors and contract offers.
That's why the Jackson and Oswalt rumors have been so widespread, so firm, and so specific. Even if Jackson and Oswalt don't sign, the Sox have made it very public that they're trying.
Sox fans need something to look forward to in 2012. They want hope, and the Red Sox need to start selling them that hope.