Red Sox Reflections
- Updated: January 13, 2009
January has been the busiest month of the off season for Boston thus far. Right after the New Year’s day came the announcement of the signing of C Josh Bard to a one-year contract with a club option for 2010. Since then, they have officially signed OF Rocco Baldelli, SP Brad Penny and 1B/OF Mark Kotsay to one-year contracts. They have also agreed to a contract with RP John Smoltz which is just waiting to be finalized. Most recently, in the past few days, they have signed RP (and former closer for the Dodgers) Takashi Saito to a one-year contract with a club option for 2010. And it’s only the 12th!
I can honestly say that I like all of these moves, although I do like some more than others. First, Josh Bard should make a solid back up catcher ($1.7M) and if they don’t resign Varitek, he might even be a decent stop gap backstop until they get a permanent replacement. Just don’t let him catch Wakefield and he should be all set!
Concerning OF Rocco Baldelli, I have to admit that I love this move. It’s a no loose gamble. He came cheap enough ($500K) that if he still has health problems, they don’t loose much and they have a backup in the OF in Kotsay (more on him in a mintue). BUT, if he bounces back to form and is healthy, he is a legitimate 5-tool player at a bargin bin price who happens to be playing for his (close to) hometown team which will probably boost his efforts to exceed expectations. He can play CF & RF if not all 3 OF positions and would also be a good fit at DH when Ortiz needs a day off.
Former Marlins and Dodgers SP is another low cost, low risk move that if he stays healthy, can make a big impact on the 2009 Red Sox. This signing rejoins Penny with Sox Ace Josh Beckett for the first time since both men played for the Marlins from 2001 to 2004 were they beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. The concern here is that Penny is coming off arm/shoulder surgery and no one yet know how he will bounce back from that until he steps back onto the mound and at $5M for 2009, they are taking a bit of a risk, but at his age, he just might be fine. Here is where signing Varitek would be most helpful.
Then there’s the return of OF/1B Mark Kotsay ($1.5M) as a backup to Baldelli as the 4th OF and more importantly as the back up to Youkilis at 1B or a fill in at 1B if Lowell can’t start the season at 3B (Youkilis would then move to 3B). With his defensive play after being aquired in late August of last year, this back up role was just a matter of if he could get a starting job elsewhere. I for one, am glad he’s back.
Next is the insurance signing of long time Brave starter and closer and future Hall of Famer John Smoltz for $5.5M (plus incentives). The fact that the braves did not sign him before the Sox did makes you wonder about their view on Glavine, too (a Massachusetts native from Billerica). This signing gives the Sox more depth in the rotation and may even free up a younger arm for trading purposes in order to aquire the catcher of the future (whether they sign Varitek or not). Smoltz is also coming off arm surgury and at 42 by the time Spring Training rolls around, he is more of a risk than is Penny and that alone raises the question as to why they spent so much to get him, but I guess that’s the going rate for future Hall of Famers. If he pitches to his ability in 2009 for the Sox he will be more than worth the $5.5 and all of those incentives, too (bringing the total up to around $10M).
Lastly (to date) comes the signing of RP and former Dodger closer Takashi Saito (between $1.5 to $2.5M with a possible $7M more in incentives). He now becomes the team’s 8th inning man if he, like the others coming off arm woes in 2008, can stay healthy. If he returns to form, AL teams better forget about scoring in the 8th and 9th innings with Saito and Papelbon at the back end. That’s pure dominance! Again, that is if he can deal with the demotion from the closer’s role which I think he can given his personality and even his nationality. He seems to be more of a team player than say Eric Gagne is and with less arm problems (Gagne can no longer throw nearly as hard as he did in Dodger blue).
Loosing 1B Mark Teixeira to the Yankees hurt, but they are still poised to be on top of the AL East along side the Rays and the Yankees and resigning the captain will keep them closer to that pinnicle of sucess on his game calling ability alone!