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Red Sox Rolling the Dice on Baldelli, Smoltz

The Red Sox may have missed on the big fish this offseason in Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Derek Lowe and saw the Yankees sign the first three, however, they have not stopped bringing in veterans to fill holes in the roster.  They signed Brad Penny to bolster the rotation and Josh Bard to help fill the catching void. 

Now, they have signed Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli and appear on the brink of signing John Smoltz.  While the Yanks were writing long-term, long-dollar contracts, the Sox offers have all been short, affordable and incentive-laden deals.

Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli had been a Rays staple since breaking into the majors and showed tremendous talent as an all-around hitter and good defensive centerfielder with speed.  Unfortunately, it seems he would suffer an injury during every season and miss significant time.  Last season, he was almost forced into retirement until it was discovered that the mysterious condition plaguing him was a rare mitochondrial disorder, fatiguing him easily.  In a part-time role with the Rays, he contributed to the World Series run and looks to have a similar role with the Red Sox. 

He will likely be a reserve outfielder and part time designated hitter with the Sox, giving regulars days off as Terry Francona likes to make sure everyone gets their proper rest.  With Coco Crisp having been traded to Kansas City and J.D. Drew almost assured of missing some time, his presence as a veteran outfielder on the bench could be a key.

John Smoltz

Smoltz is a signing similar to Bartolo Colon‘s last season, bringing in a former Cy Young winner in a risk-reward situation.  Colon’s was a non-guaranteed minor league deal, whereas Smoltz’ is a major league, incentive-based contract.  Smoltz is rehabilitating from shoulder surgery, stemming from an injury which casued him to miss virtually all of 2008, but word has it he is progressing very well though he will not be ready for the beginning of the season. 

What Smoltz will be is a sixth starter should one of the current members of the rotation be ineffective or suffer an injury of their own.  Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny have had injury concerns of their own in recent years and Josh Beckett has always been dinged up with minor injuries as well.

Future Outlook

For the dollars invested in these players, as well as the deal crafted for Penny, the Red Sox are ensuring that they will only pay for the performance these guys can deliver.  If these gambles do not produce on the field, the Red Sox will be rid of them in short time and will not lose much of an investment.  Conversely, for the Yankees, A.J. Burnett, another player with a history of injury concerns, could blow $80 million over the course of a number of years.  Also, none of the Sox signees are expected to produce at a high level for the team to succeed; each of them provides depth behind the key cogs in the Red Sox machine.

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Discussion

4 comments for “Red Sox Rolling the Dice on Baldelli, Smoltz”

  1. AL East

    1. Yankees
    2. Rays
    3. Red Sox

    Sorry but it is true.

    Posted by Pete | January 9, 2009, 5:56 pm
  2. You may think you’re right…but I remember when the Yankees traded for Randy Johnson and they were set to win 115 games and the Big Unit would win 30. That didn’t come close to happening. They’ll score a lot of runs…probably 900 or so, but that wasnt their problem last year. They had a huge problem with pitching. CC is a big asset at the top of the rotation, but AJ Burnett is close to an automatic injury. After that they have Chein-Ming Wang coming off an injury, Joba Chamberlain (who’s in between a SP and a closer)…and Phil Hughes, who may not be ready for the big time yet.

    On paper, the Yankees are a 100-win team again…but that also means that everyone performs exactly as they should and stay healthy. Tex is a notoriously slow starter, so he may fall out of favor at first with new yorkers. AJ Burnett will probably get injured..and what could they expect out of Jorge Posada this year? Can he even catch? and what of Hideki Matsui?

    Here are the guarantees for the Yanks:
    CC Sabathia
    Mariano Rivera
    Derek Jeter
    Alex Rodriguez
    Mark Teixeira

    So…a little luck and a lot of health, and the Yankees will be in first place.

    Remember, the Sox had a TON of injury problems last year and still won 95 games. If they are healthy most of the year (except for JD Drew), you’d think they can win at least that amount again…

    Posted by KC | January 9, 2009, 6:25 pm
  3. CC might be an injury concern as well with all the innings on his arm. I think he has the heft to be able to take the wear and tear, but he throws hard and a lot. You’re right on with everything else. The Yankees needed to make those moves to fix their rotation and its still only Wang, CC, and Burnett when healthy. Hughes, Kennedy, etc aren’t much to speak of.

    Posted by Mike | January 9, 2009, 7:50 pm
  4. [...] in Featured, Opinion, Red Sox ⋅ August 17, 2009 at 2:29pm ⋅ Post a comment John Smoltz’s signing with the Red Sox this past off-season was supposed to supplement their rotation by providing them [...]

    Posted by What Remains for John Smoltz | Sports of Boston | August 17, 2009, 2:29 pm

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