Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hot Stove Results

I realized that I haven’t discussed the many moves that King Theo has made this off-season. He hasn’t made many headlines, but he hasn’t needed to. He doesn’t need a completely new rotation like the pinstripers. He doesn’t need anybody else in the starting line-up. So, he’s made some subtle moves that may or may not pan out. What are they?

Trading away Coco Crisp. I don’t know what to think of this one. My first thought was, if all you can get for him is a little-known middle reliever, was it worth it? It’s not a bad move as-is. You can always use another arm to try in the bullpen. And, if Coco wasn’t going to be a starter, he was certainly expendable. But, a gold glove center fielder with a good contract can’t bring more than bullpen help? Maybe it would have been worth more to dangle Ellsbury instead? I don’t know what deals may have been out there. So, I’ll have to assume that Theo really did the best he could.

Signing Brad Penny. I like this move. The one spot of the rotation that’s a question mark is fifth starter. Buchholz could do it, although he struggled last year. One of the other kids could try it, but you never know. If Penny’s healthy, even if he’s not very good, he’s just a fifth starter. It allows the youngsters more time to develop, and the Sox don’t embarrass themselves every five games. If Penny can’t pitch, all you lose is money.

Signing Rocco Baldelli. Another move I like. His injuries have limited his playing time in recent years, but it’s a known quantity. You’re not wondering if he’ll be healthy enough to play. You know he can play, just not a lot. Again, it’s not like he’s the starting centerfielder. As a fifth outfielder and pinch runner, I like what he brings to the table. It’ll be fun trying to see a batter hit the right-center gap anytime Ellsbury and Baldelli are out there at the same time. A little speed every once in a while can be fun.

Signing John Smoltz. Just like Penny, it’s a win win signing. If his arm falls off and he can’t pitch, the Sox haven’t lost anything but money. If the Sox could pay Schilling $8 mil not to pitch last year, they can pay Smoltz $5 mil not to pitch in ’09. If he can pitch, he’s a great addition to the staff. Best case? The Sox enter the playoffs with Beckett and Smoltz in the same rotation, and CC and AJ wet their pinstripes at the mere thought of it. My one question that lingers is the Penny-Smoltz combo. I’m sure the Sox are thinking they need 33 starts from the number five spot. Worst case, all 33 are Buchholz, and that’s ok. But, if they can get 13 from Penny, 5 from Buchholz, and 15 from Smoltz, they’re living large. I just wonder, for the $10 mil they’re paying Penny and Smoltz, could the sox have gotten one healthy pitcher?

Signing Bobby Kielty. Another fine move. He fit in well here, and I’m sure he’ll be a great fit. If an outfielder (Drew) goes down for an extended time, he can fill the role well enough. He can also play first to give some flexibility to the infield, which is never a bad thing.

The Youkilis extension. Youk’s a wonderful player. To wrap him up at a fraction of the price of Teixeira is a great idea. Hopefully both sides will look back at the contract fondly.

So, looks like a good off-season so far. Hopefully, they’ll add a certain switch-hitting catcher before spring training to cement things a little more. Other than that, I can’t fault Theo on anything.


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