Friday, January 9, 2009

Making Moves

where the Sox will not stand idly by and allow ESPN to crown the Yankees the 2009 AL East Champions before a pitch is thrown on Theo Epstein’s watch.

The Yankees offseason acquisitions have apparently made them the best team in baseball despite the fact that the season hasn’t started yet, the Red Sox and Rays finished ahead of them and there are still 162 games to be played.

Granted their offseason moves have them poised to regain the pole position in the division but it’s not like the Sox and Rays are the Orioles…no offense.

The Sox are making moves to try and stay in competition with the Rays and Yankees and as of yesterday they’ve signed John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli and are close to resigning Mark Kotsay.

Let’s start with Smoltz. This is a great signing for the Sox and it is going to seriously help the rotation and bullpen. It’s been rumored that Smoltz won’t be able to pitch until the end of May or beginning of June. This actually works out well for the Red Sox as Smoltz will be able to fill the role they were hoping Curt Schilling would have played last season.

The Red Sox have one of the best programs in all of baseball when it comes to rehabilitating pitchers shoulders so it’s certainly reasonable to think that Smoltz will be able to come back and be effective. His late availability works well with what Tito likes to do. He’s shown a pattern of shutting guys down for short periods of time during the season and now they’ll have John Smoltz and Tim Wakefield to move around as starters and relievers.

That gives Tito the flexibility to give Josh Beckett and Jon Lester some time during the season to heal up, it also adds an arm to the bullpen to allow Okie and co. to rest midseason.

I’d guess the Sox will likely start with Penny and Wake as the 4-5 starters with Justin Masterson in the pen. After last year Masterson proved he's a stud and the perfect 8th inning guy for the time being. Then they have Clay Buchholz to play with. If he doesn't get traded, he’ll likely start out in the minors. He needs to work out his delivery issues they tweaked it last year and that hurt as him he couldn't quite get it down.

Either way Buchholz can be used in a potential deal, for someone like Taylor Teagarden or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or he’s another guy you can bring up and join the rotation later in the year. The same thing goes for Michael Bowden, but that’s another story for another day.

The Sox also signed the pride of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli has missed a lot of time in the past three years playing in 92, 35, and 28 games due to injury and what has been diagnosed as channelopathy not a mitochondrial disorder as was previously thought.

According to the Rays blog The Heater Channelopathy involvies dysfunction of ion channels that can involve potassium, sodium, chloride and calcium. If the Baldelli and Sox medical staff can find a way to get him healthy he’ll be a terrific fourth outfielder.

Over his career Baldelli has show that he has good pop in his bat and has excellent speed. He also has the ability to play any of the three outfield positions. Because he’s from RI, Baldelli is going to be an instant fan favorite in Boston and if he can get healthy he’ll certainly be an adequate replacement for the departed Coco Crisp.

Of course just to prove that they are as smart as we hope they are the Sox are also close to re-signing Mark Kotsay to a one year deal. Again this is another good move by the Red Sox. Kotsay is certainly a good enough player to start on another team but with the way the offseason has gone it doesn’t look like there is a large market for a guy like him.

In 22 regular season games last season Kotsay hit .226 with 12 RBI (Boston Globe) but he also broke Brian Daubach’s record for most times hitting the ball wicked hahd right at people. Kotsay also became the Sox starting first basemen when Mike Lowell got hurt in the postseason, so he is definitely a valuable guy to have on the bench. The Sox can use him in the outfield as the fourth outfielder (depending on how Baldelli works out) as well as at first if Youk needs a break or incase Mike Lowell has any trouble returning from his offseason surgery. The Globe also made note that because Kotsay can can play both outfield and infield it allows Tito to carry four bench players and keep 12 pitchers, as he generally likes to.

There’s been a lot of panicking since the Sox lost the bidding war for Teixeira but I'll take Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli as alternatives. The team wanted Teixeira and I’m not going to pretend that they wouldn’t be improved with him in their lineup. But as always the Sox are making smart moves.

The battle between the Red Sox and Yankees rages on both on and off the field. Theo Epstein had a great quote in today’s Globe about the Yankees offseason moves.

“I don’t pay an awful lot of attention to them,” Epstein said. “My approach is they’re always going to win 95 to 100 games.”

And really that’s how you have to think of the Yankees. We love to see them struggle but realistically they are going to win 95 to 100 games more often than not. The Red Sox try to build their team with that in mind, knowing that in order to compete in their division they’ll need to win at least 95-100 games. Therefore you have to believe that all the moves Theo is making are designed to help the Sox field a 100 win team.

The Red Sox needed a fourth outfielder, another starter and some bullpen help. They are definitely addressing need with Penny, Smoltz, Kotsay, Baldelli and Ramon Ramierz, who a lot of people seem to be forgetting we just need a catcher.

A couple of quick thoughts on other stuff going on in the wide world of sports.

Last night’s BCS National Title game lived up to the hype. The Florida Gators, Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow won a second National title and Oklahoma’s offense struggled in yet another BCS bowl game.

It was a good game and since I don’t really have any preference when it comes to college sports I have to say I was happy to see Florida win, they are an exciting team to watch both offensively and defensively. As for the Sooners, Sam Bradford is the real deal but that SEC speed is just too much to handle sometimes.
Even though this year’s BCS National Title game was pretty indicative of two teams that should have played for a championship I think it goes to show exactly why there needs to be a playoff in college football.

Really Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and USC all could have potentially taken home a national title this year. Again that is a different story for a different day.

One more thing…I just watched a Weezer video for the first time since 1998 and if I could offer a small piece of advice to River Cuomo it would be not to grow a mustache, because…yikes.

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