Smoltz and Baldelli Apparently Heading to Boston

Boston is rolling the dice twice more this off-season, and no, not Daisuke Matsuzaka. As if adding oft-injured Brad Penny wasn’t risky enough, the Red Sox appear close to signing both outfielder/DH Rocco Baldelli and pitcher John Smoltz to one-year deals with heavy incentives, including 5.5 million for Smoltz, pushing the potential worth of his deal to 10 million. Baldelli’s terms have yet to be announced.

Baldelli’s story is well known. Only a few weeks ago news was release a development in his ongoing health battle, leading to a sense of newfound optimism concerning playing time. Last year, Baldelli returned to the Rays in September and finished a game in which he started in the outfield only once, that coming in the playoffs. The Rays recent signing of Pat Burrell and prior acquisition of Matt Joyce left them without a roster spot to offer Baldelli, and thus he became a free agent. In-game television reports quoted Baldelli as saying his legs would begin to shake and feel as if they were burning during his stints in the field.

That makes the new diagnosis the wild card in this deal, if Baldelli can sustain health, he should be a worthwhile forth outfielder, however if this is more of the same, there’s no way of telling whether an injury to J.D. Drew will also lead to an injury to Baldelli, and a promotion to Jonathan Van Every. Obviously the latter is the worst case scenario, but something Boston will have to have in mind.

With the playing time concerns in mind, it’s hard to get a grasp on Baldelli’s value. In 90 plate appearances, Baldelli was worth nearly half of a win. Of course, the last moderately healthy season Baldelli had he was worth 3.3 wins, and 1.4 in the couple prior to that. If he can stay healthy and simply play at a near league average rate, the Sox are likely going to get more value in return than they’ll pay him.

Smoltz will soon be 42 and is recovering from shoulder surgery that limited his 2008 appearances. Smoltz should be ready by the summer, but there is talk of a return-by-date bonus, which seems a bit reckless. Yes, the Sox want as much of Smoltz as possible, but pushing him to return by a certain date in order to earn some more cash is a recipe for disaster, especially if he is not ready. As for his actual role, it is unknown whether Smoltz would pitch in relief or as a starter, and how the Sox will handle their rotation if Smoltz, Penny, and Tim Wakefield remain healthy and effective at once – although that’s a problem they wouldn’t mind.

Whenever he ends up pitching, Smoltz will likely be worth the money. Even with all the incentives earned, the Sox are paying for two wins. It’s possible the surgery costs Smoltz some effectiveness, and even if we tack on a few runs to his 3.50 FIP that Marcels projects and 19 runs above replacement that CHONE projects, Smoltz still projects to be worth the base amount of 5.5 million. Even if Smoltz doesn’t work out, you have to appreciate Boston’s aggressiveness and awareness when dealing with injury-prone starters. Yes, they bring headaches, but if they’re good like Smoltz 50 innings given to him instead of another pitcher can be worth the hassle.

It’s an off-season of risks for Boston, which makes the 2009 AL East even more exciting.

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15 years ago

This is exactly how the Sox should Respond with the Yankees. By Paying out short term (but potentially significant) money for guys with some Question marks and adding as much Depth, or guys that create depth as possible.

As a sox fan I am Thrilled by both of these moves. Smoltz is a gamble, Far More of a gamble than Penny and more in line with the Colon gamble( however a bit better one IMO). However When Healthy over the past 4yrs hes been consistantly one of the best starters in baseball (has not had a worse than 3.50 FIP Sincethe first Clinton Administration.Also the second best FA SP talent this year beyond CC (ignoring injuries and age of course)

A roations anorched by Two of the Top 10or 20 Pitchers in baseball in Beckett and Lester , along with a good #2 guy in Dice_k All of them in there prime. Followed by 5 Guys with Immense talent With Smoltz, Penny Wake, Buchholz, and Bowdon. This set up both hedges Bostons Bets so it should have at least a top 3-4 rotation in the game and gives it enourmous upside to be the best and Deepest rotation in my memory of any team I can think of.

Balldelli is yet again assuming Healthy, the best 4th OF in baseball by a long shot. Hes only 27 next yr and has posted .ISO of .213 last year. and .231 in 06 in far more AB. Withe the Exception of his first two years in CF with the D-rays his UZR has been superb, granted in a SSS.

If he truely has improved his condition greatly as recent reports suggest. it would not suprise to see a season similar to his 06…. where he tore it up to 302/340/533.

Do people think the Sox will carry a 5th OF now? Personally I would like Eric Hinske as the backup Corner guy for both IF and OF, His D has been strong at both Posistions there, Along with a guy whos got some nice power and would come likely cheap 2yrs at total or 1yr 3.5m or so.

Could Lugo play center 10-20s a year without emarassing himself I think this would be the keybetween 12 pitchers or 11 IMO. I don’t see any reasonwhy h