The Dodgers Should Know Better

Back in the day when Guillermo Mota was taking steroids with Eric Gagne and either doing the 7'th or 8'th inning, I really liked the guy. I'll even go so far as admitting I was sad to see him traded. The regret that I had didn't last long. He started sucking almost immediately and then the truth came out that he was using PED's. He just bounces around from team to team sucking as a reliever.

Well, for some reason the dodgers think they can rehabilitate him. And for some reason they thought spending 2.3-2.8 million on this guy was a good idea. What irks me most is they just let Beimel walk. While his performance declined (I believe because of misuse by Torre) he is a far more valuable pitcher than Mota could hope to be short of shooting up again. Heck, the two and a half to three million dollars would have been better gambled on Saito's elbow. Got the point that I don't like this signing yet?

Oh, and today the dodgers empty the garbage, disposing of Andruw Jones by releasing him if they haven't scrounged a deal like one scrounges for loose change in the couch for a Del Taco run. Wonder when it will be made official.

I'm out...

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This offseason the Boston red sox is like the awkward fat kid at the birthday pool party.  You saw him in his swim trunks, but he kept slowly pacing around the pool, and you kept wondering when he was going to jump in.  The red sox finally made their splash into the free agent market by signing Rocco Baldelli, a guy who's name, look, and state of origin all scream new england.  The biggest part of the splash that hit the pretty girls pretending to get a tan over their orange spraypaint was the surprise swoop up and grab of John Smoltz.  Wow.  I don't think anyone saw that coming.  If it's rotation depth and insurance against Buccholz and Masterson painfully bellyflopping at the mlb level, they now have it.  They now have Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Wakefield, Penny, and now Smoltz, with Buccholz and Masterson waiting in the wings for their chance.

I think part of me is overreacting because this is just another low risk contract to an injured pitcher that may or may not be permanently damaged goods. Smoltz is extremely old. You do have to take into account that the 4 or 5 years he closed saved a bit on the odometer in his arm. I think he'll be healthy.

Baldelli is another question mark. I'm sure he'll be at least an adequate fourth outfielder, but what if J.D. Drew performs one of his disappearing acts with some obscure injury? In my opinion, the sox might have been better served grabbing the groveling Jay Payton for the "sure thing" in the fourth outfielder market. But Baldelli could have huge upside if his health really can be kept under control enough for him to play full time or nearly full time. I think that's a reasonable risk to take. It seems that's all the red sox have done so far is bet money on injury risks. At least one of the gambles will pay off to make up for the ones that don't. For example the sox give 5 million each to Smoltz and Penny. If one of them pitches well, that's still 10 million for a good performing pitcher, which while not a coup, is still a better value than signing Jon Garland his 12 million to pitch league average plus or minus a little and having to commit 3 or 4 years to him. They both will have incentives in the deal so you would have to add 3-5 million to the 10 million, but still that equals about what you'd pay a free agent, except the red sox are only on the hook for one year.

These signings don't always work out, though. The dodgers tried a reclamation project on Randy Wolf. It pretty much failed and he was the only guy brought in so situated. If they'd signed 3 guys like that would it be worth it? You also have to take into account NRI guys like Takashi Saito latch on and have an impact, which makes up in part on money wasted on injured players, but it's a crapshoot. Why does this seem to work with pitchers but not for, let's say, center fielders?

I like the idea, I don't know if it's been done before, in this mass-signing of rehabbers hoping one or two turn out to make up for the ones that fail. I wonder if that's even the strategy the red sox are employing. Maybe they're just scrambling around, but I doubt it because it seems ridiculous that free agents wouldn't want to play for Boston since they are a winning team year after year. I'm not a sox fan, but I'm still shocked that Teixeira signed with the yankees. It still makes no sense for me with all the old people on the yanks to clog up first base. Maybe the yankees are just prepared to release guys like Matsui and eat their contracts a la L.A. and Andruw Jones. What I also don't understand is why the sox wouldn't at least attempt to keep Lowe away from the yankees by at least pretending to have interest in him. Don't think the yankees won't go bat shit crazy and add Lowe once he gets pissed enough with the Mets lowballing him to bolt and sign for less than his 16 million price tag. The media may have maligned him on the way out, but they can rehab his image for his homecoming with a line of crap about him cleaning up his personal life and straightening up after the rude awakening of the sox not wanting him back when he was previously a free agent.

o.k. I've rambled enough for today...oh wait, I forgot to mention the dodgers lost out on Trevor Hoffman. Yawn. It's o.k. It might have been a nice treat at 4-5 million with incentives, but a closer isn't really on the shopping list this offseason.

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Only 9 More Days of Andruw Jones! Start the Countdown!

I hesitated about posting again about Andruw even though a few more things were made clear about that whole contract restructuring thing because I wanted everything to be made clear before going on and on speculating on the various scenarios regarding a player I'd rather not think that much about.   So now we know the deadline bartered for in the restructuring requires the dodgers to trade or release him by the 15'th and that his 22.1 million bucks has been spread over 6 years.  According to Cot's, he gets no interest on the deferred money.  That's about 3.7 mil/year?  I'm surprised about the no interest part.  Now onto sox-related faire.

Puck is none too happy the sox were linked to Saito in the press.  She was unhappy when the dodgers didn't even offer Beimel arbitration, also.  Proctor?  She's glad he's gone.  She understands the concept of not paying relievers lots of money because of the uncertainty in them being able to reproduce their production, and about the dodgers needing to make room for their younger pitchers, but she doesn't care.  Since the sox are interested in Saito, I'll link and  blab a bit about his arm.  Apparently he suffered a torn ligament in his elbow last season and instead of having Tommy John surgery he had stem cells injected into it, rested two months, and had back at it (it's only a flesh wound!) near the end of the season with mixed results.  So yeah, his elbow is a mess and he's 38.  I can understand not gambling 2-3 million all guaranteed for that.  If it weren't the sox interested in him, I'm sure the whole thing about his elbow would be in the second sentence, but huge deference is given to the red sox organization's ability to judge talent and work with injuries.  If that sounded bitter, it was lol.  I really hope they kind of work something out with him.  Speaking of old closers, Trevor is being all buddy-buddy with the brewers, and with Moorad et al buying the padres, there's talk of him re-signing with San Diego.

Now back to Andruw.  Despite my happiness that Andruw will be gone soon, and the fact that it seems the dodgers' GM has seemed to have gotten better at his job, I can't help but think this move comes back to haunt them deep in a pennant race near the deadline in the next 3 seasons or so.  It would be the dodgers luck that Andruw's 3.7 million (guesstimating based on Cot's and what I've read) would be the cash that prevents the dodgers from adding payroll while in a pennant race.  They may still make the move, but it will be Casey Blake style (giving away good prospects with even better names like Carlos Santana just to get the other side to pay salary).  One of those moves will be what really irks me 3-4 years or so removed from the trade when said prospect is a budding star or phenom for another team.  Santana specifically may make me want to spit by the end of the '09 season.

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Guess There Was Already Some Scratching Going On

This goes to show how little imagination and how Forrest I feel two hours or so after making that last post.  I guess I am about three steps behind the dodgers front office.  I was watching MLBTV and then Leiter, Larkin, and Reynolds start talking about Manny and then Jones.  

So apparently Boras, Andruw, Manny and the dodgers are trying to work out money and contracts  that would end up with Manny a dodger and Andruw Jones not-a-dodger.  How this would work out makes me feel about as smart as Pedro Guerrero (who's lawyer defended him on a drug charge by stating poor Pedro's IQ was 72 and was essentially too dumb to have participated in the drug offenses he was charged with).  The deferred buyout thing sounds feasible but that still doesn't save the dodgers any money or make a trade scenario work without the dodgers still basically sending money to whichever team gets him...they just defer how long before Jones gets his money while still playing for another team.  I think I just need to let this one play out instead of overthinking what sounds to be an extremely complicated transaction.

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Scratch Boras' Back, Maybe He'll Scratch Yours

I couldn't have imagined the offseason going as it has.  I really thought Sabathia was above taking a boatload of cash to head to the evil empire.  I was wrong.  I also thought the dodgers and Manny were a match made in some strange hell.  I think I'm still right on that.  So, a lot of Boras clients are having trouble with the market Boras thought he could establish for them because he scared skiddish owners away from even talking to him.  The dodgers are a beneficiary of some crazy luck in regards to this with Manny Ramirez.  If the dodgers were smart and the McCourts opened up their wallet a little more, they could be the team to beat just by bailing out Boras a bit.  Here's my evil plan. 

The dodgers coax out a quicker resolution with Manny at 2 years 46 million with a 3'rd year team option for another 23 in exchange for some true bidding on the dodgers part for Boras client Derek Lowe.  Derek, Boras, and the dodgers all know Derek hates L.A (really bad infield defenses coupled with worse offense will kill the numbers of a pitcher even as talented as Lowe is).  Dodgers would love to have him back (it's the truth).  Lowe would float it out there that he would reconsider the dodgers if the price were right.  Dodgers proceed to get "serious" in negotiations for Lowe.  Numbers get floated to the press.  All of a sudden New York mets fans are sounding as impatient as a lot of dodger fans are right now about Manny.  The hot stove pressure cooker squeezes a few more million a year (I think he deserves it myself) out of the Mets and it's a win-win for everyone (except maybe Oliver Perez).

What if the plan fails and the mets just work out something with Oliver Perez instead?  Well, that's still a win-win as far as the dodgers are concerned.  They can still afford Lowe.  Their payroll is still under last year's.  Jeff Kent (9 mill)  Nomar (8.5 million) Lowe (10 mill) Penny (8.5 mill) all came off the books.  They even saved money re-signing Furcal (about 3 a year).  They're 39 million under where they were last year in terms of just FA leaving. 23 million to Manny still leaves 14-15 million to give to Lowe easily.  That would wrap up the dodgers offseason and leave it with a rotation of:
McDonald/Stults/Elbert/Kuo/Circus Vargas/NRI

the lineup will look decent with:

Furcal ss
Martin c
Ethier rf 
Manny lf
Kemp cf
Loney 1b
Blake 3b
DeWitt 2b

The lineup is just hard to predict because guys like Kemp, Ethier, and Loney aren't really clearly defined as hitters yet and all saw time hitting ahead of Manny or as #3-4-or5 hitters.  Torre moved the kids all over the place and I don't see why he wouldn't do that this year until someone breaks out and goes on a streak that becomes the new "them" as a hitter.

There's a lot improved about that new team.  DeWitt full time at second owns Kent and his very limited range.  A healthy Furcal covers a lot of ground (but then throws a few away with that rifle of his).  I'm mixed on my take on Blake's defense but you have to figure what Blake can't get to to his left, Furcal will get to his right.  Loney has good defense over at first.  Maybe Martin will play more within himself this season and his defense will go back to what it used to be, especially with throwing out baserunners.  Hate to say this but if Torre falls out of love with Blake DeWitt, at least they have Loretta there as a backup as they go through the usual suspects...I mean prospect middle infielders.  Hard to say how DeWitt is going to turn out as he didn't show any power, but then again he was hardly pitched to in the number 8 hole.  He dutifully took his walks most of the time.

The outfield may be in a bit of transition, so it might even out.  Kemp doesn't look totally comfortable in center, but he's going to have to play there the majority of the time under this scenario and will most likely get better.  Ethier has gunned down enough people to have a rep to not run on him.  Jones should solidly improve the outfield defense when Kemp, Ethier, or Manny are on a day off.  Pierre is alright in center but you have to worry about people running on his arm.  Both kids will lose a day or so a week to Pierre and Jones.  I'm sure Manny will love that the surplus of outfielders gives him a great excuse to rest his knees at least once or twice a week as well.  That just might work out except for the fact that without Manny this team offensively isn't much to be scared of until one or two of the kids breaks out.  The defense should be alright.  Manny didn't look that bad in left at dodger stadium.  I think his defense is ever so slightly underrated because he plays defense smart despite being extremely slow.

Wow.  I spent way too much time pondering a pretend team.

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Circus Vargas! Circus Vargas!

Dodgers signed journeyman pitcher Claudio Vargas no doubt as veteran insurance for their rotation should young arms falter.  I'm ok with this as the guy is nearly league average in limited innings and he gets paid no more than 1 and a half million to do it.  This is a lot better than signing people like Brett Tomko for 4 million and have him pitching the 7'th inning down the stretch because he didn't work out as a starter.  It's been pretty expensive, but it seems Colletti is getting better at his job.  Or maybe his assistant GMs are able to give him more input.  /shrugs.  I dunno.

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Red Sox Sign Penny

How to come to your own take would be to read a bunch of the articles linked to in his rotoworld news page.

My take: Red Sox got a good deal. I thought Penny was worth the option. The dodgers didn't. Ken Gurnick, the guy that follows the dodgers for the mlb.com family of sites hinted that the dodgers don't like his attitude (he was kinda sour grapes during the playoffs), his work ethic (I think this is the main reason), and I'm going to have to assume his injuries factor in there somewhere.

But enough about my uninformed opinions, let's get to Penny's history with the dodgers. He came over in a trade with the marlins. He was supposed to be flipped to Arizona with others for Randy Johnson but GM Paul DePodesta backed out of that trade with the diamondbacks and yankees. Harsh words were flung around about never dealing with the dodgers again lalala.
Yankees and Arizona worked out a trade later without the dodgers.

Penny started a few times after being acquired before having to be dl'd with what was at first just a mysterious arm injury that ended up being a pinched nerve. They rested him and then put him back out there but he still was ineffective and bothered by the nerve. He finally had it cut in the offseason and was fine after that. He's had a problem with his shoulder being sore like almost every pitcher does, but I believe he's never had anyone fooling around in there (except to ensure he hadn't torn a labrum or rotator cuff when they weren't sure what was wrong with his arm yet).

The thing that bothered me the most about him medically was an la times or a dodgers mailbag article (can't find it) where he complained about his back. Look at his pre and post all star game splits year-by-year. Penny typically starts off like a very dominant pitcher (and gets into the all star game) and then completely disappears the rest of the season all Jekyll and Hyde style. He said that some of his problems were due to pain in his back that didn't allow him to throw the split fingered fastball that he used to use as his out pitch (Penny throws a 4& 2 seamer, what used to be a looping curve that's now almost a slurve, a weak change up, and used to throw a splitter). So he started pitching to contact (watch the lowered k/9) with mixed results.

Another rap on him was the bitching you and your father do about Dice-K. Penny, could hit 100 pitches before getting through the fifth inning. That was another reason he chose to try to pitch to contact a season or two ago. So even if he's completely healthy don't expect him to go deep into games, as he misses few bats.

Penny got knocked around badly this year. It was hard to watch. People keep talking about his last appearance in the all star game as a reliever throwing 99 mph. That's all well and good, but when he was throwing 95+ as a starter, he would still get hit and hit hard. Reason he was is because his pitches had zero movement because (in my opinion) he was trying to protect his back. Now to tie this in with the rumor dropped in a dodgers mailbag article about why Penny's option wasn't picked up. Gurnick hinted that the dodgers weren't happy about his work ethic. I'm thinking that was in part due to his back. He has a bit of a gut but he wasn't hungry-hungry hippo looking like Sidney Ponson.

This leads me to believe there is next to nothing wrong with Penny's arm/shoulder--at least a kind of problem that stops him from throwing the ball extremely hard. He was throwing 95 in the start before he was put on the disabled list. He was throwing 98-99 before coming off the disabled list but had to be put right back on two starts later and stayed there for good. The guy never lost velocity, which you would expect if your shoulder is bothering you. The doctors found scar tissue in the shoulder on MRI that may be impinging his rotator cuff--that's the closest thing to defining the shoulder problem that I can find.

Right after that the organization put it out there that they might not pick up his option if he continued to have problems with the shoulder, with the article about being unhappy with his work ethic not coming out until November. All pitchers deal with some level of soreness, but it doesn't usually kill half your season. ***(go to rotoworld.com and look at the articles linked to in his player information page because I'm going mostly on memory)***

I believe It's primarily his back, and Penny's got to be the guy motivated enough to do the exercise it takes to keep those muscles strong back there so he can throw his breaking pitches for strikes again so guys aren't just sitting on his fastball (yes, that's what people did because it was that straight). All this talk about the Red Sox shoulder program is a great match for Penny is a bunch of hogwash homerism that tries to find genius in every move the red sox make. I'm sure the sox rehab program and people are great, but Penny probably doesn't have shoulder problems (at least the kind I'm used to seeing where the guy goes out there and throws 88 mph when he usually sits at 92-93), and if he does it's not doing anything to his velocity.

I think I've repeated myself through here enough times to almost want to check if some guy named William who's last name starts with a B might really be my biological father. To offset all the smack I just did about Penny, he is a fierce competitor. I wouldn't be surprised that the recent derailment of his career/earning potential might be just what was needed to restore his work ethic if that is indeed the problem. Add in that he's only their 3'rd or 4'th best pitcher in terms of talent where he was used to being called the ace or at worst a #2 in L.A. Penny, when healthy, is a dominant pitcher who should've won a C.Y. already. All he needs are his breaking pitches to work and movement on his 2 seamer and he's set to pitch very well, even in the A.L. beast. He's a bargain for the sox at 5+ million. I wish he would've been willing to do the work to be the best he could be as a dodger, but I can also see why he didn't (bad defenses, high turnover, being the "top dog" already on the team, oh yeah, and poor ass run support). Good luck with that, Biz.

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I Might Have to Post This On My Wall

There must be a pig flying somewhere. There also should be a small glacier somewhere in hell. Scott Boras came crawling back. My jaw dropped. I'm not so sure Colletti's voice was raspy from laryngitis or if he was trying to make sure he didn't bust out laughing to the reporter. This is really the best case scenario for the dodgers after exploring the other options. With Adrian Beltre, Boras steered his client away from L.A. without a chance to match an offer and never a chance to meet with Boras' client.

I take much glee in seeing Boras' mouth stuffed with crow.

Bizut, I had read that comment the day after you posted it, but I read it in my email instead of on the blog, forgotten about it, but here's along the lines of what I was thinking after having read it: You should still like/follow the red sox. They have home grown talent right now. They are a big market team so expect a few (or more) in-prime superstar free agents. They kinda have no choice with Lowell because third baseman are/were hard to find, and the red sox did well to pick him up (he was kinda garbage around the time of the trade...he was salary dumpage). They really should let Varitek skip into a forced retirement as a lesson to Boras and any other vet that thinks they can ransom the sox. But anyway, shouldn't you be happy that the red sox lost out on him (it's probably which team you lost him to rather than losing Teix) but still. I think the sox are in a great position. They have resources, but they also have a front office that (most of the time, anyways) is great at finding deals/bargains/overperformers in any section of whatever big box retailer they are in...even the deals that require a lot of capital (Dice-K), or prospects (Beckett, I think the red sox have still done okay without a real shortstop). The yanks don't look for and sign your Wakefield type guy to a huge deal of a contract and keep him around because it's smart, they go for broke. They are the king kong of the baseball franchise world, they only use brute force. Yanks have Damon in left/DH while the red sox have Ellsbury.

Don't worry, Bizut, the sox aren't dumb, which is more than I can say about the yanks. They may have signed CC, Burnett, and Teixeira, but they have too many old guys for 1 DH spot, a crowded outfield that's going to be bad defensively. If I were facing the yankees I would try my best to hit it up the middle because Jeter and Cano can't field. They suck defensively at catcher with or without Posada. First base is clogged up now so Girardi is going to piss off a lot of players by not giving them the amount of playing time they're used to.

So, the sox may have their problems, but the yankees still have theirs in a bunch of bad contracts they can't dump on anyone else because nobody else could afford those contracts when they were handed out to begin with and all the owners are "apparently" brok (I don't believe that, it's just a great excuse to keep salaries from going even higher, except that the yankees don't want to play along). When Mark Teixeira is a 35 year old DH that looks a lot more like Greg Luzinski you won't be so down on the sox. The sox could've used Teixeira, but they don't need him (as long as Lowell holds up).

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I totally forgot to post this

I forgot to post about this but my other half went to a company christmas party about a week and a half ago. Afterwards she went to this bar and won the v.i.p. treatment on a couch to watch this glam metal rock tribute band. In the audience was former padres relief pitcher Clay Hensley (cnicknamed 'The Claw' because of his sidearm delivery) and padres 5'th outfielder Paul McAnulty. Puck said they walked right by her and her work friends and that they looked like normal guys except for being a bit too old to be sporting the jock look. She became aware that there were Z list celebs when the band announced to the audience that 'The Claw' had signed a contract with the astros. So Puck scooped out all the reporters in telling me that Hensley was on the astros. So I chuckled when I read the reported deal on rotoworld.com a week and a half later.

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Yanks Come Out Of Nowhere and Sign Teixeira

The original rumors didn't surprise me because the yanks are rumored to be after anyone and everyone. This signing is good for the yankees as it puts a new, young, slugger in his prime in the heart of an ever aging yankees lineup. Who do the yanks bat third, Teixeira or Rodriguez? Who knows? They both have that unclutch reputation.

Now on to the part my audience of one wants to read This signing to me was more of just a snaking a player from the Red Sox to keep them down than an effort to make their team better. They had plenty of players that can hit to DH or play first. In fact, with all the old players they have it would make sense to keep first base open. This does however help the team New York ends up dumping Melky, Nady (if they think his '08 was a fluke and sell high, but they won't be able to trade him once they agree on a contract for months) or Damon on, as they have no leverage. Maybe the yanks are going to give a long look to that prospect Brett Gardner. The team needs a real center fielder because Swisher is a corner, and kind of mediocre at that (for the yankees). I wouldn't be surprsed if he's dealt and they go after Baldelli so that they have a guy they won't take up a huge amount of at-bats to keep all the outfielders happy. I wonder what happens to Wilson Betemit because of this. He stands to lose playing time as well.

This hurts the sox. The sox had the opportunity to sign a star first baseman in his prime which would have moved Youkilis to third baseman so the team wouldn't be totally reliant upon the aging Mike Lowell who's production faltered in '08. The missed opportunity of trading Lowell while he still has value is what hurts the most. They could have gotten a lot for him. So this offseason ends up looking like the last few years in that the sox need a shortstop (if they don't believe in Lowrie) and a center fielder (if they don't believe in Ellsbury, which I'm sure they still do) so all they really need is pitching, and the best pitcher is gone. Right now they've got:

Wakefield--If no starter is signed, he's going to see his innings increase and I don't think that's a good thing.
Buccholz--As a non-sox fan I'm not sold on Buccholz and I don't think the sox give him much of a leash.
Masterson-I'm not sure how the sox feel about him as a starter. They can't load 200 innings on him after he pitched about 150 between the minors and the big club. So he might be the ideal 5'th starter candidate.
Here's what's left:

Derek Lowe-----Probably the best pitcher left. Has been a great pitcher since the sox let him go.Will be worth the 14-16mil.
Paul Byrd-------Average, durable pitcher. Great 5'th starter for a good team like the sox.
Bartolo Colon----Don't think the sox want to tempt fate by adding him as a 5'th starter/swingman
Elmer Dessens---Capable swingman/long reliever in small doses
Jon Garland-----He's just like Paul Byrd, an average to slightly above average pitcher that is durable. Decent 5'th starter type
Randy Johnson---He wouldn't want to play for the sox. He likes the west coast too much. He's pulling a David Wells.
Braden Looper---Not sold on him as a starter, might as well sign Byrd or Garland
Pedro---------That would be sweet, but he's too brittle and might not bounce back. He can't do over 150 innings.
Brad Penny------If he got pissed off enough to lose weight & work on his back he could be the best value signing.
Oliver Perez-----Too inconsistent for losing a draft pick over.
Andy Pettitte----He'd be ok as a 5'th starter, but his ego demands 15 million dollars, and he's a yankee. He's not an option.
Curt Schilling----Screw him. Too old, too big a mouth, and too much of an injury. Let him play his video games.
Ben Sheets------Great pitcher with an even greater injury risk.
Randy Wolf-----Might be a nice idea but probably gets hammered in that park and division--plus he gets hurt.

If I were the sox my strategy would be to sign someone that can keep Wakefield a 5'th starter or maybe even a spot starter until Masterson is ready to go full time. Also have to prepare for the certainty of injury to at least Beckett, the Diceman, and possibly Lester. That alone would be enough work for Masterson while still adding a new starter. There really isn't anyone out there that pitches markedly above average consistently and doesn't have any question marks except Lowe. If they want to replace the injury innings then they should just re-sign Byrd or sign Garland and push Wakefield back down to 5'th starter. Hopefully Buccholz remembers how to pitch sometime in '09 so he can get another look down the stretch.

All this said, the red sox staff without any additions is ready for prime time. When all you're trying to do is keep Wakefield a 5'th starter or spot starter you know you have a strong pitching staff. Adding someone is just either icing on the cake for a Lowe signing or the equivalent of adding another layer of frosting depth if a different starter is added. Not much to do with the pen either, but please leave Mike Timlin's arm out of it.

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