Nick Cafardo — who clearly copied and pasted his print-edition story for tomorrow into a blog post for tonight (psst, Nick, change the time reference when you do that) — reports the Red Sox are close to signing Rocco Baldelli as their fourth outfielder and perhaps close as well to signing John Smoltz as their midseason-replacement starter.
As of last night, sources indicated that Smoltz was leaning toward Boston's offer which was said to be somewhere in the vicinity of $5.5 million guaranteed with the opportunity to earn a few million in incentives which could hike the salary up to $10 million. … The Sox do not anticipate that Smoltz will be ready until later in May, but one of the incentives being discussed would be a roster bonus if he's with the team by June 1.
That would mean the vast majority of our outfield innings would be played by:
- Jason Bay (134 OPS+, -15.9 UZR/150; BillJ '09: .280/.376/.505)
- Jacoby Ellsbury (87, 9.0; .302/.359/.424)
- J.D. Drew (137, 17.4; .273/.395/.477)
- Rocco Baldelli (113, 48.6; .279/.330/.465)
Can we pause here to reflect on just how good J.D. Drew was in right field last year? The fact that Tony Massarotti or anyone else can question whether he is worth the money after his 2007 playoff performance and this incredible season on offense and defense is simply mind-boggling. Among right fielders with at least 450 plate appearances last year, only Ryan Ludwick had a higher OPS+, and among right fielders with at least 100 games in the field, only Randy Winn had a higher UZR/150. Yes, he missed time last year, but then he came back and raked (again) in the postseason.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka (168 IP, 159 ERA+; Marcel '09: 164 IP, 3.79 ERA)
- Jon Lester (210 IP, 144 ERA+; 171 IP, 3.76 ERA)
- Josh Beckett (174 IP, 115 ERA+; 167 IP, 3.85 ERA)
- Tim Wakefield (181 IP, 112 ERA+; 169 IP, 4.45 ERA)
- Brad Penny (95 IP, 68 ERA+; 127 IP, 4.25 ERA)
- John Smoltz (28 IP, 165 ERA+; 94 IP, 3.73 ERA)
There's quite a bit of redundancy there, with all of them projected to perform quite well. If Penny falters, Smoltz will be there. If Smoltz falters, there's Masterson. If Masterson is bullpen-only or experiences a sophomore slump, there's Buchholz. If Buchholz still doesn't have it together, there's Bowden.