Much has been made of the Red Sox' offseason approach, especially in contrast with the Yankees' baseball stimulus package. Jayson Stark of ESPN wrote an article that nicely summarizes the two rivals' move.
"For $423 million, the Yankees obviously got some nice pieces," said one scout. "But in terms of filling needs, I think Boston did just as well, if not better."
The four free agents [the Red Sox] imported -- John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and Rocco Baldelli -- cost this team 4 million fewer guaranteed dollars ($12.5 million total) than the Yankees will pay Burnett alone this year.
Nevertheless, the upside of those men gives the Red Sox four potential impact players without the price tags, or long-term inflexibility, that come with handing out contracts that run through 2016.
"I think the biggest difference from this year to last year is, now we have depth," [Red Sox starter Jon] Lester said. "Last year, we had some depth, but we had guys in the minor leagues who either (A) didn't have big league experience, or (B) had very little experience. So having these guys -- Penny, Smoltz, Saito -- they can help us out in different ways where, in the past, we haven't been able to get over that hump.
Stark comes away with a decidedly pro-Red Sox opinion, and it's easy for me to agree with him. C.C. Sabathia has a ton of mileage on his arm and not the most athletic body type. He's not the sort of guy I'd want to sign to a 7-year contract. Burnett, who has already been a training-room fixture during his career, was handed a 5-year deal. Both starters are formidable when healthy and fresh, but the Yankees are gambling a lot of money and two roster spots over the long term. In my mind, Teixeira's contract is more defensible.
Smoltz has been called a physical freak and is already exceeding the Sox' expectations in his rehab. If any of the gambles pay off, I'd bet on Smoltz.
Saito opted to pass on Tommy John surgery and instead tried a new, experimental procedure that may accelerate the body's own healing mechanisms. Over the past three years Saito has held opposing batters to a remarkable line of.182/.246/.264. If Takashi can come anywhere near those numbers the Red Sox have found a valuable piece for their bullpen.
Even if none of the Red Sox' reclamation projects work out the team has a clean slate in 2010 and the front office can alter its approach.
Read Jayson Starks entire article here.