A couple of interesting tidbits coming our way from the Globe's Nick Cafardo on Boston's interest in free agent John Smoltz:
It's surprising he is considering teams other than Atlanta for the final year or two of his career. One of the major reasons Smoltz would love Boston is pitching coach John Farrell. Smoltz knows Farrell's reputation, and also loves the atmosphere of Fenway. As a fifth starter, Smoltz could also be a strong influence on Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. The Sox are looking at his medical reports and studying the side session video distributed to teams late last week.
The more I think about it, the more I like the Sox signing Smoltz. Yes, he's old (42 next season) but he is still capable of being very good. He hasn't had an ERA over 3.50 since 1994. That was 15 years ago! He's not going to win 20 games, but he'll probably get us at least 13 and be one of the best 4 or 5 starters in the American League. Plus he'd be a fantastic mentor for all the pitchers on the team.
Cafardo also touches on Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly:
Casey KellyLots of talk by scouts and agents who watched him play at Sarasota (Fla.) High. Said one former major league player turned agent, "This kid is a phenomenal athlete. He can make it as a shortstop and he could make it as a pitcher. What I would do is have him play the infield for three years to see how he does. If he doesn't take to it, then convert him to pitcher." However, the Sox are making him a pitcher for now. According to his agent, Joe Sambito, the Sox' plan is to have him pitch 100 innings and then let him play shortstop. Asked about Kelly's stuff, Sambito, who was a reliever on Boston's 1986 World Series team, said, "He throws 92-94 with tremendous control, an excellent 12-6 curveball."
Kelly has to be good if the Sox dared to take him in the first round straight out of high school. Personally, I didn't think too much of him because I like to see what a prospect can do for a full season before making any judgements -- first round pick or not. However, I haven't heard a bad review yet about him. The jury is still out on whether he'll be a shortsop or pitcher down the road...