Rocco's Modern Life: Baldelli and Smoltz Sign With Red Sox

Aaron StraussContributor IJanuary 8, 2009

After losing out on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, the Boston Red Sox got back on the horse by signing former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli and Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz.

Both signed one-year deals. Baldelli is guaranteed $500,000 and can earn $1.75 million more if he stays on the active roster all year. Smoltz is guaranteed $5 million and can earn another $5 million in bonuses.

Baldelli was seen as a big prospect for the Rays when he came up and was pretty good, but injury problems kept him out of the lineup frequently. He was later diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. This caused him to get tired too easily. When he came back in August of 2008, the Rays had to play him carefully and not too often.

In this past offseason, he got a new diagnosis. It turned out that he did not have a mitochondrial disorder at all, but a form of channelopathy. This new disorder is not as serious and much more treatable. This means he should be able to play much more now.

When asked about Baldelli's role on the Red Sox, a Boston writer said, "With Jacoby Ellsbury and JD Drew being left handed, Baldelli could get up to three or four starts a week. He will definitely face every left handed starting pitcher."

Baldelli was introduced as a Red Sox at the Boston sports writers' dinner on Jan. 8. Rocco will be the first Red Sox player to wear no. 5 since Nomar Garciaparra. He wore the same number with the Rays.

John Smoltz was the other new addition. Although he has not officially signed with the Red Sox yet, he is expected to in the next day or two. Smoltz is coming off shoulder surgery and is targeting a June 1 return.

While Smoltz rehabs, the Red Sox have a couple of options to fill the rotation spot. The primary option will be former Los Angeles Dodger Brad Penny, who was signed earlier this week to a one-year contract for $5 million. He can also earn another $3 million in incentives. Penny can be injury prone, but when he is healthy, he is one of the better pitchers in baseball.

The Sox also still have Clay Buchholz. Buchholz was roughed up in 2008, but after he fixed some mechanical problems in the minor leagues, he did very well in the Arizona Fall League. The Sox still think he will be a permanent part of their rotation some day.

Along with Buchholz, the Red Sox also have Michael Bowden, who made his major league debut in 2008 when he got the start and win against the Chicago White Sox. He went five innings, gave up seven hits, two runs, struck out three, and walked only one batter. He should get future starts for the Sox and may even end up in the rotation at some point.

The Red Sox may not have gotten Mark Teixeira, but they have still done well this offseason, and they may not be done. If Mike Lowell and David Ortiz can get back to form, they should still be considered the best team in the American League East.