Red Sox Pitching Staff Cocked and Loaded

Adam HeasleyCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2009

Everybody is talking about the Yankees and their off-season pickups, such as C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees are set to dominate the A.L. East and to go to the World Series again.

Funny, all this sounds way too familiar. I think the beginning of spring training last year, I was hearing the same thing along with everybody else.

If you don't mind me asking, how did the Yankees end the season? Oh yeah, that's right, with a third-place finish in the A.L. East and no playoffs.

A very funny story if you ask me, considering all the money Steinbrenner puts into that team.

Just like last year, the Red Sox quietly had a good off-season and so far, a good spring training.

The Red Sox already had one of the best starting rotations in baseball last year, and now they've picked up where they left off.

In the off-season, Boston acquired pitchers John Smoltz and Brad Penny. Over the last decade, John Smoltz has been one of the more dominating pitchers in baseball and a crafty veteran who makes the Red Sox rotation that much better.

Since his rookie year in 1988, he has has amassed 210 wins, a 3.26 ERA, 16 shutouts, and 3,011 strikeouts. Now that's what I call Hall of Fame numbers.

As for Brad Penny, he has been one of the most dominating pitchers over the last three years. In his career since 2000, he has 94 wins, an ERA of 4.06, and 1,032 strikeouts.

With John Smoltz and Brad Penny in the rotation, the rotation should look like this (no specific order):

1. Jon Lester

2. Josh Beckett

3. Daisuke Matsuzaka

4. John Smoltz

5. Brad Penny

That's a pitching rotation I would hate to hit against in the playoffs, especially if they are all healthy. The pitching staff is even more lights-out with Jonathan Papelbon, the most dominating closer over the last two years.

Since closing for the Red Sox, Papelbon has an era of 1.84 with 113 saves and 270 strikeouts.

It also doesn't hurt to have hitters like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Kevin Youkilis, and the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury. That's a lineup that has the potential to score at least eight runs a game.

The Boston faithful, myself included, are excited about the possibilities of this year's team and the damage they can cause to opposing A.L. East teams and other teams around the MLB.

The Red Sox pitching staff is cocked and loaded for the 2009 season.