Bosox Sign Three for a Penny

baldelli When Rocco Baldelli first came to the big leagues with Tampa Bay in 2003 as a 21 year old kid, he was compared to Joe DiMaggio. In his first two seasons he played centerfield, 156 games as a rookie, then 136 games in his second season, batting .289 & .280, 89 runs & 78 RBIs, and 79 runs & 74 RBIs, 27 SBs & 11 HRs, and 17 SBs & 16 HRs, not bad for a kid Rhode Island, still wet behind the ears. Baldelli tore his ACL while playing baseball with his brother in the offseason, while rehabbing he injured his elbow, and needed Tommy John surgery, he missed the entire 2005 season, and didn’t return to everyday play until June 7, 2006. Playing from that point on, he batted .302, 16 homers, 57 runs, 57 RBIs, 10 steals, in only 364 at bats. In 2007 during spring training Rocco pulled his hamstring, he’d appear in only 35 games. Doctors discovered some metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities, but were unable to provide an exact diagnosis. Baldelli was limited to 28 games in 2008, mainly as a DH & pinch hitter, batting .263, with 4 homers, and 13 RBIs, he hit a three run homer in game #3 of the ALCS to help the Rays take the lead in the series. In the offseason, further testing revealed he suffers from channelopathy, which makes his condition more treatable and less serious than previously thought. Rocco will wear #5 with the Red Sox, first guy to wear it since Nomar Garciaparra’s departure.

41 year old righthander John Smoltz is no longer an Atlanta Brave, he’s joining Rocco Baldelli in Boston. Smoltz has a career mark of 210-147, all with Atlanta, and if he hadn’t shifted to the bullpen (154 saves) for four years, he’d be closing in on 300 wins. Although John only started six times for the Braves in 2008, due to shoulder surgery. Whatever he’s got left he’ll bring to Boston, he signed a $5.5 million dollar deal, with roster incentives which could net as much as $10 million. His best season as a starter was 1996 when he was 24-8, with a 2.94 ERA, earning him the NL Cy Young Award. In 2002, his first season working out of the bullpen, Smoltz established the new saves mark with 55, Eric Gagne tied the record one year later.

Brad Penny is the 3rd member of the free agent trio to join the Red Sox. Penny won 16 games in back-to-back seasons with the Dodgers in 2006-07, before succumbing to injuries in 2008 (6-9, 6.27 ERA, 94″ IP). Brad knows how to pitch for a winner, being a member of the rotation for the 2003 Florida Marlins as a 25 year old youngster, posting a 14-10 record, 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in the World Series against the Yankees. After shutting out the Giants for seven innings in his first 2008 start, he spent much of the disappointing season on the DL. Yet at only 30 years of age, this talented righthander should be able to help Boston, if healthy.

So while the Red Sox didn’t match the Yankees when it comes to throwing dollar signs at free agents, they did add three players with heart. One local son returns home, while two pitchers who are proven winners were added to Boston’s roster, in an effort to get back into the postseason.

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