As much as I hate to compliment Boston, I have to give Theo Epstein some props on his signings of Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Mark Kotsay, Rocco Baldelli, and Takashi Saito. None of those guys are necessarily big impact players, and all but Kotsay are serious injury risks, but they all are useful players with high ceilings. Penny wasn't great in 08, but he had a 3.03 ERA in 07. At $5mm if he does nothing at all they don't lose significant money, but he could also end up being a great bargain and helping out the rotation a lot. Smoltz won't be ready to play until May or June, but he's been a great player his whole career with a phenomenal work ethic. He hasn't had an ERA above 3.50 since 1994. He can pitch in the rotation or out of the pen, as he has 210 career wins, and 154 saves. Smoltz is getting old (turns 42 in May) but he can still be effective. Like Penny, he's a low risk, high reward signing. Kotsay played for the Sox in 08, and with his re-signing he'll end up backing up Kevin Youkilis at first and he'll see some time in the outfield. Kotsay doesn't have any great strengths, but he's a veteran who can handle himself on the field well. Baldelli performed well in limited time with the Rays and he recently was diagnosed with a more curable disease than the one he was previously thought to have. I don't know the names of either one though, sorry. Saito was a phenomenal closer in LA, but with his injuries he was non-tendered. If he gets healthy, a Saito-Papelbon duo at the back end of the Boston bullpen will give me nightmares.
This is just a thought, but wouldn't it be cool if one game the Red Sox had Dice-K start, and he pitched 7 innings, then Okajima pitched the 8th, and then Saito pitched the 9th? It would be cool to see a team put out only Japanese pitchers in one game, it would highlight the influence of the international market on the MLB. What would make that situation even better though...is if it was a game against the Yankees, and Kei Igawa pitched a complete game and Hideki Matsui hit a walk-off home run. Ok, I know Kei Igawa most likely won't ever pitch for the Yanks again(at least I hope he won't), but come on, how cool would that be? Can you imagine the headlines on the Post and the Daily News the next day?