Penny Ante

The signing of Brad Penny answers the pitching question for the Red Sox’ 2009 season. Passing on the the two studs of 2008–Sabbathia and Burnett–the Sox showed they could sign with shrewdness, if not with abandon. They had already paid for the top of their rotation in Beckett and Matsuzaka, and they had had a smaller price tag in mind for a fourth or fifth spot in the rotation. With this kind of restraint, the Red Sox are a team we can identify with, one with a budget and a bridle of thrift and sense.
Brad Penny is just a year away from his best in the Majors. He was dominant in 2007 and could be again. He may not be a sure rehabilitation project, but pitchers are never a sure investment in the Major Leagues. (Can you say “Carl Pavano”?). Even Josh Beckett showed his mortality in 2008, and he had the best stuff in baseball when he signed with the Sox. The calculated risk may be the best risk in the pitching market.
2009 will tell the story, but with Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Penny and Masterson (Wakefield?) I’ll look forward to the first Yankees series in the Spring. And I respect the Red Sox for the wariness in spending many of us have to emulate in 2009.
Now let’s end run Scott Boras and get Varitek signed.

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