The Three R’s of Dynasty

    The Red Sox have adopted a new theory of dynasty building: retrench, rehabilitate and revive. Never has a roster entered Spring Training with more physical-conditioning uncertainties, mostly anticipated uncertainties. While the Yankees lavished huge contracts on the flashy sports models of 2008, the Red Sox trusted in the team’s rehab projects and the vintage, but affordable sedans of free agency.
    “Retrenching” means backing away from the bidding wars and signing the invaluable Pedroia and Youkilis, proven and future stars of the dynasty dream of Theo Epstein.  It’s hard to argue with re-signing two players ranked among the top four in the MVP voting in 2008.
    And “rehabilitating” stars like Ortiz, Lowell, and Varitek seems like loyalty to veterans who have made them World Champions in recent memory.  Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield will also be returning from a  blight of injuries that leave their future effectiveness uncertain, but they are already part of the Red Sox dream and deserve another opportunity to live it.
    Undaunted by these risks, the Red Sox moved to “revive” more unclaimed veterans in the off-season: Brad Penny, Mark Smoltz, and Takashi Saito, all with heavy mileage on their arms.  None of these pitchers are ready to start on the first day of Spring Training, and Smoltz even has a “Do-not-open-until-June” stamped on his once-tireless arm.  These are calculated risks, which, individually, appear shrewd and economical. Together, they make the 2009 season a crapshoot for pitching.
    And in case the risks weren’t high enough for pitching, the Sox have stocked their outfield with Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay, neither of whom are ready to start the first month of Spring Training.  As role players, these veterans could become invaluable off the bench, but they could be more than role players with J.D. Drew’s chronic back problems.  They need to be fully revived on the first day of the season.
    All this retrenchment puts a lot of pressure on the Red Sox training and medical staff, which Peter Gammons calls the “best in baseball.”  Perhaps they can work wonders, but medicine and rehabilitation are always about probabilities.  “Revival” is the part of the equation the Red Sox do not control.
That is the part we can second-guess, as the great re-cycling project of 2009 gets underway.


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