2009 Boston Red Sox Season Outlook
The Boston Red Sox made very few major changes following a trip to the American League Championship series, instead deciding to make a couple of smaller moves and retain some of their own players.
One move the team did want to make was the acquisition of All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira. Boston appeared set to land Teixeira when the rival New York Yankees swept in from nowhere to sign him to a huge deal.
With Teixeira out of the picture, Boston signed first baseman Kevin Youkilis to a four-year contract worth $40 million and eventually agreed to a deal with catcher Jason Varitek.
While Youkilis had one of his best seasons in 2008, Varitek struggled mightily. The Red Sox explored potential trades for other catchers but were unable to get anything done, leaving them no choice but to bring back their captain.
They also signed veteran pitchers John Smoltz and Brad Penny to one-year contracts. These were two shrewd moves by Boston, who adds significant pitching depth and experience to their roster at very little cost.
If Smoltz and Penny can be 100 percent healthy, the Red Sox will have arguably the best and deepest rotation in all of baseball.
Josh Beckett is the team's ace, but health is a concern with him as well. He missed time last year with a couple of nagging injuries, and his young arm has thrown a lot of innings in his short career.
The team does have some stability with Dice-K, who is the ultimate innings-eater and is one of the most durable pitchers in all of baseball.
Speaking of health, the Red Sox are hopeful that designated hitter David Ortiz will be 100 percent after knee and wrist problems sidelined him last year. The wrist injury was especially damaging, costing Ortiz much of his power in the second half of the season.
One major advantage for Boston is the comfort of knowing that a lead heading into the ninth inning is as good as a victory. Jonathan Palpebon is one of the best closers in all of baseball and will be at the back end of Boston's bullpen for a long time to come.
If injuries are not a factor, Boston should be right there battling with the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays all season long for the division crown.