With the Boston Red Sox officially bringing back Tim Wakefield this afternoon, it appears the top 4 spots in the pitching rotation for 2009 are set.

  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Jon Lester
  3. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  4. Tim Wakefield
  5. Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Justin Masterson

The competition for the 5th spot is an interesting one. Personally I think the Red Sox would be better served having Masterson working out of the bullpen where he was outstanding in the second half of the season. Hopefully, the strong Arizona Fall League that Buchholz is having gets him back on track and he pitches to the potential that we’ve seen out of him. Throwing that no-hitter in the second start of his career may have put some undue pressure on him. And we shouldn’t count out Bowden either.

While it’s quite conceivable the Red Sox will be players in the free agent market for pitchers (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets), I just don’t see them spending the money on one. The Red Sox interest may be more to drive up the price a little for our neighbors to the south who seem poised to spend the gross national product of a small country to put their team back in the playoffs.

It is quite possible that they could pursue Junichi Tazawa from Japan to fill the final spot in their rotation as well.

Where I do see the Red Sox spending money is in trying to secure Mark Teixeira if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim can’t secure him during the exclusive 15-day window that ends sometime on November 14th. While there might not be room for him right now, you can sure as heck bet that Theo Epstein will find a way to make it work.