Theo Epstein’s advice to pitching phenom Casey Kelly this spring was simple: Watch Josh Beckett. Learn what separates him from the average major league pitcher.

Kelly and the rest of the Sox’ minor league hurlers are assured of watching Beckett each spring from now through 2014, after Beckett signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension yesterday.

Now, if only there’s room in the rotation between now and then for Kelly to fit in.


With the signing, Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz are locked into the rotation through 2014, giving the Red Sox a fearsome foursome for years to come.

“I think we have a chance to win a ring every year,” Beckett said. “A lot of people look at what you lose, or what you lost. I looked at what I gained here. I gained four years more of stability, knowing that I’m going to be in an organization that’s going to put a competitive team out there every year.”

With the Yankees and Rays poised to contend for the AL East title over the next five years, Epstein has solidified the franchise at the most critical position, putting together a front three in the same rotation not seen since the days of Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine in the 1990s.

“It’s hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching,” Epstein said. “I think we have an even higher standard here. We need starting pitching that can succeed in the American League East against these tough lineups that we face night in, night out.

“There are no guarantees in baseball, but it should mean that we have outstanding starting pitching for that period. That’s the biggest building block.”

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