Red Sox feel powerful enough without Rocket

Want? Well, who wouldn't want arguably the greatest pitcher of the modern era, with seven Cy Young Awards in tow?

Desire? Sure, few staffs wouldn't love to add a pitcher with his reputation, competitiveness and presence.

But need? Did the Red Sox really need Roger Clemens? Not in the way the Yankees did, and that sense of desperation is why Clemens will get an Act II in New York but not in Boston.

Well, that and a $10 million gap between the two teams' offers.

Through the first five weeks of the season, the Yankees' rotation is in shambles while the Red Sox starters have the third-best ERA in the American League.

Their top two starters -- Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett -- are a combined 10-1. Venerable Tim Wakefield sports a 2.11 ERA, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, growing pains and all, is an immense talent.

Even No. 5 starter Julian Tavarez has kept the Red Sox in all but one of his starts, and Saturday night, he almost outpitched Johan Santana.

Of course, the Red Sox aren't naive enough to think their Big Four will be able to make 120-plus starts combined. They've been untouched by significant injuries to date, but Schilling and Wakefield are 40, Beckett has been beset by shoulder and blister issues in the past, and Matsuzaka is still trying to deal with the demands of pitching every fifth day instead of every sixth.

Forget Boston's 6½-game lead or its gaudy pitching statistics. The finish line is a long way away.

But the news that Clemens had signed with their archrivals seemed to be of little consequence to the Red Sox on Sunday after they held off the Minnesota Twins 4-3.

"It would have been nice to have him," Schilling said. "But we don't need him. I could care less now. What's done is done. I'm happy with what we've got. It hasn't been a topic of conversation around here."

"We're doing OK right now, don't you think?" asked a sanguine Beckett.

In time, they could get better. Jon Lester, having won his cancer scare, could be ready to join the rotation later the month, or about the time Clemens prepares to make his first start.

Kason Gabbard and Devern Hansack offer better insurance against injuries than journeyman castoffs Kevin Jarvis and Jason Johnson did last summer.

Mostly, though, there's a positive mind-set, a quiet confidence that stems from the contrast in age (Matsuzaka and Beckett are 26; Wakefield and Schilling have seen their 40th birthdays), the abundance of talent and the presence of uber-closer Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen.

The Red Sox know all too well how quickly things can change. They led the AL East every day for almost six weeks last summer, only to fall apart in a five-game showdown with the Yankees in August at Fenway. Outclassed, they were never heard from again.

They might wonder whether Clemens, who turns 45 in August, is up to the rigors of the AL East and the deep, stacked lineups that were only a memory when he pitched for Houston the past three seasons.

On the other hand, it's entirely conceivable that signing Clemens is the sort of psychological boost the rest of the Yankees were waiting for and his return might represent the season's key in-season acquisition.

For now, they seem happy to take their chances.

"It's May," Schilling said. "There's a long way to go … I like the way this team is comprised. This team has incredible makeup and great chemistry. I feel like we were legitimate World Series contenders without [Clemens], so that hasn't changed my mind. I'm happy with who we have."

And not the least bit concerned about the ones they don't.

Sean McAdam of The Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.