The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham called it “a day of twists and turns” and from the sounds of things, that’s putting it lightly.
But even if things were as rollercoaster-esque as they were in the acquisition of San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, this is one reason why Twitter is an evil, evil thing.
I’ll admit it. When tweet after tweet from various sources termed the deal “dead” after the negotiating window closed, I bought into it. I let the fan side of me show and instead of actually thinking it through, I believed the myriad of electronic messages telling me that the Red Sox had, indeed, screwed the pooch on probably the most important trade since Nomar Garciaparra was shuttled out of town.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hunkered down in front of the computer, wondering if the deal was going to get done and holding out a sliver of hope when phrases like “soft deadline” started getting thrown around. So wait, was this a deadline or a guideline? There was no confirmation, no actual fact checking, so no one really knew.
The internet age has brought about an entirely different kind of journalism. Instead of getting it right, it’s about getting it out the quickest and then dealing with it later if the reports are found to be inaccurate. This isn’t the journalism I learned about in school and it’s not the kind of journalism I want to participate in.
But now that my “old man with his cigar, Wild Turkey and typewriter” moment is over, let’s consider the idea that there was no way the Red Sox were going to let this go unless there was absolutely no negotiating with Gonzalez. Fans were already lining up to put in their orders for Gonzalez jerseys. The media was praising the Red Sox for pulling off such a deal without giving up any major league talent. Everything about this deal was right. So unless Gonzalez was asking for $35 million a season, there really was no way he was getting away. A deal didn’t have to be signed. The Red Sox just had to be confident enough that one would be signed in the next year.
So what does Adrian Gonzalez mean to the Red Sox? Stability. Stability in the middle of that lineup and stability in the clubhouse. Boston will fall in love with this guy not only for his production, but because he fits the Red Sox’ mold as a worker and a gamer.
Of course, the production is nice, too. After playing his entire career in a ballpark just short of being the size of the Grand Canyon, Gonzalez will surely put up some stellar numbers playing half his games in a hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
Here’s the evidence.
Gonzalez holds a career OPS Plus of 137. For those of you not familiar with the stat, OPS Plus is designed to measure a hitter’s ability, taking the ballpark out of the conversation. An average major league baseball player has an OPS Plus of 100. Mark Teixiera has a career OPS Plus of 135. Kevin Youkilis’ is 128. Victor Martinez is at 121. The coveted free agents Carl Crawford and Jason Werth stand at 107 and 121, respectively.
In addition to that, Gonzalez ensures the Red Sox will keep with the “run prevention” model by posting gold glove caliber fielders at both corners of the diamond. Gonzalez has three such awards to his credit thus far in his career.
Especially with the stunted development of Lars Anderson, the necessity of getting a young, talented first baseman was at an all-time high. Kevin Youkilis has done well at the position, but his biggest value in this situation comes in his ability to play both corner positions extremely well. With the dearth of talent available at third base, securing both corner positions came down to finding a quality first baseman. The Red Sox did that.
What’s more, they did it without having to give up their shirts, or even their shortstop prospect. The fact that Jose Iglesias is still in the Red Sox’ system is crucial, as the hope is when Marco Scutaro’s contract is up, Iglesias can provide stability at the shortstop position for years to come. Obviously, it has been the position that has experience the most flux of any on the diamond for Boston.
Assuming a deal gets done – and it’s hard to see how it won’t – the Red Sox are setting themselves up for future stability for years to come.
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