I am thrilled about Adrian Gonzalez but…

One element of it is sad and one element worries me.

Of course the greedy Red Sox fan in me couldn’t care less about the Padres. But the baseball man in me wonders why the Padres, with a staggeringly low payroll and revenue sharing, couldn’t sign Adrian Gonzalez to a 5 year extension.

A great hitter and San Diego native could have been the face of the franchise like Joe Mauer is to the Twins. A 5 year extension would have him as a 10 year Padre and no doubt join the retired numbers in Petco Park.

And they could have had an extra $20 to resign him this summer if they accepted my money.

So Red Sox fans, have your guard up. The “Red Sox are just as bad as the Yankees” rhetoric is coming back.

Just accept it, say “Yeah, hate my team. I don’t care” and enjoy the show.

Almost exactly a year ago, I lamented that the Red Sox had no offensive identity anymore and they needed that left-right combo that sparked their best teams:

Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro
Fred Lynn and Jim Rice.
Wade Boggs and Jim Rice.
Mike Greenwell and Ellis Burks.
Mo Vaughn and Nomar Garciaparra.
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

Maybe Gonzalez and Youk can be that 1-2 combo.

But I am a little bit concerned about one thing:
The Red Sox didn’t have to deal Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias, Daniel Bard or Jacoby Ellsbury to land a potential MVP candidate.

“Why does this worry you, Sully?” You might be asking. “This means the Red Sox could have fleeced them… or at worst dealt away players who wouldn’t be a factor in 2011.”

Call me a worrywart… but doesn’t that raise a red flag?

That the Padres would settle for players who could very well turn out to be good but not big league ready?
Combine that with Gonzalez coming off of shoulder surgery, I hope the Padres don’t know something that we don’t know.
Either way, welcome to Boston. I am rooting big time for Gonzalez and I hope like hell the “Red Sox are the new Evil Empire” articles keep coming all the way through October.
You are going to love Fenway. The stands are actually FULL during a pennant race.

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Thank you Hideki Okajima

The Red Sox non tendered Hideki Okajima the other day, thus ending his 4 year run in Boston. It was probably time. He had a mediocre 2010 and pitchers in their mid 30s tend to not improve over the years.

But before he goes off (and as a left handed reliever will inevitably find work) I ask my fellow Red Sox fans to tip their hats to him.

Remember this was the guy who was basically supposed to be Daisuke Matsusaka’s caddy. A fellow countryman to keep the new ace company.

When he let up a homer to John Buck on the first pitch he ever threw, it looked like Okajima was Japanese for “Bust.”

He didn’t let up a run the rest of his outing… nor his next outing… nor the next one.
In fact he didn’t let up a run in his next 20 outings.

And he had that bad ass delivery where he literally wasn’t looking at the batter as he pitched. I have no clue how that worked… but it did.
His ERA was 0.42 in late May.
By the All Star break it was 0.82 and he was voted in by the fans (presumably by Red Sox Nation and the Nation of Japan) to the All Star Game.

As late as August 8th, his ERA remained sub 1.
Then his arm started to tire and the league caught up with him.

Theo and Tito rested him for a few weeks so he would be fresh for the playoffs… and he delivered.

He was unscored upon in the Division Series and ALCS, pitching 2 key innings in Game 7 against Cleveland.

Then, in the second game of the World Series, in a tense 2-1 victory, he pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings striking out 4.

He looked like a potential MVP candidate before letting up a homer in Denver. But he was a key player for the 2007 World Champs.

So off he goes to begin the journeyman part of his career. But thanks Oke-Doke. You combined with Papelbon in 2007 to give the Sox one of the best 1-2 bullpen punches in Red Sox history.

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Hank… you are no George

I never want to hear Hank Steinbrenner try to talk tough about the players ever again.
It’s like hearing Julian Lennon. You kind of look like your dad and sound like him… but you aren’t the real thing.

He tried to talk tough about Jeter and his contract and how they don’t owe him anything.
And guess what? The Yankees caved.

Was ANYONE ELSE offering Jeter a contract remotely close to what he signed? Of course not.
Does the contract make sense in terms of his market value? Not a chance.
Was he already generously paid over a 10 year contract as an elite player? You bet.

But the Yankees, bidding against nobody and holding all sorts of contract leverage folded like a tent.

You think George in his hey day would have stood for this?

Hank is all bark.
Jeter knew this from the start and knew that he was going to get a sweetheart deal even if nobody else in baseball would offer him HALF of that contract.

Now the love fest will begin and Jeter is indeed a great Yankee… and like any great Yankee, he squeezed every last dime out of the franchise while people praised his loyalty.

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