John W. Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner, and Theo Epstein would like to wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of Red Sox nation. Because they can't give everyone in the Nation an individual gift or stuff all of our stockings, they decided to try a different approach...
See what Santa left under the tree and who got coal this year.
The Big Suprise Under The Tree-- Carl Crawford
Not many of us expected left fielder Carl Crawford and his enormous price tag of 7-years $142 million, which makes him the surprise gift.
It seemed that it was only a matter of time before the 29-year old outfielder would pack his bags for Southern California and join his best friend Tori Hunter with the Angels. However, Crawford signed with the Red Sox, who seemed to be mostly out of the Crawford chase since the beginning of Free Agency.
Crawford, 29, is just now entering the prime of his career and has shown us all why many of his fans and manager Terry Francona think he really is a game changer. He provides a tremendous upgrade in left field defensively as he brings a gold-glove and tremendous range and speed protecting the Monster.
Crawford is also a tremendous offensive threat as he is always among the league leaders in stolen bases. He also had a great year with the bat as he hit .307 with 19 home runs and 90 RBIs, by far the best year of his caree.
That Gift We've Always Wanted-- Adrian Gonzalez
It seems like it's been years that we have been drooling over Adrian Gonzalez and his opposite field power. And finally, we got him.
Getting Gonzalez was a roller-coaster ride for all of us, as it appeared that the trade fell through and Yankees fans were rejoicing. However, because the Sox seemingly agreed to the parameters of a 7-year, $154 million dollar deal that will keep Gonzalez out of free agency, the trade went through and, as Gonzalez put it, he is "ready to beat those Yanks!"
Gonzo is almost a sure thing playing in Fenway Park for 81 (and hopefully many more) games next season. His ability to drive the ball off the wall and hit for 40 home runs in a home ballpark the size of Petco has had Red Sox fans (myself included) drooling over him for years. Gonzalez also has great defensive ability as well as he brings Gold Glove caliber defense to first base, with Kevin Youkilis shifting to third.
The Holiday Bargain-- Bobby Jenks
Still, the Red Sox' greatest need this entire offseason had always been the same; Bullpen, Bullpen, and more Bullpen.
When it seemed that the Red Sox were going to get shut out of the reliever market with their top two targets Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain signing elsewhere, they delivered once again. They signed former White Sox closer and OTM favorite Bobby Jenks to a 2-year, $12 million dollar contract. This classified as a Holiday bargain as every other elite reliever signed to the point got a three year deal, Jenks got two.
Even though he struggled last season, Jenks will serve as the Red Sox seventh inning pitcher, leading up to Daniel Bard in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. Although Jenks had a 4.44 ERA last season, he did fantastic peripherals. Jenks, as a former closer will provide experience and another valuable arm that will vastly improve the Sox' pen.
These three pitchers aren't the biggest names in baseball, but are big enough to stuff the stockings of Red Sox Nation.
The Red Sox were still focused on improving the bullpen after Jenks, as they added one of the best sixth inning pitcher in baseball with Dan Wheeler. Wheeler served as the Rays eighth inning setup man in 2010 and did a great job for them, posting a 3.34 ERA in 64 appearances out of the bullpen last season. Wheeler, hailing from Rhode Island, came over at something of a home-town discount with a 1-year, $3 million deal.
Andrew Miller and Matt Albers are also very solid additions on low prices. Miller was acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for Dustin Richardson earlier this offseason, but was later non-tendered by the Red Sox. They re-signed him to a minor league deal, in hopes that he can become the left-handed reliever everyone thought he could be in the minors. Albers was signed away from the Orioles on a major-league contract to provide some depth in bullpen and serve in a mop-up role. Albers is only in his mid-twenties and has pitched pretty well against the Red Sox last season. His contract isn't even guaranteed, giving the Sox an out if he's not needed come April.
* Receiving Coal And Russell Martin This Christmas: The New Yankees (Yay!)
Happy Holidays To Our Awesome Readers!
-The OTM Writing Staff