Cody Ross will be a Diamondback next year, and Red Sox fans probably should not be too upset about that. Three years for a 32-year-old outfielder who is kind of a Fenway-only phenomenon isn't the greatest proposition in the world. It just isn't.
But for all that Ross and the Red Sox couldn't work it out this offseason, for one year he was the lone consistent bright spot, starting strong, staying healthy, and finishing well enough that we can look back at him fondly as a fun one-year wonder for the team.
Ross was certainly no Adrian Beltre, that much is true. Before we get too wrapped up in "nostalgia" for one of the very few good parts of 2012, it's worth noting that Ross ended up as a decent player, even a good one, but not great. He ended the season hitting .267/.326/.481 having played a serviceable right field. The homers were fun, especially with bat flips, but Ross was a bit one-note in that regard, and was an incredibly easy out away from Fenway Park, and not too much harder against right-handed pitching in general. It's that sort of vulnerability which arguably hurts the value on Ross' existing numbers since it made him so easy to pitch to in important situations, but those of us who watched the 2012 Sox certainly could not be picky.
Still, for all his vulnerabilities, Ross performed like a starter, and frankly was better for much of the season then he seemed at the end. A .681 OPS in September might have just been a matter of standard regression, or it could have been a matter of a bad situation. After all, shocking as it may be to realize, after Ortiz and Middlebrooks went down and Adrian Gonzalez was shipped out, Ross was the "big bat" in Boston's lineup. It's a position I'm sure he's not used to being in, and given that he's not the most patient player in the world a sudden lack of pitches to hit combined with the general deflation experienced by the Sox in September may have been enough to do some real damage to him.
Whether the real Ross was his April-through-August self or his full-year self, though, the Sox came away with a nice surprise either way. He came a long way from the pre-season perception of a platoon partner who might make Ryan Sweeney work out as a starter, and now has certainly come a long way from the cheap 1-year deal that he came to Boston on.
Good luck, Cody. We'll always have the bat flips.