According the CSN New England, the Boston Red Sox have officially agreed to terms on a contract extension with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The 7-year deal is worth $154 million and puts Gonzalez among baseball’s Top 10 highest-paid players.
Gonzalez, who will turn 29 next month, made it clear that a long-term contract was his ultimate goal after coming to Boston in an off-season trade. This deal was essentially announced last winter, but the club decided to wait until April to make it official for luxury tax purposes. Had the contract gone through prior to the season, the team would have had to apply Gonzalez’s average salary under the new deal (roughly $20 million) to its payroll. By waiting, the Sox could instead apply Gonzalez’s existing salary of $6.5 million.
But with the deal now done, the team can relax and enjoy one of the game’s best sluggers through the remainder of his prime. Gonzalez should be a cornerstone of the Boston lineup for most (if not all) of the contract.
As nice as it is to see the team lock up such a solid player in the long-term, the short-term concerns must now take priority. After dropping a pair of games to the Rays, Boston is mired at the bottom of the division with aloathesome 2-9 record. With a four-game set agains the Jays looming, the Sox have to be thinking sweep.
I still maintain that there’s plenty of time for the club to turn things around. But trailing the first-place Yankees by five games, Boston has to keep the quality of competition in mind. It’s unlikely that any team will be able to make up a large gap in the A.L. East, which means that the Sox can ill afford to fall further off the pace.
If, somehow, the team can pull itself together and run the Jays out of Fenway on a rail, they would claw back to 6-9 before next week’s West Coast road trip. That junket will feature two games against Oakland and four against the Angels before returning Boston to the East Coast by way of Camden Yards. If more losing ensues then things could be dire by the time the club gets back to Fenway.
If the Yankees continue on their current pace (and why wouldn’t they?), they would have roughly 16 or 17 wins by the end of the month. Being realistic, the Sox can’t afford to be more than the current five games out by that point. To keep pace Boston needs 10 more April wins, more or less.
10 wins in 15 games.
Of April’s remaining contests, the seven games against Toronto and Baltimore are the most critical. Those have the biggest impact on the division’s pecking order, and the Red Sox must view each game as a must-win scenario. Losing to East rivals would create a larger gulf between Boston and the rest of the teams, and that may prove insurmountable despite the long season.
Clay Buchholz will get things started on Friday, taking on Toronto’s Brett Cecil. Josh Beckett meets Jo-Jo Reyes on Saturday, and Jon Lester faces Jesse Litsch on Sunday. All of which is a lead-in to Monday’s Patriots Day matchup pitting Daisuke Matsuzaka against Ricky Romero.
If Dice-K can’t deliver, he’s likely to lose his spot in Boston’s rotation.