At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Like the Mounties, Red Sox Get Their Man (Again)

– Gonzalez Signing Imminent, Fills Last Important Hole –

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are famous for always getting their man … and so, it would seem, are the Boston Red Sox! Just days after plugging its notorious gap in center field by trading for the Indian’s Coco Crisp, the club apparently has acquired the final piece of its roster puzzle by striking a deal to bring slick-fielding free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to town.

The addition of Gonzalez, Crisp, and second baseman Mark Loretta gives the Sox a defensive strength up the middle they haven’t had since, well, October 2004, when Orlando Cabrera worked his magic at short and combined with center fielder Johnny Damon and second baseman Mark Bellhorn to deliver the World Series championship trophy to Fenway Park. The fact that Gonzalez is a banjo hitter at best should not be a problem as long as the eight guys batting in front of him do their jobs – and if they don’t, then what Gonzalez does won’t matter much anyway.

Having now filled its last important hole, the Red Sox roster appears to be largely set. If anything, look for the team to move infielder Tony Graffanino, who now is a man without a position, and a pitcher or two (including David Wells) before breaking camp. But until then, enjoy the fact that there actually will be nine quality players on the field – something many observers may have doubted just several days ago, when the Sox men seemed about to get away.

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