It's official. Adrian Gonzalez (who, according to baseball-reference, has no middle name) is a Boston Red Sox. I've been pinching myself all day, and this is no dream - I can hardly contain myself.
I watched the press conference this morning (which started late, shocking), and was entertained and intrigued by turns. It's obvious that the Red Sox front office has coveted Gonzalez for years, almost to the point that Theo was more of a stalker than a scout. The baseball numbers are promising to say the least, and Boston.com's Extra Bases posted a very revealing graphic this afternoon:
Because Gonzalez has been hitting in Petco Park for the last five years, his numbers are an understatement - and they were nothing to sneeze at to begin with. The Padres ballpark is where doubles go to die, as illustrated by the graph above, which plots the location of Gonzalez's batted balls last year and overlays them in Fenway Park. As you can see, there are at least "15 balls at Petco that would have been hits at Fenway and most of those would have been for extra bases."
I'm sure most of you are aware that the lefthanded slugger was playing through some pain last year... I can't wait to see what Gonzalez will be able to do in a friendly ballpark when he's healthy.
Aside from that, I'm confident that Gonzalez will fit into the clubhouse with no trouble at all: he seems like a quiet, friendly, confident guy, and as Mike Cameron pointed out, it doesn't hurt that he's bilingual.
He also already has an impressive grasp on what it takes to be embraced by the fans of New England (being a top player doesn't hurt). Gonzalez had quite a few quotable quips during the presser, but the two that come most quickly to mind cover subjects near and dear to the heart of any true Boston fan. The first? "I'm very excited to be here in Boston. And I'm ready to beat the Yanks."
Slam. Dunk. Put down the Evil Empire and I'm with you. If that wasn't enough, he lavished praise on Ted Williams, and then mentioned that his "good friend" Dave Roberts had nothing but good to say about the Red Sox and their fans. Swoon:
The biggest controversy so far seems to be over jersey number. Gonzalez wore #23 in San Diego, but it currently belongs to Sox outfielder Mike Cameron. Cameron had initially wanted #25 or #44 when he came over, but #25 was Mikey Lowell's, and the memory of Jason Bay as #44 was still fresh in everyone's mind. Now, it's conceivable that Cameron will take #25, and give #23 to Gonzalez in if the new first baseman will make a donation to a Boys and Girls Club (via Boston.com).
So when can I get one of these jerseys? They're not on the Yawkey Way or Redsox.com online shops, and I was hoping to ask for one for Christmas. Hurry it up, MLB - you're losing money, and we all know that's not your style.