More from the day Gonzo was unveiled
An impactful move by the Red Sox is one that makes the Yankees take notice. Yes, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is fully aware of the type of damage Gonzalez might do against his team for the next several years.
“It makes them a great team,” Cashman said. “He’s a heck of a hitter. That’s a huge addition for Boston. We know what our areas of weaknesses are that we need to tackle, and that’s what we need to continue to focus on. But they just obviously improved themselves in a significant way. He’s one of the premier players at that position in the game.”
Gonzalez showed good sensibility in his greeting with the Boston press, immediately talking about his goal of helping the Red Sox topple the Yankees.
“It was very emotional and very up and down,” said Gonzalez. “But I’m very excited that everything was able to be worked out and I’m very excited to be here in Boston. And I’m ready to beat the Yanks.”
He’s also like to help the Red Sox raise some more of those banners — like the ones from 2004 and 2007.
“I’ve had five incredible years in San Diego. My dream as a kid was to play in the Major Leagues and be a Padre and my second dream was to be a Red Sox. So I’m very excited, God has been very, very good to me and I’m just very excited to start the season and look forward to a lot of world championships,” Gonzalez said.
“It was one of the things where you grow up and you always root for a National League team and an American League team and the Red Sox have always been the American League team that I rooted for and I think with Ted Williams and all those things and him being from San Diego and seeing what he did here, everyone knows he’s one of the greatest of all time, there’s always been a lot of connections between me and my heart and the Red Sox.”
Watching Gonzalez hit at Fenway figures to become a must-watch experience, much like Manny Ramirez during his prime years.
“He’s one of the very best hitters in the game, a left-handed hitter with a
tremendous ability to control the strike zone, hit, hit for power, has power to all fields. His natural stroke is probably to the opposite field which is a great fit for our ballpark,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “He hits the ball the other way with ease, so we
think he’s going to wear the wall out. Just going from PETCO to Fenway Park should do wonders for his overall production, not that it needs any help. He likes the ball away from him a little bit. He’s a thinking man’s hitter who controls the at-bats and knows what he wants to do up there and goes up to the plate with a plan every time.
“Defensively, he’s a plus fielder with great hands, good feet around the bag, and he can really throw. He’s a playmaker on defense and has outstanding makeup. He’s a high-character person who leads by example and wants to win. That and he’s working on his speed, he said, this winter, so he can get a lot of doubles to left.”
By the way, Gonzalez did not have a number on his jersey during his unveiling, but Mike Cameron will give him 23 once some friendly high-stakes negotiations are complete.
“We’re in discussion,” laughed Cameron. “You know, I’m going to get something nice for Christmas.”
As for Red Sox manager Terry Francona, his early Christmas present is getting to pencil Gonzalez into his lineup every day.
“This is one of the best hitters in baseball,” Francona said in an interview with WEEI radio in Boston. “This is a big move for us. We’re getting a middle of the order bat, a guy that’s won a couple of Gold Gloves. He’s still young. This is exciting. We gave up some good players to get him, but that’s the only way you can get a guy of his caliber.”
Francona could sense how much Epstein wanted to make the deal happen.
“This was an important one,” Francona said. “I could tell that Theo was really digging his heels in on this one. And I’m glad he did because when he feels that strongly it’s got a chance to really be good for us.”