It's not an amount beyond what the Sox could afford, but it's also not uncharacteristic of the Red Sox to balk at years, rather than overall dollar figures, when it comes to player contracts. In a league where contracts are guaranteed, teams don't want to be stuck with albatrosses on the roster, eating up payroll, toward the end of a contract.
I get all that. But dudes, we also happen to really need a freaking catcher around here, with Jason Varitek also presumably heading for greener pastures. I think everyone knows this as well.
So far, then, the reactions I've seen to this out on the Intertubes have fallen somewhere on a spectrum of cognitive dissonance between two main points of view:
Reaction 1. This is only one offseason move, and it's still too early to conclude that this means the Red Sox will essentially have a broomstick stood up inside a barrel wearing catchers' gear behind the plate for 2011. Saltalamacchia could work out, or the Red Sox could have something more up their sleeves. Getting a big bat seems to be the direction they're heading, if rumors about Justin Upton or Jayson Werth have merit. And it's been said Theo has coveted Salty for quite some time-- he didn't play a big role in 2010, but his acquisition from the Rangers could turn out to have been a bigger move than any of us expect, especially since Salty's value had dropped because of an issue (throwing the ball back to the pitcher) that is at least theoretically correctible.
Reaction 2. WTF ARE YOU DOING THEO THAT'S IT 2011 SEASON COMPLETELY RUINED ALREADY GATHER THE PITCHFORKS LIGHT UP THE TORCHES AND AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS IN KENMORE SQUARE RIGHT. THE F. NOW.
Maybe my football obsession has numbed me to stronger feelings over the Red Sox right now (I've been trying to keep up with at least some Red Sox blogging during football season, but it's hard; I tend to get into one of my teams or the other, in-season, and completely forget about everything else), but I'm pretty firmly in the first camp described above. At least, for right now.
However, I can't say that even the more unreasonable reactions aren't kind of...endearing to me, on some level. Even on November 23, this town is ready to kick somebody's ass over the makeup of our baseball team, and prematurity aside, there's something to be said for the way that collective instinct can keep the front office honest.
Sam, a dual fan caught between even more drastic emotional extremes over this deal, perfectly described this ominous-but-still-rationalizing atmosphere among Boston loyalists today:
Possibly Salty will be just fine and he absolutely will not get out to a slow start that will cause every Boston-area media outlet to start screaming hysterically for his blood as fans rend their clothes and sacrifice pigeons on altars decorated with Jason Varitek bobbleheads… but it’s Boston, you know? I already have my Varitek bobblehead ready to go.
And so while I'm siding with the voices of reason right now, I also have to admit, I do know where my pitchfork and torches are, in case I need them at a later date. I'll assist Sam with her Varitek bobblehead sacrificial voodoo altar, too, should it become necessary.
No pressure, Theo.