Oh, and about Victorino's contract...
I wasn't going to get into this, but then this happened and I got curious...
Sure, maybe Cherington's just being nice, and I don't mean to be not nice. I do have a short memory, though, so I couldn't help wondering, Did Victorino really make a big difference for the Red Sox in 2013, when they won the World Series?
That was his first season with the Red Sox, and he did play well in his 122 regular-season games. But the Sox finished five games ahead of the second-place Rays, so it's hard to argue that Victorino made a big difference there. The Sox did finish just one game ahead of the A's for purposes of postseason seeding, which meant the Sox matched up against the wild-card Rays instead of the Central-winning Tigers. Which might have helped.
But it's largely for the postseason that Victorino is remembered. After all, he delivered (it's said) the series-clinching hit in the Division Series ... and the League Championship Series ... and the World Series. Which was unprecedented, and might not be duplicated for a long, long while.
In that Division Series, the Red Sox outscored the Rays 22-6 in the first two games, lost a nail-biting Game 3, and won a nail-biting Game 4 to clinch. It's a bit of a stretch to describe Victorino's Game 4 hit as a "clincher" -- which it has been, today -- because while his seventh-inning single did give the Sox a 2-1 lead, they wound up winning 3-1. He did reach base 10 times in the series: 6 singles, 4 (!) HBP.
In the ALCS against the Tigers, on the other hand, he reached only five times in six games: 3 hits, 2 HBP. But one of those hits was a grand slam in Game 6 that turned a 2-1 deficit into 5-2 lead. Gotta rank among the 10 biggest hits in Red Sox history, yeah? At least since World War II?
In the interest of precision, I'll mention that the Red Sox had at least a 50/50 chance of winning Game 6 before Victorino stepped to the plate -- they had the bases loaded with just one out -- and of course even if they'd lost that one, they would've had Game 7 at home the next night. Granted, Justin Verlander would have been a tough assignment.
Finally, while Victorino's bases-clearing double did give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead in Game 6 against the Cardinals in the World Series, the Sox wound up winning the game 6-1. And that double was one of Victorino's two hits in the whole series. Aside from that hit, anyone else would likely have done better.
So would the Red Sox have won yet another championship 2013 without him?
Of course it's impossible to know. We could say roughly the same things about at least a dozen members of that team. Everybody gets a ring, and some of the credit.
A more interesting question for Cherington, I think, is this: Knowing what you know now, would you have signed Shane Victorino for three years and $39 million?
And if he's being honest, I think answer is probably no.