This team ... it's just so ... so ... different.
Carl Crawford. Adrian Gonzalez. No Adrian Beltre. No Victor Martinez.
Weird. And that's just really the beginning of the changes -- the most important part, of course, but still just the beginning.
Weird is a good word to use when thinking about Crawford roaming the Fenway Park outfield wearing a Red Sox jersey. He's roamed the outfield a lot, of course, but never wearing a jersey that didn't have a devilish Ray on it. It's new. It's different.
And it's certainly nice.
Thinking about Adrian Gonzalez as a Red Sox is much easier. I mean, haven't all Red Sox fans been dreaming about Gonzalez standing next to first base, with his glove on his hip and a "B" on his hat, for years? Theo Epstein has.
He makes dreams come true.
But Crawford. Now that's a different story. Crawford is the guy Sox fans dreaded to see walk into the park. He's the one that would steal base after base, slap ball after ball, and score run after run. All for Tampa Bay. All to beat Boston. He was good at it. Real good. Too good, Theo decided. And now he'll do all that and those runs will show up under "HOME" and not "VISITOR" on the scoreboard.
Another dream comes true.
But how will all this mesh together? It's not that Theo Epstein found puzzle pieces that will slide in perfectly. These puzzle pieces are certainly great, but doesn't this puzzle already have four corner pieces?
Gonzalez is coming to town and will take over the first base role. That pushes Kevin Youkilis - Gold Glove winning Kevin Youkilis, at that - to third base. He's good at the hot corner as well, but it's certainly not where Youkilis should be for the rest of his career.
Crawford, too, will be in the outfield. Center, maybe, or left. Wherever he goes, Jacoby Ellsbury's role is greatly impacted. Mike Cameron and Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick and Daniel Nava, too. Crawford is going to fit in that outfield for sure, but as he gets shoved in, other pieces will become less important and, certainly, non-existent.
And now there's no Victor Martinez or Adrian Beltre. Sure, they weren't in Boston for long, but they were certainly considered a couple of fan favorites by many. V-Mart, the quiet leader who dented the Monster and hit the gap. Beltre, the stellar defender who dented left fielders and hit ... left fielders.
Free agency has guaranteed this type of roster shakeup year after year. But even so, when's the last time a Red Sox team has been so dramatically re-shifted? Last season the Red Sox added a few big names in Beltre, John Lackey and Mike Cameron, but this was still David Ortiz's and Dustin Pedroia's and Youkilis' team. They were still the stars.
But, sometimes -- and hopefully it's true in this case -- different is better.
HEAD SCRATCHER OF THE WEEK
Red Sox sign Hideki Okajima, DFA Max Ramirez
Okajima was not himself last season. What he was last season is what he may be from now on, but the Red Sox needed to take a chance and sign a lefty. Will he last the year? He could if he regains his stuff. Many Sox fans are grumbling, but what's the hurt in taking a chance? Don't even cite the money: $1.75 million is chump change to this team.
The curious part of this deal is the release of Max Ramirez, who is now a Cub. The Sox almost got Ramirez when they almost traded Mike Lowell. That fell through, but Boston finally landed Ramirez recently ... only to release him.
I'm hoping we won't even remember the name Max Ramirez by July. I'm hoping he becomes another Andy Marte. But that's about as likely as Okajima being an All-Star this year.