Was Cecil Cooper the Red Sox first baseman when they began planning for Adrian Gonzalez?

It seems he was on the Red Sox’s radar forever. Carl Crawford, on the other hand, appeared like Halley’s Comet — gone almost as quickly as he arrived.

Theo Epstein’s management team was brilliant in both its patient approach to prying Gonzalez away from the Padres, whose front office is staffed by former Epstein assistants, and in striking decisively to land Crawford while the Yankees and Rangers — both of whom saw Crawford as a backup plan — wrestled over Cliff Lee.

Fenway Park fits Gonzalez’s hitting style like a glove.

“I think he’s going to be unbelievable in Fenway Park,” Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer said. “He hit so many fly balls the other way, so many times (they) just died kind of helplessly before the warning track in Petco Park. I think he’s going to be a monster at Fenway Park.”

Crawford brings lots of speed, will hit above .300 and is as good a bet to lead the American League in runs as Gonzalez is to be the RBI leader.

Between them, they are a huge upgrade over the departing free agents they’re replacing (Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre), making the Red Sox a clear No. 1 on the list of winter meetings winners.


2. White Sox/Paul Konerko: Market forces and a monster 2010 got Konerko a three-year, $37.5-million extension, and the White Sox elevated themselves from afterthought to possible playoff favorite. To keep Konerko and add Adam Dunn, Chicago is raising its payroll by more than $20 million. 

3. Scott Boras/Jayson Werth: In preparation for his run at free agency, Werth switched from agent Jeff Borris to Boras, knowing he would get maximum value but might wind up somewhere unexpected. Boras may have been the only man in America who saw the 31-year-old Werth as a nine-figure player. He got $126 million over seven years — Boras’ best trick since getting the exact same deal for a worn-out Barry Zito. 

4. Hall of Fame weekend: The highly deserving Pat Gillick became the second person elected to the Hall in the two years since the Veterans Committee ballot was taken away from the living Hall of Famers, who never elected anybody. The late Ron Santo is a decent bet to make it three in three years next December. 

5. Tradition: The Baseball Writers Association of America maintained the integrity of its awards by voting down two proposed changes: postponing Manager of the Year votes until November to consider postseason play and creating a new award to honor relief pitchers. 

Honorable mention: Rangers: Despite continuing efforts, they seem unlikely to be standing when the Cliff Lee cakewalk ends, but they can tell their fans they gave it their best shot. Lee, 32 and bothered by back problems in 2010, is such a massively risky proposition on anything more than a three-year contract that it likely will prove better for the Rangers if they don’t sign him.


1. Angels: Crawford was the primary target a year after the loss of free agents John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, Chone Figgins and Darren Oliver, but he got away.

That strengthened Boras’ hand with Beltre, the most likely Plan B, who is looking for $75 million over five years. Can you build a marketing campaign around Hisanori Takahashi?

2. Yankees: Will Brian Cashman have to rappel down from the window of his Yankee Stadium office if Nolan Ryan charms Lee into staying with the Rangers?

The Red Sox took away Cashman’s Plan B for upgrading a thin rotation, which was to add Crawford and deal an outfielder (Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher) and prospects for the best starter available. 

3. Twins: In some ways the Angels’ 2010 slide was foreseeable given massive losses through free agency.

The Twins could be that team in 2011, with relievers Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch departing and Carl Pavano and Jim Thome still in limbo. 

4. Cardinals: The price of elite free agents keeps climbing, and that’s not a good thing when you have let Albert Pujols get within one season of free agency.

The Cubs haven’t shown themselves capable of the big deal under owner Tom Ricketts but could have $32 million coming off the books after 2011. How would that be for a Mongolian reversal? 

5. Marvin Miller: There’s high ground to be found in the recurring argument over whether Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame, but it remains unexplored. 

Honorable mention: Prince Fielder: The Brewers should have taken Daniel Hudson for him when the White Sox offered last summer.

Fielder now seems available but not desired. He will need to shape up and have a big 2011 to restore his value entering free agency. 

— Phil Rogers writes for the Chicago Tribune.