Martinez was a risk worth taking

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Martinez was a risk worth taking

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Imagine you're walking home late from work one night, when two muggers jump out from the shadows and chase you down a dark alley.

Let's say you're pretty fast, and after a few seconds, create a little separation. You're moving like Ellsbury on the base paths, except your ribs are feeling fine. These two thugs have no clue who they're messing with. You're ready to leave them in your dust or, considering where you're running, "in your discarded pieces of alley trash" and cruise back into civilization and safety.

When all of a sudden . . . a ditch.

NStar or KeySpan or whoever was working underground, and they're not quite finished. The missing piece in the road is about seven feet wide, which means it's probably doable, but at the same time, we're not talking about hopping a little puddle here. This is a significant leap, and if you fail, you don't only end up with wet socks. You'll fall far, and hard; we're talking broken bones. Maybe worse. Meanwhile, these muggers are older, and drunker, plus they're wearing Timberlands there's no way they could make it over.

You stop for a split second to contemplate, but there isn't a lot of time.

On one hand, attempting the jump is dangerous. In a perfect world if this were just a normal day, a leisurely walk you'd see this enormous street divot and turn the other way. But now, it's either take the risk, or take on these muggers. You either adapt to the situation and roll the dice, or you say "Nah, too risky. I'll just empty my pockets and hope they don't hurt me."

They're now mere steps away. It's time to make a decision, and . . .

Pop quiz, hot shot: What do you do?

What do you do?

I can't speak for everyone, but if you're a member of the Red Sox front office, I think I know your answer.

You'd throw your money and iPhone and pray that they're gentle. You'd look at that ditch, calculate the risk, and decide it's not worth it. You'd be too worried about the potential consequences of acting a little crazy, even if the potential reward far outweighed them. You'd probably head home in one piece, but you'd be a little lighter in the wallet. That is, if you even still had one.

And you know what?

I couldn't argue with your logic; it's actually pretty sound.

You played it safe, and I understand why you did. But that doesn't mean agree with it. That doesn't mean given the circumstances that it's the decision I'd make for myself. That doesn't mean I think you're right. But I'll give it to you. You were very logical. Well done.

Do you see the difference?

OK, if you couldn't tell already, this column isn't just about an imaginary run-in with muggers. It is, of course, about the Red Sox controversial decision to offer salary arbitration to Felipe Lopez.

But seriously, it's about the fact that they just let the No. 3 hitter in their already lacking line-up leave for Detroit over a matter of 2 million a year and the fact their defense for letting him go is based on a series of very logical points, but ones that are at their most powerful in an unrealistic world.

Yes, in a perfect world, you don't want to give a lucrative contract to a catcher who isn't that great at catching, and who, with age, is only getting worse. Four years down the road, you don't want to pay 12.5 million to a 36-year-old DH. In a perfect world, you'd compile your argument, make it all nice and organized in fancy folders, sit down with V-Mart and don't get up until you can convince him why "this" is all he's worth, and that he if he ever wants to play baseball again, he has to accept.

But this world is far from perfect, and the Sox can't just meet a dangerous obstacle, shrug their shoulders and take the safe route home. They have to react. They're not alone in this alley. There are gangs of thugs from New York, Detroit and Anaheim looking to take advantage of those who want to play it safe. And they're coming after what the Sox have not to mention everything else they want.

I'm not saying that this team needs to be reckless. I'm not asking them to start jumping 30-foot ditches. I'm not saying they should go on another 2007 J.D. DrewJulio Lugo shopping spree. I'm just saying that every once in a while, when a certain situation arises, it might be worth toning down the dogmatism and breaking free from basic logic.

Because in this business, logic isn't batting 1.000.

Logic said Pedro Martinez was going to break down, and he did. Logic said Johnny Damon was going to fall off, and he didn't. Logic said Tim Lincecum would win a World Series someday. After 2005, logic sure as hell didn't say Edgar Renteria would win a World Series MVP. You just don't know.

But with Victor Martinez, we kind of do. Our instincts are pretty solid. We know he's a great player, but more importantly, that he can be great in Boston something so many acquisitions, like Drew, Lugo and Renteria never could. We know that he's getting up there in age, but that he has a few good years left; a few really good years. This isn't a Varitek in 2004 situation where the skills especially at the plate were in a clear free fall, and you knew the last year or two was going to be a mess.

Really, is there any doubt in your mind that Victor Martinez will still be a very effective DH at 36 years old? Yeah, I know, he won't be able to catch anymore, but guess what? When you're the Boston Red Sox, it's OK to pay your mid-30-something DH 12.5 million on the last year of his contract. First of all, because you have the money. Second of all, because you have the money. I mean, come on, you're doing the same thing this year!

Re-signing Victor Martinez wasn't about the Red Sox breaking the bank on a franchise cornerstone. This wasn't the kind of deal that cripples an organization, especially not this one. This four year50 million contract was merely a small risk, and a worthwhile one at that. It was a risk the Sox surely didn't want to take, but they had so much more to gain by doing so. But instead, they played it safe and let another one of their competitors reap the benefits.

And for 2 million a year.

John Henry wouldn't miss 2 million if he lost it in an alley way mugging.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Thomas excited for reunion with Green

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Thomas excited for reunion with Green

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.

It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.

Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.

On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.

They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.

“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”

Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.

“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.

There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.

Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.

“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”

Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.

What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.

“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”

Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.

He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.

In the games without him, they were just 13-23.

Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.

And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.

“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

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Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.

REMEMBERING FERNANDEZ

A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."

STILL CAN'T RUN

The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.

SLOPPY DOLPHINS

Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.

INJURIES

Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.

ANTHEM STATEMENTS

Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.

UP NEXT

The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.