Sox turn to Victorino

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Sox turn to Victorino

There's some uneasiness in Red Sox Nation after the report that the Sox have signed Shane Victorino to a free agent contract worth 39M over three years.

But you know who doesn't mind? The headline writers and copy editors.

Victorino Lap!

Anyone used that one yet?

Sox Get Low Down and Dirty with Shane.

Actually, that one sucks.

Victorino Was His Name-O

Eh, that one too.

The Thrill of Victorino.

OK, that's better.

But either way, over the next three years, we'll see and hear them all. Over and over and over. Or we can only hope, because if Victorino's in the headlines that means the Sox money is well spent. Something we haven't been able to say very often when 'Ol John Henry pries open his wallet.

So, what is there to like about Victorino?

First of all, he's a good dude. Great in the clubhouse and in the community, and seems to already have a strong relationship with at least one of his new teammates.

Despite turning 32 last week, Victorino still has some speed. (He stole 39 bases last season.)

He has the ability to play centerfield, which should come in handy after Ellsbury's annual injury.

Lastly, after seven and a half years in Philly, he's obviously well-accustomed to playing in an insane mediafan atmosphere.

But and of course there's a but when the first positive thing you say about a guy is that he's a "good dude," then clearly there are a few things missing. In Victorino's case (as if the outcry from Red Sox Nation wasn't enough indication), more than a few things. For instance:

Three years and 39M is a lot to pay for a guy who, in a perfect world, is your fourth outfielder.

Thirty-two isn't older but it's getting for a speed guy, and it doesn't help that Victorino's coming off what was easily the worst season of his life, with career-lows in batting average (.255), OBP (.321) and OPS (.704).

So, OK. It's far from perfect. Maybe this is more than you want to pay for Shane Victorino, especially when it's exactly what you just paid for Mike Napoli.

But let's forget, 39M is nothing for the Red Sox. And when it's only spaced over three years, it's not going hurt their flexibility in the long term. It will be give their young prospects just enough time to prepare themselves for a takeover.

And if it doesn't work out with Victorino (or Napoli), or the prospects are ready earlier than anticipated? Trade time. By the deadline in 2014, Victorino and Napoli will have a year and half and less than 20M left on the deal. Someone will take them off the Sox hands.

And that's the worst-case scenario.

Best case?

To the Victorino goes the spoils.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett is willing to admit it. 

"Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot," he told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. "But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding, and get ready."

Never was it more clear than on Sunday that Bennett has been hobbled by the injuries he's dealing with. He's coped with an ankle injury since Week 5 in Cleveland that has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches, but against the Rams it appeared to severely impact his performance. 

He saw four targets and caught two for four yards. As a blocker -- the facet of his game that stood out more than his receiving ability early this season -- he was called for two holds and had difficulty keeping his assignments in check, both in the run game and in pass protection. 

Asked if he may benefit from a week off, Bennett said he planned to continue to play.

"I never thought about that. I just keep going," he said. "I'm like the energizer bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it's [expletive] when you're out there playing with different injuries. You can't do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because youre dealing with different things . . . 

"But throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that's the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it's adjusting as the game goes on."

He added: "The thing about this sport is it's always something. You never go throuigh a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there's a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and [with] some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league . . . go on IR and things like that. But it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance."

Bennett was back at practice Thursday after he wasn't spotted there on Wednesday. He may be helped by the long week leading up to Monday's game against the Ravens. It could mean an extra day of rest and recovery.

Sometimes, he said, it's difficult not to be out there.

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's like, thank God. I needed that today," he said. "It varies each week. . . I'll fight through whatever and I think that's something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I'm going to try to give them everything I got no matter what."

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

The NHL Network is terrific. Its programming is the best of any of the four major sports leagues’ channels, its talent is outstanding and it shows a lot of cool games across various leagues.  

Players mess up though. 

In the network’s recently released ranking of the 40 best goaltenders of all time, the Bruins were well-represented, but so too was insanity. We’re talking Jonathan Quick in the top 20 (No. 16!), Marc-Andre Fleury top 25 (No. 21!) and Corey Crawford top 30 (No. 26!). Those are just a few of the head-scratchers. 

Tim Thomas was one of seven Bruins on the list, coming in at No. 27. Other Bruins ranked were Bernie Parent (No. 12), Frank Brimsek (No. 23), Rogie Vachon (No. 25), Tiny Thompson (No. 28), Gerry Cheevers (No. 29), Andy Moog (No. 36). Here's the full list, per Mark Lazerus. 

Statistically, Tuukka Rask deserves a place on this list if Fleury and Crawford are going to be that high, but we’ll save the Rask arguments for literally every other second of my life. 

[OK, real quick: Rask has the highest career save percentage of all time. Quick sits No. 17 and Fleury is 32nd. This doesn’t need to be completely statistics based, but it also shouldn’t be completely how-many-Cup-teams-were-on-based. Honestly, I can’t tell what this list is based on at all. Like Cristobal Huet had a better career save percentage than Fleury has.]

Anyway, everyone else hated the list, too.