Dice-K, Red Sox beat Royals

Daisuke Matsuzaka, returning from the DL and pitching his first game in well over a month, led the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Royals in the finale of their four-game series. Matsuzaka was outstanding in his seven innings of work where he allowed one run over five inning. It was his first major league win in over 16 months. Jacoby Ellsbury and Cody Ross led the offensive with Ellsbury homering in the first inning while Ross finished with 3 RBIs.

Fresh start– Michael Vega looks at Matsuzaka’s outing yesterday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka eyes a strong future, but isn’t contemplating free agency– Alex Speier looks at yesterday’s start as well as the future for Matuszaka.

Careful on signing Papi– Steve Buckley says the Red Sox need to be careful this off season when deciding on whether or not to sign David Ortiz.

School of hard Sox– Michael Silverman looks back at the blockbuster trade and says he cannot grade it until he sees what the team does with the freed up cash.

[UPDATED at 5:30 p.m. with a few notable stories I missed this morning.]

Twenty-four hours that turned the Red Sox inside out– Rob Bradford has an in-depth look at what took place Friday and Saturday for Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto including quotes from Gonzalez and Punto.

After losing to Rockies, Josh Beckett takes on L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers– Bradford also has the exchange between Beckett and an L.A. columnist following last night’s game.

Where do the Red Sox go from here?– Gary Dzen has a number of questions/and answers about the future of the Red Sox in a photo slideshow format.

The Patriots cut their roster down to 75 players yesterday. Among the cuts were wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth, both of which were surprising to many.  The roster will once again be shrunk down Friday, when it will go down to 53 players, the mandated number for the regular season. Aaron Hernandez was also reportedly signed to a five-year contract extension worth $40 million.

Hernandez $41.1 million extension shows Patriots evolving– Greg A. Bedard says the future is bright with Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski locked up long-term.

Branch backs pro’s attitude– Ron Borges looks at Deion Branch and gets his thoughts on Gaffney and Stallworth being released.

Hernandez and Welker are world’s apart– Tom E. Curran looks at Hernandez’s extension and he and Welker are two different situations, with Hernandez being a much younger guy where the Patriots are looking to the long-term future.

For more on this Patriots visit Patriotslinks.com.

Did anyone else catch this picture over the weekend on Joe Haggerty’s Facebook page? I thought beer wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse, yet alone the dugout. Maybe LeLacheur Park is considered a road game. I guess he knew the rule on that one, unlike a few weeks ago in Cleveland with the Red Sox.

Still Trying To Absorb Sox Mega-Deal, Patriots Sign Up Hernandez

The weekend trade/salary dump by the Red Sox is still the topic of conversation, and attention is turning to how the future will play out for this franchise.  What will the 2013 Red Sox look like, who will be the manager, and will they even be competitive?

Where do Red Sox go from here? A challenging reload — but not a rebuild — awaits  As usual, Alex Speier goes deep, look at every area of the team and what options they have.

Red Sox just getting started? – Joe McDonald thinks at the team is only getting started in making changes, but that Bobby Valentine might just survive it all.

Red Sox will make culture change with blockbuster deal – Sean McAdam says that the Sox need to avoid trying for the quick fix.

The most ridiculous thing I saw all weekend was in the Globe Sunday Baseball notes from Nick Cafardo:

Adrian Gonzalez’s comments to ESPNdeportes.com are laughable: “In Boston, there is always a novel — in here, they never talk about baseball; it’s always the same. That’s one of the reasons why I almost never talk to the press here. Very few times they ask me about baseball. But most of the time it’s about gossip, rumors, plots, well . . . a soap opera.” A soap opera created by whom? The media, or by you, Adrian, and your partners in crime?

What’s laughable is that Cafardo and some of this comrades are unable to see that Gonzalez is exactly right. Baseball in many ways for much of the media has become secondary to whatever drama or soap opera can be crafted to fill time on sports radio or generate an appearance on CSNNE or NESN to talk about said drama. Are the players blameless for these dramas? Of course not, but the media takes these things, runs with them and turns them into 10-times whatever they were to begin with.

The Patriots locked in the second half for their tight end duo by coming to terms with Aaron Hernandez on a reported 5-year, $40 million extension which is tacked onto the end of his rookie contract, which still has this season and next to run.

Hernandez signs 5-year extension with Patriots – Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots keeping their dynamic dup intact.

It’s also the first cutdown day for the Patriots, who need to be down to 75 players by 4:00pm.  Donte Stallworth is among those who have been cut already, shredding my notion that the Patriots would keep both he and Deion Branch on the final roster.

Breaking the news – Mark Farinella says that you can’t possibly expect to get real news from house organ media outlets like NESN and Kraft Sports Productions.

Why does Belichick trust this man? – After three preseason games, Hector Longo is demanding the head of Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

Ben Cherington, Red Sox Send Clear Message With Blockbuster

When Ben Cherington ascended to the position of GM of the Red Sox, he made sure to call attention to his own deliberate style, noting that he tends to gather as much information as possible and not rush into decisions.

I’ll admit, I’ve had my moments where I felt that this quality of my NH homeboy would work against him when it came to being able to pull off big deals.

With his historic blockbuster deal today, Cherington has made it clear that he is capable of thinking and performing big. In one move, he was able to hit a giant reset button and do what many thought impossible – find someone to take Josh Beckett, and clear out the enormous salaries of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, while still getting something in return.

That someone was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who, with new ownership, are looking to make a big slash. They’ve wanted Gonzalez, a Southern California native who had his best years down the road in San Diego, and to get him, they were willing to take on the contracts of Beckett and Crawford.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston was in the lead on this story:

However, in a column that sure seems prophetic, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times pretty much proposed this deal on Thursday morning:

Directing the dream of Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers

While Larry Lucchino was heavily involved in this deal, working extensively with his Dodgers counterpart Stan Kasten, this deal belongs to Cherington, who in one swoop corrected a number of organizational mistakes, removed a lightning rod from the clubhouse, and put the team in a position to be able to build the team he wants going forward.

His press conference announcing the deal showed a confident Cherington, who had the answers, and was eager to start the process of building the team he wants to build.

The offseason has begun for the Red Sox. I wasn’t crazy with the idea of dumping Gonzalez, but I’m not overly broken up over his departure either. While he was terrific last season, and showed signs of late of rounding into form, (he also hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat with the Dodgers tonight.) he just never quite captured the affection of the fans as much as we hoped.

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On a completely unrelated note, I felt really, really bad for Don Criqui last night. At 72, he’s still got the voice, but just cannot keep up with the action, and keep his facts straight. I lost track of the player misidentifications, the errors (Nate Ebner was not a “free agent” from Ohio State.) and just general confusion that was on display in that telecast last night.

It’s time for the Krafts to make a move on their preseason telecasts.