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One can only imagine that if former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green was running the Boston Red Sox, he would have said that Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford were not who we thought they were. On Saturday, the Red Sox finally let them off the hook, releasing them into the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine.

As reported by Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald, the Red Sox paid $12 million to the Dodgers so that they could start over. The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the hook for financial commitments that would have otherwise cost the Red Sox around $275 million, according to Silverman. Meanwhile, pitching prospects Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster are now property of the Red Sox. It has been 12 months since Boston felt this good about baseball. The Red Sox seemed assured of a playoff berth 12 months ago. Then, the team imploded, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein left town, and the Red Sox played nondescript baseball for the first five months of the season. Across New England, Red Sox fans rejoiced at the news of the trade.

The $2 billion baseball club has now saved the Red Sox from their worst nightmares for the second time in the past five years. In 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers took one clubhouse miscreant, Manny Ramirez off the hands of the Red Sox in a three-way deal. The deal paid off handsomely for the Dodgers at first; Ramirez was otherworldly in Los Angeles, but then it was discovered that some of that otherworldliness came from performance enhancing drugs.

The 2013 Red Sox will be far different from any Red Sox team in the past 15 years. For years, the Red Sox have shipped off the bit pieces of their farm system, the one-tool Triple-A prospects who weren’t quite good enough. David Murphy was one such prospect, known as a strong fielder with a questionable bat. Murphy was shipped off in the 2007 season for one Eric Gagne. Gagne, who was later outed as a user of performance-enhancing drugs and was out of baseball by the end of the following season, posted a 6.75 ERA for the Red Sox over two months of baseball. Murphy, meanwhile, has contributed to two consecutive American League pennants for the Rangers and is in the midst of a breakout season with a .878 OPS this year. Last winter, the Red Sox acquired A’s all-star relief pitcher Andrew Bailey in exchange for outfielder Josh Reddick, who had played in 143 games and was still just 24 years old when he was shipped out to Oakland. Reddick has launched 26 home runs this year. Ever since the idea of “closer by committee” fell by the wayside at the end of the 2003, only the tested are accepted in the Red Sox organization.

The tested, like J.D. Drew, who opted out of his contract with the Dodgers into the waiting arms of the Red Sox for five years and $70 million before the 2007 season. The tested, like the Japanese World Baseball Classic hero Daisuke Matsuzaka, acquired for a total price of over $100 million before the 2007 season. The tested, like John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, each established stars on their respective teams before signing big free agent contracts with Boston.

Next year’s untested team will have none of those players, with the exception of John Lackey. What the 2013 Red Sox will have is an opportunity that New England sports teams receive only every so often, the opportunity to exceed expectations. The Red Sox will no longer be the New England Yankees. They won’t have an all-star infield or an all-star outfield. They will be their own baseball team.

All stats from BaseballReference.com