He gave the Sox a big year and a World Series title.
He gave their accountants palpitations, plus two years of medical bills.
Was he worth it?
Don’t bother to call MIT. You don’t need an economist to tell you what the answer is from a cost-benefit analysis.
But the bottom line is not always the bottom line. There are a few other factors to consider. A grand slam in the clinching game of the American League Championship Series. A three-run double in the clinching game of the World Series. Duck boats. Bob Marley’s "Three Little Birds." Diving catches and jarring collisions and a uniform that looked ill-fitting without the dirt stains.
And an entire region, still reeling from murder and mayhem on a Marathon Monday, feeling just a little less pain and fear and uncertainty in those moments they stood together and adopted Victorino’s anthem as their own:
“Don’t worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing’s gonna be all right”
All of that goes away if Ben Cherington had not believed in Victorino, who for one splendid summer made all the skeptics look silly for thinking that the Flyin' Hawaiian had been permanently grounded. They had not counted on the reservoirs of swagger and sweat and sheer will that had previously produced postseason magic in Philadelphia and would create one more rendezvous with destiny in Boston.
"My opinion is, we wouldn’t have won the World Series without him in 2013," Cherington said Monday night when the question was put to him. "Obviously the DL time got in the way of him making the same kind of contribution the last two years, unfortunately, but on the other hand just what he did in 2013 makes us feel, anyway, like he was a worthwhile deal.
"We can dice out the contract and values and all that, but when I think about him I think about a guy that was maybe one of the more passionate baseball players I’ve ever been around, who played with incredible grit and was a tough, smart player.
"We wish him well. I also think what he did and what he’s about likely stays with several guys who are still in our clubhouse."
Some of the shine clearly wore off Victorino the past two seasons, many fans not hesitating to gripe about his inability to stay on the field because of his constant leg and back problems, and surgery on his thumb. Victorino was not oblivious to the disaffection that came his way, and he took it personally this spring whenever the suggestion was made that Rusney Castillo, younger and healthier, was a better option in right field.
And when Victorino strained his right hamstring in the third week of the season and went back on the disabled list, there were a lot of knowing nods. He came back in May, broke down again in less than two weeks, and went back on the DL for the sixth time in his tenure with the Sox. This time, the Sox took their time bringing him back, Victorino not returning to the big league club again until early July.
Now he goes to the Angels, who are frontrunners in the American League West, with a chance to return to the postseason for a seventh time. He already has two World Series rings with a chance to win another, which can’t be said for those he left behind on Yawkey Way.
And years from now, when Sox fans reflect on Victorino’s time here, the bet here is that they will not dwell on the broken-down version. They will, instead, remember the soundtrack of joy he left them with.