As a general rule, I try not to speak ill of fellow paisans. It’s not a good look, and you can never really know who is connected. But, at this point, Rick Porcello could be Michael Corleone’s kid, and I can no longer bite my tongue.

There are many, many things in the world that confound me. For weeks, I’ve wondered how the astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space, returned younger than his twin brother, Mark, according to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Confounding.

My wife, she’s confounding. I can’t understand her at all.

But, perhaps, the thing that confounds me the most is the contract the Red Sox threw at Rick Porcello last season. The organization saw it fit to offer the now 27 year-old Porcello, who had one notable season in Detroit in 2014 and 4.39 lifetime ERA, a four-year $82.5 million contract.

Come again?

I understand that spring training is spring training. You can’t put a ton of stock in practice games, but Porcello, who is being paid like an ace for many organizations, coughed up eight runs on 10 hits to Tampa’s JV squad on Sunday.

Is this cause for concern? Any more cause for concern than Clay Buchholz’s crap-ass spring so far?

Maybe.

Porcello, a sinker-ball pitcher, may find himself flustered with Moe and Curly starting at the corners, muffing ground balls. And admittedly, Porcello started to show signs of life after the All-Star Break last season, mostly under Torey Lovullo’s watch. Porcello was going late into games, and posted a 3.53 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Still, if you think these numbers justify a $20 million contract this season, you need to stop sniffing the paint.

I don’t hate Porcello, but I don’t like Porcello. Porcello is kale—it’s not offensive, but it doesn’t taste like anything. I’m really not sure what to make of Rick Porcello.

Obviously, the bloated contract is irritating. Not that I care what John Henry does with his money, but I do believe in earning your keep. Despite a largely disparate economic gap in this country, I believe you should be paid according to results. Yes, I’ll leave the Smurf Village and join the real world again soon, but Porcello seems, so far, to be a polished lemon.

The problem, as Goose Gossage so eloquently started and DWS writer Alan Miller concurred, is that stat-nerds are now dictating the game and somewhat responsible for these senseless contracts.

It’s also nearly impossible to read Porcello. Other than the 2012 brawl with Kevin Youkalis, I’m not sure I’ve ever any emotion out Porcello that wouldn’t qualify him for side-work as a mortician. While I understand that a calm, imperturbable affect is good for a starting pitcher, for $20 million, you’d like to see some fire, some passion.

There’s also the fact that President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski had no problems dealing the $20 million man for now-Met Yoenis Cespedes. If Dombrowski saw what the Red Sox apparently see in Porcello, it seems strange that one would deal a legitimate pitching prospect for a position player.

The good news is that Red Sox are playing in division that is wide open. But if the hometown team hopes to redeem themselves after two last place finishes in a row, it’s going to start with the starting pitching.

And my paisan Porcello needs to prove he’s worth some of the money they’re giving him.

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Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His most recent books include Hangover Breakfasts, a collection of short prose pieces (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), a novella titled Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and his new and selected poems titled My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). A new collection of short fiction titled Almost Christmas will be released in 2017. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com

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