Not even the good kind of hysteria, should such a thing exist. Already reeling from the news that deposed folk hero and twitchy weirdo Kevin Youkilis agreed the join the hated New York Yankees, Red Sox fans must now talk themselves off the ledge with news of delays in making the Mike Napoli signing official.

Worse yet, there isn’t actual “news” suggesting a reason for the delay. Instead it is just an information vacuum, greedily consuming all the hopes, fears, and insecurities of a fanbase still grappling with their status as last-place, also-ran ball club.

Well, that outta calm some jangled nerves. Wait, no it won’t do that at all. PANIC!

As Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston details, a delay in the official announcement has myriad potential causes. Most notably, changing or adding some verbiage to protect the Red Sox in the case of a non-serious pre-existing condition. The Red Sox added just such a clause to the contracts of both J.D. Drew and John Lackey ahead of their signings in Boston.

The Red Sox did not announce Drew’s signing of a five-year, $70 million deal until 52 days after agent Scott Boras said an agreement had been reached on Dec. 7, 2006. During that time, the sides negotiated language that voided either one, or both, of the last two years of the contract if Drew’s problematic right shoulder caused him to miss a certain number of games.

No reason to fret quite yet, paranoid Red Sox fans.

Okay. Feel free to fret a little bit. The entire “offered contract” thing is a little bit misleading; a semantic point made to increase the impact of this particular 140 character missive. But a bum hip is a bum hip, especially for a player with a significant portion of his value tied to his ability to squat over and over as part of his job.

I tend to agree with Marc Normandin at Over the Monster: health concerns are lessened when the deal is only three years, compared to the longer term of the Drew & Lackey deals. So long as the Red Sox and Napoli’s people can come to some sort of agreement to protect each side, there is no reason to believe this deal is in actual jeopardy. Little comfort to Red Sox fans who likely wish the Sox had gone ahead and bailed on the Lackey deal when they had the chance.