Curt Schilling has repeatedly said that the Sox got rid of an MVP in Adrian Gonzalez to make this week's blockbuster deal with Los Angeles happen. While Gonzalez has performed well in his time with Boston, and has far and away been the closest to living up to the slew of big contracts handed out by Red Sox management in the past two seasons, he is more than dispensable in the big picture. While his gold glove caliber defense and RBI numbers have been outstanding, the expectation for him was that his power numbers from his time at pitcher's haven Petco Park would project to astronomical at Fenway Park. That simply has not been the case.
Personally I think that the power production that is thought to be needed from certain positions is vastly overrated, and the lack of home runs out of the 1B position is not a major concern, especially with David Ortiz at DH. That is one of the reasons the Dodgers were so willing to part with James Loney, who has consistently hovered around the 10-15 home run mark with the Dodgers. My take on that is if the guy is still driving in 90 runs, and the overall goal of the game of baseball is to score runs, why does that matter?
However, the money Gonzo was receiving from Boston was worthy of that perennial MVP that Schilling thinks Adrian is. That money will be better spent allocated towards the true downfalls of this team moving forward, namely the entire pitching staff. The arms in this deal, outlined in Norm's reaction to the deal, give the Sox a foundation towards where they need to be to get back into the playoff picture. De La Rosa and Webster become two of the top prospects in the organization, which has seen a steep drop in pitching depth since the days of Buccholz, Papelbon, and Lester breezing through the organization. The farm system is loaded with positional talent for the near future with Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks, and down the road with Xavier Boegarts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
It may take a few years and better luck in the free agent market, but we could be looking at a fresh start for an organization that looked to be on the verge of perennial dominance when Pedroia and Ellsbury came up with MVP type seasons in their first four seasons. If those two players can be extended and even just a couple of the aforementioned prospects pan out, this deal may be looked back on the turning point for the Boston Red Sox making a return to relevance later in the decade. The Los Angeles Dodgers gave Ben Cherington a chance to wipe away the poor signings of the Theo Epstein regime and start fresh with a new outlook and an education on the peril of big free agent signings. Let's hope he takes advantage of it.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
To get straight to the chase, here are the specifics of what has been transpiring over the past two days, and is now official between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers:
Red Sox obtain:
1B James Loney
OF/1B Jerry Sands (AAA)
RHP Rubby De La Rosa (AAA)
INF Ivan DeJesus (AAA)
RHP Allen Webster (AA)
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RHP Josh Beckett
OF Carl Crawford
UTL Nick Punto
Out of the four players that the Dodgers obtained from the Red Sox, a combined $274 million dollars is owed to them. Here's the unprecedented part: The Dodgers agreed to pay $262.5 million of the remaining money.
That leaves the Red Sox with an incredible amount of flexibility to move in a completely different direction as an organization. An organization that hasn't won a playoff game since 2008, and who's having one of it's worst seasons in the past 20 years. Change is needed, and it happened in a matter of days.
Yes, losing Adrian Gonzalez hurts, but he didn't come close to putting up the power numbers that Red Sox ownership was hoping for. The fact that Josh Beckett's contract and personality was dumped from the organization is a win in itself. And as for Crawford, he has had a miserable year and a half in Boston. Even if he gets back to his TB days in LA, he will never be worth the money.
So the question now is, what's the next step for the Red Sox after freeing up all this money?
If you think ownership is about to go on another free agent spending binge, think again. They want to get back to doing things the way they did in 2003-2007. Stock up the farm system and find "blue collar" guys who WANT to win. (Dustin Pedroia, Clay Bucholz, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks)
Now I'm not saying they are going to fully cut back on their big spending, because fans will demand perennial players in a Red Sox uniform. But, they will be more careful. Ben Cherington won't be handed a blank check from the owners like Theo Epstein was.
If you take a look at the free agent list for 2013, nothing really pops out at you where you say- "we need him." The two biggest names that will be on the market next year are Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke.
Hamilton is a big risk and is asking for a ton of money. At 32 years old, he has a history with alcohol and drug abuse and is prone to injury. He's going to be asking for a contract around $100 million dollars (if not more), for 7-9 years. If the Sox learned their lesson from their 2009-2010 spending binge, they will not offer Hamilton more than $50-$75 million for 4-5 years.
As for Greinke, I'm not sure he would be a great fit for Boston. He was lights out for small market teams when he was with the Royals and Brewers, but since he was traded to the Angels he is 2-2 with a 5.22 ERA. If he can't handle L.A., what makes you think he can handle Boston?
I just don't see the Red Sox ownership going after these guys with any type of ferocity. If they did, they would be contradicting their entire motive of dumping all of this money and getting rid of their "bad" contracts.
What the Red Sox can, and in my opinion should do, is this:
1. Sign Jacoby Ellsbury to an extension. He's a young, extremely talented athlete who never starts drama and just plays the game.
2. Sign Dustin Pedroia to an extension and solidify his "captain" status of this team. You can't ask for a better role model or guy to look up to than Pedey. Let him know that this is his team until his last game is played at Fenway Park.
3. Sign Felix Hernandez after the 2013 season. This guy has been a dominant pitcher in the Bigs since he was 19 years old (posted a 2.67 ERA) and will be 27 years old when he becomes a free agent. If there's one thing we've learned over the past year, the Red Sox need pitching. Felix Hernandez would be the most exciting and beloved pitcher to wear a Red Sox uniform since Pedro Martinez.
Regardless of what the Red Sox decide to to with the recent flexibility, this trade will go down as one of the most historic trades in Red Sox history. The last time the Red Sox were involved in a trade of this magnitude was when they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees back in 1920. That turned out to be the biggest mistake in Sox history.
Will this one be for the better, or for the worse? That remains to be seen. But they are in a damn good position to succeed in the near future. So be patient, Sox fans.
By the way, when was the last time you saw Josh Beckett smile? Nick Punto tweeted this picture about ten minutes ago while on their way to LA.
P.S. If you're curious about the guys that Boston is getting in return, Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo wrote a column earlier this morning describing their abilities:
Loney is a free agent at the end of the season. He’s never quite lived up to his billing. He’s a line-drive hitter with marginal power, but did drive in 90 runs twice and 88 once. He was hitting .254 with four homers and 33 RBIs when he was yanked from Friday night’s lineup. Red Sox third base coach Jerry Royster instructed Loney early in his career.
Sands is a big guy (6 feet 4 inches, 225 pounds), and a righthanded hitter who has put up impressive minor league numbers — 35 home runs one season, and 24 homers with 101 RBIs this season at Triple A Albuquerque — but it’s never translated to the majors. Would a short porch in Fenway bring that out? That’s the hope. The Dodgers projected him as a fourth outfielder who can play some first. They aren’t sweating this loss.
De La Rosa, 23, seems to be the prize. He once threw 100 miles per hour, before blowing out his elbow last year and undergoing Tommy John surgery. When he returned to the Dodgers Aug. 22, he was throwing 96 and still had an outstanding throwing motion. The Red Sox watched him that night. One of the issues with De La Rosa is that he likely cannot be traded at this time. It appears the Sox and Dodgers would have to make a separate deal at the end of the season because he was claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays, and then pulled back. Because he did not clear waivers, he will not officially be in this trade.
Webster was the pitcher the Dodgers would not include in the Ryan Dempster deal with the Cubs. He is generally considered the Dodgers’ second-best pitching prospect, and is 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA at Double A Chattanooga. It appears the Sox were trying to get pitching prospect Zach Lee in this deal but were unable to do so.
A righthanded-hitting utility infielder, De Jesus has never shown great promise after a home plate collision slowed his career path.