Red Sox re-model, Dodgers gunning for a pennant
First, looking at this trade from the Dodgers perspective, it makes perfect sense. Everything about it fits into their immediate and future plans.
For starters, it has long been acknowledged throughout baseball that Los Angeles needed a significant upgrade from James Loney at first base. He has been one of the more disappointing prospects in recent Dodgers history. While he’s always played a nice defensive first base, his glove has not made up for his lack of power from a historically powerful position, and even his batting average has slipped in recent years.
With Adrian Gonzalez, the team isn’t just upgrading to a Gold Glove standard at first, but they’re getting a hitter who has had monumental success playing in the National League West, in front of his family in Southern California. For whatever reason, it wasn’t working for A-Gon in Boston, but I would be shocked if he doesn’t find a familiar comfort zone back in the West. Don Mattingly now has the option of batting Gonzalez third, Matt Kemp clean-up and Andre Ethier fifth, giving the perfect left-right-left sandwich that is going to torment bullpens down the stretch. Which one of those three do you pitch to? Add in Shane Victorino at the top of the order at the deadline, this has all of a sudden become one of the most feared line-ups in baseball.
Josh Beckett also fits in pretty well, mostly because the Dodgers have the courtesy of not expecting him to carry any sort of load for this team. They already have their Cy Young-caliber ace in Clayton Kershaw. They have to love what they’ve gotten from Chris Capuano this year. Chad Billingsley has been turning it around as of late. Even Aaron Harang has given the team solid production from a fourth starter. You’re basically asking Beckett to slide in as the fifth starter, replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation. Is there a better possible situation for Beckett to find himself in? This could be a career recharge that he desperately needed, and the Dodgers are willing to bet multi-millions and a few extra years to find out. Plus, Blanton is off the books at the end of the year, so you’re not even creating a long-term log jam.
And then there’s Carl Crawford. Yes, he’s out for at least the rest of this year thanks to Tommy John surgery. Yes, he hasn’t been the same player since he left Tampa Bay. But, he isn’t a bum, either. He isn’t Jason Bay. Five years and about $100 million is gross overpay for his surgery, but there’s still a very productive outfielder hidden in this contract. He was playing very well, considering the injury he was playing with, when he returned to the Boston line-up. With Victorino likely to leave as a free agent after the season, the long-term outlook of a Crawford-Kemp-Ethier outfield has to be something to get excited about. I understand that the Red Sox wanted to get rid of the contract, but don’t just view the Dodgers taking Crawford back as a purely salary move. Crawford, much like Hanley Ramirez before him, can play. This was a sneaky good get for an ownership group that has no worries about financial problems.
And Nick Punto! They got Nick Punto! Ok, now, onto the Red Sox…
I’ve already made my stance pretty clear on how I feel James Loney is as a Major League player. For Tom Werner to come out and boast that its a big get since Loney was “untouchable” a couple years ago is ridiculous. There’s a reason why he was more than touchable now. It’s because he isn’t even a league-average first baseman. He was going to be non-tendered after the season. Let’s not get excited about Loney.
What makes moving Adrian Gonzalez the worst, the pieces the Red Sox felt comfortable moving from their minor leagues because they had Gonzalez has to sting. First, they moved Anthony Rizzo off to the Padres to get Gonzalez (who is now back with Theo Epstein in Chicago). Then, the next logical guy who could’ve gotten the big at bats, Lars Anderson, was let go to Cleveland this year, giving Boston not much of anything in the minors that could help right now.
Allan Webster is probably the best piece the Red Sox are getting in return, and he could become a stalwart at the top of the rotation. However, he’s only the #2 pitching prospect in the LA system. I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again. How are the Dodgers making these huge moves without having to trade away their best piece, pitcher Zach Lee? How are they doing this?
The argument can be made that the Red Sox probably chose to take the #2 and #3 arms in the Dodgers system (Rubby De La Rosa is also going to Boston, fresh off Tommy John himself) instead of the #1. But, call me old fashion, I’d rather have the best possible player, than two also really good players. That’s just me. Again, there’s nothing wrong with De La Rosa or Webster. I’m just floored that the Dodgers have made all these moves without having to give up Lee. Props to them.
As for the other prospects going to Boston, neither are much better prospects than what the Red Sox already have. Jerry Sands probably falls in behind both Bryce Bentz and Jackie Bradley in the grand scheme of things in Boston, though Sands is closer to the Majors than the other two.
Ivan DeJesus, probably a second baseman long-term, doesn’t have the same ceiling as Xander Bogaerts at short, and even falls below the likes of Kolbrin Vitek and Garin Cecchini as far as future potential. He’s more along the lines of a decent utility infielder for your bench. To put it in perspective, entering the season, neither Sands nor DeJesus were Top 20 prospects in the Dodgers system.
To put a bow on this bad boy, I understand why the Dodgers pulled the trigger on this move. I can see a plan for the Red Sox, too. But, I still think they got taken in this deal to just shed salary, which is uncharacteristic to say the least.
The Dodgers are going for gold. The Red Sox are, well, just going.