I have not been following baseball very much for a multitude of reasons this season. But one of them has been my total lack of interest in watching the Boston Red Sox self-destruct. I pretty much knew they were done after Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles (a first baseman) pitched to his first major league win in perhaps the most heartbreaking extra innings loss I’ve ever witnessed. (Good for the Orioles, though, they clearly are a much better team than the Red Sox at this point!)
So what have the Red Sox done? They have completed what could turn out to be the worst trade in Major League history. For the Dodgers. Not for the Red Sox.
While I’m not sad at all to see Josh Beckett go (he may well be done as a decent major league pitcher) I must say that the Gonzalez move comes as a bit of a surprise. Granted he has not shown the same power this year, and his home run numbers are down, but he’s still a very, very good player. Of course, when someone is willing to take $120 million off of your hands, you just have to do it.
One thing people must understand right off is that teams put players on waivers ALL the time during this time of the year. This is because you can pull guys back. They just then become inelegible to be traded. After the July 31st deadline, you can only make trades if players clear waivers or if a deal is made with the claiming team.
Well, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto all went up on waivers. Beckett and Gonzalez were claimed by the Dodgers. Crawford and Punto were not. So what gives?
I must admit, I completely understand the Gonzalez move. In and of itself, if the Dodgers were willing to absorb that contract for a smile, that would’ve made plenty of sense. While Gonzalez may prove that this year is a fluke (which is possible, but who knows if his decline phase is starting early?) it’s still quite a gamble that the next five years would be well worth the $21 million annual paycheck. Beckett I’m not so surprised they claimed, either, simply for rotation depth purposes. No doubt the National League and one of the greatest pitcher’s parks in baseball in Dodger Stadium would perhaps make him a useful pitcher in the stretch run.
So from a simple absorbing contracts standpoint, the Dodgers are in a position to do that. All they have to do is jettison James Loney and get a little extra cash to soften the financial burden, right? Wrong.
Either Ned Coletti is a total imbecile or Ben Cherington is a genius. Or both.
Not only did the Dodgers take on all but the September 2012 salaries of both Gonzalez and Beckett, both relative albatrosses at this point, but they also took on Nick Punto, who they didn’t claim. The real head-scratcher, and the real win for the Red Sox, is the inclusion of an INJURED Carl Crawford and the acquisition of FIVE players!
I admit it. I love Carl Crawford. But the past two years have been pretty much the worst case scenario for any big money signing for him. Granted, his struggles have been because of entirely physical ailments, but that doesn’t change the fact that his monster signing was a major mistake. The Carl Crawford that the Sox watched in Tampa Bay all of those years was the right player to add to the team. He just hasn’t been that at all. This is not to say that the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t use that player, either. They most certainly need a left fielder. Enter Crawford. Next year…
Why the hell would the Los Angeles Dodgers, insanely rich as they suddenly are, want Crawford? I understand needing a veteran pitcher like Beckett, even if the cost is crazy high. I understand getting Adrian Gonzalez to slot in between Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp. Hell, Nick Punto for infield help makes plenty of sense. But why did they take on ALL of the money? The Red Sox were desparate to make a big move. They could’ve at least asked for another few million per years. But no. They take on all but $12 million AND take on Carl Crawford! Damaged goods!
OK, fine. Salary dump. Ben Cherington says thank you Dodgers, have a nice day. Nope. Not Ben. He asks, hey, what about that Rubby De La Rosa guy? And Allen Webster? Decent arms? Yeah, throw them on in. And hell, why not Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus? Sure, why not? And yeah, we’ll take James Loney for the last five or six weeks. Who cares.
Genius. Pure genius.
What position does this leave the Red Sox in? Well, there are plenty of first base optinos available that can make up for a lot of Gonzalez’s 2012 production. Crawford could be replaced by just about any fourth outfielder at this point. John Lackey can easily replace Beckett for the next two years. Punto was expendable with the emergence of Pedro Ciracio. And they’re about $250 million richer.
The Dodgers get a franchise-caliber first baseman, albeit aging, who adds a huge bat to their lineup and protection for their other two big bats. They get a fourth or fifth starter for the stretch run and certainty for the next two seasons that they’ll have a guy named Josh Beckett on their roster. They also have the wild card in Carl Crawford, who if he proves completely healthy the next five years, could be a very useful player that can stabilize one of their outfield positions. Punto will be useful utility infield depth and a generally good guy to have around.
The problem is the money. The Dodgers have basically hamstrung themselves for the next couple of years. It’s too bad for them that the Phillies pulled Cliff Lee back. That would’ve been a risk well worth taking. But this is utter madness on the part of the Dodgers. I don’t think you can entirely blame Ned Coletti. This was clearly put upon him by management.
This trade could help them the Dodgers this year, and perhaps the next if Crawford returns well. But in the long run, this could be an utter disaster. All three of the big contracts could become absolute disasters like they already were for the Red Sox. As far as the Red Sox are concerned, this is the best trade in their history… they can start all over with guys like Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, Pedroia, Middlebrooks, and Ellsbury still in the fold. And Xander Boeggarts and Matt Barnes on the way. Oh and Allen Watson and Rubby De La Rosa may be stopping by to say hello in 2013.
Good call, Red Sox. Good call.
I especially love this quote from Cherington:
“I think we recognized that we are not who we want to be right now… It’s been a large enough sample performance, going back to last year, that we felt like in order to be the team we want to be on the field, we need to make more than cosmetic changes. As we look forward to this offseason, we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, that we want — required more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team. It was a difficult thing to do to trade away four players like this.” (Source, redsox.com)
No, it wasn’t Ben. It was a no-brainer. Thank you, Dodgers. You just saved “Red Sox Nation” about four or five years of total agony. Now Sox fans can watch the team suck without all the overpaid guys clogging up the roster…
At least, now there’s hope…