So yesterday I came on here to tell y’all fools why I wasn’t sweating the horrid season which belonged to the 2012 Red Sox. You know why? Cause that’s how winners act. “Top down in the winter that’s what winners do,” said Jay-Z. That’s exactly what it’s like to be a Boston sports fan. Demeanor cold as all hell, but stuntin’ all over the place because we got it like that. There is no time to be humble when the rest of the collective sports world is trying to shit all over you. So keep trying to kick a town while we’re down. Need I remind you football season is right around the corner? Exactly, get those shots in while you still can.
As of August 23, 2012, the future looked bleak for the Boston Red Sox. Monster contracts crippled the Sox ability to stay competitive on the open market. The team that had struggled since last September looked like the team who was going to be for at least the next five years. 2007 seemed like the distant past. Then, one the afternoon of August 24, a bright light appeared from the West. This was a light of hope. A dawn of a new day.
The light came all the way from Los Angeles, Dodger land to be specific. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino and placing a waiver claim on Cliff Lee, the Dodgers have continued to try to improve their team dramatically all season long. Yesterday, they claimed Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett off waivers and people joked. Eyes rolled. It wasn’t taken seriously when reports first came down that the Dodgers had yet again placed claims on big name players.
But, thankfully (from a Red Sox fans’ point of view), it wasn’t a joke. The Dodgers saw this as a real chance to improve both now and over the next few years. Gonzalez is a first baseman they liked ever since he was in San Diego. But, in order to get Gonzalez, they needed to absorb Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto as well. Well, they didn’t need to take on Punto, but who doesn’t want Nick Punto coming off their bench for a playoff run?
The Dodgers went from one of the most financially strapped organizations in all of baseball to a team with pockets as deep as the New York Yankees. According to early reports, the Red Sox are expected to send only $10 million to Los Angeles in this deal. Considering the Dodgers are taking on approximately $250 million in salary after this season, $10 million seems like pennies.
What are the Red Sox getting? Well, other than a fresh start, a surprisingly decent haul. Minor leaguer pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa headline the deal while minor league first baseman Jerry Sands, minor league infielder Ivan DeJesus, and first baseman James Loney will be making the cross country trek as well.
The beauty of this trade is that both teams benefit now and down the road in incredibly different ways.
The Dodgers are on the brink of a playoff birth. They are currently three games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West and are a game and a half back in the Wild Card standings. With the addition of Gonzalez, their lineup will now consist of Andre Ethier, Victorino, Ramirez, Gonzo, and reigning NL MVP Matt Kemp. Arguably the deepest lineup in the National League (on paper). If Josh Beckett can be even slightly better than he has been this season in a new environment, he will bring post-season experience no other pitcher has on this roster. Carl Crawford is out until early next season so he will be no help this year, but the future outfield of Crawford, Kemp, and Ethier is certainly one for Dodgers fans to salivate over.
For the Red Sox, the headache is beginning to fade. Beckett was a media lightening rod for the Sox struggles over the past year. Everything that went wrong in Boston seemed to come back to Beckett, no matter what. Crawford’s struggles last season soured many fans and his injury-plagued 2012 certainly did not help rebuild his image throughout the Nation. His $142 million contract was viewed as one of the biggest flops in Free Agent history. Now, he has accept the move to LA and he will be nothing more than a punchline in most Red Sox fans’ minds.
Gonzalez just never seemed to fit in. He had a tremendous 2011 but his “God’s plan” comment when the Sox choked down the stretch was not taken well throughout the city. His slow start to 2012 caused most fans to turn on Gonzo. Basically, he has J.D. Drew syndrome. A talented hitter who plays above average defense with a stoic demeanor. That is not the attitude to have in Boston and it didn’t seem to work with Gonzalez. With a different team around him under different circumstances, I’m sure he would have had a fine career in a Red Sox uniform. The Sox simply asked too much out of him and he was unable to provide.
In terms of the package the Sox are getting back, that’s just a bonus. This was GM Ben Cherington hitting the reset button. Crawford and Gonzalez were the last two major moves former GM Theo Epstein made before he skipped town. Now that they’re gone, John Lackey remains as the only bad contract brought upon by Theo. No one is lining up to take on Lackey any time soon, sad to say. Hey, at least he can eat up some innings next year. So there’s that.
Jerry Sands now appears to be the next first baseman in line in Boston. He turns 25 in September, so he isn’t exactly a young prospect, but this season Sands hit .303 with 24 home runs, 101 RBI, and 76 runs scored. In perspective, he is a 24-year old playing minor league baseball but the job would appear to be his to lose next spring with little competition standing in his way. Pitcher Allen Webster was the Dodgers second ranked prospect in their system. He is a 22-year old right hander who instantly adds some serious depth to the Sox farm system along with flame thrower Rubby De La Rosa. De La Rosa was not ranked in the top 20 in the Dodgers farm system but that is largely in part to the fact that he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. De La Rosa throws in the high 90s and may, right now, be the most valuable pitching prospect in the Sox farm system (it’s a weak system). Ivan DeJesus is another older minor leaguer (26 next season) who basically gives the Sox infield depth in the minors in case something catastrophic were to go down.
Basically, the Dodgers get the first baseman they wanted when they couldn’t afford him and an outfield littered with All Stars next season. The Red Sox clear house, get $250 million in future salary off the books, and replenish their farm system with two highly regarded arms. If the Dodgers don’t win a World Series in the next five years (including this year) this trade will be seen as a bust. If they win one, the salaries will be overlooked. That’s what happens in baseball. If you spend money and win it was money well spent. If you spend money and it doesn’t work out, no one feels bad for you. Need proof? Look at the 2011-12 Red Sox.
The Dodgers will be in the mix for the NL crown as long as Clayton Kershaw remains healthy with this team around him. The Red Sox should not compete for at least five years barring some unforeseen trades. But now that the books have been cleared and the farm system has been tended to, every signing Cherington makes from here on out will be scrutinized. That includes the handling of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is eligible to hit the free agent market after the 2013 season. But, it was a move that needed to be made and Cherington needs to be commended for it.
Not every trade has a winner and a loser. Sometimes, both teams are able to fill a need. I’d say this is one of those times. Thanks, LA! Hope everything works out. If you need anything, we’ll be over here picking up the scraps trying to rebuild. Nice doing business with you.