Admit it, Red Sox Nation. If you thought a mega trade like the one that was reported on last night and is being finalized today would actually come to fruition after the July 31 non-waiver deadline, you were dreaming.
Well, dreams came true today when Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe and other sources (ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes) confirmed that the Los Angeles Dodgers will take Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto from Boston in what is perhaps the biggest waiver wire trade ever, and certainly the biggest for Boston in decades. The Sox get a couple of promising prospects/minor leaguers in return, including pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa (who just pitched his first MLB game after recovering from Tommy John surgery 13 months ago). Also coming to Boston is (average) first baseman James Loney, and two more prospects, Ivan De Jesus (infielder) and Jerry Sands (outfielder).
I’m not thrilled about the Sox geting a .250-hitting first baseman with little power in return for Gonzalez, but the rest of the trade is impressive. I just can’t believe it’s happening now, well after the non-waiver July 31 deadline. This trade only happened after players like Gonzo and Beckett were put on the waiver wire, which teams often do in August just so see what kind of response and value they might have to other teams who might want them. Such players (good or average players) must be not wanted by all American League teams (from worst record to best) and many NL teams, before a playoff-contending team with money to spend like the Dodgers could put a claim in for them.
It’s kind of (but not totally) surprising that Gonzalez is actually gone now, but I am thrilled that Beckett (who is just 5-11 with a lousy 5.23 ERA in 2012) is finally out of Boston. Those of you who have read some of my in-season “Dead Read” columns may recall how I’ve been railing against the overrated former Cy Young contender for almost three years. The guy just doesn’t take care of his body the best he possibly can, gets hurt every year, and long ago lost the ability to consistently pitch like an ace and be a late season hero. I thank him for his role in the 2007 championship run and for being good for the first half of most seasons after that, but his second half tankings were greatly disappointing.
So I can understand the Red Sox getting rid of Beckett and the overpaid bust that is Carl Crawford, who is in the second year of his bloated seven-year, $142 million contract. The latter player just didn’t do anything well in his short time here (when he wasn’t on the disabled list).
As for Gonzalez, his lack of power—only 15 HRs in 2012 and just 42 total in his almost two-year career in Boston—and reported leading role in the now infamous team “text” message blasting manager Bobby Valentine in July must have weighed heavily on GM Ben Cherington’s decision to trade him. It’s either that or he just didn’t want to be here due to his dislike of the Boston manager and perhaps, to a lesser extent, his thin skin when it comes to playing in Boston and dealing with the Boston sports media. This slugger was former GM Theo Epstein’s final great acquisition two seasons ago (from San Diego), and now his $21 million/per year contract is suddenly going to L.A. for the next six years.
Gonzo may not have the home run power he used to have, but he is a .300 hitter, drives in 100 RBI and is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman year after year. The Dodgers must be overjoyed that they are getting a huge bat like this for their playoff run, while their chief rival San Francisco recently lost their big bat Melky Cabrera after he was suspended 50 games for violating the MLB drug policy (testing positive for testosterone).
Boston is surely going to have a hard time replacing his overall production (not to mention smooth first base skills). But at this point, I am all for the Sox cleaning house and just starting over by getting rid of nearly everyone who has been greatly disappointing, whiny, hurt, and overpaid these last few years (except Dustin Pedroia). As for Big Papi, I keep going back and forth on whether or not a few instances of his selfish, whiny actions in the last couple of seasons should outweigh his unique production as the top DH in the game, even at this late stage of his career. As of right now, I feel he should stay too.
In life, you don’t always get everything you want, but as the Rolling Stones might say, sometimes “you get what you need.” Like most fans, I wanted the Red Sox to get back into the playoffs and go deep into October badly, but obviously that won’t happen (mainly because of bad pitching). But until the last 24 hours, the BoSox were stuck with a bunch of under-performing/injured players, and needed financial flexibility in order to improve or entirely rebuild for the near and longterm future. If it’s true (via Abraham) that the Dodgers will take on all but $10-$12 million of the $272 million remaining on all those Boston players’ contracts they will take on, that is a huge relief for the Sox front office, and exactly what Boston needed—no more trades of good players like Marco Scutaro to save money/lessen the luxury tax burden.
It’s a new day for Red Sox Nation. Now, Cherington has to figure out what to do to brighten future days in the coming offseason. For example, does he want to sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a multi-year extension (even though he, like Beckett and Crawford, gets hurt too often)? Or, do the Sox start over in center field? Also, do they go after and trade for another power-hitting first baseman or for Seattle ace Felix Hernandez? Time will tell, of course. And with over a month of baseball and a whole offseason to go, there will be plenty of that to decide what direction this storied team should head in (besides south in the AL standings).
Image credit: Wikipedia.org