This past Saturday the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a trade that many are calling 'Blockbuster' and some are calling the biggest Red Sox deal since they sent Babe Ruth to the Yankees. That is certainly hyperbole but this will be seen as a watershed moment for the modern Red Sox.
To sum up the Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles. In return they got James Loney and four minor league prospects. The Sox will also be writing a check for $12 million to the Dodgers to help offset the $270 million in salaries sent west.
What did the Red Sox give up?
Let's go player by player.
Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzo is a great defensive first baseman. And, historically, he hits just as well. But the last two years in Boston have seen a relatively quiet bat from Gonzalez. His contract with Boston was by any measure a great value for the team but if he was the price the Sox had to pay to get rid of the other albatrosses then it was well worth it.
Carl Crawford. To say the Crawford signing was disappointing is an extreme understatement. From the moment he arrived at Fenway Crawford failed to live up to the stats he accumulated in Tampa Bay. 2011 was pure underachievement and 2012 has been marked by his spending more than half of the year on the DL. Last Thursday Crawford underwent Tommy John which might get him back on the field at 100% for Spring Training 2013. I do think he may yet return to his pre-Boston form, but for Red Sox management enough was enough.
Nick Punto. No one in Boston is going to miss the Shredder.
Josh Beckett. The Josh Beckett of 2007 didn't last into 2008 and we haven't seen a trace of him since. By any measure—wins, ERA, opponent batting average, velocity—he has been steadily declining. Indeed, if it weren't true that the Dodgers really, really wanted Gonzalez, the Red Sox would still be stuck with Beckett. Maybe a different clubhouse atmosphere will turn Beckett around and he can be a valuable part of the Dodgers rotation. As a Dodgers fan I really hope that is the case. But in Boston Beckett was a declining pitcher on the mound and a toxic presence in the clubhouse. It was high time he left.
What did the Red Sox get?
James Loney. Let's be frank here. James Loney is no Adrian Gonzalez. But the Red Sox don't expect him to be. He is a solid first baseman that will help get the Sox through the last month of the season. And he will be a free agent this off-season, so don't expect him to be with Boston next year.
Prospects. Eh. I don't put a whole lot of stock in prospects. So few of them become serious major league players. And we may not even see any of these guys at Fenway for several years.
Ok. What now?
The Red Sox freed up a whole lot of money with this trade. Money that can buy some pitching. And that is exactly what they should make priority number one. The rotation isn't in as bad a shape as it seems. Buchholz is really good this year. If Jon Lester can get himself straightened out—he does seem to be making progress there—then he can be the Ace once again. And guess what? Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first start today after his rehab for a strained trapezius muscle and looked great. He led the Sox to a 5-1 win over the Royals. If Dice-K can throw the rest of the season like he did today he might earn consideration for re-signing by the Sox this off-season—his first as a free agent.
The Red Sox also need to add at least one hard-hitting outfielder—in addition to re-signing Jacoby Ellsbury. They will also need to look at first base. If Mauro Gomez is starting lineup ready then problem solved. If not, then Ben Cherington will need to go shopping this off-season.
If there is any money left over maybe the Red Sox can look for, I dunno, a new manager?
In my opinion this trade is nothing but good for the Red Sox. It feels like a weight has been lifted off of this team. I'm enjoying watching them again and I am getting excited to see what's in store for 2013.
And definitely for the fans.
One without chicken, beer, and John Lackey?