Red Sox Near Blockbuster Deal With The Dodgers…Now What?
Michael Silverman reported this AM that the Red Sox have completed a deal with the L.A. Dodgers to send 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford, P Josh Beckett and IF Nick Punto for 1B James Loney and minor league prospects P Allen Webster, SS Ivan DeJesus, OF Jerry Sands and a PTBNL which will turn out to be P Rubby De La Rosa. It is a pretty shocking deal considering that the Red Sox had signed Gonzalez and Crawford to much fan fare just two off-seasons ago. The Red Sox will get tremendous financial flexibility from the deal as they will pick up only $12 million of the $275 million tab that the Dodgers are taking on.
A lot of people are celebrating this deal in Red Sox Nation but I’m not sure if I am one of those guys. This deal comes with tremendous risk. The Red Sox now have only 1 of their 4 most productive hitters this season under contract for next year (Dustin Pedroia). Yes, the Red Sox shed a whole boatload of payroll in this deal but where is the money going to go? The two biggest name free agents on the market, Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, have tremendous off the field concerns. And then there is the fact that it will take more than just this deal to change the culture. The follow up is just as important – even more actually – than this deal which really should be the first shoe of many to drop. Is Ben Cherington now empowered to build the team in his vision? If so does that mean he can pick his own manager in the off-season or will Lucchino saddle him with Bobby Valentine for another year.
The Red Sox need to change the way they do business from the top down to the bottom. They need to do more than trade just a few guys. Let’s face it. If you are hitting the reset button you need to fully change the culture and personality of this team. That means Bobby Valentine needs to go. They should bring in a young up and coming guy to be the new face of the team. There were a few guys that they interviewed last year that they can revisit. There are a few guys that they didn’t interview that they should look at. One of the Cora brothers, Joey or former Red Sox Alex, would be a great fit with a young team either as manager (in Joey’s case) or bench coach (in Alex’s). They need to let that new manager pick his own staff. As I said they need Ben Cherington, and not Larry Lucchino, making ALL of the baseball moves.
There are also still players that need to be moved for both on and off the field reasons. If I see Mike Aviles and his .284 OBP start another game at shortstop for the Red Sox I will go nuts. A lot of people are seeing a contract extension for Jacoby Ellsbury in light of the new-found payroll flexibility but is he really a great fit long term? Will he be better for the money than Carl Crawford was assuming that he gets a similar contract? I’m not too sure that the answer is yes. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has become a leader for this team but he strikes out more than he gets on base. The pitching needs some serious tweaking and that can start with hiring a competent pitching coach. Lester has looked better in the past month so you hope that he has put his issues behind him and build the rotation around him and Buchholz. Alfredo Aceves, who was angry that two-time all-star closer Andrew Bailey supplanted him as closer a night after he blew the game twice, should be on the next train out of here as well. As I said this is a huge franchise changing deal but there is a TON of follow up work to be done.
Losing Gonzalez represents a major hit to the Red Sox’ productivity. He is arguably the most productive hitter on the team with only David Ortiz having an argument to that claim. Gonzalez plays Gold Glove caliber defense that enhances his productivity as well. The Red Sox will not be able to match that productivity, at least not this year and maybe for several more to come. They get back James Loney, a .250 hitter that seems to have peaked even though he is only 28 years old. The two prizes in the deal are the two right handed pitchers. 23-year old Rubby De La Rosa is a fireballer who had Tommy John surgery a year ago. He will have a chance to join the Red Sox rotation next season. 22 year old Allen Webster is probably an even better prospect who will likely start the year in AAA. Both guys represent adding to a huge hole in the Red Sox system, high level pitching prospects who are at or on the verge of being ready for the majors. They also get a potential outfielder in right-handed hitter Jerry Sands, whose power might translate well in Fenway. Obviously dealing with prospects always comes with risk and it will be a few years before we see how these guys have turned out in Boston.
There seems to be a lot of excitement about this deal. I will remain cautiously optimistic until I see the actual follow-up. With all of the negativity around this team this can obviously work out to become a positive but I can’t shake the image of Larry Lucchino simply re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the sinking SS Bobby V. Once I see that this revolutionary franchise changer is actually a revolutionary franchise changer then I will get excited.
Obviously there will be more on this deal as we get reactions, player profiles on the prospects, etc. so stay tuned.