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Red Sox and Dodgers truly wheeling and dealing

The dust has finally settled after a crazy past few days in Major League Baseball. If the non-waiver trade deadline wasn’t shocking enough, the waiver trade deadline was even more frantic and surprising.

In a blink of an eye, the Red Sox traded away three core players and over 270 million dollars worth of contracts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then some.

L.A. acquired slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, (the centerpiece of the deal), injured left fielder Carl Crawford, struggling 32-year old righty Josh Beckett. and utility infielder Nick Punto. Meanwhile, Boston receives first baseman James Loney and four prospects.

At first glance with little knowledge of what’s gone on this year, it seems like the most lop-sided trade in baseball history. But, as in football, “upon further review”, this deal is as equal as it can get.

The Dodgers, now 69-58 after a win over Miami in Gonzalez’s debut (1-5, 3-R HR), are two games back of the San Francisco Giants in the N.L. West. Prior to this deal, the team had already made numerous moves to improve the club, compared to where it stood on Opening Day.

Outfielder Shane Victorino, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, reliever Randy Choate, closer Brandon League, and starter Joe Blanton are the biggest names that most recently donned Dodger Blue, and all of them have fit in nicely since their respective trades prior to the July 31st [non-waiver] trade deadline.

Now in bringing in A-Gone, Crawford, and Beckett, the Dodgers have added a grand total of 94.75 million dollars to the team’s payroll [for this year alone] since starting to wheel and deal back in July. And I didn’t even bring up the home-grown superstars of Matt Kemp (making 10 million this year, jumping to 21 million annually in 2013) and Clayton Kershaw (making 7 million in 2012, jumping to 11 million next season, and then demanding a big payday afterwards). Clearly, the Dodgers are digging deep into the pockets of Magic Johnson to make all this happen.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the Red Sox.

Boston officially waves the white flag in making this deal, as they traded their ace, best hitter, and well, Carl Crawford, all in one deal.

It’s been a season of disappointment and bitterness for the Red Sox and their fans, as they are in fourth place in the AL East with a record of 60-67. Uttering the name Bobby Valentine on Yawkey Way is almost as bad as saying “Dent”, “Boone”, or “Buckner”. Seriously. The fans hate him, and so do the players, which is probably a reason why they’ve played so poorly all year long. If you don’t like your manager, it’s unlikely you’ll play hard or well for him.

The Red Sox to me are like a teenage girl following a sudden break-up. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.” I can hear Ben Cherington cry out to John Henry.

But in all seriousness, the team’s prior hopes and dreams of championships are crushed, and so Boston finally accepted it’s time to start looking towards the future and planning for 2013 and beyond, which is the smart thing to do.

The players that are coming to Boston aren’t really anything special. James Loney is only coming over to play first base for the remainder of this season, as he’s been a very inconsistent hitter for the past couple seasons now. And the prospects have all had their share of struggles and should be Major League ready by now, yet they’re not.

But for the Red Sox, it really doesn’t matter who they got for what they gave. The point is they are free from a couple of high-priced, long term deals, one that was very misguided (wink wink, Carl Crawford). And Beckett was making 15 million bucks per year as well, and simply had to go. Taking this much money off the books allows the Red Sox to spend freely on any of the big free agents this coming winter, and also a chance to reconstruct the clubhouse and create a happy and friendly environment in Boston, which let’s face it, will be the total opposite as long as Bobby V is manager.

It will be very interesting to see what the Bo-Sox do this offseason. As I said, they can spend the money they got immediately and maybe try to get back in contention next year. Or they could hold off, let their prospects get a chance to prove themselves and wait and see.

If nothing else, one thing is definitely for sure – Bobby V is gone following the season.

Hurrah Red Sox fans!

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Ranking AL East Bullpens and Benches

Our week long series continues with ranking the AL East Bullpens and Benches.

Bullpens

1. Yankees

2. Blue Jays

3. Red Sox

4. Rays

5. Orioles

The Yankees have the best bullpen in the AL East by a good margin led by Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, and Cory Wade.  Rivera, even at age 42, is one of the best closers in MLB and the most trustworthy in a big spot. Robertson had a breakout season by posting a 1.08 ERA and striking out a staggering 13.5 batters per 9 innings. Soriano came on at the end of last season and is a tremendous talent to have as a 7th inning guy ,when on pretty much any other team he would be closing or be in the 8th inning. The Red Sox and Blue Jays both have completely revamped bullpens and it was a close race for 2nd. The Blue Jays picked up Sergio Santos and Francisco Cordero this offseason while the Red Sox picked up Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Bailey is the best of the 4 when healthy, but he has rarely been able to stay healthy so I gave the edge to Toronto. Toronto also has better depth than the Red Sox behind their 2 new additions in Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver, whom they also signed this offseason. Cordero had 37 saves for the Reds last year, while pitching to a 2.43 ERA and Santos had 30 saves for the White Sox, while striking out an amazing 13.1 batters per 9 innings. That is almost as much as David Robertson. So that is a very good combo for the Blue Jays for the backend of their bullpen. The Red Sox lost Jonathan Papelbon and replaced him with Bailey. Bailey has been one of the best closers in MLB when healthy. He made the All- Star team his first 2 seasons and won rookie of the year. Ex Yankee farmhand Mark Melancon will replace Daniel Bard as the setup man. Melancon saved 20 games for the Houston Astros last season. The Rays bullpen had a surprisingly good season last year after loosing virtually everybody who contributed to it in 2010. Kyle Farnsowrth had a good year last year closing, but it is still Kyle Farnsworth and he is tough to trust. Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, and Kevin Gregg will battle for the closers job in Baltimore.   Read the rest of this entry

Ranking AL East Infielders

In a series of articles this week we will be ranking the starting players in the AL East for every position. Today the infielders are the focus. These rankings should provide good discussion so please give me your thoughts on rankings you may agree or disagree with.

Catchers 

1. Matt Wieters, BAL

2. Russell Martin, NYY

3. J.P. Arencibia, TOR

4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

5. Jose Molina, TB

Matt Wieters started to live up to his potential last year. After a rough rookie season, Wieters stepped it up both offensively and defensively. Wieters hit .262, with 22 HR’s, 68 RBI, and a .778 OPS. He was also stellar behind the plate as he threw out 37% of all base stealers last season. It was a close call for 2nd but Martin got the nod over Arencibia due to experience and defense. Arencibia showed great power potential during his rookie year as he hit 23 HR’s, but needs to work on his average since he hit only .219. If he can take another step up like Wieters did, he can be quite good. Martin did a terrific job handling the Yankees pitching staff and provided timely offense. Saltalamachia has never lived up to his hype during his career, but did have his best year last year offensively. Molina is a great backup, but should not really be starting.

1st Basemen

1. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

2. Mark Teixeira, NYY

3. Adam Lind, TOR

4. Carlos Pena, TB

5. Chris Davis, BAL

Adrian Gonzalez definitely had a great first impression for the Red Sox last year with an MVP type season, batting .337, with 27 HR’s, 117 RBI, and a .957 OPS. Teixeira can definitely match Gonzalez’s excellent defense and has a similar level of power. However Teixiera batted 89 points lower so he is not really on the same level of production as Gonzalez. Since Lind hit .305 and 35 HR’s in 2009 he has just been ordinary, yet still pretty solid. Pena provides great power and defense, but has not hit above .230 for three straight years. Davis has been an all or nothing type hitter for his career.

Read the rest of this entry

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