It’s official. The Dodgers and Red Sox have completed a ridiculous nine-player swap that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a whole bunch of crappy contracts to Los Angeles, in exchange for James Loney and some prospects to Boston.
Holy cow. Let me get this out of the way as a Dodger fan: WOOOOOHOOOOOO!
Okay, thanks. That being said, let me explain how this trade affects both teams, and then I’ll leave it up to you to vote which team got the better deal.
Here’s how it breaks down:
1B James Loney
SP Rubby De La Rosa (AAA)
SP Allen Webster (AA)
OF Jerry Sands (AAA)
IF Ivan De Jesus (AAA)
Los Angeles receives:
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
OF Carl Crawford
UTIL Nick Punto
If you’re a casual baseball fan, you might think Wow, the Dodgers just scored 3 All-Stars!
Little do you know, Beckett and Crawford are owed big money for little production and spotty health over the last year or more. Punto is simply a utility player but a great clubhouse guy who can contribute to a winning team (just ask the 2011 Cardinals). Besides, it’s a huge upgrade over Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.
If Crawford comes back healthy from Tommy John surgery in 2014, he could be worth the money. Before being signed by Boston, Crawford was annually one of the better all-around players in baseball. Who knows – maybe a change of scenery does him well, but I don’t expect anything out of him.
Beckett has a chance to shine in L.A., but that’s based on a bunch of big “if’s” as well. IF Beckett stays healthy. IF he keeps the ball down. Worst case scenario, the Dodgers have a seasoned veteran with tons of postseason experience to help guide guys like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang through a potential playoff berth. But, with Chad Billingsley’s possible elbow injury, adding a usually mediocre, formerly incredible starting pitcher is something sorely needed right now.
And do I really have to explain why Gonzalez was a great pick up? He hit .338 last year in Boston and has also been a perennial All-Star throughout his career. He can hit 30 homers, drive in 100 runs and bat .300 as his career numbers will attest to. Plus, he’s won multiple gold gloves at first base. So you’re telling me the Dodgers swapped a .250-hitting, powerless, smooth-fielding James Loney for a .300-hitting, powerful, smooth-fielding Gonzalez? I’ll take it.
Before I move on to analyzing what the Red Sox obtained in this deal, let me remind everyone of two things. If the Twitter world is the collective opinion of baseball fans, I’m seriously worried for the sanity of the sport’s fan base. So, here goes:
1) Money doesn’t matter. The new ownership of the Dodgers paid $2 billion to buy the team, and will be securing a $4 billion TV deal soon. They will over pay, and they openly admit it. Money is NOT an issue. They can take on all those big contracts and blow their noses with the $100 bills.
2) Telling me the Dodgers don’t have the pitching to win the division is not backed up by statistics. As of today, the Dodgers still have the second-best ERA in the National League as a team, two spots ahead of the pitching-heavy San Francisco Giants (also leading them in batting average against, strikeouts and quality starts). Until that changes, please don’t tell me the Dodgers have no pitching, because five months into the season those numbers are no longer “flukes.”
Back to business. Some of the prospects the Red Sox received might be no-names to the casual baseball fan. But let me tell you, Boston received a pretty good haul. In addition to ridding themselves of about $78.5 gazillion in salary, they picked up two high-ceiling starting pitchers and two hitters who have a shot at developing into legitimate every day players.
James Loney could also benefit from a change of scenery. Once considered an elite prospect, he looked well on his way to becoming a star about five years ago with the Dodgers. Then came a dip in power. Then a dip in average. A dip in RBI. Now, he’s one of the most average offensive bats you’ll find. Except he’s not even going to reach 10 home runs this season.
I love James Loney. He’s been one of my favorite players on the Dodgers for a number of years (I even have his jersey – oh, what to do with it now?!) and I hold a high value on defensive prowess, which he possesses a lot of.
I truly hope Loney does well in Boston. But with free agency looming in 2013, chances are he won’t be around for them anyway. Guys that will hang around are these three AAA and one AA players they acquired.
The one with the highest ceiling in my opinion is Allen Webster, the AA starter. He was an 18th-round draft choice in 2008 that many thought might have a better career down the road than Dodgers’ top prospect Zach Lee after both started to develop in the minors.
MLB.com ranks Webster their 65th best prospect in baseball right now, mostly due to a mid-90’s sinker, plus-curveball and plus-change. He really does have a great chance to be a future star in Boston.
De La Rosa is in the same boat – he just made his first appearance back with the Dodgers after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John. But before, during and after the surgery reviews about him were rave. He throws very hard: about an average of 95, just a bit higher than Justin Verlander’s average, and he has topped out at 99.
De La Rosa needs to work on his willingness to work the inside part of the plate, and gain confidence in his secondary pitches so hitters can’t sit on the heater. As he matures, these issues should be sorted out and De La Rosa could become a poor man’s Pedro Martinez if he doesn’t stray from the path mentally or physically.
Jerry Sands can play outfield or first base and has shown tons of promising power in the minors. That being said, the Pacific Coast League is notorious for inflating young players’ numbers because it’s such an offense-friendly league. In a few stints in the Majors with Los Angeles, Sands showed very infrequent flashes of potential. Most of his time was spent trolling around the Mendoza line with little power and plate discipline to show for it.
The same can be said for De Jesus. I believe he has more potential than Sands overall, but is a smaller-name player so goes unnoticed. De Jesus had some big appearances for the Dodgers in 2012 and could become a spark player for the Red Sox down the road if developed properly.
It’s hard to tell in a trade like this who “wins” per se. Loney for Gonzalez is an obvious win for the Dodgers. And for right NOW, I have to say L.A. won the trade. They are going for a World Series title, no matter the cost. But the fact that they got a huge left-handed bat, a potential number two starter and an improvement on the bench AND were able to keep Dee Gordon and Zach Lee, speaks for itself.
But, if Boston develops the four young players they received in the deal properly, we’re talking about one or two potential impact bats and the possibility of two middle of the rotation starters. Down the road, the Red Sox may be reloading for another big run.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)