FanDuel - WFBC

August 24, 2012

Red Sox considering a blockbuster trade: a deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles.

posted by yerfatma to baseball at 06:10 PM - 34 comments

This has a certain "so crazy it just might work" appeal to it, but since this is real life rather than a Jimmy Fallon movie, I'm not too optimistic.

posted by feloniousmonk at 07:36 PM on August 24

Oh crap, not Punto!

*sob*

posted by grum@work at 08:16 PM on August 24

PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS....

Hear that hissing sound???

I think the fuse to the dynamite has been lit.

Interesting that Gonzalez is sitting out tonight's game after DHing the night before. Either they are very close to getting something done or Gonzalez is tired from having to duck non-baseball related questions. Of course, with the Boston media asking the sort of questions it does, who can blame him?

Mrs. Jones, now that you've just seen your husband and 3 children obliterated in a gas explosion, and your mother has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, how do you feel?

posted by Howard_T at 09:38 PM on August 24

Dumping $260 million in contract obligations goes a long way towards a reset in Boston...but man, that is a pretty pathetic haul when you consider they traded Anthony Rizzo to get Gonzalez very recently.

posted by dfleming at 09:53 PM on August 24

While I hate to see AGon go and still think Crawford will bounce back, I'm pretty happy with the idea of a new beginning. Management needed to do something to shake things up.

posted by SteveYork at 10:26 PM on August 24

I think this is an absolutely amazing trade, and cannot believe the Sox may be pulling it off. It'll be a feather in the cap of Ben Cherrington; it removes aging players and bloated contracts, and leaves the Sox fantastically agile to retool. The last couple of seasons have been morbidly disappointing, and while Gonzalez is a good hitter he's probably going to be worth less and less- while I never liked the Crawford contract (and he's borne that out).

This is an amazing slate-cleaning, and I'm stupefied; like that quote in article by an unnamed exec ("I think something is happening, but I'm in a state of disbelief that it is"), I'll be stunned if Cherrington can clean house like this. And since both Beckett and Gonzalez apparently went on and were claimed in the waiver wires, it sounds like it's a near-foregone conclusion. Boston could zap the deal, but everyone in the league knows they wouldn't want to: clear off salary, get rid of the injury prone guys, start young again from the farm system, and hope for the best.

And it really benefits both teams: the Dodgers are in the hunt and Gonzalez would be a big boon in the lineup, Crawford could (in 2014) be of some value, and Beckett may still have some juice in the arm. It's very hard to tell why so many Boston players are underperforming over the last two years, or having so many injury issues, but the changes of scenery for many of them (Youkilis et al) have been somewhat rejuvenating. But mostly it benefits the Sox, to clear that payroll so soon.

posted by hincandenza at 11:06 PM on August 24

leaves the Sox fantastically agile to retool.

With what?

The free agent market is REALLY lean for picking up anyone in 2013.

What are they going to spend all this available money on? I think there is a good chance that the players going to Los Angeles will outperform their replacements in Boston for 2013 (whether they are in-house or free agents).

While I agree hitting the reset button is a good idea for some teams, if there is a lot of money going towards Los Angeles to help cover this deal, I'm not sure that Boston has done themselves any favours.

Consider how the Boston baseball writers are probably masturbating furiously thinking about the easy hit piece they can script either way:

Deal gets done = time to rip all the players that are leaving AND/OR rip the management for pulling the chute.

Deal doesn't get done = time to rip the players that blocked the deal AND/OR management for failing miserably to get it done.

posted by grum@work at 12:37 AM on August 25

Of my two (known) Red Sox fan friends, one has given up entirely as of this evening and is now a Nats fan (which he may or may not mean -- he's not a sloppy drunk, but he's definitely had a couple tonight), and the other is suspiciously silent on this trade.

posted by Etrigan at 12:48 AM on August 25

that is a pretty pathetic haul when you consider they traded Anthony Rizzo to get Gonzalez very recently.

Speaking as a fan of a team on the receiving end of that trade, Sox fans have nothing to complain about. At least you had major league talent for a couple seasons. Hopefully, Rizzo is able to get up to par, but he wasn't able to do anything for the Padres.

posted by LionIndex at 03:00 AM on August 25

What are they going to spend all this available money on?

Yeah, that's my biggest concern; the current crop of free agent starters in particular all come with a "yeah, but" to them, and any mega deals for a Zach Greinke or Josh Hamilton come with real risk involved and put them back where they were.

Maybe they take a run at Josh Johnson, or take a run at a discounted veteran on another team in need of a fresh start. Cliff Lee may be out there somewhere at a discount. I think the big thing for Cherington is not overpaying because he's got a ton of payroll room now.

posted by dfleming at 08:07 AM on August 25

Having anyone willing to take Beckett off their hands is a blessing for the Red Sox. That being said, he may provide some decent starts for the Dodgers this season.

posted by dyams at 08:45 AM on August 25

any mega deals for a Zach Greinke or Josh Hamilton come with real risk involved

I can not fathom putting someone with an anxiety disorder (Greinke) into the Boston or New York media market. There are already some rumblings that he's having problems in the pennant chase/race (hence the horrible six starts since coming to LA).

The best places for him are probably Minnesota, Milwaukee, Toronto, Tampa Bay, and maybe Seattle.

As for Hamilton, I'm pretty sure "temptation" is available in any city that has him.

posted by grum@work at 09:31 AM on August 25

leaves the Sox fantastically agile to retool.

With what?

The free agent market is REALLY lean for picking up anyone in 2013.

Maybe they're thinking long-term. If there's nothing good out there in the market this offseason, just wait a year, focus on your farm system, and have a ton of cash in your back pocket for whenever the guys you want become available.

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:11 PM on August 25

This is like a driver who, when he sees the "next gas, 94 miles" sign, realizes he's on the wrong road and his gas tank is nearing empty. He slams on his brakes, thus prematurely wearing out his tires, and u-turns to get back to the right road and the gas station he knows is there.

In the short term, perhaps 2 to 3 seasons, this will hurt. But then, Boston has won only 1 playoff series since 2008 and will finish out of the post-season again this year. What hurts more, continuing down the road of ineffectiveness and inability to change or going in another direction with hope for future improvement?

Some comments above seem to believe that Boston will try to rebuild through the free agent pool. I believe they will begin to use the farm system to give them the home-grown talent that is there now (Lavarnway, Middlebrooks, et al), bringing up some of the young pitching and other talent as it becomes ready. If there are positions that need to be filled, they will go to the free agent market, but rather than the high-ticket players, they will go with competent veterans that fill a need. One example might be Cody Ross, who is being paid well, but is not big-ticket by any stretch. Yet he has played well and made a solid contribution this year. There usually are several of this type, as well as bullpen candidates, available each year.

In the meantime, look for Boston to boost its farm system, particularly its scouting staff, to identify and develop more young talent. Boston's practice in the past had been to draft players who had completed their college eligibility, thinking that these players, particularly pitchers, would be closer to the majors. They had also tended to draft players later in the draft who had been passed over because of higher signing bonus demands. That was made more difficult by the adoption of a slotting system in the MLB draft. I would expect Boston begin to look more at the high school players and less at the college players, although waiting for college pitchers still makes sense.

I have one anecdote about high school pitching that might pertain to the discussion. When I was umpiring high school ball, I had the plate when one of the teams was using a highly talented right-hander. As my partner and I checked the hats and bats (for the safety stickers), I noticed that there was a group of men standing behind the backstop. I would rather there be no one standing there during a game, so I went to politely ask them to move. As I did so, they began to unpack the tripod and the radar gun, so I correctly surmised that they were scouts looking at this pitcher and left them alone. After the game I asked how fast the pitcher had been throwing. The reply was high 80s with a top of 89, but with some coaching he could put at least 10 mph more on his fast ball. From this, I think it may be that the emphasis on having some years of college ball behind you is misplaced. It would seem that the physical attributes develop more quickly than one might think, and that the extra time spent "learning to pitch" in college might also result in developing bad habits on the mound.

posted by Howard_T at 02:48 PM on August 25

With what?

The free agent market is REALLY lean for picking up anyone in 2013.

Well, I think you're misreading the purpose behind the deal (or at least implied at this time).

Theo had originally wanted to create a club that ran on a solid farm system (with FA sprinkled here and there), was competitive every year, and hopefully got hot every once in a while in the playoffs, which is pretty much a crap shoot anyway.

He admitted himself earlier this year that he had gone off his original plan. The signings of Lackey and Crawford seemed at the time to be more for keeping up with fan expectation (and keeping up with the Yankees) more than anything else.

I hope they stick with their plan. I hope they ignore the fans that want to win now at all costs. If they're smart, and use patience (two big ifs), this could be a great trade for Red Sox fans. If they're not smart, or feel the pressure to win immediately with big names, they could find themselves right back where they are now.

As far as the players, Beckett needed to go. I like Crawford, but even if he bounces back to his old self he wasn't a good fit for Fenway. Gonzalez is a big loss, even if he's reached his peak. But I'm guessing he wasn't happy in Boston, and this returns him to the West Coast.

posted by justgary at 03:15 PM on August 25

Boston Globe reporting it as done but not announced. Beckett (5/10 player) agreed and Crawford waived his no trade. Adrian Gonzales tweeted goodbye.

posted by jerseygirl at 03:22 PM on August 25

Just a shame we can't get Lackey to change his name to Nick Punto in the next hour.

posted by jerseygirl at 03:22 PM on August 25

Heh...

I'll echo what Howard_T says; this isn't about freeing up cash for some huge winter free agent signing; it's a big reset button on the "fan expectation" signings like Crawford, et al. I think I read on sonsofsamhorn.net that this drops their committed payroll next year to something insane like $45M. If they're smart- and I think this move now confirms they've got their heads back on- this isn't a "go out and overpay on another crop of free agents", it's a realization that this was the "wrong road", and they needed to go back to grooming the farm team, and getting undervalued players on the cheap- not players who are wanting to be paid in full for the best years they already had. That type of spending is what the Sox of the 80's and 90's would repeatedly do, and would have been suicide for several years, especially with the new luxury tax caps and CBA.

Something else someone said on SOSH that I think is really interesting: is health the new Moneyball stat? The Sox are snake-bit this year with injuries and walking wounded- as they were last year. We're seeing teams that on paper are 95-100 win teams... until half the starting pitching has TJ surgery or is out for half the year, and position players get injured and lose a month or two each. Despite all this, their pythagorean has them at 66-60 (instead of 60-66), which would have them right there in the wild card hunt.

While losing Gonzalez detracts from their overall performance, everyone else they unloaded is almost a net gain. This is almost highway robbery: for $12M, they dump all of their problem contracts except Lackey and only lose Gonzalez. They have the money now to re-sign Ortiz, which will be worth it since at worst he's getting say a 2 year deal, and it won't be crippling. If players like Ellsbury, Pedroia and others can stay healthy I'm not sure the team isn't even better in 2013 with just the talent on staff and young guys coming up, and no big free agent moves.

They have the freedom to play a guy like Ellsbury in 2013 and see what they have: the 2011 MVP-caliber player, or the oft-injured jinxed player like Lowrie and others, and if necessary keep the homegrown player around with their now deep pockets. They can build off that nucleus of guys like Pedroia, see if they get lucky with some farm talent- for example, this guy Pedro Ciriaco is punching over his weight right now, but if he settles into an .800 OPS utility infielder... that's a huge help, and at far less cost than guys like Nick Punto.

Honestly? I think the Sox have a decent chance to compete as a WC team in 2013 with a fraction of their current salary, and more importantly a lot of flexibility to use their money not to snag a Yankee-esque big-dollar free agent, but to ensure they have can keep their homegrown talent around that's worth keeping around. 2013 is a gamble; maybe they get that 5-6 games of luck that puts them in the WC, maybe not- but I think by 2014 they'll be plenty competitive in a new financial landscape.

I just wish they hadn't gotten rid of guys like Reddick (and Youkilis), but again those kinds of moves were necessitated by the "Why keep the cheap, effective player when we can spend tens of millions on a fading free agent that only provides maybe 1 WAR improvement?" mentality that had been crippling the Sox since 2008. In one move, Cherington closes the book on the Theo era, where he had crafted two World Series champs, but had gone out falling into the trap of overspending (some of which may have not been entirely his choice). It's a Brave New Day in Sox Nation.

posted by hincandenza at 03:45 PM on August 25

I don't understand how Boston is better now or next season because of this trade. The Red Sox are one of the richest teams in baseball. I thought they could spend their way past bad contracts as well as (almost) any team in the Majors.

This reminds me of the moves the Dallas Mavericks made that jettisoned good players for future payroll flexibility. That didn't work out because no star free agent wanted Mark Cuban's money.

posted by rcade at 07:25 PM on August 25

I don't understand how Boston is better now or next season because of this trade.

No idea what the team will look like next year, but they were under .500 this year. They weren't going anywhere. Worse is relative.

That didn't work out because no star free agent wanted Mark Cuban's money.

Yeah, this won't happen.

posted by justgary at 07:59 PM on August 25

Well, the Sox were as justgary notes underperforming their payroll. As I mentioned earlier, maybe health is the new OBP in the Moneyball world. On paper this team won 100+ games the last two years; in practice they collapsed in September last year, and seem a cinch to miss the playoffs again this year. A lot of that is in the rotation: while not great, not being able to have guys like Lackey and Matsuzaka making starts, and with guys like Beckett, Buchholz, and Lester all having trouble performing and spending times on the DL... the team has just not been sending out the best they can, and are a sub-500 team playing the AAA guys and prospects.

So if you're going to do that- then why not dump all the contracts you can attached to guys who are on the other side of 30 and have big per annum costs? Why not hope that your younger staff (guys like Lester and Buchholz) can rebound, your prospects and up-and-comers get some innings, and you ride out contracts like Matsuzaka and Lackey? It's clear the Sox need to examine their medical staff's ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury, and to question what the hell the pitching coaches are or are not doing, but the issue isn't that the players they lost today were actually important. With them, they were still 6 games under .500.

The truth is with the exception of Gonzalez, they unloaded players that were not contributing: 33 games of Carl Crawford are worthless, Beckett was a back-of-the-rotation starter who was showing his age, and Punto... meh. So why not slash the payroll if you can, bring up the prospects, and see who clicks?

Plus- and this can't be stressed enough- the new CBA would have much stiffer penalties for exceeding the luxury tax threshold. Letting LA handle that penalty with their deep pockets frees the Sox to spend money more wisely.

posted by hincandenza at 10:37 PM on August 25

Yeah, this won't happen.

What indications do you have that getting rid of the poorly spent money will inspire the front office to start spending money well?

With them, they were still 6 games under .500.

Is the team after the trade better than a .476 team -- or worse?

Crawford was regarded as a "smart move" and "one of the top 10-20 position players in baseball" when he was signed in December 2010. Now after one bad season and one season-cripping wrist injury he's only seen as money that the Red Sox were so eager to dump they gave up an MVP-level talent in Gonzalez.

I don't see how Boston gets better from this deal without accepting as a given that they start making smart roster moves. And any plan that includes "be smarter" as one of the steps isn't a big confidence builder.

posted by rcade at 11:21 PM on August 25

What indications do you have that getting rid of the poorly spent money will inspire the front office to start spending money well?

That doesn't have anything to do with the comment I was replying to. You said:

That didn't work out because no star free agent wanted Mark Cuban's money.

I said that wouldn't happen. And it won't.

Crawford was regarded as a "smart move" and "one of the top 10-20 position players in baseball" when he was signed in December 2010.

Plenty of people thought this was a bad move. His defensive skills were negated somewhat playing left field at fenway. His stats were better at tropicana than Fenway. He's better on artificial turf. I kind of hate to see him go because he's an exciting player, there wasn't a consensus that he was worth the money the red sox were throwing at him. Now add the injuries that have happened since your stated date of 2010, and I don't blame the Red Sox for thinking it was best to part ways.

I don't see how Boston gets better from this deal without accepting as a given that they start making smart roster moves.

Who's denying that? Here's what I said:

If they're smart, and use patience (two big ifs), this could be a great trade for Red Sox fans.

If they're not smart in future moves, they'll fail. How is this not true of any team? At least they have a chance to make moves now, especially considering the previous team was built by Theo.

You're arguing that a team that was going nowhere is still going nowhere unless they make smart moves in the future.

Yep, that sounds right. But I'm not sure who said differently.

posted by justgary at 11:53 PM on August 25

I said that wouldn't happen. And it won't.

You can keep declaring that without an explanation, but it's not terribly persuasive. If you're a top free agent next off-season, do you want to go to Boston given the state of the franchise and the reputation of Bobby Valentine?

There have been times in recent years where Boston was one of the most attractive places for a free agent to sign. Winning team, smart management, big money, huge media market, fanatically loyal fan base and historic Fenway Park. Some of those perks will always be there, but with other TV contract-enriched franchises suddenly able to spend as big as Boston, the competition for the top free agents is a lot tougher.

Plenty of people thought this was a bad move.

You thought it was a smart move, as did most people here with the exception of DrJohnEvans. I thought it was an incredible signing, and I still expect Crawford to be an excellent player again after his recovery.

If they're not smart in future moves, they'll fail. How is this not true of any team?

I think Boston fans are leaning too hard on "be smarter in the future" as a reason to like a questionable trade. The trade should be judge on its own merits: Are we better now with these players? Will we be better next season? Can we do things with payroll we weren't able to do before? I think the answers are no, no and perhaps but not enough to justify losing Gonzalez.

posted by rcade at 10:37 AM on August 26

"Even if Gonzalez bats the Dodgers into the World Series and Beckett wins three games in it, this deal was a stroke of genius by the Red Sox. Neither would ever have led the Sox anywhere, and all they had become these days is cloggers -- taking up roster spots."

There's amazing fatalism in how some people in Red Sox country talk about the trade.

They would have sucked here no matter how great they prove to be elsewhere, so it's good they're gone.

posted by rcade at 10:44 AM on August 26

Yeah, that quote is silly. Gonzalez is one of the top first basemen in baseball (last year's 6.7 WAR to prove it) and is on a very team friendly deal (length and age mean he likely be leaving the deal as he's declining), in comparison to say, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira or Albert Pujols. Yes, his numbers are down this year, but the potential to rebound is very much there as he's just entering his prime.

It's hard to imagine the Sox can acquire a first basemen in the next 2-3 years that will be Gonzalez's equivalent without paying out the nose for it.

posted by dfleming at 12:19 PM on August 26

It's hard to imagine the Sox can acquire a first basemen in the next 2-3 years that will be Gonzalez's equivalent

That's a false dilemma: the Sox did not want to get rid of Gonzalez, but that was the only thing they could offer to get a team to take Beckett and Crawford off their hands. I'm sad to see Gonzalez go and I wish Crawford had gotten a fair shake, but, even though his performance was supposedly better than his numbers, I am ecstatic to never have to watch Beckett pitch in a Sox uniform again and think his departure will be addition by subtraction for the Sox pitching staff.

I'm actually less positive about this trade than the general consensus seems to be. A couple of national reporters (Buster Olney for one) have passed on anonymous comments from other league execs like, "Can a GM be executive of the year on a .500 team?" The new Dodgers' ownership, desiring to make a splash, have taken a quarter of a billion dollars off the Red Sox books and sent them a couple of decent pitching prospects in return. My only real concern with the deal is the PR-sensitive Sox ownership may feel pressured to spend that money and by either over-paying in a weak FA market this winter or by over-paying for internal free agents (Ellsbury & Ortiz), wind up right back in the same situation.

I think next year will/ should be a bridge year whether they like it or not. They need a starter or two and an outfielder would be nice (even better would be for Ryan Kalish to prove them right about letting Josh Reddick go). They'll give Jose Iglesias every chance this fall and next spring to prove he can hit enough to play short in the majors and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogarts* should be ready by 2014 at the latest, which ideally gives them a replacement for Ellsbury and either a great hit/ bad field SS if Iglesias doesn't make it, or a corner player at the infield or outfield. Maybe Matt Barnes is ready by then too, which would mean a solid 2014 rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, Barnes and whomever you like.

A couple of years out of the playoffs is a bad run for such a big-market team, but if they can use it to right the ship and create a more solid base/ a less top-heavy team, it will be worth it.

* We went to see Bogarts and Bradley last Sunday in Portland. Didn't see a lot from Bradley at the plate, but his defense was as advertised. I don't want to over-sell it, but Bogarts looked special to my untrained eye. My ear, more accurately, as you could tell he was at the plate just by the sound of the ball off his bat. He went 2 for 4 and everything was hit hard.

posted by yerfatma at 01:27 PM on August 26

Who knew? A lot of the Nation is saying and asking HOW are we going to replace AGon....well, you are not going to. Someone will step up...or they will not. This is the history of the Sox. Sometimes there are voids, and sometimes someone comes right along to take care of business. I can only go back as far as 1963, but its that way with this franchise, as well as most. No one really thought Yaz would come close to filling Teddy Ballgames shoes, but he proved more than able. AL batting champ just two years after Ted retired. The Nation felt empty after losing Fisk, Boggs (maybe), Lynn, Dewey and many others. Lets not forget who steps up- forgetable guys like Dave Henderson, Marty Barrett and John Mirabelli. Professional athlete will perform to the best of their ability almost all the time- if just given the chance. And they always are trying to improve. Thats the hope fans cling to. Did anyone ever think that Ellsbury would turn into the MVP-type player he is after his first season? I thought he was a Mendoza-line guy. Sure, he could run, and field, but he was an easy out. No more. Someone will step up. Lastly, let hope the Sox avoid any veteran pitching in the Free Agent/offseason trade market. No more acquisitions like Sam McDowell, Rick Wise, Fergie Jenkins- great pitchers in the later stages of their careers who do not deserve to pitch half their starts in the Fenway Phone Booth. Wise was so vulnerable that he rarely started at Fenway during the stretch run in 1975. Remarkably, Wise is the winning pitcher of WS Game 6-1975, in relief. Perhaps one of the few veteran starters to be acquired that worked well was Curtis Schilling.

posted by Leominster at 02:01 PM on August 26

You can keep declaring that without an explanation, but it's not terribly persuasive. If you're a top free agent next off-season, do you want to go to Boston given the state of the franchise and the reputation of Bobby Valentine?

I have no interest persuading you that you're wrong about something that hasn't happened. Boston has always been a place that appealed to some players and not to others. That won't change. Some players will avoid Boston at all cost, some will relish the opportunity.

And how in the world pre-trade did the Red Sox look better for a free agent? The clubhouse has been toxic for 2 years and the team has been losing. Now management can tell prospective players that they've cleaned house, that they can be a core part of the next winning Red Sox team.

Getting free agents to sign in Boston isn't going to be a major problem. I can't take that view seriously. Signing the right free agents is a much bigger concern

You thought it was a smart move, as did most people here with the exception of DrJohnEvans. I thought it was an incredible signing, and I still expect Crawford to be an excellent player again after his recovery.

You'll notice I didn't say I thought it was a bad move. I said 'plenty of people'. And as long as you're playing a game of gotcha, why not actually refer to what I said?

Considering Ellsbury and Cameron are coming off injury plagued seasons, and Drew is getting older and probably not long for the Red Sox, Crawford is a smart move. I hate going 7 years, but that's the going rate.

I was basing my opinion on the current players either being injury prone or old. I thought Crawford would solve that problem. My crystal ball was obviously faulty because I didn't realize Crawford would end up with multiple injuries.

Regardless, it's easier to have a clearer picture of Crawford after two years. I still like Crawford, but I think his skills are lessened in Boston, and I think he's overpaid. He's also a player that depends on speed, and as I also said in the quote you linked to, that makes 7 years worrisome.

The trade should be judge on its own merits: Are we better now with these players? Will we be better next season? Can we do things with payroll we weren't able to do before? I think the answers are no, no and perhaps but not enough to justify losing Gonzalez.

Now? Of course not. They suck even more. Which doesn't matter.

Next year? Probably not. This move wasn't done to win a WS next year. They basically set the reset button.

You seem to completely ignore how bad this Red Sox team was. The question you should be asking is were the Red Sox a playoff team before the trade. No. Were they a playoff team next year? Without major changes, no.

This was a trade done knowing the payoff would be long term. They didn't make the trade to win next year. The question isn't are the Red Sox better this year or next, but are they better 2-3-4 years down the road. You seem to be of the opinion that if a trade doesn't show immediate success, it's a failure. Well, that's not why they made the trade. They made the trade so they would be able to make changes in the future without worrying about huge contracts blocking the way. It may be work, it may not. But we won't know for a while.

posted by justgary at 02:53 PM on August 26

You'll notice I didn't say I thought it was a bad move. I said 'plenty of people'. And as long as you're playing a game of gotcha, why not actually refer to what I said?

The link was sufficient. Generally, if you say something like "plenty of people thought this was a bad move," the inference is that you were one of those people. I simply pointed out otherwise. Calling it "gotcha" is silly, considering I agreed with you.

You seem to be of the opinion that if a trade doesn't show immediate success, it's a failure.

Not really, but how many seasons does a trade significantly impact? The current one, next one and perhaps a third. The Sox made themselves worse this season and probably next, by both our estimations.

This deal buys them payroll flexibility, but anyone they signed to make up for losing Gonzalez would require a huge contract.

posted by rcade at 03:44 PM on August 26

The link was sufficient.

I take the link, without context, as saying 'you wanted him then, and now you've changed your mind'. The very reason I thought he was a good signing (bring talent and stability to an old and injury plagued outfield) is now the major reason I think the trade is acceptable. I think that's important.

This deal buys them payroll flexibility, but anyone they signed to make up for losing Gonzalez would require a huge contract.

The consensus in this thread seems to be they must replace Gonzales with a player of equal value. I disagree. Put together a solid, balanced offense, and put your money behind pitching. The pitching staff has to be overhauled, and that's where the flexibility comes into play.

posted by justgary at 04:08 PM on August 26

To use another metaphor, Boston tried to take a short cut across the toll bridge. The bridge turned out to be a draw bridge, it was stuck in the up position, and they weren't going anywhere. Now they've been lucky enough to get most of their toll refunded and will try the long way around the hahbah. The question is whether or not the fans (and perhaps more importantly, the media) will go along for the ride.

For so many years, the Boston baseball mantra was "wait 'til next year". Finally, instead of trying to rely on the power of the pocketbook, Red Sox have, for better or worse, indicated that they might rely on the power of careful spending. "Wait 'til next year" appears to have been replaced by "this might take a while, but we think it will be worth the wait". The pink hats will fail to understand it (and maybe go away), the baseball fans will appreciate it, and the die-hard team fans will call for heads to roll (until the plan begins to bear fruit). One can hope that the idea is to replicate the success of lower payroll clubs that prove competitive, but retaining enough resources to pick up the one piece that will make the difference. Those who believe the payoff will become apparent starting around 2014 are close to correct. I believe it will be the 2015 season.

Some discussion is being given to whether or not Boston will remain a desirable destination for free agents. The answer is, "I don't think Red Sox management really cares". They should not be in the market for any high-ticket players, other than those on their roster right now (Ellsbury, Ortiz) for another 2 or 3 seasons. Much will have changed by then, and as I have said before, management needs to be a lot more selective.

On the subject of Ortiz and Ellsbury there are some ominous signs. Ortiz might be placed back on the DL before too long because of an Achilles strain. He played one game, complained of a return of the pain, and sat out. He is out again today, claiming it hurts to run. If he is truly hurt, that might discourage Boston from wanting to give him more than a year at comparatively short money. He's been a valuable contributor, but there always comes a time when the returns diminish. If he's not really hurt, then he correctly sees the season as gone, sees no real reason to continue, and just wants to get started on a new contract. This latter idea does not fit what I have seen from Ortiz in the past, but these are strange times indeed. Two words describe the situation with Ellsbury: Scott Boras. There will be no contract extensions during the season unless the new deal is of such enormous proportions as to negate all of the work done to shed payroll. Ellsbury will go to free agency, Boras will manage to get one or another team bidding against itself as rumors abound over who wants his client, and either Boston will call the bluff and get him at a reasonable deal or some other club will overpay. Ellsbury when healthy can be an MVP candidate, but history shows injury problems. What will it be?

This is the situation that I and a lot of others have wanted. Put some good, young players on the field, and supplement them with competent veterans as necessary. In the meantime, build the farm system. Put more resources into amateur scouting, institute player development organizations overseas, and deepen the talent pool. Maybe we're all wet and there will be another protracted drought before we see a World Series championship, but I think the plan can work. Time will tell.

posted by Howard_T at 05:07 PM on August 26

The pitching staff has to be overhauled, and that's where the flexibility comes into play.

How exactly do they overhaul it? This year's free agent crop is problematic to say the least and 2014 isn't much better (Lincecum? Josh Johnson? Premium for risk players.) They could deal a few prospects for a front-line starter, but they risk losing that balanced offence you're looking for, and they really need at least two starters to make it work, plus getting Lester and Buchholz back and under contract.

The point is, this trade opens up a ton of flexibility, the problem being if the options that you have with that flexibility are overpriced based on supply, you're going to end up with the same problem.

There's also the possibility that Ortiz takes a walk to a team that's going to be in the race next year (especially given the way he's sounded off this year, would not be a huge surprise) and Ellsbury is a Boras client, meaning you are paying through the nose for an oft-injured outfielder.

I don't mind a rebuild, as it's clear this team needed a reset, but the idea that they'll go through a one-year speed bump and be back in the wild card race in two is a little optimistic. There simply aren't the quality free agents out there to spend on and the farm system's talent may take a few years to round into form.

posted by dfleming at 06:57 PM on August 26

One can hope that the idea is to replicate the success of lower payroll clubs that prove competitive, but retaining enough resources to pick up the one piece that will make the difference.

That's what Theo was preaching of course. But make no mistake, the 2004 team was a highly paid and composed of free agent signings and trades. Ortiz, Manny, Schilling, Foulke, Damon... Almost no one was home grown. The 2007 championship team was more home grown with Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, Papelbon, etc, but still had Manny and Ortiz and were largely driven by Lowell and Beckett, also not home grown.

The Red Sox of 2004 were not built much differently than the Red Sox of 2012. But Schilling and Damon were much better signings than Lackey and Crawford. And some of that is simply luck.

The Red Sox should invest in their farm system, and they should be smart about their signings, but they're a big market team loaded with money. They have an advantage money wise and they should use it.

How exactly do they overhaul it?

No idea. I'm not paid the big bucks to figure that out. But I'm quite sure they knew the potential free agent market before making the trade.

Yeah, it could take a long time. But their second in the league in runs scored while being 11 out of 14 teams in pitching ERA. I don't think there's any question where their concentration should be.

but the idea that they'll go through a one-year speed bump and be back in the wild card race in two is a little optimistic.

You could be right, but you never know. Every year I hear how the Rays are in a rebuilding year, and every year they're in the race. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word 'overhaul'. Maybe the figure out what's wrong with Lester and he goes back to being a #1. And Buchholz becomes a number 2 or 3. Maybe one of the pitchers they traded for is ready in 2014, and Lackey makes a decent number 4 or 5.

Weirder things have happened. If the pitchers they have turn it around, they'll need much less.

posted by justgary at 03:34 PM on August 27

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