We interrupt this months-long absence from StanGraphs to bring you this not-so-breaking news: The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox are nearing a deal to send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to L.A. for Rubby De La Rosa, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus and Allen Webster.
As the resident Dodgers fan at Stangraphs, I immediately called Brian Vaughan and asked to write this article. Since my cohorts have been taking subtle cheap shots at me in their other articles, Brian naturally obliged as long as I wrote it in a timely manner (not November). Brian already has his thoughts posted on this pending deal (it is still pending, after all), but I have my own personal opinions here.
First of all, this trade is great for both teams. For the Red Sox, it gives them huge salary cap relief, and it allows them a fresh start after a tumultuous season in which their management and front office has been scrutinized and questioned. For the Dodgers, they get the big-time bat they needed, a former ace who has fallen on hard times, and an outfielder who could create a three-headed monster roaming the grass in Chavez Ravine.
Let’s look at this trade more in-depth for both teams, beginning with the Dodgers. Should this trade go through, the top of the Dodgers’ lineup could look like this:
That is speculative at best, as they could actually put somebody at leadoff and go 2 through 6 with this. But here’s what is crazy about that lineup: It would stay that way through 2014. After that, Ramirez is gone, and that lineup is solid until 2017! Holy Mike Piazza, Batman! That is an amazing lineup, perhaps one of the best in the majors. And while you might have your question marks about Crawford and Ethier, few teams in baseball will have this solid and powerful of a lineup for the next five years.
Beckett has struggled over the past three years in Boston. His FIP was 4.51 in 2010, 3.61 in 2011 and 4.21 so far this year. His K/9 stats have dropped significantly this year, and his BB/9 has increased steadily over that same three-year period. But here’s the key for me: his ground ball percentage has been 42 percent over the past two years. To me, Beckett may thrive in a “pitcher’s park,” and he won’t have to be the ace of the team, as long as the Dodgers just hurry up and sign Clayton Kershaw to a freaking extension!
For the Red Sox, they are able to get back Rubby De La Rosa, who was the key in this deal. De La Rosa just came back from Tommy John Surgery, but he is considered the centerpiece here. In his short 2011 season in the majors, he was 4-5, with a 3.71 ERA and a 3.83 FIP. Allen Webster is probably the Dodgers’ second-best prospect, and was the prospect most commonly named in the potential Ryan Dempster deal. Don’t be misled by his 6-8 record at AA Chattanooga; in just over 120 innings, he has 117 strikeouts and 57 walks, and he’s allowed one — that’s one — home run all season. Wow.
James Loney has been an enigma for the Dodgers. He was expected to be a big-time star, but over his past few seasons he has been more of a letdown. This season, his slash line is .252/.302/.354 (yuck), and he has four home runs this season. You read that right — at the most premium power position in baseball, James Loney has four home runs.
Jerry Sands has the name of a detective, but he strikes me as a AAAA player. He is mashing the ball at AAA, but his big-boy numbers are lacking. Ivan DeJesus is clearly a backup, as is Nick Punto, so it’s a wash.
So what does this trade really mean? It means the Red Sox realize that they have to start all over, and this gives them the financial flexibility and the clubhouse restart they need. For the Dodgers, it is their final shot in the arm to get them the NL West pennant.
And as a final prediction, if this deal happens, the Dodgers will overtake the Giants for said pennant. That will push the Giants into the Wild Card race, and you can remove the Cardinals from the playoff picture.