After Wes Welker signed in Denver I started thinking about The Trade again. So much has happened since the start of the 2011 Red Sox season. “The Best Team Ever” as coined by the Boston Herald did little, if anything, to make themselves the best team in Red Sox history. They historically collapsed in September of that season and the following summer things really fell apart: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett were launched across the country to Los Angeles for the proverbial “bag of balls.” The Trade was a steal in terms of cash flow for the Red Sox. But will it eventually become a steal in terms of talent for the LA Dodgers?
As of five days ago, team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic. With that elimination, Adrian Gonzalez was allowed to return to Dodgers’ camp. Gonzo played 36 games for LA last year, amassing .297/.344/.441 slash lines with 3 home runs and 22 RBI’s while wearing Dodger Blue. His totals for the year echoed that small sample size: he hit .299/.344/.463 with 18 HR and 108 RBI’s in 159 games total in 2012.
The loss of Gonzalez hurts. However, looking back at the year he had statistically should calm fans. Replacing a guy who was largely considered the best hitter in your lineup is a lot easier when he hits .300 exactly and only puts 18 dingers over the wall. This is not to say that I think Adrian Gonzalez is a slouch or that he will have a bad year. He should be more comfortable than he was last year, removed from the Boston media and fans. More comfort should equal at least the same production, which is hugely impressive. After all, 100+ runners aren’t going to drive in themselves.
Also more comfortable out of the watchful eyes of the Boston media, old friend Carl Crawford had much say about Red Sox reporters, “I took so much of a beating in Boston, I don’t think anything could bother me anymore. They can say what they want — that I’m the worst free agent ever — and it won’t get to me. But it bothered me the whole time there.”
Crawford continued, “They (the Boston media) love it when you’re miserable . . . Burying people in the media, they think that makes a person play better…I feel like I’ve got a lot of baseball left but over there, I felt like my career was almost over.”
It is safe to say that his career was almost over. Crawford was a miserable player here in Boston. I don’t think that any fans will be missing him any time soon. In another injury plagued 2012 C.C. hit .282/.306/.479 with 3HR, 5 Stolen Bases and 19 RBI’s in 31 games. He did not play for the Dodgers. All told, things might have turned out differently for Crawford if he was not so oft injured. But in his only (semi) full season with the Red Sox he was a shell of his former self, hitting .255/.289/.405 with 11 HR, 18 SB’s and 56 RBI’s. This is a guy who was a perennial All Star. He put up MVP type seasons. Yet his signing in Boston was a mere cash grab. At 31 years old, it is doubtful that the once dominant Crawford regains his speed in the batters box or on the basepaths. But hey — he was scheduled to hit in his first minor league game yesterday against Meiji University of Japan.
Last, but definitely not least, is the infamous sweller of beer and nosher of chicken, Josh Beckett. In 43 innings pitched for Los Angeles last year, the 32 year old righty had a 2.93 ERA with a 1.326 WHIP, 38 strikeouts and 14 walks. This impressive stretch allowed him to end the year with 170.1 IP, a 4.65 ERA, 1.327 WHIP and a 2.54 strikeout to walk ratio. Beckett won’t likely be the ace of the Dodgers’ staff, but he will compete for dominance in a rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke. Beckett has had a nice spring to date: with no injury flare ups to speak of and no WBC in which to compete, he has posted 11 K’s and allowed only one run in 9.1 innings of spring training.
The Red Sox have certainly cleaned house since the printing of the Boston Herald shown at the head of this blog post. Cody Ross has left for greener pastures in Arizona. Mike Aviles and Matt Albers now play for Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians. In fact, the Indians like former Sox players so much that they have signed Diasuke Matsuzaka to a minor league contract.
Jonathan Papelbon pitches as the Phillies’ closer now. Jed Lowrie went from the Astros in 2012 to the Oakland A’s this spring. There, Lowrie will join the surprising Josh Reddick who was traded in the deal that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston. Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield were forced into retirement. JD Drew forced himself into retirement. Marco Scutaro won a World Series with the Giants. Kevin Youkillis is a Yankee.
The wheels have long been spinning for this Ben Cherington edition of the Boston Red Sox. These are his players now and it will be interesting to see how the team fares because of his moves. Either way, it’s always nice to visit old friends.