Adrian Gonzalez

Breaking down the Red Sox-Dodgers megadeal

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If FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi is correct, the Red Sox and Dodgers have agreed to the following nine-player deal:

To L.A.: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto
To Boston: Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus, James Loney

It’s not official yet, as the Red Sox still need Crawford and Beckett to waive their trade protection. However, here the breakdown of the deal:

Going to the Dodgers:

Adrian Gonzalez (1B, age 30): Of the three huge pieces getting sent the Dodgers’ way, Gonzalez is the one most teams would probably view as being worth his contract. He’s currently in the first year of his monster extension, so he’s due $127 million in the six years from 2013-18. While Gonzalez had a disappointing first half of 2012, he’s hit .338/.378/.593 with nine homers and 41 RBI in 37 games since the All-Star break.  He also hit .338 last year in his first season with Boston. Needless to say, he’d be a huge upgrade over James Loney at first base in Los Angeles. He’d likely supplant Andre Ethier in the cleanup spot behind Matt Kemp.

Carl Crawford (LF, age 31): Crawford is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, so he won’t make any sort of immediate impact in Los Angeles. Still, he should be ready next year, and he played pretty well while healthy this year, hitting .282/.306/.479 with three homers in 117 at-bats. That was a big step forward from a tremendously disappointing first year in Boston. Crawford may yet have a couple of All-Star appearances going forward, but the Red Sox could essentially start over by shedding his contract. He’ll make $102.5 million from 2013-17. With Shane Victorino likely to leave in free agency, the Dodgers would use Crawford in left field next year.

Josh Beckett (SP, age 32): Beckett has turned into public enemy No. 1 in Boston of late, with the results to match; he’s 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts this season. Beckett, though, was one of the AL’s best pitchers just one year ago, finishing 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 30 starts in 2011. His velocity is down, so he’s not necessarily going to rebound completely in the National League. Still, he’d be a better bet than Aaron Harang or Joe Blanton in a postseason rotation. Beckett is owed $31.5 million for 2013-14. The Dodgers would have him replace Joe Blanton in the rotation.

Nick Punto (INF, age 34): Foolishly given a two-year, $3 million contract last winter, Punto has found himself made obsolete in Boston by Pedro Ciriaco’s emergence. In Los Angeles, he’d join Luis Cruz and Juan Uribe in the mix at third base. Punto is hitting just .200/.301/.272 in 125 at-bats this season, but he is a plus defender at third and he hit .278/.388/.421 for the Cardinals last year.

Going to the Red Sox:

Rubby De La Rosa (SP, age 23): De La Rosa blossomed into a top prospect in 2011, jumping from Double-A to the majors and going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA and a 60/31 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery last August. He just returned this week, as the Dodgers activated him from the disabled list following a successful rehab stint. The Dodgers then sent him back down to the minors today, but that was a move to facilitate the trade; De La Rosa didn’t clear waivers, so he can only be included in the deal as a “player to be named” and he has to be in the minors to make that happen. Therefore, he won’t officially become Boston property until the season ends.

A short right-hander (5’11”) with a big mid-90s fastball and a quality changeup, De La Rosa has drawn some comparisons to Pedro Martinez. That’s overselling it, but he has No. 2 or 3 starter potential, and he should make an impact next year.

Allen Webster (SP, age 22): Webster, a right-hander with a very good sinker and a plus changeup, was the prospect the Cubs wanted from the Dodgers for Ryan Dempster. He’s gone 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA and a 117/57 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings for Double-A Chattanooga this season. Most impressive is that he’s allowed just one homer all year. He and fellow righty Zach Lee were prospects 1 and 1a in the Dodger farm system. Most prefer Lee, but I like Webster a bit better.

Jerry Sands (1B/OF, age 24): It seemed obvious that Sands should be in the deal, given that he plays the positions that will be occupied by Gonzalez and Crawford in Los Angeles. His stock is down since he’s hit a modest .244/.325/.376 with 60 strikeouts in 221 major league at-bats to date. He also lacks defensive value. Still, as a right-handed doubles hitter, he could work out nicely in Fenway. He’ll get a long look over the rest of the year to determine whether he fits into the plans for 2013. I’m skeptical that he’s a long-term regular, but it can’t be ruled out.

Ivan De Jesus (INF, age 25): De Jesus is essentially a junior Nick Punto. It’s doubtful that he’ll hit enough to be of use as a regular, but he’s a fine infielder with a history of pretty good OBPs in the minors. Oddly, his walk rate is well down in Triple-A this year, as he’s hit .295/.333/.415 with a 53/14 K/BB ratio in 224 at-bats for Albuquerque. Last year, he came in at .310/.389/.432 with the same club.

James Loney (1B, age 28): The Dodgers certainly have no further use for Loney after making the deal, and they probably forced the Red Sox to take him on for salary purposes. The Red Sox almost surely will let him leave as a free agent this winter if they don’t simply release him before then, so there’s no 2013 commitment here. Loney has hit .254/.403/.344 in 334 at-bats this season, leaving him with a .284/.341/.423 career line. Maybe the Red Sox will give him a shot, but it’d make more sense to play Sands, Mauro Gomez and maybe Ryan Lavarnway at first base.

In making the trade, the Red Sox would shed $58.25 million in 2013 salaries, without taking on anyone making more than the minimum. They’re left with just $42.375 million in obligations for 2013 (John Lackey, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz), plus about $32.5 million for 10 arbitration-eligible players. That should make them big players in free agency, and it also gives them plenty of flexibility to make Jacoby Ellsbury a big offer this winter before he hits free agency after 2013.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: