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.

Brewers fans gave Josh Hader a standing ovation after he apologized for offensive tweets

Josh Hader
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Brewers reliever Josh Hader received a standing ovation from the crowd at Miller Park during Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Dodgers. In the seventh inning, the 24-year-old southpaw took the mound for the first time since Major League Baseball discovered a slew of racist, homophobic, and misogynistic tweets the player had posted in 2011-12. He was given a protracted round of applause from the home crowd, many of whom stood to loudly cheer before, during, and after the pitcher’s two innings of relief.

The appearance — and the overwhelmingly positive reaction it inspired — followed another apology from Hader after he met with his teammates and coaches and underwent his first round of sensitivity training on Friday. When asked to explain how his beliefs had evolved over the last seven years, he told reporters, “They were never my beliefs. I was young. I was saying stuff out of just ignorance and that’s just not what I meant.” He also revealed that he apologized to his teammates in private and hoped they realize he’s not the same person now, though he failed to publicly address any specific ways in which he had changed his thinking and behavior for the better.

It goes without saying that the response to Hader’s return on Saturday wasn’t a good look for the Brewers or their fans. The fact that the pitcher had some old, vile tweets exposed doesn’t make him a victim deserving of sympathy, nor does an ambiguous apology merit a pat on the back (let alone something as enthusiastic and approving as a standing ovation). Over the last week, there seems to have been a few missed opportunities to speak out about the importance of inclusivity and support for minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community; instead, far more emphasis has been placed on reassuring Hader’s teammates and Major League Baseball at large that the tweets “don’t resemble the person [he] is now.”

It’s certainly possible that the fans in attendance on Saturday were both excited to see Hader return to the mound and cognizant of the long road he has ahead of him as he continues to make amends for his past actions. But that kind of nuanced reaction gets easily misconstrued, and it’s clear that Hader took the applause as a sign that Milwaukee’s fans had forgiven him for the tweets and were ready to move past them.

“It means a lot,” Hader told the media after his performance. “Having Milwaukee’s support, just knowing that they know my true character. Just forgiving me for my past, because that’s not who I am today.” He added that he’s not entirely sure he’ll receive such a quick and generous understanding from fans once the team hits the road on Thursday. Hopefully, he’s right.