It looks like 2012 is in the tanks for Boston.
Flirting with the cellar of the American League East all season, the Boston Red Sox unofficially made it official that they’re throwing the towel. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports the following deal "was expected to become official Saturday": Superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto in exchange for Dodgers first baseman James Loney and prized L.A. prospects Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Ivan De Jesus and Jerry Sands.
And while it appears that the Red Sox are waving the white flag this season, Red Sox Nation shouldn’t be too distressed by GM Ben Cherington gutting the roster. While Boston lost some beloved heroes and fan favorites, it’s a move that will play out in the struggling franchise’s favor.
But just how? Let’s break it down.
One of Theo Epstein's few mistakes, Carl Crawford looks like he's getting off the Boston books sooner than many thought.
Yowza. The Red Sox play in one of the biggest baseball markets on the planet Earth, but their whopping $146 million payroll still isn’t worth the last-place production they’ve churned out this season.
Gonzalez’s deal is somewhat fathomable given his production, but Crawford, who hit just .255 with a lousy .289 OBP last season with the Red Sox and has spent most of 2012 on the disabled list, is a huge salary-eater that Boston is blessed to be able to get off their books.
The same goes for Josh Beckett; though he’s been the longtime front-of-the-rotation ace for the Sox, he’s been shaky in 2012 with a 5.23 ERA through 21 starts.
Theo Epstein helped break the curse and brought two rings to Boston, but his time in the Fenway office is over and it's time for the Red Sox to completely turn a new page.
The Epstein/Francona era is over, but many of the pieces from their tenure in Boston are still embedded in the roster. Gonzalez and Beckett are essentially the iconic faces of the Red Sox franchise, and gutting them from the roster would help the team move on with the next chapter of baseball in Boston.
With considerable money cleared from their books, Boston will likely be a huge player in this summer’s free agent craze. With considerable talent still on the roster, they could/should be right in the midst of the postseason hunt as early as next season.
No more bickering means no more distractions in Beantown.
Legendary manager Bobby Valentine has had his fair share of widely publicized struggles in his first season with the Sox, and perhaps this out-of-the-blue move came as more of a necessity to avoid complete implosion rather than strategic planning.
Gonzalez reportedly voiced his dismay about having Valentine at the helm, and by dealing the nationally renowned star, the Red Sox showed that they are fully committed to Valentine as their skipper.
Discontent seems to be a running theme with the 2012 Boston Red Sox, and eliminating distractions is crucial to any team’s success. Yes, they’re pumping out considerable talent, but it might be a necessary cost to settle the dust in the clubhouse.
Josh Beckett, the kid who helped the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series in 2003 is all grown up now. It's time for Boston to move on.
With Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez on the roster, the Red Sox have the fifth-oldest team in the majors at an average age 29.6 years. For a team that’s flirted with last place all season, they need some turnover for a higher ceiling.
Beckett appears to be on the tail end of his career at age 32, and who knows if Carl Crawford will ever recover from his struggles. The prospects Boston will get in return—De Jesus, Sands, De La Rosa and Webster are all top-10 in the Dodgers' farm system—near MLB-ready and give the Sox tremendous talent to look forward to in the near future.
It just hasn't been a winning formula in Boston the past two seasons.
Bottom line for blowing up the roster: the Boston Red Sox are not winning. They’re likely going to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season, and the current roster looks like it’s a proven no-win formula.
The Sox' $146 million price tag is a hefty load for a roster stocked with name-brand stars who don’t win ball games. It might make fans cringe a bit to see star names shipped out for no-name prospects, but it’s necessary and inherently the right move for the future success of the Boston Red Sox.