You have one team, the Dodgers, procuring three star players in Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. (Yeah, we like you Nick Punto, but you just don't have drawing power, my friend.) On the other side, you have the Red Sox receiving James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Allen Webster and two players to be named.
Pretty cut and dried, right?
Not even close. Because what that doesn't reveal is the toxicity that was present in Boston's clubhouse. It also doesn't show how bad the team was, even with those three great players.
The Red Sox were not a good team before this trade was hatched. Yes, Gonzalez had brought his average up and was beginning to make good on his hefty contract, but his role as a leader was hazy at best. According to Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe, one Red Sox employee described the big lefty as a "know-it all" last season. Whether or not you think a guy of his caliber is worth $154 million is up for debate. What isn't is the detrimental impact he had on this team.
Crawford wasn't playing, and Beckett was pitching like he didn't care, and the results showed. Simply put, the Sox have been an embarrassment to the city of Boston for the past two seasons. What started with last year's collapse led to this year's dysfunction, and general manager Ben Cherington should be roundly applauded for having the guts to pull the trigger on this trade.
And he was pretty lucky to find a suitor in the Dodgers. Cherington, after all, inherited this team from Theo Epstein, who, for all his great moves and genius work behind the scenes for those two World Series teams, had simply botched a number of signings in the last three or four years.
When you bring in John Lackey, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and the result is a wasteland of bad personalities and poor performances, you certainly cannot be given a pass. Epstein did a number on this team before flying out to Chicago, and Cherington was left to clean up the mess.
With all that said, Red Sox fans have to be thankful the Dodgers were willing to swoop in and take on those players. The contracts of Gonzalez ($154 million) and Crawford ($142 million) alone would have hamstrung the Sox for years to come.
I feel this will now allow Cherington to regain control of a very bad situation, and put his signature on an organization that had lost its way. Before, the team could withstand bad contracts (see: J.D. Drew) and continue to win games. But when the supposed leaders of your clubhouse don't believe in winning and losing as a team, changes are necessary.
Ultimately, what this move did was give the Red Sox a chance to press to "re-do" button. The team knew Beckett was a hot-headed malcontent; they knew Crawford just couldn't perform for this team; and that Gonzalez didn't have the personality to lead the team forward.
Now, Sox fans can turn on the TV or show up on Lansdowne Street and feel a bit better about the product. No, they're not going to make the playoffs this season or be a World Series contender for a few years. With the aforementioned trio, they were treading water. Now, they can dig deep and figure out a way to build around a solid core of players.
Players who want to be a part of the Red Sox organization.
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