As if losing 7 out of 9 of their previous games (including a debilitating, horrifying sweep at the hands of the Angels) to drop 8 1/2 games back in the wild card wasn’t enough for Red Sox Nation to cope with; news reports began to break early Friday that several players had been placed on waivers. I wasn’t too concerned, even when the names happened to be Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett. It was August, I told myself, everyone ends up on waivers at one point in time or another. This very subject had been a days long discussion on the message board of one of the fantasy leagues I’m in. There was nothing to be worried about, it was simply the Red Sox testing the waters for a possible move in the off-season.
Around 2 o’clock I got a text from my friend Andy informing me that the Dodgers had won the waiver claim for Gonzalez. I convinced myself it couldn’t mean anything, surely the Sox would pull him back, and that would be that. Then Beckett was claimed and then Crawford, and then reports started to break that a deal was in the works to ship all three players out west.
Words that ran through my mind at that moment in time are not allowed on a family friendly site such as MoreThanaFan.net, but feel free to use your imagination, I used up most of the good ones. I spent the rest of Friday on social media sites, my fantasy message board, and burning through enough text messages that I may have single-handedly funded AT&T’s next network upgrade. I was absolutely beside myself- not only was this a bad deal (in my opinion), but it wasn’t the way the Red Sox did business. Fire sales were for the likes of the Marlins, or back in the day the Expos. The Red Sox didn’t have fire sales, they generally made moves to improve the roster for a playoff push NOW.
All day Saturday was spent debating whether or not the proposed deal was good for the Red Sox. Many friends came down on the side that blowing the franchise up and freeing up a bunch of money is a good thing. Those in the minority felt this made the Red Sox a much worse team in the here and now, but had hope that the Sox would make the right moves with the new-found pile of cash. I thought that it was simply a bad move, and there was no reason to think that management would spend the money in the proper way to rebuild the organization. I don’t often hope this, but it is a thought I hope to find myself 100% wrong on going forward.
There was several reasons I thought the deal was bad:
- This is a good baseball team, regardless of their position in the standings. Injuries had sabotaged the Sox season in a way I had never before seen. Their projected every day lineup was on the field at the same only a handful of times all season long, and when it was they performed.
- Many fans had turned on Josh Beckett, and many more never warmed up to Carl Crawford. While it might be easy to get down on Crawford, given his performance to date with the Red Sox, he still is a superstar-caliber player. He had a very down 2011, but had fought through injuries to play in 2012. GM Cherington had this to say about him earlier last week:
I think it became clear over the last few days that surgery was going to happen, it was just a question of when. We felt like after talking about it more this weekend and with Carl, the right thing to do was to get it taken care of now. Give Carl credit. He played through the injury and played pretty well. But the symptoms, it wasn’t getting better. The symptoms were getting worse. We just decided not to ask him to keep going out there. We decided to take care of it now and he agreed with that.
That’s the kind of guy I want on my team- someone willing to gut out a serious injury while his team still has a chance to compete. Make no mistake, the Red Sox lineup is much better with a healthy Crawford in it than it is without him. Fans and other media types will disparage him because of the big money contract and his lack of production to this point, but sending him away is going to haunt the Red Sox.
- Josh Beckett is not washed up. He is a guy who went 13-7 (.650) just last season, despite being injured. His physical tools remain the same, and he hasn’t forgot how to pitch. The only thing that had occurred (outside the changing of the calendar) was his work conditions. No longer was he playing for Terry Francona, everyone’s favorite manager, but he was instead reporting to Bobby V., a man who had taken great glee in attacking Beckett’s performance while he was working for ESPN. I’m not offering it as a justifiable excuse to perhaps not give it his all, but I think in today’s world athletes have become so pampered and soft that they don’t always think about performing simply for the good of the team. This isn’t just a Josh Beckett problem, though, it’s a professional athlete problem.
- The deal wreaked of management looking to cover up their mistake of hiring Bobby V. after summarily dismissing Terry Francona last season. In situations where the manager and players aren’t getting along, the decision comes down to whether to dump the players or the manager. I would say in nearly every other instance through the history of professional sports, it’s always the manager (or coach) that is let go, because it is simply easier to replace one guy than it is to replace a roster of players. In this instance, though, Sox upper management forced out a very popular manager (and leaking dirt on him to the press lackeys) and then blocked Cherington from bringing his guy. They forced Cherington to hire Bobby V., and it was at that point the Sox season was destroyed, even if the drama was yet to unfold. This isn’t necessarily a shot at Valentine, it’s possible he could have been successful somewhere else, but Boston in 2012 was not the place for him to be. The Sox brass should have known that, and if they didn’t, Bobby V. should have known it himself. It was a bad marriage, but it seems like the decision has been made to continue it, at least in to 2013.
- Worse than that, it’s a move that seems to have resulted because the Sox spent too much time listening to pink hat fans and media members who had used the trio as punching bags nearly all season long.
- James Loney and 4 prospects (who may all work out in the end) for a Hall of Famer, an All-Star, and a guy who’s pitched two franchises to a World Series title? Bad business all-around. If Rubby de la Rosa and Webster both pan out as big-time pitchers, it becomes a much more even deal. If they don’t pan out, and the Red Sox aren’t able to snag two major arms with the money they’ve ‘saved’, the deal is a colossal failure. If nothing else this season, they’ve proved that they have enough bats to go around, but they are desperate for pitching.
The right move would have been to sent Bobby V. packing, and hope that would be enough to assuage the players’ egos. It’s not the perfect solution, but given the predicament the Sox found themselves in, it would have been the best play. Instead, I spent most of the day Saturday hoping that Commissioner Selig would find a way or a reason to reject the deal. Not surprisingly, he let me down. Again. Then Gonzalez hit a 3-run home run in his first at-bat for the Dodgers, and the Red Sox managed to choke away a 6-run lead for the second time in a week. Come October, it’s likely that Beckett and Gonzalez will lead the Dodgers to their first World Series title in 24 years, and the Sox will begin the rebuilding process.
So this is how the other half lives. All that is left is to hope that the climb back is just as quick as the descent.
What are your thoughts on the deal? Are you glad to see the Red Sox reduced to the Oakland As level?
Let me know: