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Red Sox press the “reset” button

Sunday, August 26, 2012

 

It's kind of like that video game you're just dying to beat...but can't. And when you lose, you simply hit "reset."

That's what the Boston Red Sox have done, and not just to the 2012 baseball season...which appears all but lost. But by dealing away more than a quarter of a billion (that's Billion, with a "B") dollars in salaries to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Sox have also reset the thought process for 2013 and beyond.

As was rumored late last week, the Red Sox and Dodgers consummated their massive nine-player trade Saturday afternoon. Departing Fenway are Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto, along with approximately $11 million in cash. Leaving Chavez Ravine are 1st baseman James Loney, pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, plus Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands. De La Rosa and Sands are technically "to be named later," once the season is completed. But perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the mega-deal, is LA's taking on $262.5 million worth of salaries that the Sox foursome are owed after this season.

"We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this league," said Dodgers' co-owner Magic Johnson. "We understood that before we bought the team. So we're excited." LA team president Stan Kasten was even more emphatic. "When we came in, we made it clear that we want to build the Dodgers back to what they once were."

The key pickups for Boston have to be pitchers De La Rosa and Webster. Several scouts have indicated De La Rosa can be a "top of the rotation" guy, if he fully recovers from his Tommy John surgery in 2011. His pitch speeds have been clocked in the high 90's. Loney will be plugged in at first base for the time being, but as a free agent may not last past the final six weeks of this season in Boston.

The main piece in the deal had to be Gonzalez, whom the Sox did not particularly want to trade away, but had to include in order for the Dodgers to willingly accept the heavy-handed contracts carried by Crawford and Beckett. For all of the angst over an apparent power-shortage in his offensive game this season, the Dodgers didn't look at Gonzalez that way. They saw a guy with a .398 average with runners in scoring position this season - which ranked second-best in the majors.

Beckett had been the lightning rod for criticism in the clubhouse since last September's colossal collapse, and had won just one of his previous 13 starts before the trade. Crawford, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow this past week, put up career-low numbers in 2011 - his first and only complete season in Boston.

"We recognized that we are not who we want to be right now and it's been a large enough sample of performance going back to last year," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Saturday afternoon. "We felt like in order to be the team that we wanted to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes.

"As we look forward to this offseason," Cherington added, "we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, required a more bold move to give us the opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team."

Reshape, indeed. More like "reset." 

 

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