Letter To Los Angeles: You Lost This Trade … Big-Time
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BOSTON (CBS) — Dear Los Angeles,
I know you’re busy celebrating the addition of some high-priced, big-name ballplayers, and I know just about everyone in the media is writing positive things about your team, saying your new ownership group proved it will pay whatever it costs to win, that the owners proved they are committed to winning a championship and that they’re all a bunch of winners. So I really hate to be that guy who comes in and ruins all your fun, but, well, somebody has to.
You didn’t win anything when you acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford (sorry, Nick Punto, but you just don’t matter here).
In fact, you lost. And you lost badly.
I know it’s hard for you to believe that when you see the following words of praise pop up in the media:
“An extraordinary day in Dodgers history”
–Los Angeles Times
“This trade today exemplifies ownership’s commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012 but for many seasons to come.”
–Dodgers GM Ned Colletti
“We did this for our fans. Of course we want to win now.”
–Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson
“The Dodgers stated more forcefully than ever their intentions. To win now. To win in the future. And, possibly, to win at any cost.”
–Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today
“It’s a good time to be a Dodger fan.”
–Dodgers manager Don Mattingly
If all you ever did was read and you never actually watched the sport of baseball, you might think that the Dodgers just bought themselves a championship or two. But they didn’t. Why, you might be wondering? Let me count the ways.
1. The Dodgers just purchased the most underachieving players from MLB’s most underachieving team. And they only forced that underachieving team to pay $8 million. That same underachieving team twice paid $8 million just to get rid of one underachieving player in the past (Edgar Renteria once, Julio Lugo later). Yet all the Dodgers could squeeze out of the Red Sox was $8 million. That’s atrocious business.
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2. The “addition of Carl Crawford to the Dodgers’ lineup” has been written about and discussed as if it is an actual thing that will take place in the real world. It’s as if the Dodgers think it’s normal for outfielders to get Tommy John surgery, and it’s as if the Dodgers aren’t aware that Crawford has suffered from chronic wrist problems since 2005. By the end of this season, he’ll have played in 161 out of a possible 324 games in the past two years, and he’ll have a .260 batting average and .711 OPS in that time. At best, he’ll be ready to play again by maybe May or June, and it’s highly, highly unlikely that at 31 years old he’s going to revert to being the All-Star he was in Tampa Bay in his late 20s.
This is public knowledge here, yet the Dodgers are excited to add him to the lineup and pay him $100 million for the next five years. Good luck with that.
3. Adrian Gonzalez is without question a very good baseball player. Last year, from April through July, he was hitting .357 with 18 homers, 90 RBIs and a .989 OPS. This year, he’s having a “down season,” but he’s still hitting .300 with decent power.
So yes, the 30-year-old is definitely a solid addition and will likely make a couple of All-Star teams in L.A., but it will still be nearly impossible for him to live up to the $127 million left on his contract. Dodgers fans may not believe that now, but wait until Gonzalez strikes out or taps out to second in crucial at-bat after crucial at-bat in a tight pennant race. Defenders of Gonzalez in Boston have long pointed to his numbers with runners in scoring position and his “late and close” numbers, but his enduring image in Boston will be of a player who regularly came up short in the biggest moments. That image doesn’t just come from nowhere.
4. Josh Beckett is just the worst. Seriously.
He’s got an awful attitude, which can sometimes fly if a player is actually any good at sports, but he is no longer any good at baseball. Among major league pitchers with at least 120 innings this season, Beckett ranks 94th in ERA. Ninety-fourth. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and he lacks the decency to stay in shape during the season.
He all but admitted in spring training this year that he didn’t really care about baseball when his wife was pregnant, as if he was the only person to ever go to work while his wife was expecting last September. And his attitude has only gotten worse. Golfing between starts is no big deal for a pitcher, except for when that pitcher just missed a start because of a lat injury. He met the media after his following start (when Cleveland rocked him for about 30 runs in three innings) and refused to apologize, saying “My off day is my off day” and “We only get 18 off days a year.” And remember in February, when he publicly expressed outrage that a teammate leaked news of him and his pals eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse? Rather than apologize for being unprofessional, he was angry at someone else for having the audacity to expose him for being unprofessional. Nothing sums up Beckett better than that.
Seriously, Google “Josh Beckett unapologetic” and you get 21,000 results.
The guy was great in 2007, but that was five years ago. He was great in 2003, but that was nine years ago. These days, he’s worth about $400,000 per season, but the Dodgers have the privilege of giving him $15 million more than that next year. And the year after that.
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5. Obviously, because this deal took place in August, it meant the players had to pass through waivers. That means that 13 American League teams and the 10 or so teams with worse records than L.A. in the National League all passed on the opportunity to claim Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett. Nothing says “reason to celebrate” more than acquiring players who weren’t wanted by any other team!
6. Before the trade was even completed, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said this to ESPN: “Hopefully this deal will go through today. If it falls into place, the deal sheds us from tens of millions of dollars of long-term commitments.”
A member of Red Sox ownership couldn’t even wait for the pen to officially hit paper before gleefully telling the world how happy the Red Sox would be once trading away its high-priced “stars.” That’s telling.
7. The headlines and commentary are the same around the country: Dodgers ownership shows a commitment to winning. But since when does throwing around cash guarantee winning? The only thing it guarantees is that you spent a lot of money.
In case the Dodgers weren’t paying attention, the Red Sox made this exact same addition before the 2011 season. They were deemed the “best team ever” by local media, with many analysts wondering whether the Sox could set the record for most wins ever in a season. All of this was before the team had even taken the field.
They finished with 90 wins, seven games behind the Yankees, and they didn’t make the playoffs thanks to perhaps the single biggest collapse in sports history.
Again, all of this is public knowledge. The Dodgers (and the gushing media) at least could have checked Wikipedia before repeating the mistakes of the Boston media from two winters ago.
8. The entire city of Boston is celebrating this move. It’s like Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve and winning the lottery all wrapped into one. The fact that fans are OK with seeing their only first baseman leave town should give you a strong idea of just how much Beckett is hated and how much Crawford has disappointed.
9. I don’t care if James Loney hits .200 and the group of minor leaguers headed to the Sox never play an inning in Boston. The fact that the Dodgers actually gave anything up is mind-boggling. As if accepting a quarter of a billion dollars of payroll wasn’t enough, they actually had to give the Red Sox some prospects. Maybe Ben Cherington hypnotized Dodgers brass with his “umms” and “uhhs” during negotiations. There’s no other explanation.
Again, I apologize greatly for being the bearer of bad news, but it’s important for you to hear the truth. You guys watched ownership spend a ton of cash this weekend, but much of it will prove to be wasteful.
But hey, it was nice of you to rebuild the Red Sox. We’ll send you all a commemorative brick as thanks.