The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox pulled off a massive nine-player deal Saturday that made one team better and one team richer. As for who's happier, that's a winner to be named later.
The Red Sox had one heck of a good day at the swap meet, collaborating with the Dodgers for the largest trade in the history of baseball, and Boston is now $261 million richer for it.
The last time the BoSox front-office executives did this much high fiving and cigar smoking, they were celebrating the team's world championship in 2007.
My, how the world has changed since then.
America's team - a horrible underachiever for all of this season and the final six weeks of last season - is now a horrible underachiever with a lot of money and time on its hands. Which kind of makes the Red Sox like the skinny kid that you heartlessly rejected before the prom.
Then at the reunion, it's like, "Surprise! I'm super hot now, and I don't really have to talk to you. Peace, loser."
How did all of this happen?
First, let's analyze what the Dodgers got to strike off their grocery list by spending all that money: a superb first baseman (Adrian Gonzalez), an unpredictable starting pitcher (Josh Beckett), a one-armed left fielder (Carl Crawford) and an unremarkable utility man (Nick Punto).
Oh, and a nice boost to their self-esteem, let's not forget about that. But more about that later.
What did the Red Sox get? A first baseman with no power (James Loney), a talented pitching prospect whose first name probably got him a lot of noogies in school (Rubby De La Rosa), and three other minor leaguers who may or may not spend a half-decent amount of meaningful time in the big leagues. But that is immaterial to Boston because it now has the freedom to go buy the team it wants – much like it did when it poured a combined $296 million into long-term contracts for Gonzalez and Crawford last year. The remaining $229.5 million they owe those two plus the $31.5 million coming to Beckett made this possibly the largest salary dump in the history of sports.
The additional $10 million to $11 million Boston is sending to Los Angeles to take away their unwanteds means more than a quarter of a billion dollars is exchanging hands. That's mind-blowing, even if you can count that much money without a calculator.
The Dodgers were in bankruptcy court last year, and there was speculation that they wouldn't even make payroll for a couple of weeks. Now, they're making it rain like they own the place? That's what a new ownership group (led by Magic Johnson) and disgruntled fans will do for you.
Of course, everyone will still love Boston because, well, it's Boston. Only the Dallas Cowboys can screw up more and still sell out games.
As an aside, remember the last time the Red Sox made a "shocking" blockbuster trade of this magnitude. They dumped golden boy Nomar Garciaparra on the Cubs, and a couple of months later they were celebrating their first World Series in 86 years.
There's almost negative percent chance of that happening again, but it shows the BoSox aren't opposed to making drastic roster changes midseason.
But let's back up and evaluate what this is really about – playoffs and players.
The Dodgers entered Saturday three games behind the Giants in the National League West and are in the thick of both the division and wild card races.
I'm not saying Adrian Gonzalez alone makes the deal worth it, but he's going to make them playoff favorites immediately, and what's more, he's one of the best first basemen that has ever put on a uniform.
Gasp! Yeah, I said it, and I meant it, and anyone who can take his eyes off Albert Pujols for just two seconds would realize that. Gonzalez is like Keith Hernandez with a better bat, which is saying a whole heck of a lot, and his career numbers support that claim. He's consistent, he's durable, and not only did he cut his teeth in the NL, he was raised in California. This part of the deal is a slam dunk.
Josh Beckett has some of the nastiest stuff in the game, and when his health and mind are both in the right place, he's even better than the guy that won the World Series MVP for the Marlins in 2003. Problem is, his health and his mind have lived on opposite sides of the universe for quite some time.
The jury is still out on Carl Crawford. He had Tommy John surgery on his elbow this past week, ending an already injury-shortened season because of rehab from offseason wrist surgery. Crawford had a weak arm before his elbow got sliced, so we'll see if the urban legend that players throw harder after Tommy John surgery really is true. (Hint: I'm guessing in this case it won't be). But if he ever gets healthy again, he's a base-stealing machine.
As far as immediate returns for the BoSox, umm, let's see. Playoffs? No. Fan buzz? No. Improved clubhouse chemistry? Oh, how you do make me laugh.
My rough paraphrase of Boston's reaction is pretty much this: "We gettin' paid, dude!"
That's pretty much all there is to it – at least until the free agent signing period begins.
And isn't that really what it's all about? America's team was living the dream, and when their gamble fell horribly short of desired results, they invited someone else in to clean up the mess.
It's a beautiful game. And the baseball part is pretty good, too.
George Jones is a digital producer for Raycom News Network, a veteran sports reporter and believes in moderation in everything except dark chocolate. Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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