The Los Angeles Dodgers just flexed New York Yankee muscle and the message to their fans couldn’t be clearer: We want to win the National League West Division, the National League pennant, and the World Series, and we’re not waiting til next year.
A nine-player trade in the waning days of August means you are a serious player and that you have no patience. You want success and you want it now. The new ownership team of the Dodgers is proving that it ain’t foolin’ around and that money is no object to becoming a consistent power. Los Angeles is a big market team and I don’t know whether the ink is dry on the deal these owners made to acquire the team, but the attitude is obvious that if New York can bully its way into any personnel move that will fill a gap there’s no reason why the Dodgers can’t either.
The Magic Johnson-fronted owners have been aching to make a statement move, looking at big-name pitchers who became available recently, even though they missed out on obtaining them. Instead, the baseball world got conked on the head by a blockbuster trade that moves All-Stars across the country from the Right Coast to the Left Coast with the Dodgers surrendering only maybes in exchange.
Over the weekend LA acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto for James Loney and four prospects who at the moment are just prospects. The Red Sox shed salary like Gypsy Rose Lee shed clothing in her strip act. Crawford and Gonzalez represented two huge, expensive Boston free-agent acquisitions over the last two years. Crawford never panned out in Boston because of a lengthy slump and then injury. Gonzalez was a beautiful fit who did his job superbly the last two seasons and I think the Red Sox are going to regret dealing him. Punto was a peripheral figure in the deal. As for Beckett, the supposed ace of the Boston staff was 5-11 with a 5.23 earned run average and had worn out his welcome in the demanding baseball town.
Gonzalez (whom I really wish the Red Sox kept) and Punto, following the time zone changes, made it to LA in time to play for the Dodgers Saturday and Gonzalez even hit a home run. Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti must have been doing a jig when this entire scenario came through. It’s tough to imagine the Dodgers not dispensing with the Giants (especially since San Francisco drug violator Melky Cabrera for the duration) and winning the division crown now, then going on from there.
The Red Sox have had about as tumultuous and disappointing a season as it is possible to envision and this trade shows that management is not willing to stand pat and not willing to stand for a replay. The departure of Gonzalez Will Hurt, but the Red Sox have plenty of bats. They need to take the money they save on payroll from the dearly departed and spend it on revamping the pitching staff, and they know that. For the first time in years the Red Sox are just playing out the string in 2012, not gearing up for a playoff shot.
There will be plenty of time for the Red Sox to think about what’s next as they watch their ex-teammates compete in the playoffs and perhaps a World Series anchored 3,000 miles to the West.