First and foremost, I'm not a Dodgers fan. I happen to root for the Yankees, so while I throughly loathe the Red Sox with the fire of a thousand suns I'm rather indifferent to the Dodgers. I'd like to see Mattingly succeed, but before they hired him I always hated Torre for his asleep at the wheel attitude to the bullpen and I thought Ned Colletti was a very mediocre GM for quite sometime. That being said, I often times think that fans tend to be too harsh when evaluating trades, at least when they first happen. They're too far in the forest to see the trees, of course after the results are in you can clearly see who won and who lost. But what's the fun in that? Who wants to wait three years to talk about this?
There's two key components of this trade: the business side and the baseball side. They're related, but not completely. Baseball's a business, and make no mistake about this the business side very much matters. The Dodgers are an interesting franchise, historically speaking. They Jackie Robinson's team so they've built up quite a bit of good will because of that. However. when O'Malley moved the Dodgers out west and the Giants agreed to move and baseball moved out west. For some reason there's still a lot of old upset Brooklyn Dodgers fans out there, still not sure why that is. Anyways, this moved baseball out west so good for baseball out west!!! But because of this there was a need for a second franchise in New York, and now we have the abortion known as The Mets. The Dodgers, rightfully, receive a lot of mixed emotions about this.
After the move to LA the Dodgers had a pretty successful run there, Chavez Ravine is a truly unique place to catch a baseball game, they've had winning seasons and featured some legendary baseball figures. They were a huge drawing franchise, they have cool unis, and they typically fielded a quality team. Fast forward a few years and we get to the McCourt disaster. Basically McCourt ran a ponzi scheme with his franchise except the only people he ripped off were Dodgers fans and his creditors. This turned ugly, and attendance dipped. The Dodgers weren't the respectable franchise that they always were. Lost were the days of allowing the first black Major Leaguer and Tommy LaSorda, and in were the days of greed and an indifference to the fans. Furthermore, the same year the Dodgers ownership lost the team, crosstown rivals signed CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols, and acquired Zack Greinke six months later. Oh, and there's this Mike Trout guy. Because of this, the new Dodgers ownership needs to send a message loud and clear to the baseball world, Southland baseball fans that they are committed to winning. They needed to say that they're not the McCourts that use the team as a personal credit card, that they're willing to put money into the team and bet on the fans. Clearly there's limits, they shouldn't just take any move that comes their way, but over all they need to do something big. So from a business perspective this move makes quite a bit of sense. If your a Dodgers fan you have absolutely no reason to be worried about the new ownership. Show up to Dodger Stadium, it looks like ownership wants to make the traffic worth it.
Now to the baseball side.
Adrian Gonzalez: He's having an odd year. His BABIP is about his career norm, but his walk rate is about cut in half. Now I haven't throughly researched this, but walk rate tends to not disappear. A guy who walks in about ten percent of his plate appearances, doesn't just go down to five in one year during his physical prime. His strikeout rates are actually down, so he's still making contact. The key to his down year is that he's hitting more infield fly balls, more ground balls, and his HR/FB rate is down. Now HR/FB rate is something that tends to have a bit of luck involved with this, so there's a chance that he'll get back to his normal rates. He's not murdering fastballs like he typically does, but given that his contact rates are still strong I'm guessing this is more of a sample size issue rather than his skills are declining. He's still in his physical prime and he's a great defender, players that are good defenders tend to age better than those who are not. He hit pretty well in PetCo Park and in the NL West before, and there's a chance that a return to the NL will help him. Overall, I'm glad he doesn't play for Boston anymore. James Loney was completely worthless at the plate and you really can't have an offensive black hole at first base and expect to go places. He's a definite upgrade over James Loney. He's owed a lot of money but given what Votto, Pujols, and Fielder got paid it's not that much. He's no bargin but it's not like you're paying twenty bucks for a gallon of milk, as Dave Cameron put it.
Carl Crawford: Wow. Well, let me just warn you that I have fewer good things to say about him than I do Adrian Gonzalez. He was inexcusably bad at the dish in 2011, but aside from the abysmal walk rate and injuries he's not having a bad year this year. He's a speedster on the wrong side of 30, and he had a career year in his Tampa walk year. However, there is research that states that he may still continue to be valuable.
Just last season the baseball press thought this was a great move for Boston, but they tend to think that of every move so take it with a grain of salt. That being said, there was scuttlebutt that he was horrifically out of shape with Boston, a change of scenery with a new manager that actually cares about his team's performance should help that. He just had tommy john surgery, and that's a lot less worrisome considering that Crawford is a position player, not a pitcher. Furthermore, Crawford's LD rates were perfectly fine in Boston, his walk rates weren't the same but that could be for a variety of factors. Most importantly, not only is Crawford switching to an inferior league but he's also switching to a bigger park. For a player like Crawford who doesn't really have home run power, but does have gap power and speed this is a very good thing. He will be a true asset in left field defensively, and his balls will have more room to drop in for a base hit and more room for balls to roll past outfielders to stretch a single into a double and a double into a triple. He requested tommy john surgery, so apparently he thinks that it will help. It's a hellish surgery and the rehab process is absolutely grueling. People don't just want to have this done to get out of playing baseball for a year, it's because they think it will help. Boston's glad to get rid of him, but I don't think he'll be absolutely putrid.
Josh Beckett: I absolutely hate this guy. He's a massive douche with blister problems and likes to kill innocent animals. Not a huge fan of him personally, but as a pitcher? Well last year he was pretty good. He had his typical bad even year season, and he's older and not throwing as hard, but he's not as bad as his ERA suggests this year and was pretty good last year too. He's lost some of his stuff, but he's moving to a bigger ball park in a weaker league, and into a division with three good pitcher's parks. Overall, I think they got a useful pitcher here. That being said, it was always fun when the Yankees pounded him.
I'm surprised that Nick Punto is still in the majors, but he's a useful bench piece that can play the left side of the infield. Overall he really doesn't add much or take away anything from the deal. I'm unfamiliar with the prospects, but let me just say: losing an injury prone right hander that throws gas, yet struggles with command and consistency, and is just coming off of TJ surgery isn't that big of a deal. Take it from a Yankees fan that just watched Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman tank, they used him to get Adrian which is more than he'd ever contribute at the ML level.
The Dodgers ate a ton of salary here and did the Red Sox a huge favor by that. That being said, I'm not with my fellow Yankee fan brethren here and I disagree with the notion that they did Boston a favor by this deal, and got ripped off. The Dodgers are in a very winnable division this year, and in the foreseeable future it doesn't look like the division's going to get tough anytime soon. I think they're the favorites for the division now and early favorites for the crown next year. They just signed a huge TV deal, and they need to get fans to come back after the McCourt debacle. It also looks like the Dodgers are willing to spend money and be the NL's big spender. Which they should, LA's a great sports town and the Dodgers have a proud legacy and a great history. Was this the best move that they could have made? Well, probably not. Should they have asked for more money? Absolutely. Does this make them a better team now and in the foreseeable future? Absolutely. If I'm a Dodgers fan I'm at peace with this move.