August 28, 2012
Red Sox mistakes led to big deal with Dodgers
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - How many times have you heard a general manager say: "You can't fire all the players?"
Upset with Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, players sent ownership a text asking for a meeting with co-owner John Henry and president Larry Lucchino in a New York hotel July 26.
Players said they no longer wanted to play for Valentine, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Adrian Gonzalez's phone was used to send the text, complaining how Jon Lester was left in to rot for 11 runs against the Blue Jays on June 22.
Then, Kelly Shoppach was blamed for writing the text.
Whatever, the Red Sox didn't fire the players, they moved them.
Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and Gonzalez were sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, while Shoppach moved earlier to the New York Mets.
And Valentine still has his job.
Moving the four (and their $260 million US in salaries) to the Dodgers for first baseman James Loney, reliever Rubby de la Rosa, outfielder Jerry Sands, right-hander Allen Webster, and infielder Ivan De Jesus, gives the Sox payroll flexibility and all that ... but it proves one thing.
Boston management made mistakes in December of 2010: Trading prized prospect Casey Kelly and two others to San Diego for Gonzalez on Dec. 6, and five days later signing free-agent Crawford to a seven-year, $142-million deal.
Kelly was scheduled to make his debut for the Padres on Monday night.
Usually, the debate each spring concerns which team in the American League East is the best. That battle seemingly won after the Gonzalez deal and the Crawford signing, the Red Sox moved to a new stratosphere.
Before the season began, the Boston Herald declared the 2011 edition of the Red Sox the "Best Team Ever" and NESN predicted the Sox would rival the 1927 New York Yankees.
The Red Sox went on to lose 20 of their final 27 games to miss post-season play.
Now this will be the third straight year of missing the post-season, something the new Sox have not done since 2000 to 2002.
Boston wanted out of the mistake in signing Crawford, who started 158 games during his two seasons with the Red Sox and is on the road back from Tommy John surgery.
Beckett, given a four-year $68-million extension in 2010, had a bit of the rogue in him as a young buck with the Florida Marlins in 2003, shutting out the New York Yankees on three days rest to win Game 6 of the World Series. We enjoyed his sense of humour and playfulness with the Marlins.
The last couple of years Beckett had become surly ... not to writers, but to Red Sox staffers. Boston wanted Beckett out, but to move the troublesome Beckett and Crawford they had to include Gonzalez in the deal.
A total of 19 players have signed multi-year contracts with an average annual salary of $20 million or more. Only four of the players with such a contract have been dealt. Two, Gonzalez and Crawford, were in this deal. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez were the other two dealt.
To rebuild the Red Sox, general manager Ben Cherington is preaching a steadfast, disciplined, approach to restocking the franchise. We haven't seen that approach work in Boston.
Scouts say Boston has a good farm system "but not as good as they claim it is."
There is not a Johan Santana, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson available on the free-agent market in the off-season.
The best starters available are Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, Hiroki Kuroda, Brandon McCarthy, Erik Bedard of Navan, and Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., who will need an up-to-date passport.
Crawford may return to the form he displayed in Tampa Bay, where he would hit triples and doubles off Roy Halladay.
From the Dodgers' view, GM Ned Colletti has improved his lineup at four everyday spots since opening day ... with Hanley Ramirez taking over at shortstop for Dee Gordon; Shane Victorino in left field instead of Juan Rivera; Luis Cruz at third base instead of Juan Uribe; and Gonzalez now at first instead of Loney.
"Who would you rather have opening day next year?" asked one National League general manager. "Gonzalez, with six years remaining on his deal at $133 million? Albert Pujols for nine years at $228 million, or Joey Votto for 11 years at $242 million?"
Votto will be 29 next season, Gonzalez 31 and Pujols 33.
The Sox will battle the Blue Jays for last place in the AL East the rest of the way.
The Dodgers will try to catch the San Francisco Giants for first in the NL West.