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Transplant gives Red Sox new life

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  August 25, 2012 02:42 PM

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This wasn't a trade, it was an organ transplant.

I should know - I've had two.

After a season of new lows being supplanted by all-time lows being capped off by historic lows, the Red Sox struck a high note in dealing Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers and dumping about a net of $260 million of payroll liability in the process.

Good-bye, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night.

Reaction? "Get the Duck Boats ready" - for 2015.

Let's get the history out of the way. The Babe Ruth-to-the-Yankees comparisons are a bit of a stretch. The 1919 Red Sox were one year removed from a World Series title and had won four championships in that current decade. And there are no Babe Ruths in this trade. At the time of his sale, Ruth was an ace young lefty and budding slugger who had tremendous upside. Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford are all at either their peak or already well into their decline. Ruth hit 665 home runs after he left the Red Sox. Crawford and Gonzalez will be lucky to combine for half that number while their current contracts remain in force.

The 2012 Red Sox are five years removed from their last World Series title and - at their current pace - appear about 86 years removed from their next World Series title. The last time the Red Sox won a playoff game - John McCain was the Republican nominee for president. The Red Sox were seven games under .500 at the time news of this deal broke and have gone 67-86 since last Sept. 1. Boston entered Saturday night's game 13.5 games out of first place, looking up at the Orioles, Rays, A's and expletive Mariners (among others) in the American League wild-card race. This team - as currently constructed - was going nowhere. It was a train wreck, struck by the Titanic and set ablaze by the Hindenburg. This trade did not break up a great team - or even a good one - given the rampant dysfunction in the clubhouse and sub-standard play on the field. What it did do was crack open the door to create a contender in 2014 and beyond.

But this deal was Ruthian in size in scope. The Red Sox rid themselves of more than a quarter-billion dollars worth of under-performing (Gonzalez), chronically injured (Crawford) and uncaring (Beckett) big-name players - plus Nick "Collateral Damage" Punto. Poor Punto, he has to be wondering how he ended up caught in this exorcism of Theo's ghost. Somebody must have unplugged Carmine.

Gonzalez and Crawford simply wilted in the Boston spotlight while Beckett no longer gave a damn. Gonzalez could never understand why simply hitting .338 with 27 home runs and 114 RBI - like he did last season - meant so little when the big picture was so ugly. Even with those spectacular numbers, the most memorable moment from Gonzalez in 2011 was that called third strike from Mariano Rivera that began the great September slide. "God's will" had nothing do to with the Red Sox fall from grace. And on the the way out the other night - as noted here - Gonzalez complained about the "soap opera" that is in the Red Sox. Well, Adrian, they usually don't give $154 million contracts in places where the fans don't care because there aren't usually enough fans to sustain a ball club that can sign $154 million contracts. For that money, he could have even bought Kelly Shoppach his own cell phone. Forget whatever clutch hits he may have had - three come to mind - his lasting epitaph with the Red Sox will be that trip to the MLB "Fan Cave" on less than five hours sleep on the same day he and his teammates tried to fire their manager contrasted with the fact under similar circumstances he couldn't bother to pull himself out of bed to attend Johnny Pesky's funeral. He was Beckett without the chicken and beer.

No doubt the Red Sox got little in return - in terms of personnel. The answer to the trivia question is: infielder Ivan DeJesus, OF/1B Jerry Sands, RHP's Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, and first baseman James Loney. Perhaps they should have held out for a 1955 Sandy Koufax Topps rookie card, a Jackie Robinson autographed baseball and an original brick from Ebbets Field.

This just in: the Dodgers looking to deal with Sox for J.D. Drew, Jack Clark, Eric Gagne, Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo.

Gonzalez will do well in Los Angeles for as long as it's convenient. The Dodgers and Angels have replaced the Red Sox and Yankees when it comes to the "Baseball Salary Nuclear Arms Race." But even in that atmosphere, any colossal collapse by the Dodgers similar to what Gonzalez experienced in Boston will be met with a shrug and the simple question: "When do the Lakers open camp?"

Crawford could have succeeded in Boston had he come under different circumstances and into a different clubhouse - perhaps the "Idiots" of 2004. Crawford's effort was never questioned. And in the post-mortem of 2011, we learned that he manged to keep his nose clean and avoid the acrimony that destroyed so much of that team. He could not, however, catch up to Robert Andino's low-liner in time. While he seemed to possess the personal characteristics and traits that could have made him a likable athlete in Boston - his numbers were simply too little (.255 average, 11 HR and 56 RBI in 2011 and a .282 average in 32 games this season) to overcome.

Then there's Beckett. We saved the worst for last. Beckett became the symbol of all that has become so wrong with the Red Sox. He is the fat, overpaid, out-of-shape, apathetic, talent-wasting, arrogant, divisive, beer chugging, chicken-chomping force that pulled harder than any other in pulling this team apart. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when he quit on the Red Sox as it's happened so many times in the past calendar year. The Red Sox had to give up someone like Gonzalez - who had value - just to be able to dump Beckett. Too bad Ben Cherington, Larry Lucchino and Carmine didn't hold out for John Lackey as well. That would have been too much to ask given Lackey's status on the DL.

Beckett's been thoroughly trashed in this space in recent months. He's as reviled in Boston as Tim Thomas would be at President Obama's "NHL All-Star Classic." The Beckett Egnima - not to be confused with the Beckett Contagion - can be demonstrated by the fact that his top moments with the Red Sox include that 11-strikeout performance against the Indians in Game 5 of the 2007 ALCS after his ex-girlfriend sang the national anthem (he won four games in the postseason that year), the cascade of boos he received following his golf-delayed outing on May 10, and his final-straw back-blubber spasm against the Tigers July 31.


Without belittling the Gift of Life - click here for more information on becoming an organ donor - the Red Sox received a new life with this deal. My waiting-list times were 14 months and two months, respectively. The Red Sox were experiencing organ failure and had been listed for nearly a year. This recovery will take time. My most recent transplant was two years ago Thursday. There are lots of medicines, life-style changes and physical rehabilitation that one deals with following any major organ transplant - along with a slew of other issues we'll talk about some other day.

When asked if the Red Sox needed a change Saturday, Bobby Valentine simply shrugged and said "Yes."

Genius.

Transplants always involve considerable risk - not to mention a priceless gesture on the part of the donor and his/her family. Red Sox fans can thank the deep pockets of the Dodgers ownership for this present. Sometimes the first transplant isn't enough. This is the case with the Red Sox. Lackey, Lucchino and Valentine should be next out the door - along with Jacoby Ellsbury - who is a sure-money free-agent after next season - and anyone else who can bring significant value. The Red Sox can build a winning team around the likes of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.

Whether this trade was made to cut payroll, stave off the riotous masses or to leave more Bud Light for Lackey in the clubhouse (on the road of course) - is only relevant if John Henry decides to pocket that $260 million savings. There's been speculation that ownership is paring payroll in order to make the bottom line more appealing to any potential buyer. We'll sweat that one out when if/when we get to it. If Henry's calling his broker and converting those saved millions into British Pounds Sterling so that they can be spent on Liverpool's next big striker and goal-keeper - it might be a long next few years at Fenway Park.

But they can't be any worse than the past two.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.


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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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