OK. Before I get into the craziness, the analysis, the recounting, let’s keep it simple. The Red Sox are a better team with Adrian Gonzalez on Monday than they were without him on Friday. They are much better. I couldn’t be happier. Now, for a couple things…
I’m going to assume that Theo knew the deal would get done no matter what happened on Sunday. I’m going to assume that he didn’t pass on the deal, see Werth sign his ridiculous contract with the Nationals, go “Oh shoot!” and go begging back to A-Gone. I’m going to assume that he knew he’d eventually find a way to sign Gonzalez, even if it wasn’t within the 24-hour window. I’ll assume that he had no intention of walking away from a guy he so coveted just because of a couple million dollars…you know, like he did with ARod. Why am I going to assume this? Because the alternative is just too frightening.
So, the Sox have their man. They had to give up some prospects to do it. Not a terrible issue. You weren’t going to strip a premier player from San Diego by offering them up Dice-K. It takes money to make money. Thankfully, the Sox had some money they didn’t need any more. Casey Kelly has lots of upside. He has tons of upside. But, it’s upside that the Red Sox don’t need. Jon Lester is under contract until at least 2013. Buchholz is still working through his cheap years, and will be around for a while now. Beckett and Lackey are here through 2014. So, the Sox may have lost a guy who would be their fifth starter for the next four years. Even if Kelly becomes an elite pitcher, will we regret being stuck with Lester and Buchholz at the top of the Sox rotation? Not if it means we also have Gonzalez. Likewise, the need for a top first base prospect drops with Gonzalez clogging up that spot for the next eight years. The only spots the Red Sox should need to fill in the next three-five years are shortstop and outfield. They hung onto their top prospects in those two positions. Not a bad job. Plus, trading potential for proven is OK any day of the week. And, apparently, twice on Sunday.
So, how much better are the Red Sox now? It depends on what you’re using to measure things. Adam was nice enough to point out that Gonzalez+Salty is less than Martinez+Beltre. That’s kind of true, but not true enough. It may be true when you consider the monster year that Beltre put up in 2010. It may be true if you don’t look down the road. But, it’s not true if you look at the whole picture. Would anyone project those numbers from Beltre again in 2011? I doubt it. Does anyone think that even if V-Mart put up the same numbers, he wouldn’t be doing some playing at first or DH? If Victor is playing first or DH, Saltalamacchia is catching those games. Maybe, just maybe, if you took the supposed 2010 starting line-up and used either projections or finals results, the Sox might be worse off. Take the Ellsbury-Pedroia-Martinez-Youkilis-Beltre-Ortiz-Cameron-Drew-Scutaro line-up. Use projections for Ells, Pedroia, Youk, and Cameron and add on actual results for Martinez, Ortiz, Scutaro and Beltre. Now, take the 2011 projections for the Ells-Pedey-Gonzalez-Youk-Ortiz-Cameron-Drew-Salty-Scutaro line-up. You might be slightly higher with the first one, but that doesn’t really matter. If you want to do that, you need to do it at the end of 2011 as well. Which is a pretty round-a-bout way of saying, I don’t care about the G+S-M-B math. I care about the math where Pedroia replaces Hall, Youkilis replaces Beltre, Salty replaces Martinez, Gonzalez replaces Anderson, Ellsbury replaces Nava, and Cameron replaces McDonald. That’s the one that matters. The 2011 line-up is leaps and bounds better than the line-up the Yankees faced last October. That line-up was almost good enough to reach the playoffs. That line-up was among the league leaders in offense. And, it will be much better on Opening Day 2011. That’s what matters. It will be better on Opening Day 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well. That’s a very good thing.
That would be an amazing line-up with any sort of pitching staff. But, a rotation headed by two of the top six pitchers in the AL? A rotation with Josh Beckett and John Lackey in the #3 and #4 spots! (Although, I bet Beckett is still considered the “ace” of the staff) Look out American league!
Now imagine Cliff Lee as the fifth starter.