Well, it’s been to the headlines and back by now, and anyone familiar with how baseball works would know that there was no chance in the world that this was going to stay quiet until the formalities were taken care of. So let’s talk about it.
We just sent most of our core to the Dodgers, in keeping with their doubling as the Los Angeles Blue Sox. And when I say that it was most of our core, I mean that literally. Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto. They all involved waivers. All but one of those were starters for us, and Punto did see more than his fair share of playing time as a utility man off the bench. In return, we will receive four prospects (right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ryan De Jesus, and two more to be named), a first baseman (Jason Loney), and financial flexibility. There is no question about the fact that this is one of the largest waiver deals ever and certainly the largest in recent baseball history.
Obviously this is a huge deal, both literally and figuratively. Beckett has obviously struggled this year, as have Crawford and Gonzalez and Punto, although much less than Beckett. So if Ben wanted to make some sort of wave by getting rid of somebody big, he could have just gotten rid of Beckett and have been done with it. That would have been the obvious action, if there were one at all. But to ship out all four of these guys, especially Gonzalez? Was that really necessary? Regardless of who these prospects might be and what this flexibility might look like, is this really the best thing for our future? Or is it a short-term quick fix to show the Nation that the brass is at least doing something and that this really was a bridge year? Furthermore, does this mean that the brass has sided with Bobby V. rather than the players regarding the issue of his managerial style, or does this have nothing to do with that at all because it’s based strictly on performance, or lack thereof? But if it does have to do with that, how certain are the brass that the solution indeed involved the players rather than the manager and coaches?
Punto finishes his lone season with us, which wasn’t even a whole season, with a batting average of .200, an on-base percentage of .301, and a slugging percentage of .272. He has had 125 at-bats in sixty-five games; he has twenty-five hits to his credit as well as ten RBIs and fourteen runs. He has walked nineteen times and stolen five bases. He has played every infield position this year and has made only two errors.
Crawford departs after having played almost two season here. Last season was better in terms of playing time, while this season was better in terms of performance. He finishes this season with us with a batting average of .282, an on-base percentage of .306, and a slugging percentage of .479. He has had 117 at-bats in thirty-one games; he has thirty-three hits to his credit as well as nineteen RBIs and twenty-three runs. He has walked three times and stolen five bases. He has made only one error in the field.
Gonzalez also departs after having played almost two seasons here, but it feels like so much more because he has so easily become a fixture on this team. He historically has been known for his great leadership and team presence, both in the clubhouse and on the field. He always seemed to be really enthusiastic about playing here, and he usually let his production do the talking. And it talked a lot. His average last year was a cool .338, and it was hard to imagine him not getting up there and whacking some ball for extra bases every time. He certainly did struggle at the beginning of the season but has since started to bounce back quite nicely. His average is now at .300, and he has an on-base percentage of .343 and slugging percentage of .469. He’s had 484 at-bats in 123 games; he has 145 hits to his credit as well as eighty-six RBIs and sixty-three runs. He has walked thirty-one times and stolen no bases, but that’s alright because his job, unlike Crawford’s, is not even partially to steal bases. His job is to hit for extra bases, and that he can do. He hasn’t hit any triples, but he’s hit thirty-seven doubles and fifteen home runs. And in addition to first base he has also played right field this year because he’s a team player, and when the team needed him, he didn’t ask questions; he just slid right in there, and he did an impressive job at that. He made four errors this year, two in right and two at first.
Beckett, of course, is the most storied of the four. He’s certainly been here the longest, so he’s given us more memories, some good and some bad but all unique. He came here in 2006 and had a subpar season. In 2007 he went twenty and seven, and everyone but those in the position to award the Cy Young knew that he was the one who deserved it, regardless of the fact that he was a huge reason why we won the World Series that year. His start in Game One was phenomenal. It was a real gem. He retired nine batters, including his first four, and gave up only one run. 2008 was another mediocre year, but 2009 saw him largely back to his old self, finishing the season with a record of seventeen and six. 2010 was an abysmal year, and of course last year was decent; his record was thirteen and seven, so he won almost twice as many games as he lost. And then we have this year. This year he’s five and eleven with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He’s pitched 127.1 innings and given up seventy-four earned runs on 131 hits, sixteen of which were home runs; incidentally, he’s only allowed one unearned run. He has given up thirty-eight walks as well. So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not like every single season he’s been here except for this one has been an unabashed success. Far from it. But when he’s been successful, he’s been really, really, really successful. And of course there’s his personality. Rumor had it that he was partly if not completely responsible for the deterioration of our clubhouse and has been widely associated with the instigation of beer-drinking and whatnot within it. As I said at the time when all of this was news, none of us were actually there, and we can’t know what really went on. All we know is that, despite his mile-wide competitive streak and work ethic, Beckett has not been performing well at all on the mound.
On the eve of the departures of these players, we salute their commitment to this team and the accomplishments that they achieved during their stay here. In the spirit of the tribute, therefore, Punto, Crawford, and of course Gonzalez as well as Beckett, we’ll miss you and we salute you. Now, as far as the implications of the deal and what it all means, there are things I said and there are things I didn’t necessarily overtly say. But in reality I said a lot. Ultimately, our task now is to see what we end up doing during our offseason.
We lost to the Royals in extras last night, but it really wasn’t Cook’s fault. Cook, for his part, did an extremely admirable job, especially when you consider the fact that he made this start on three days’ rest. He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out none over six innings. He gave up all three runs in the first thanks to a double that brought in two and then a single that brought in one. He then cruised for the remainder of his outing. Meanwhile, our hitters put us on top. The Royals may have scored three runs, but we answered with four in the second. Gomez hit a solo shot, the first homer of his Major League career, and then Salty and Lavarnway hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Aviles, who went yard on the first pitch he saw, sending the ball out toward the Monster. And the third inning only served to solidify the fact that we were in control. Pedroia doubled, Ellsbury walked, and Ross singled to load the bases; thanks to a single by Gomez as well as a Royals error, we scored another two runs plus a third thanks to a sac fly by Salty. We just kept piling it on in the fourth; Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled two outs later. Ross and Gomez added their consecutive singles to Ellsbury’s to go back-to-back-to-back and plate two more runs.
So by the time Cook’s appearance came to an end, we were leading, 9-3. And I have to say, I was feeling pretty comfortable with how I expected this game to turn out. I mean, we just scored nine runs, and we did it with everything: long ball, small ball; you name it, we did it. And we had a six-run lead to boot. But I should have expected that no lead would possibly have been safe.
Because then the seventh inning happened, and the seventh inning was when our entire relief corps ruined it completely, imploded totally, and embodied the epitome of an epic fail. First, it was Miller, who allowed a groundout, a single, a strikeout, two consecutive walks, and an RBI single that scored two. Then Melancon came on and gave up an RBI double and an RBI single. Then Breslow came on and gave up a triple that scored two and then managed to finish the inning with an intentional walk followed by a groundout.
Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, Padilla pitched the tenth, and Tazawa pitched the eleventh and most of the twelfth. He gave up a walk, a double, and finally the single that scored the winning run. Mortensen replaced him after that and ended the inning. And we threatened a bit in the eighth, when Ellsbury got himself to third with two out, and in the tenth, when Ciriaco was thrown out at home. But we didn’t score since the fourth, so we allowed our lead to be completely squandered and lost, 10-9, even though we outhit them, 20-14.
And as an added reflection of the badness of our entire situation, Aceves reportedly slammed the door on his way into Bobby V.’s office after Friday’s game and has been suspended for three games for conduct detrimental to the team.
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