It was a wild week for the Red Sox, with the club deciding to shake things up in the biggest possible way. Ben Cherington and the Boston front office sent fans and media into a frenzy by pulling off one of the biggest trades in club history.
So let's jump into a special edition of the Red Sox 6-4-3, with all six of our Sox thoughts pertaining to this weekend's massive deal.
Six Red Sox Thoughts
1. Message received
This trade will not help the Red Sox make the playoffs. In fact, it all but guarantees they won't. And it won't necessarily pave the way for success in the near future. There are many uncertainties here, especially considering the club traded away three All-Stars. But it was clear, however, that something needed to change. In the last few weeks, we've seen the club willing to make changes in order to try and fix what was an obviously damaged clubhouse atmosphere. First it was Kelly Shoppach, who appeared to have issues with Bobby Valentine. Then it was Bob McClure. And then this bombshell. The Sox needed to clean house in order to start the recovery process. They have done that with a fell swoop. They're making the statement that it's on the players to ship up or they'll be shipped out. Don't be mistaken, though. There's still a lot of work to be done.
2. Bringing Bobby back?
A week ago, it seemed all but certain that Valentine would be a one-and-done manager. However, you could now make the case to keep him around for another season and let him see what he can do with a made-over club. You start to wonder that even more when you consider that the aforementioned moves (and you can go all the way back to Kevin Youkilis, too) sent players and a coach who reportedly butted heads with Valentine packing. It's interesting at the very least. Some of Valentine's best managerial work have been with clubs that didn't have high expectations, but it is a little complicated, though. If the Red Sox bring Valentine back, they might have to do so with a contract extension in place. Otherwise, there's a potential for a lame-duck season. Just ask Terry Francona about that, as the lack of a contract extension may have been the beginning of his end. But if you're looking to bridge the gap for, say, John Farrell, then maybe you actually do bring Valentine back and let him see what he can do, especially now that some of his "enemies" have moved on.
3. Going green
Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford make a lot of money playing baseball. The task of paying them to do so now belongs with the Dodgers. What does that mean for Boston? It means there is money to spend. As of right now, the Sox only have $49 million locked up in payroll for 2013. That number is going to jump once arbitration numbers are figured out (to $80 or 90 million, according to some projections) but there will definitely be money for Cherington to play with. It's imperative, now more than ever, for the club to be smart with how it spends its money. The Sox got lucky that one team was gullible enough (more on that in a bit) to eat the money, and get Boston out of trouble. There were clearly mistakes made when it came to spending in the past, and you have to hope that serves as a lesson. That being said, expect the club to be aggressive moving forward. Will they make a run at a player like Josh Hamilton? Are they stockpiling cash to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury? The possibilites are endless, and that's because of what the club has done to free up a ton of money.
4. Youth movement
Lost in all of the drama surrounding the departure of players like Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez is that the Sox actually got a pretty good haul back in terms of prospects. The big prize is Allen Webster who came into the season ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Dodgers' system. There are even some who saw Webster as the best pitching prospect in the L.A. system, with a potential ceiling as a No. 2 starter in the bigs. The second arm involved in the deal, Rubby De La Rosa, is an interesting prospect as well. He's already had Tommy John surgery, but he's come back throwing bullets. Meanwhile, infield prospects Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus may never develop into real impact players, but they do have some tools that could make them serviceable players at the big league level.
5. This may sting a little
If there's bad news in this, it's that it's probably going to get worse for the Red Sox before it gets better. There were holes to begin with, and now those holes are even bigger, especially given the loss of Gonzalez in that lineup. It won't feel any better for Red Sox fans when they see Gonzalez hit three-run home runs like he did in his first at-bat in Dodger blue. What can you do, though? The Red Sox were 66-86 since Sept. 1 of last year when the trade was made. So while it could hurt Sox fans to see Gonzalez, Beckett and Nick Punto doing their thing for the Dodgers down the stretch, take solace in the fact that they would be doing their thing for a fourth-place team had they stayed in Boston.
6. Josh Beckett doesn't pitch in Boston anymore
That's all. Moving along.
Four Observations From Around Baseball
1. Blue Christmas
There are two sides to this trade, of course. For the Dodgers, it does improve their chances of winning right now. They add Gonzalez to a lineup that already features Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier. The change of scenery — especially moving to the NL West — may jump-start Beckett, too. Carl Crawford may someday be Carl Crawford again. But it still doesn't make sense for the Dodgers to look at what happened to the Red Sox and say to themselves, "How do we get into that?" This move sets them up for a chance at immediate success, but it could hamstring the organization moving forward. They're ready to be the Yankees of the West, but if they aren't smart about how they throw their money around, this deal could end up being a total disaster. The Red Sox, Phillies and Angels can attest. Then again, the big splash could win the Dodgers a World Series. Baseball, people.
2. California nightmare
Quick — which team has been baseball's biggest disappointment this year? While no one would criticize you for answering with the Red Sox, there's certainly a case to be made for the Angels. The Halos spent a gajillion dollars this offseason to bring in C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols. Mike Trout came up and turned into baseball's best player. None of it has mattered. The Angels are falling further and further out of contention every day. They'll be hoping for the Dodgers to take some of their bloated salaries off their hands any time now.
All of a sudden, we have a race in the AL East. The Yankees and the Rays are trending in opposite directions, and because of that, things have gotten tight in the division. At this point, neither club is in danger of missing the playoffs, but this is one of the reasons the new playoff format was instituted. All of a sudden, there's emphasis put on winning the division. And for as many issues the Yankees have had lately in shuffling their pitching, they'd be breathing much easier if they're able to take home the AL East flag.
4. No quit in Oakland
Bartolo Colon isn't a Cy Young contender, but when he got nabbed for a positive drug test this past week, you could argue that it would cost Oakland the season. It hasn't happened, though. The A's are 8-2 in their last 10 games, including taking a weekend series from the red-hot Rays. It's incredible to think that the A's — right there in the wild card race — are going to make this a legitimate race for the wild card this September.
Three Things to Watch This Week
1. Beckett in blue
While it was pretty clear that Beckett wasn't likely to turn things around in Boston, there are some who think that heading to California will help change his luck. It makes some sense, I suppose, given the fact that pitchers usually fare better in the NL. The NL West is also filled with weak and cavernous lineups, so Beckett may actually turn it around some. He'll get his first shot on Monday night in a matchup reminiscent of the 2007 World Series against Jeff Francis and the Rockies.
2. September is upon us
Believe it or not, September starts on Saturday. That will mark move-in day for many college kids and young adults across the country, and it will also mean some minor leaguers will be moving into new temporary digs after being called up to the bigs. For the Red Sox, it will likely mean a look at Jose Iglesias at shortstop. It's a pivotal moment in the youngster's career, and with the team out of contention, you have to think he'll get some playing time to show what he's got.
3. Tim Wakefield: movie star
This looks awesome.