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Dodgers rolling the dice

by Matt Smith

Could the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers really be close to a deal that would see Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford heading to the NL West?

The idea would be laughed off as a crazy piece of internet speculation concocted by someone with too much time on their hands were it not being reported by so many well-informed news sources, not least MLB.com.

This blockbuster deal really could be close to happening.

It would come as welcome relief in Boston.  A poisonous atmosphere has developed around the team over the past 12 months and only drastic changes – clear statements of intent to make a break from the recent past – will allow them to regroup.

It didn’t appear likely that any team would take on Beckett – pitching poorly, a terrible clubhouse reputation (deserved or not) and owed more than $31m over the next two seasons – or Carl Crawford – just undergone Tommy John surgery and still with five years left on his major mistake of a seven-year contract – let alone both of them.

Luckily for the Red Sox, the new ownership group behind the Dodgers has cash to burn and a fierce desire to make an immediate impact on a fanbase left chastened by the risible actions of the previous owner Frank McCourt.

L.A. are happy to add Gonzalez, a major upgrade on current first baseman James Loney (who was going to be jettisoned at the end of the season), to the team even if that means taking flyers on Crawford providing some useful contributions once he returns from surgery – which I think he will do, even if they won’t be worth the money he’ll be paid – and Beckett potentially finding some good form from somewhere.

How John Henry must wish his other major sports team, Liverpool FC, could find a similar willing deal partner for Andy Carroll. The pony-tailed lump will be as useful as a chocolate teapot in Brendan Rogers’ style of play but even the more-money-than-sense QPR don’t appear to be ready to offer Liverpool a deal that would see them taking too big a hit on their insane £35m outlay.

This isn’t quite a madder-than-QPR deal by the Dodgers. They are still in contention for a playoff place this season, despite being swept by the Giants this week, and the significant revenue streams coming into the organization mean they will be able to absorb the cost of the deal even if it doesn’t turn out particularly well.

Clearly there is a chance that this won’t work out well as Beckett has looked lost for a while now and Crawford won’t provide any immediate dividends, so even if Gonzalez once again excels for an NL West team playing in a pitcher-friendly park, as he did in San Diego, those contributions might not be enough to make for a decent return on the investment.

Beckett and Gonzalez also have been two of the most prominent names involved in the clubhouse problems at Fenway, as reported by the Boston press, at least. The Dodgers were willing to take on malcontent Hanley Ramirez earlier this season and potentially they may be creating a west coast version of the Bronx Zoo, with drama and controversy becoming part of a daily Dodgers soap opera.

This is one potential trade that fully merits the term ‘blockbuster’ and it will be fascinating to see how it turns out for the Dodgers if it is completed over the weekend.

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