Did you ever go away for a weekend thinking the world worked one way, and then suddenly had those illusions ripped away, and had to come back to a vastly different world from the one you left?  I was up at our cabin this weekend in the north woods of Wisconsin, standing on a dock overlooking a pristine lake, preparing to catch a zillion fish with my son (who quickly decided he’d rather practice his light saber moves with a nearby stick), when I found out that the Red Sox were sending Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney and four young prospects.

The Red Sox haven’t been sellers since 1997, when they dealt Heathcliff Slocumb to the Mariners for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek and Mike Stanley to the Yankees for Jim Mecir and Tony Armas Jr., and while they’re on pace for their worst finish since 1994, it would have been impossible to imagine them dealing any of those four players (and their contracts) this year before this weekend, let alone exchange them (in August!) for anything of value.

But they did, and I’m being forced to reevaluate a lot of things I thought I knew.  So, here’s what I learned from this weekend’s mega deal:

Big deals can happen in August.

Obviously, smaller trades have happened in August before, but players have always had to pass through waivers to get them done, which has severely limited the number and types of transactions that can go through.  Obviously, an in-his-prime Albert Pujols wouldn’t slip through waivers, and the team dealing him would have little leverage or interest in using that leverage to extort a fair deal from whoever claimed him.  But with a club like the Dodgers displaying a Steinbrenner-esque disregard for budgets, August can still be a time for big deals provided the contracts are high enough to scare away the lower-budget teams.

The Dodgers are the new Yankees.

Speaking of Steinbrenner, these Dodgers are spending like crazy to upgrade the team for the playoff push.  Since taking over the club, Magic Johnson’s ownership team has authorized Ned Colletti to acquire Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Brandon League, Randy Choate, and Joe Blanton in addition to the players they acquired over the weekend, they’ve raised this year’s payroll by roughly $28 million and have taken on almost $300 million in future moneys owed to Hanley, Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Punto even before we take into account the $85 million they spent to extend Andre Ethier.  The Dodgers are in the same win at all future costs mode that The Boss went through in the 1980s and toward the end of his life, but the ramp up is far steeper and more shocking.  Steinbrenner had some tremendous success early in his tenure, before he drove the club off a cliff.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers can mimic his initial triumphs while learning the right lessons about his downfall.

This might be the end of the Red Sox era.

A little under two seasons ago, the Red Sox brought in Carl Crawford as a free agent and traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed him to an extension.  A year before that, they had signed Josh Beckett to a huge contract extension.  The Sox entered 2012 with understandably massive expectations and have completely imploded both on the field and in the front office.  Larry Lucchino’s meddling, which resulted in Bobby Valentine’s hiring, has been laid bare and roundly criticized.  Valentine’s trouble communicating with his players and keeping shit in house has been just one of several problems that have proven to be a distraction.  Now, it seems like the Red Sox are committing to at least a partial rebuild.  And while they got great talent from the Dodgers, it’s likely they got significantly worse in 2013.  This probably means David Ortiz is gone at the end of the year.  Maybe Cody Ross too.  And who knows what this will mean going forward for Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, and Dustin Pedroia?  Yes, the Red Sox could choose to play in the free agent field again this offseason, but with such dysfunction in the front office, and such terrible recent results in player acquisition, it’s fair to question whether they’d just be better off staying out and rebuilding in full.  But first and foremost, John Henry needs to clarify the Red Sox leadership structure, before a bad process leads to more bad decisions.

2013 is The Year of the Blue Jays

Connected to the previous point, the Jays have a tremendous opportunity in 2013 to rise in the AL East.  The Yankees continue to age (not that that seems to be stopping them thusfar), the Rays are getting more expensive and moving closer to a teardown since their attendance woes have not cleared up,  the Red Sox look to have significantly lower expectations in 2013 unless Ben Cherington works some real magic, and the Orioles still have the fourth worst run differential in the American League.  Meanwhile, the Jays will be healthier (they pretty much have to be), with a full season of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie and a pitching staff that isn’t held together by duct tape like in an old Red Green bit.  It may not seem like it now, since the Jays are in the middle of a 5-21 stretch of complete and utter collapse, but better times are ahead.  The window of opportunity is upon you.  I can’t wait.

Comments (17)

  1. I cringe from this deal because this was a GREAT trade for Boston. They dumped two brutal contacts and acquired some really good prospects for one stud player.

    They have a clean salary slate with already having some nice pieces (Elisbury, Pedroia, Middlebrooks, Lester).

    • I absolutely agree with that statement. That said, their ability to ramp up to compete for next year is not immediately apparent. As is, this would be a 3rd place club at best, whereas the Jays have a higher ceiling assuming the entire team doesn’t die in a plane crash, which may still happen if they don’t appease the witches who cursed them.

  2. Great points on the AL East. The other thing about the Yankees is that they’re no longer spending anything it takes – they’re trying to stay below the luxury tax threshold, so there’s a finite number they’ll be staying under (until Mariano Riviera, A-Rod and Jeter retire in the next 2-5 years). Coupled with Beeston’s comments to Jeff Blair on Thursday about going for it in the off-season, it’s a good time to be a Jays fan.

  3. OR the Red Sox will sign Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Zack Greinke. Never know.

    • that wouldnt make much sense because relying on the free agent market is what got them in to this position in the first place.

      • What position? Winning two world series and then once the players you sign under perform you trade them away for prospects?

        This doesn’t seem to be a bad position to be in to me. If anything the Red Sox have proved that not only does signing free agents can work, that if some players don’t work out, there is always another team to take them off your hands.

  4. Another interesting wrinkle about the Jays persuing free agents this offseason is that it might not cost them a first-round draft pick. I read that the top 10 picks are protected under the new CBA, and since the Jays are currently projected to have the #8 pick overall (which might become #7 or #6 if they keep falling off) then the cost of a top-flight free agent is nothing more than money – they might be able to be more aggressiving than other teams who are thinking about losing their top draft pick?

    Everyone seems to love the idea of David Ortiz in a Jays jersey, and I like it a lot better knowing we won’t have to give the Sox our top pick to sign him, regardless of whether they make the qualifying offer.

  5. Another thing Boston did do with this move was to acquire more pieces to trade this offseason.

  6. At least the Dodgers have the experience and the balls to do what it takes to win, something out Jays can learn from. Here’s, we’re talking about whether or not to ditch a perfectly good MLB catcher and replace him with a rookie, this when our pitching staff is in a huge state of flux, maybe scrapping Escobar for Hech – just because that’s what they do (Snider for Gose, etc…) AA doesn’t know HOW to build a winner, and ROGERS seems fine with that. So frustrating..

    • Just because Arencebia runs into a handful of fastballs every season, doesn’t make him a perfectly good MLB catcher….what does that mean anyways? A wOBA of barely above .300?

    • Arencibia is not the worst catcher in the world once you account for their generally poor offensive contributions. D’Arnaud will almost certainly be better, and probably immediately, once he’s healthy. You’re a fool if you think Arencibia’s better as your starting catcher, rather than as trade bait.

    • Fuck are you on dude, John Buck is junk

  7. I remember reading somewhere that Ellisbury has been placed on waivers too…anyone else hear this? And what does his contract look like?

    • Like most of Scott Boras’ clients, Ellsbury is going year-to-year and has one more year in which he’s eligible for arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2014. That said, don’t read too much into being put on trade waivers, as that happens to damn near everybody this time of the year. The best resource for contract related questions, by the way, is Cot’s Contracts on Baseball Prospectus: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/

      • I find everyone panic about Boston’s trade and how they are now going to get everyone in free agent or trade and this trade screwed the jays, to be a little rediculous. Before this trade the dodgers we’re looking at spending money, they had new owners, a low team salary and money to spend well since they just pulled off one of the highest salary trades ever I think they may be done spending, or at least not looking to add the big star first base or top pitcher the jays should be looking at. Now it’s the red sox that may be looking at doing so, and guess what, what player looking to win is going to sign with Boston with the circus act of a team they have had the past two years. If anything this trade proves to give the jays a better chance this offseason.

  8. 2013 is the year of the Jays? Who will their starting pitchers be?

    Romero and Alvarez are question marks and who else will they have besides Morrow?

    Cecil, Happ no Drabek or Hutch intil the end of the year. This team has more question marks than ever. No 1B, 2B and still have to figure out LF, SS and C.

  9. I think you have horribly misread the Red Sox moves and chances for next season. They have just freed up 300 million dollars of money to spend adding to a great core entering their prime years (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, Buckholtz, Lester, etc.)

    If they go out and acquire Greinke or Peavy and then resign Ortiz they’ll still have a lower payroll than this year and can easily find a decent left fielder and first baseman with that kind of money to spend. Do you really think the Jays will be better than this:

    Choice of Dice-K / Doubront / Cook etc.

    Aceves, Bailey, Doubront, Cook, Bard, etc.

    Sweeney / Ross

    The Jays will have a shot, but it won’t be any better than Boston’s. Boston made this deal because they wanted to clear Beckett and Crawford and the only way to do it was to move an easily purchased commodity (a first baseman). Their off-season will be huge. Get ready for it.

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