The Boston Red Sox fire-sale of 2012 has begun.
Adrian Gonzalez, a highly respected major league batter with a .300+ batting average and a boatload of RBI potential in any lineup, was cast away from the Red Sox like a Tom Hanks character to a deserted island in the South Pacific.
"It's hard to say Adrian's not part of the team," said Boston Manager Bobby Valentine, first acknowledging fully that he had not been told of the specifics of the impending deal but had been asked to remove Gonzalez from the line-up minutes before the game began, "just in case something happens," he said. "I haven't been around a more professional, good-guy, terrific player as him in a long time, if ever."
While the popular first baseman headlined the blockbuster, the trade was clearly orchestrated to package Gonzalez with Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford in a colossal salary dump of high-priced, under-achieving roster-busters. Beckett became the center of controversy last year as he, along with fellow starting pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey, decided to enjoy some cold suds and southern fried chicken on non-start nights as the Red Sox imploded in the biggest September collapse in modern baseball history. The "Siege you in September" cost former manager Terry Francona his job as the internal and external finger-pointing rose to the upper decks of Fenway Park. Unapologetic, lethargic and lacking any of the "right stuff" for winning ways on the major league pitching mounds, the holdover Red Sox starters, Beckett, Lester and Lackey, have floundered throughout the season.
From the opening of spring training to the Fourth of July holidays, everyone from ownership to the media to the fans on the street continued the charade, utilizing every reasonable excuse in the book, such as devastating injuries to 2011 break-out center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury along with left fielder Carl Crawford, the loss of closer Jonathan Papelbon to free agency, the uncertainty and inconsistency of performance by Lester, Lackey and Clay Bucholz, all of whom have suffered through injuries and surgery to correct those injuries.
Red Sox insiders all knew what was ahead: The gutting of the team. It was time for change, especially the banishing of Beckett (and possibly Lackey) at any and all cost, including the possibility of an out-right release of Lackey in the offseason when it will be every man for himself, once again.
The move came suddenly, like a summer storm in New England, as mid-morning today, the trade winds started to blow when it was announced that the All-Star Boston first baseman was claimed off (revocable) waivers by Los Angeles, indicating the Dodgers had serious interest in acquiring Gonzalez and his ample bat. The complicated MLB post-trading deadline rules allow for teams to place veterans on the waiver wire to take a pulse on general interest in the particular players. The Red Sox had once placed Manny Ramirez on waivers in 2004, weeks before he led the Sox to their first World Series triumph since 1918. But, this year, it was Gonzalez and Beckett on waivers which resulted in claims while the Red Sox put in a claim for first baseman James Loney.
As the night moved on, reporters on both coasts delved deeper into the reports and the "deal in principle" surfaced withttp://www.bostonherald.com/sports/baseball/red_sox/view.bg?articleid=1061155665h the news the Red Sox were tossing able bodies, injured bodies and everything but the kitchen sink off the deck to gut the roster of the highly paid underachievers they had acquired during the final years of the Theo Epstein era. They would do so in exchange for a couple of top pitching prospects, a serviceable replacement for Gonzalez at first base in Loney. In the shining package of Gonzalez, the Red Sox happily cast-away oft-injured OF Carl Crawford, who just underwent Tommy John surgery to fix his ailing arm, as they, most importantly, jettisoned Beckett, the lightening rod of all things evil in the Sox clubhouse gone dysfunction junction.
"Everything we do is meant to energize the team," said Valentine after his club managed a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on a beautiful, balmy summer Friday night. "We win together, we lose together, we fight together... we go through a lot of stuff together. It could help."
"Before the game, I was asked to take him out of the lineup," added Valentine when asked how he had heard the news. "He (Gonzalez) had already heard about it. He was kind of telling me, he wasn't surprised.
"I thought it must be something in the works that (GM) Ben (Cherington) and the ownership thought was best for the organization, not necessarily for tonight's game, that's for sure."
Still unconfirmed by either organization as of the post game press conferences, the team sources who asked not to be quoted because of the sensitive nature of properly informing palyers involved in trades stated the Sox would be receiving pitching prospects Ruby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and Zach Lee, according to the Los Angeles Times. Also moving from LA to Boston would be Loney, and utility man Jerry Sands, according to multiple reports by ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. The Red Sox tossed in utility man Nick Punto to even out the trade.