Monday, August 27, 2012

Power Shift?

It's being called the biggest trade in the history of the game.  Over the weekend the Boston Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In return, the Dodgers sent James Loney, Ivan DeJesus, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands to Boston.

This is an intriguing trade and it shows two very different schools of thought.

The Dodgers immediately strengthened their team but they also took on $260 million in salary debt. That is absolutely massive!  The new ownership team is making a bold statement to both their fan base and all of baseball.  They want to win, they want to win now and money is no object.  Ownership wanted to assemble a better team and they were aggressive.  They're certainly taking some chances but as Braves fans know, Dodgers team President Stan Kasten knows a thing or two about building a winning franchise.  And don't forget, in addition to the players listed above, the Dodgers also recently picked up Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino.  How will the Dodgers absorb all of this debt?  A good chunk of it will be taken care of when they re-up their television contracts.  I've heard the team referred to as "Yankees West" and I don't think that moniker is too far off. 

On the other coast, the Red Sox have totally blown up their team.  They are, in essence, starting with an almost clean slate.  The changes began in the off season, from the top on down.  A new GM and manager weren't enough to create a better atmosphere or a winning team.  Boston fans have to be shell-shocked.  I don't think the city will see the glory of the 2000's for quite some time and I'm certain that that won't sit well with them.  All this said, in everything I've watched, heard and read, GMs from both leagues almost unanimously agree that the Red Sox got the better end of this deal.  They freed up hundreds of million of dollars and have now gained the ability to be very active on the free agent market in the upcoming off season.  Maybe Boston won't have to wait as long as I thought for their turn around.

In digesting all of this, I was struck by one incredible comparison.  During the last month of the 2011 season, both the Red Sox and Braves had massive, unimaginable meltdowns.  It's truly fascinating to compare how each organization responded to their catastrophe.  With the steady and calm resolve that the Atlanta front office is known for, there didn't seem to be any signs of panic or knee-jerk reactions.  I'm not staying that it was all rainbows, fluffy clouds and unicorns.  In fact, I'm fairly certain that behind closed doors there was a lot of anger and yelling going on.  But then I also know that the Braves are right back in the playoff hunt again this year.  And that's how I know that the Braves reacted in the right way.

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