The Los Angeles Dodgers’ August acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford was the most phenomenal bust in the history of Major League Baseball trades. LA is unlikely to make the playoffs at this point, being two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot with only three games left to play. Even if by some miraculous meltdown in Missouri the Dodgers are able to simply tie the Cards, they’ll still have to play a one-game playoff at home in order to play yet another Wild Card one game playoff just for the “honor” of being shot straight into a five-game series with the best team in the National League. Needless to say the Dodgers have a pretty unlikely road to success. For a team that many people, including those on this blog, felt were now the class of the NL, the Dodgers struggled mightily post-trade and now sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Even in the rosiest of scenarios, this Dodgers team is such a far cry from who they were supposed to be. It’s pretty pathetic; even roughly $260 million dollars couldn’t buy them a playoff spot.
Too bad that this viewpoint is an uneducated display of how incredibly short-sighted trade analysis has become, where short-term benefits and overarching statements rule the day. I’d like to lay back and say that this trade’s success can’t be examined yet, but that’s an impartially true statement. As it stands right now, even if the Dodgers don’t win the NL pennant this year, let alone make the playoffs, this trade is still an unqualified success. Here’s why:
There are a bevy of other reasons why the Dodgers aren’t making the posteason…not just the new guys.
Mike Petriello of the superb blog Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness detailed it better than I could, citing nine different reasons, ranging from injuries to the starting rotation, Matt Kemp and the unbelievable play of the San Francisco Giants even when their best hitter feel on top of some leftover needles in left field. LA’s problems go far past the incredibly slow start of Gonzalez and Beckett’s very good, but not ace-quality starts. This collapse of sorts has been a team-wide phenomenon, rather than just limited to a few players that were supposed to be season-saving saviors. Blaming the new imports from Boston is an over-simplification worthy of the city they came from.
How many power-hitting, Gold Glove-caliber first basemen were ready to join the Dodgers?
The answer is: zero. In the next two seasons, the best available free agents would be, in no particular order: Paul Konerko (38), Carlos Pena (35), Justin Morneau (33) Mike Morse (32) and Nick Swisher (32). All certainly fit the bill of big time power hitters, but every single one of them is on the rough side of 30. Morneau, Morse and Swisher all could be impact acquisitions, but none of them fit into the Dodgers plans quite as well as Gonzalez does. Swisher and Morse are the youngest guys here, but both will command deals of at least four years, $60 million for two players past their primes and won’t ever be able to contribute the same type of MVP ceiling as Adrian. Morneau is a proven player, but like Morse has an extremely sketchy injury history that shouldn’t warrant anything past a one or two year contract. Pena and Konerko are both fine players, but neither has age on their sides like Gonzalez does.
The new Dodgers 1B comes without most of these question marks. He’s had an impeccable health history and is in the midd… Read more...