Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Friday, August 24, 2012

Adrian Gonzalez? What Price Is Too Much?

Steve Dilbeck at the Times reported this morning that the Dodgers have been awarded the claim on Adrian Gonzalez and are now attempting to iron out a trade with the Red Sox. LINKED HERE  Some may think this is very good news.   This potential move scares me to death and I believe could potentially damage the franchise severely.

What would the future of the Dodgers look like if you removed Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and possibly a few others?  It would be considered the weakest farm system in the Major Leagues.

Now add more to the mix.  Assume the Dodgers gave away most or all of those players and agree to pay over $127 million dollars over the next six years to the player they receive in return.

A 31 year old Adrian Gonzalez becomes a Dodger.  Then there is more to sacrifice.- possibly a 32 year old Josh Beckett joins him (owed $34 million) and Carl Crawford, a left fielder that will be owed $21 million next year, $107 million over the course of his contract (until 2017) while he sits out next season due to Tommy John surgery.

I know this ownership group has some crazy money but are they nuts?  I like Adrian Gonzalez and all, but please, let’s be sensible here.  A deal like that could set the team back for years.  At least in the minor league/development ranks.

Loney and Rivera are a mess at first base while Jerry Sands rakes at a .400 clip in Albuquerque.  Does the Dodger brass not think that Sands can’t hit .250 with some occasional pop?  They’ll get that production from him and be paying the major league minimum.  Perhaps they are all in agreement that Sands’ potential production is not enough to take the team to the next tier of championship play.

What I think this all comes down to is that the Dodgers might believe that the acquisition of Gonzalez and Beckett could result in a pennant.  It would be the ultimate grab to buy the championship.  I used to hate it when the Yankees and Red Sox did that.  It seemed like unfair playing ground.  Now that the Dodgers are the buyers, I’m not certain if I like this.

I’m all for this ownership group and their “win at all costs” attitude.  But just because they have money doesn’t mean that they need to spend it with reckless abandon.  Just because they have minor leaguers doesn’t mean they need to empty the ranks of talent in one desperate move to steal the division from the Giants in the last month of the season.  We are looking at a crucial negotiation window here.


  1. Evan - it scares me, but any trade does. I firmly believe we don't become competitive yearly until we have three and hopefully four of our own young pitchers. We have traded Nathan, now perhaps Rubby and Allen. I expect management must feel Zach Lee and Chris Reed are better bets than Allen.

    At the risk of being seen as negative, I am concerned about AG's downward trend in power. That is a commodity we want. Perhaps it is an aberration this year and not a trend: 40, 31, 27, 15 homers. His RBI record has stayed constant.

    I think we were forced by the Sox to take Crawford and Beckett to get Gonzalez. The exchange of money will be interesting as we have tied up a lot for a long time. However, if Crawford returns to form for a few years, the deal will look good. Beckett is better than Blanton and we have him for only two year. A return to form would be a bonus.

    I am trusting that management has a longer term plan and not just a win it now attitude. I am concerned our starting pitching might not be strong enough to do that with Harang, Blanton, Capuano and Beckett. I am sure that management knows from our past 22 years that championships aren't bought but built.

  2. "Evan - it scares me, but any trade does."

    That is a fact. In the 3+ years that I have known you, Harold, there has yet to be a trade that you have embraced.

    Unlike the both of you, I see this as one of the greatest days in Dodger history, in my lifetime at least. It is the first step towards doing something that the Dodgers haven’t done since 1988 - make it back to the World Series.

    You should be thrilled that the Dodgers pulled this trade off without giving up Zach Lee and Chris Reed, their two biggest prizes; and there are several additional pitching prospects in the fold as well. You will get your building from within, Harold. You of all people should know this. I recall just yesterday you commenting on the excellent progress that the international players are making.

    The grand prize in this trade is Adrian Gonzalez, whom I have wanted in Dodger Blue for years; even more than Prince Fielder. He is not on the down side of his career as you suggest, Harold. This seems to be something that you always say about anyone over 30 years of age. Guess what? Andre Ethier is over 30 years of age - is he on the downward side of his career?

    Gonzalez will absolutely blow the doors off of anything that James Loney has ever done as a Dodger. How many Gold Gloves does James Loney have? Adrian Gonzalez has three. How many all-star appearances does James Loney have? Adrian Gonzalez has four. If you do not see this trade as a major upgrade in every category, you are ignoring the obvious.

    I just finished listening to Kevin Kennedy on DodgerTalk. I have never heard Kevin speak as highly of anyone as he spoke of Carl Crawford. He said that this isn’t a good trade… it is a GREAT trade. Kevin anticipates that Crawford will be ready to play in May or June at the latest. He said that Dodger fans will absolutely love Carl Crawford. Kevin also pointed out that the owner of the Red Sox did not want to sign Crawford and that it was entirely a Theo Epstein signing. Kennedy added that Crawford never belonged in Boston, that it wasn’t a good fit at all from the very beginning. He also said that Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are very close friends and that Crawford is a perfect fit for the Dodgers.

    Josh Beckett fell completely out of grace with the Red Sox ownership, their fans, and worst of all, his teammates, but he is still a very good pitcher. Kennedy said that Beckett is no longer the 95-97 MPH power pitcher that he once was, but he still has great stuff. Kennedy said that Beckett is, at best, a number four. Guess what? The Dodgers are in desperate need of a good number four. By the way - Josh Beckett has two World Series rings.

    Nick Punto is a very good utility infielder and will be a great addition to the Dodger roster. By the way - Nick Punto has a World Series ring, too.

    My point here is that it takes a mix of homegrown talent and good outside experienced talent to win a World Championship, not all of one or all of the other. The Dodgers have just given us a great mix of both. Rather than resist this trade, embrace it with open arms. It is, as I said, the beginning steps towards the next Dodgers World Series title.

  3. Sorry to use your blog to get into a debate with my Ron.

    To address a couple of your points Ron, you have hit on my statement about a fact. That is, part of my reality. First, it is a fact that Adrian, while having the most AB's of any MLB first basemen, is producing his lowest OBP, SLG and OPS since 2005. His home run production has decreased annually for the past three years, going from 40 to probably 20/23 this year. Those are facts. He is hitting in Fenway's bandbox which should be very conducive to his type of power. To you that may not be a concern. To me it is, as it is in much of what I have been reading, pointed out by columnists and bloggers. Adrian has been hitting much better since the AS break so may be returning to form.

    Am I against the trade? No, I am not. I didn't say that. I raised a question. I have already stated on TBLA that I embrace this change in direction by Dodger management. I am not scared so much for what we are giving up but the sheer amount of money offered taken on simply overwhelms me. Perhaps you didn't notice on TBLA but my proposal was for Gonzalez and Pedroia.

    We are into hoping with Beckett and Crawford. They have WS rings. So does Juan Uribe. A ring does not guarantee continued success. But yes, I do believe Crawford in the spacious confines of Dodger Stadium, and healthy, can become a good player again. I am sure management is confident of that. Confident enough to let Victorino walk. Who do I prefer - Crawford or Victorino? Crawford. Beckett is for two years so not a long term investment. He is probably better than Harang, Blanton and Lilly and perhaps will rival Capuano in a new environment.

    I have not mentioned Gonzalez's age. The first years of his contract will not be a problem. Hopefully his production will last until age 36. Carl Crawford is signed through 2017. Again, hopefully at age 35 he will be a $20M man. Right now I am more interested in the next three years.

    I have embraced acquisitions. On TBLA I embraced the Hanley Ramirez trade and got a "good call" from Kevin for suggesting it before it happened. In my 2012 predictions I wrote: 2. Jerry Hairston will be a versatile sub in the Jamey Carroll mode but with more power. I didn't like the Uribe, Sherrill, Manny, Schmidt acquisitions for pretty good reasons. I did speak positively of Andruw's acquisition before he showed up 25 pounds overweight. And of course, I was a lone voice in the wilderness for he who plays with the biggest heart, Juan Pierre.

    We still have Lee and Reed which delays, for a couple of years, the development of the staff as I think it needs to be competitive yearly. That is 3/4 homegrown young pitchers. It may be that John Ely gets into the picture again , or Matt McGill gets some attention. Beyond that we are a few years away for starters. Withrow and Miller most likely will make it as relievers, although I still have hope for Withrow(Beckett on the back of his card).

  4. Having a civilized and spirited debate on a blog site is its very purpose, so I am confident that my good friend Evan welcomes it/them.

    In today's market, multi-year deals are the most important aspect of every player’s contract. It is their very future security (for themselves and their families) at stake here. The days of 1, 2, or 3-year deals for players in the 28-32 range are gone forever - Shane Victorino is a classic example of this. He will demand a 5+ year contract this off season because it will be his last opportunity to set himself up financially for the rest of his life. However I can pretty much guarantee you that it will not be with the Dodgers. I say this because Stan Kasten has made it very clear that he is opposed to contracts longer than 5 years (which he proved with Ethier’s contract extension). That said, at some point Kasten will have to re-think this because more and more of today’s star players are demanding long term contracts - that's just how it is in today’s game.

    These long (and expensive) contracts effectively block the natural progression of minor leaguers into the Bigs, but again, that’s just the way it is today. The bottom line is that if a minor leaguer is good enough, and they must be exceptionally good, they will become one of the 750 players in the MLB; if they are not, they will become (what you call) career minor leaguers. There are undoubtedly many minor leaguers who are, in fact, good enough but they remain under the radar, sometimes for their entire minor league careers. Luis Cruz would have been one of them had Jerry Hairston Jr. and Justin Sellers not landed on the DL. In most cases, a substitute player does not stick when the guy they replace returns unless, of course, there are additional injuries or they absolutely tear it up, as Cruz is doing, but that is a different topic into its own.

    When a guy is in his early 30s and signs a multi-year deal (as most are doing these days), of course their production numbers are going to diminish towards the end of the contract - this is a fact of life. But the only way for a team to get these guys to sign with them is to offer them longer and more lucrative deals than the other teams are willing to offer. This is exactly how the Red Sox landed Adrian Gonzalez in the first place (and the Angels Pujols, and the Tigers Fielder, etc.). And regardless of how insane the money is, it’s not our money, so what difference should that make?

    As for Gonzalez’s decline numbers, including his home run numbers in the ‘bandbox’ that is Fenway Park, I will repeat myself - it is not uncommon for a guy’s numbers to diminish when he is playing where he does not want to play, on a team that he does not want to play for, under a manager (or coach) that he does not like? How did Matt Kemp do when he played for Joe Torre, Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer? My point is that there may be other factors involved with diminishing numbers than just age. Hanley Ramirez is a classic example of this, as was Vicente Padilla and even Manny Ramirez.

    As much as I am not a big fan of Ned Colletti, I have become more receptive of his willingness to roll the dice on guys with “baggage.” Granted it doesn’t always work out (Jones, Schmidt, Uribe, Manny, etc.), but it has with a few - especially in the past two seasons (Hairston, Carroll, Miles, Hanley, etc.). However, one of the things that I dislike most about Colletti is that he frequently (almost always) turns a blind eye towards the very farm system that he claims he is trying to rebuild. I am convinced that he is more concerned with developing trade chips than he is developing potential future Dodgers. This is, if for no other reason, why I would like to see him replaced as the Dodgers GM.

    As always, I thoroughly enjoy debating with you on this stuff and never take it personal. I hope that you do not, as well. I absolutely cannot wait to sit down and talk pure baseball with you during spring training 2013.

    Be well, my friend.

  5. How about that Evan? LOL. See what you started.

    There may well be other factors involved in diminishing power. Adrian has 145 hits in 123 games. He's hitting .300, 86 RBI. Doesn't sound like he shut down because of a feud, just that his power has diminished. He has hit 3 homers in his last 10 games so maybe he was playing with an injury during the early part of the season.

    I know what the contracts are like. That is, we eat the last year or so in long deals. I know that's life but it is dumb. It makes no difference to me that it isn't my money. What does make a difference is fear of throwing money here and there, and eventually having to rein it in, as the Yankees did. That is just a personal thing with me. I don't like wild spending any better than no spending. At least front end load contracts.

    Having said all that, I do sincerely appreciate the aggressive style the new bosses have taken in trying to right the ship asap.
    Pitching wins playoff rounds. I am concerned about even getting there with Chad ailing.

  6. Harold and Ron: I love this debate! Keep it going I say.

    A couple of things. I drove back to the Bay Area from Dodger Stadium immediately after the game with my adult son and we listened to the Kevin Kennedy comments. I could not help but get excited over what he said, (that Ron summarized very well). I was very surprised to hear the positive things Kennedy had to say about Crawford and how he really thinks he'll be a good fit for L.A.

    Based on Kennedy's comments, it seems that a change of scenery for all this guys will be just what the doctor ordered. Beckett needs out of Boston. Crawford too. It can be tough to play in that market. It can destroy careers. THe Boston fan base and media can be a rabid group that only the strongest survive. Let me give a personal observation.

    A very close friend of mine growing up was the top prep basketball player in the nation back in 1981-82. He had a stellar college career at BYU and was well thought of going into the 1988 draft. Mike was drafted by the Celtics as the 13th overall pick and Red Auerbach said on the day he was drafted that he "had a lot of Larry (Bird) in him." That comment made his arrival in Boston a much anticipated one.

    When as a rookie he suffered from shin splints due to over exerting himself and bulking up in preparation for the rigors of the rough NBA life, the media crucified him and labeled him as lazy. The truth was the opposite. He worked out so hard and lifted weights so hard in an effort to make himself a better player, that he got hurt. Though he had a run during his rookie year where he scored 20 points each nigh toff the bench for a ten game stretch, it was never enough for the media and the fans. Long story short: they destroyed his career. They gave him an unfair label that remained with him the rest of his basketball life and even going to Spain and Italian League and leading their league in scoring over there wasn't enough to ever get him back a full time NBA job back in the states. (He ended his career as a sub for the Clippers).

    Carl Crawford has been miserable. They have crucified this young talented player. He has pressed and tried too hard. Josh Beckett speaks his mind and has blown off the Boston press corps on numerous occasions. There's the story they love to tell of him golfing while on the D.L. in an effort to convey to the fan base that he isn't serious about his game.

    These guys will excel in Los Angeles, where aside from TJ Simers, the press corps is rather tame. And Simers can't be taken seriously because his schtick is as an antagonizer. Manny Ramirez stepped into the LA clubhouse and was immediately at ease. He could go out to dinner with his family and be left alone. Sports stars in Boston have absolutely no room to breath in that aspect.

    One last point: In my original post I was concerned about the Dodgers emptying the cupboard bare of their fine prospects. Well, Ron said it best" Chris Reed and Zach Lee are still in the organization. Dee Gordon is still a Dodger too. Sure it hurts to lose Webster, Rubby and Jerry, but it could have been worse. So throw me in the camp of those that favor the trade. I didn't realize that Crawford will be back by early season next year and that's a big plus.

    THe MLB netwprk is reporting that the Dodgers sent a plane to pick up Gonzo, Beckett and Punto and that they'll probably be in uniform tonight. This'll be one of the most exciting games ever at the Stadium tonight.