What an odd week, with the strange housecleaning by the Red Sox front office. Which is where we will start with a few thoughts on the crazy swap.
First, trades are clearly best viewed in hindsight: this we all know. And, at the time Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson did not seem outrageous. For Pappas, then 26, had been 110-74, 3.24 over nine seasons, only pitching less than 200 innings once between 1959-65 (177.2 in 1961).
Still, salary dump or not I just don't get it. First, I am not a fan of Bobby Valentine (see my Bed Goes Up of last Saturday) but just looking at the two main chips--Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney--it is hard to imagine what Boston was thinking. Over seven years, Loney--at a power spot--has averages .282-13-82 with a .342 OBP over a 162-game average.
Agone, who is 30 to Loney's 28, has nine years under his belt with .294-30-104 with a .371 OBP, and 38 doubles to Loney's 30 two-baggers a year. This year Gonzalez is .299-16-89 with 37 doubles, while Loney is .254-4-33 with 18 doubles.
Advantage Los Angeles.
Next, let's look at a couple of pitchers: Rubby De La Rosa, and Josh Beckett. Beckett is 32, and struggling to be sure. He is 32, 5-11, 5.23 over 127.1 innings. He was 13-7, 2.89 over 193 innings last year, and since 2004 has twice stumbled as he has this year, always to rebound. Not that Beckett will, but going to a contending team, in a pretty good pitcher's park, where he does not have to be the #1 guy has to be a boon. And, the guy has been a National League pitcher already, so, ideally he makes the transition and helps his team this year. And, maybe 2013 and even 2014, when he is 34, and his contract is done.
Now, I love Rubby De La Rosa, but if there are question marks concerning Beckett and the future, de la Rosa is coming off TJ surgery. He was 4-5, 3.71 over ten starts in 2011, though with a 1.40 WHIP.
And well, I have to give a slight edge to LA for this one, too, mostly because Beckett is established, though the 22-year old de la Rosa is tantalizing, though I would not be surprised if the young pitcher has a decent career, I am mostly thinking it will not really kick into gear for a couple of years, so again I give the edge to LA.
Now, Boston did chop some salary for sure, and Sands and de la Rosa could be pieces of some kind of different Boston team, but for now the Dodgers have become a potential power house.
However, there is also that fantasy perspective, and if I can get my hands on any or all of the troika of Loney, Beckett, or Agone for the bulk of this season, I certainly would. As Steve Moyer of BIS points out "...any major league quality player can do anything for a month. Hell, how far-fetched would it be if Loney was the best player of all of them from here on out? Not likely, but certainly possible."
And, Steve is dead on right. If you are in an AL or NL only format, do what you can to get the new members of each respective league. Use them or trade them, but you must go after them. Especially at this time of year.
Another guy I would take a look at is the Athletics new shortstop, Stephen Drew. Coming off a solid 2010 (.278-15-61) where the most important stat was the then 27-year old logged a career high .352 OBP--19 points better than his previous full season best. And then the Drew family curse of injuries nailed him in 2011, and again this year. But, with Drew at short, moving Pennington and Rosales to try and pick up the slack for disappointing Jemile Weeks. If nothing else, like LA, Oakland is doing what they can to pull the contention strings, and I like this move. Again, in an AL format that is deep, I would not think twice about taking a shot on Drew at this point of the season.
While we are in Oakland, if Brett Anderson is available, I would similarly jump all over him to fill out my pitching staff.
And, back to Arizona, who let go of Drew, take a hard look at Tyler Skaggs, the first round pick of the Angels in 2009, traded to the Dbacks as part of the Dan Haren deal of 2010. Skaggs big number was tossing 439 strikeouts over 389 minor league innings, with 113 walks to 338 hits (1.15 WHIP). At 9-6, 2.87 this year, split between Mobile (AA) and Reno (AAA). Skaggs had a good first start holding Miami to three hits and two runs, with four whiffs to five walks earlier in the week. In what I guess is a recurring theme, it is gamble time so Skaggs is certainly interesting. And, his role for this season is still unclear. Still, worth the gamble.
In the same vein, the Mets Collin McHugh makes an interesting end of season selection. An 18th round pick in 2008, McHugh has a 31-23, 3.32 mark over 105 starts and 521 innings, with 520 whiffs with 165 walks and 492 hits allowed (1.26 WHIP). McHugh has moved up pretty much a level a year, with a short stumble at St. Lucie last year (1-2, 6.31), the 25-year old rebounded at AA Binghamton to go 8-2, 2.89 over 16 starts and 93.1 innings. This year split between Binghamton and AAA Buffalo the righty was 7-9, 2.88 over 24 starts and 143 innings, with 132 strikeouts to 44 walks and 120 hits (1.142). Those are good numbers (and they are minor league ones).