The Soxpocalypse: One Year Later
Roughly a year ago, the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, James Loney and the privilege of no longer paying for Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett or Punto. You may have heard about it. It made some news. Sportspun and I tore into each other about the trade when it happened, and pretty much haven’t let up since.
Since it’s been a year, and since the Sox are about to start a series in Dodger Stadium, I figured it made sense to compare the players the Red Sox gave up to those they brought in to replace them:
Adrian Gonzalez: .299/.347/.459, 125 OPS+, .346 wOBA, 2.5 fWAR, 3.3 rWAR
Mike Napoli: .244/.335/.435, 108 OPS+, .337 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR, 1.9 rWAR
Depending on which set of defensive metrics you prefer, Adrian Gonzalez has been somewhere between somewhat and considerably better than Napoli this season; while the raw offensive lines look quite similar, it has to be noted that Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park are very different places. Still, with a year of hindsight, I will admit that I was too bullish on Adrian at the time of the trade; I’d no longer put him in the discussion for best hitter in baseball, for example. And if you value contract efficiency more than on-field production (which I don’t, especially when discussing two teams whose owners have bottomless pits of money), you’ll probably point to the fact that Gonzalez still has five years and $106 million on his contract, while Napoli is a free agent after the season. Thank goodness for that, by the way; watching Napoli fall off a cliff for the last four months would have been that much more terrifying if the team still had him for two more years, like they originally wanted.
Carl Crawford: .289/.340/.413, 111 OPS+, .330 wOBA, 2.3 fWAR, 1.2 rWAR
Shane Victorino: .290/.341/.420, 106 OPS+, .335 wOBA, 4.1 fWAR, 4.4 rWAR
Hands up if you genuinely believe that Shane Victorino has been worth 23 runs on defense this year. Okay, anyone with their hands up, go away. You’re saying that 763 innings of Shane Victorino in right field is worth more than any player in baseball except Manny Machado and Andrelton Simmons, despite the fact that those players have hundreds more innings because they aren’t always hurt. I’m fine with saying that Victorino is a very good right fielder. I’m not fine with saying that he’s been the third-most valuable fielder in baseball despite only playing 95 games. As for this comparison…I give up. They’re basically the same hitter (with Crawford maybe having the slightest edge), and Victorino does it while playing better defense, at a harder position, and having his disaster contract only go for two more years instead of four. I still say that we should have signed Nick Swisher, and I still hate Victorino with the fiery passion of a million suns, but I can’t pretend that he isn’t at least as good as Crawford anymore.
Josh Beckett: 43.1 IP, 50 H, 30 R (25 ER), 41 K, 15 BB, 8 HR
5.19 ERA (69 ERA+), 4.65 FIP, 3.81 xFIP; -.1 fWAR, -.8 rWAR
Ryan Dempster: 145.1 IP, 149 H, 87 R (77 ER), 132 K, 64 BB, 23 HR
4.77 ERA (88 ERA+), 4.70 FIP, 4.24 xFIP; 1.2 fWAR, -.2 rWAR
Josh Beckett pitched terribly for a month and a half, got hurt, and has been on the DL ever since. His season is over; last I heard, his career was in jeopardy. If he comes back, he’ll be owed $15.75 million for next season. Ryan Dempster’s bad (and has been Godawful since the middle of May; the only thing he’s done better than Beckett over all his extra starts is show up and take the ball), but he’s not that bad. Or at least, he’s not that injured, and there is value in showing up and eating some innings, even if those innings are terrible. This is another case where I wanted to sign a superior player (Anibal Sanchez), but can’t really complain about the direct comparison to the guy who was traded away.
Of course, the Soxpocalypse enabled more than just the signings of Napoli, Victorino and Dempster. If you want, you could ascribe every move the Sox have made since that trade to the fact that they have so much added payroll flexibility; doing so would give you huge victories (Koji Uehara), expensive gambles that I personally love (Jake Peavy), and hilarious trainwrecks (Joel Hanrahan). Or, you could just point to the standings. On the day of the trade, the Red Sox were 60-66, in the middle of a lost season and spiraling out of control. Now, they’re 75-54, back in first place, and people are starting to dream of another World Series.
I’m not a huge fan of that argument, honestly. I don’t see how being around Napoli, Victorino and Dempster instead of Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett made Dustin Pedroia or David Ortiz better, or Jacoby Ellsbury healthy. If I was going to point to a soft-science cause for the Red Sox’ turnaround, I’d be much more likely to look to the manager; even there, though, I think it’s less about having John Farrell and more about not having Bobby Valentine. But if I can’t even hate the on-field results, then maybe I can’t call it the Soxpocalypse anymore. Does anyone know a short, catchy way for me to say “that trade I really hated at the time but now must grudgingly admit has worked out pretty well?”
Oh! One last thing: The prospects we got are garbage, and the sooner we figure that out the better.