August 27, 2012
Reportedly will acquire 1B-L James Loney, OF-R Jerry Sands, INF-R Ivan De Jesus, RHP Rubby De La Rosa, and RHP Allen Webster from the Dodgers for 1B-L Adrian Gonzalez, OF-L Carl Crawford, RHP Josh Beckett, and INF-S Nick Punto, and cash. [8/24]
Impact on playoff odds: -0.3 percent
“It's all there,” said a National League scout who was taken off his coverage to see the team. “When everything is going, he has three average-to-plus pitches and knows what to do with them.” The scout noted that Webster's game has matured, as well. “He knows he has a really good—and potentially special—changeup, but he's not over-relying on it anymore,” the scout explained. “It's like he finally figured out that setting that pitch up with 92-94 mph heat is the best way to go about it, and his curveball has improved as well. He used to get over the ball and it wouldn't finish, but now it's breaking through the zone much better.”
The Dodgers were reluctant to include Webster in their various other trades this deadline, so for them to part with him now tells you how eager they were to get the deal done. —R.J. Anderson
With his stunningly good second half, Webster had eclipsed Zach Lee as the top pitching prospect in the Dodgers’ system, with some scouts upping his ceiling from a potential three to a potential two. With his velocity and high-quality secondary offering, it's an understandable projection now that he seems to have harnessed his stuff.
Sands has put up big numbers at Albuquerque, but he's never quite inspired enough faith to earn a shot at replacing Loney's weak bat at first base. He fell out of favor when he struggled to make the adjustments needed at the big-league level. His career .291/.363/.557 line at Triple-A is certainly impressive, but it comes with all the warnings that are usually attached to a player at one of the minors’ best hitting environments, and his splits don’t tell us much, as his division was filled with equally wonderful places to put up numbers. He's a bit of a bat-only type as a hulking slugger with well below-average speed, but he's decent in left field, although his arm is lacking. He'll get a long look at first base, but has a peak projection for most as a second-division starter who can hold down the fort until someone better comes along.
De Jesus was a highly regarded prospect following the 2008 season, when he hit .324/.419/.423 at Double-A Jacksonville and profiled as a quality middle infielder with excellent on-base skills. He suffered a broken leg during spring training in 2009, and his prospect stock has been on a steady slide since. He's no longer a patient hitter, but he does show a solid line-drive bat. In the field, he's lost more than a step and now lacks the speed for shortstop and the offensive profile for third base. He doesn't have enough of a bat to be an everyday second baseman, which isn't happening in Boston anyway, so his best bet is to turn into a utility player who can at least handle the left side in a pinch due to his defensive fundamentals. —Kevin Goldstein
Reportedly will acquire 1B-L Adrian Gonzalez, OF-L Carl Crawford, RHP Josh Beckett, and INF-S Nick Punto, and cash from the Red Sox for 1B-L James Loney, OF-R Jerry Sands, INF-R Ivan De Jesus, RHP Rubby De La Rosa, and RHP Allen Webster. [8/24]
Impact on playoff odds: +3.1 percent
Adrian Gonzalez Versus Other Big-Time First Basemen, 2009-12
Declines in power and walk rate are the differences between this season and Gonzalez’s past efforts. It’s possible that his numbers have been affected by a bum shoulder. It’s also possible that he’s back to being very good; nine of his 15 home runs have come in the second half, and five of those have been hit in August.
Besides being a massive upgrade at the plate over James Loney, Gonzalez brings a familiarity with the division, a very good glove, and a great hitting mind to the table. There are few batters with more smarts, and his wit is part of the reason why Gonzalez should continue to be a productive hitter, even as his physical tools fade. Surrounding Gonzalez with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and the aforementioned Ramirez gives the Dodgers one of the league’s better middle-of-the-orders.
Goldstein says that Beckett’s 70 fastball has turned into a 55/60. His once-biting curve has lost a similar amount of stuff: Goldstein reports that he would be “leery” of putting a 60 rating on it and might call it a 50-plus. His cutter, he explains, is at best a 40. Given how often he throws it, the cutter could be something of an Achilles’ heel for Beckett going forward.
Joe Blanton has pitched like a no. 8 or 9 starter with the Dodgers (28 hit and 18 runs over 21 innings), so the Dodgers would be upgrading if Beckett pitches as though he were a true back-end starter. The move away from Boston and Fenway Park should help, if only on a surface level. Beckett is due more than $30 million over the next two seasons.
There’s a scene, in one of Kevin Smith’s DVD specials, where an audience member asks a question about facial hair involving Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and Chewbacca. The absurdity of linking the three together causes Smith to laugh and recite the names again for effect. Punto’s inclusion causes the same effect here. Imagine the introductory press conference: here are three players with a combined 11 All-Star appearances between them, and here is a 34-year-old utility infielder with a career 75 OPS+.
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson