Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looking at who the Red Sox acquired in the big trade with the Dodgers

I've been accused of being a prospect hoarder. It's a fair accusation. But when I heard about this deal, my first thought was, "The Dodgers are giving up too much." I still believe that.

But at least the Dodgers acquired a hitter who paid immediate dividends in Adrian Gonzalez. He blasted a 3-run home run on his first swing as a Dodger Saturday night. It was a thing of beauty.

But considering the circumstances, the Red Sox made out quite well in Saturday's nine-player deal with the Dodgers. Boston acquired major salary relief (in the neighborhood of $260 million), James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.

I gave my thoughts on the Dodgers' return yesterday, so now I'll look at who the Dodgers gave up and what it means for the Red Sox.

James Loney

Loney, a once top prospect, is going to be fighting for a job come the winter. His offensive production is just offensive and not even his Gold Glove defense can land him a starting gig.

And Loney did what he does best in his first at-bat as a member of the Red Sox: he grounded into a double play.

He'll likely be Boston's starting first baseman the rest of the season, but I'd be shocked if he was there beyond this season.

Rubby De La Rosa

Because he was on the 40-man roster, De La Rosa is a player to be named later in this trade. He was reportedly claimed by the Blue Jays, which means the entire National League and a few American League teams passed on claiming him. That doesn't make sense, but I'm not a baseball executive.

De La Rosa was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga and I'm admittedly unsure what the plan is with him. I assume he'll pitch because for the Lookouts until the season ends. Chattanooga is three games up for the second-half division title with eight games to play. So, there's at least eight games remaining plus any potential playoff games.

Or, the Dodgers could be under strict orders from Boston to not pitch De La Rosa in game action and just continue to have him work on the side, potentially avoiding injury. We'll see what happens.

But Boston acquired a potential No. 2 starter in De La Rosa. His fastball, clocked as high as 101 MPH, is his best pitch. He throws it in the mid-90s with movement. It's a filthy pitch. He also owns a devastating changeup, when he's consistent with it.

The only thing holding De La Rosa back from achieving his potential in the rotation is a third pitch. He has a slider that's loose and loopy more than it's tight and sharp. His makeup is that of a top-of-the-rotation starter or a dominant closer, so no concern there.

He has a much better shot of ending up in the bullpen, but I could definitely see De La Rosa figuring it out and him being a pitcher in the mold of Pedro Martinez.

Now, some have said the Dodgers just traded "the next Pedro Martinez," but I think that's a bit far-fetched. Yes, they have similar repertoires and are both from the Dominican Republic. But that's where the similarities end.

De La Rosa isn't the most physically imposing figure, but he also isn't 5'10, 175 pounds like Martinez was. It's far more likely De La Rosa is an average MLB pitcher than a Hall of Famer.

Boston did quite well to get De La Rosa from the Dodgers in this deal, as they did with the only true "prospect" they received in the deal.

Allen Webster

Webster, the Dodgers' consensus No. 2 or No. 3 prospect heading into the season, started off the season about as poorly as one could. On May 9, he owned a 7.49 ERA in the Southern League, a league in which he struggled during the second half of last season.

Things weren't looking good for him until a demotion to the bullpen changed his season. He had a five-game bullpen stint, starting May 15, and he gave up just one run in that time. His work out of the 'pen allowed him to get his control and command figured out because his stuff has never been a question.

Since returning to the rotation on May 31, he hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start and reduced his ERA down to a manageable 3.83.

Webster boasts a low-to-mid-90s fastball with movement, an advanced changeup, a solid curveball and a decent slider. He has a classic starter's arsenal. Aside from his changeup, he's also known for having good control. His 3.7 BB/9 is solid, but he has the potential to be a sub-3 BB/9 guy when he's at his peak.

He has a ceiling of a No. 2 starter, but it's more likely he'll be a No. 3 or No. 4 guy, which is nothing to scoff at. Webster should challenge for a rotation slot in Boston come 2013.

Jerry Sands

Like De La Rosa, Sands is officially a PTBNL in this deal because he did not clear waivers. And that's just fine with Isotope fans as Sands smacked a 2-run home run Saturday night to continue his torrid second half.

Yes, his numbers are somewhat inflated because he plays in one of the best hitting environments in professional baseball, but there is potential in this kid. I mean, he had a 1.078 OPS in the Midwest League as a 22-year-old (69 games). That's hard to do.

I ranked him as my No. 1 prospect heading into last season and he's gotten limited opportunity with the Dodgers thus far. In fact, I'm not sure he was ever going to get a fair shot. I mean, when a team will play the likes of Juan Rivera and Loney instead of giving a 24-year-old power-hitting prospect a shot, it says something about the player or the organization. It's probably a little of both.

But Sands has ability. If he reaches his potential, he could be a 20-plus home run a season corner outfielder who hits in around .270 to .300 with an on-base percentage .350 or better. He isn't afraid to talk a walk, as his minor-league walk rate is an impressive 11.6 percent. He's done nothing but hit in the minors (.290/.377/.566), yet the Dodgers never gave him a legitimate chance at being a regular.

Sands profiles better as a corner outfielder than a first baseman. He has a strong arm and has a little more range than folks give him credit for. With the Red Sox trading their left fielder and first baseman, Sands could get a shot at either position come 2013.

Sands might be Boston's wild card in this deal, as the Dodgers clearly (and unfairly) lost faith in him too soon.

Ivan De Jesus

De Jesus is kind of in the same boat as Sands, but he got there first: a once highly rated prospect who fell out of favor in the organization.

Now, De Jesus is never going to be Dustin Pedroia at second base, but he has on-base ability and a solid glove.

He's more of a utility player at this point in his career, which has value to a team. He has a little doubles pop and a good eye at the plate, posting a 9.7 percent walk rate in the minors.

He hasn't done much in the majors, but he hasn't been given much of a chance either. We'll always have that pinch-hit double in Arizona earlier this season that won the game for the Dodgers.

Conclusion

The Dodgers still gave up a bit too much in this deal for my liking. If they had given up De La Rosa or Webster, along with the other two, and a lesser prospect, I'd feel a little better about this. I just don't like giving up two potential frontline starting pitchers while taking on more than a quarter of a billion dollars in salary. But at least the Dodgers got the big bat they needed.

I'll look at what impact this trade, and all the trades Ned Colletti and Co. have made in the last couple months, has on the Dodgers' farm system tomorrow.

Photo credits
Loney and Sands: LWY, Flickr
De Jesus:  wisely, Flickr

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