Criticism of Gonzalez Trade Missing the Mark

As I attempt to catch up on the baseball world after the whirlwind last few weeks of wedding and honeymoon, what I’m noticing is that there’s a pretty great narrative going on about how the big Dodgers/Red Sox trade, and Adrian Gonzalez specifically, was “a bust” for LA, since Gonzalez got off to a slow start and the team is unlikely to make the playoffs. (You can see examples here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And probably dozens more.)

While that’s kind of silly – we talked about how the trade was made with far more than just 2012 in mind and anyone who quotes the entire $250m+ figure without pointing out that it was hardly a secret that Carl Crawford was known to be injured when the trade was made is willfully distorting the facts – I will at least acknowledge that Gonzalez hasn’t exactly been the instantaneous boost we all hoped he’d be.

Then again, he is hitting .311/.357/.459 over his last 22 games, dating back to September 2, while James Loney, somewhat remarkably, has been even worse in Boston than he was as a Dodger. So with Crawford irrelevant and Josh Beckett adequate, it’s hard for me to pin too much blame on this team (likely) missing October on some perceived story about how the big-spending Dodgers swung and missed with their big deal, especially when first base was upgraded and the rotation was reinforced.

Besides, there’s no shortage of real reasons why this team isn’t going to make the playoffs, and Gonzalez being “good but not great” barely sniffs the list for me. Even just over the last two months, you can see a variety of causes why the Dodgers are probably going to be sitting and watching from home:

1) The Giants have somehow become one of baseball’s most surprising teams, even after losing Melky Cabrera, and might win 95 games. (You know I don’t care about PEDs nearly as much as most other people, but someone tell me how Marco Scutaro is really hitting .361/.384/.476 as a Giant, please.)
2) Clayton Kershaw got hurt and has been semi-available
3) Matt Kemp has been constantly banged-up and unproductive while trying to play through injury
4) Chad Billingsley was lost for the season, which combined with Kershaw’s woes prompted Don Mattingly to admit that Beckett might be his best starter without a trace of irony
5) A.J. Ellis has run out of gas in his first season as a starter, hitting only .187/.271/.267 over the last month
6) Kenley Jansen missed more time with concerns over his heart condition
7) Shane Victorino, someone we liked only in the small sense that he wasn’t Bobby Abreu, has been absolutely atrocious
8) After a good start to his Dodger career, Hanley Ramirez has slumped badly, hitting .234/.274/.378 over the last month
9) Finally, and perhaps more relevant to the season as a whole, the miraculous April start unreasonably inflated expectations. Remember April, when a healthy Kemp was destroying the world and every Ivan De Jesus or Matt Treanor or Tony Gwynn was somehow chipping in with a game-winning hit? That was never going to keep up, and it didn’t. The Dodgers were 24-11 on May 14; held back by a slew of injuries and inevitable regression, they are 57-64 since, and that’s a lot closer to what we expected at the start of te year.

Those are just nine reasons; there’s certainly many others, and while Gonzalez’ failure to hit like Miguel Cabrera times Mike Trout plus Josh Hamilton certainly contributed, any of these hysteric reactions you see to the “failed” trade being the main reason why a flawed, injury-destroyed team missing its best starting pitchers probably not making the playoffs is just completely missing the mark.

159 comments
efb
efb

I want to hear about some of the great brews Mike sampled!

DBrim
DBrim moderator

This Cabrera for MVP march is pretty ridiculous.

Tired Math Cat
Tired Math Cat

Come on, Mike. You know there's only ever one reason things go wrong. You can't have 9, pick one. 

JoeyE
JoeyE

Cruz is hitting 2nd. yay

MFYG (MSTY Dankest Brog 2013)
MFYG (MSTY Dankest Brog 2013)

everybody, if you have 45 mins to kill, listen to the grantland aj ellis interview.  don't mean to tell you what to do.  but it's good.

The Monocle
The Monocle

Line up Dodgers: M Ellis 2B Cruz 3B Kemp CF Gonzalez 1B Ramirez SS Ethier RF Victorino LF AJ Ellis C Kershaw P

Tony Fernandez (MSTY Most Informative Poster)
Tony Fernandez (MSTY Most Informative Poster)

"When a guy like Matt Kemp comes back after missing 51 games, it's tough to play yourself back into shape. You don't have six weeks of Spring Training that you can inject into a season."

 

Methinks Colletti was annoyed that Kemp kept getting played when he was obviously hurt and playing like you wish Juan Rivera was out there.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

Interesting. MEllis/Cruz 1/2 tonight. Ethier/Victorino 6/7.

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

Great. Critical Mass 20th anniversary today. Hippies noooooooooooooooo

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @DBrim Yep. Mostly it's annoying how it's being framed as "stat dorks vs traditional". Even if you believe that Miggy is slightly better at the plate - which, given ballparks and opposition I find arguable - the massive, massive edges Trout has on the bases and in the field is more than enough to overcome that.

LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)
LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)

 @UCSB07 DeCoud was also the safety who, when they played Green Bay in the playoffs 2 years ago, was constantly telling him "Greeeeeeeeeeeg Jeeeeeeeeeeeenniiiiiings" after seeing Dimitry James' viral video. 

DBrim
DBrim moderator

 @Mike Petriello What bothers me (and maybe you missed it) is Morosi being such a torch-bearer for it.

DBrim
DBrim moderator

 @Mike Petriello I did not know that, but that explains a lot.  His exchange with Dave Cameron yesterday was pretty funny.  It looks like it may have been deleted, though.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @DBrim He is from Detroit. Aren't most of the guys doing this from the Great Lakes area?

Tired Math Cat
Tired Math Cat

 @Mike Petriello daaw guess not. I was making a comment on how media never fail to blame problems on one specific thing, but you have nine. it's just too logical. 

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

The Traitor. He hate me.