When the Dodgers made their blockbuster 9-player trade with the Boston Red Sox last August, their focus was on four-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but in order to land him, the Dodgers had to absorb the enormous salaries of not just A-Gon, but also those of fellow four-time All-Star Carl Crawford, two-time World Series champ Josh Beckett and the much lesser contract of 2011 World Series champ Nick Punto. The flip side of that mega-million dollar salary dump by the Red Sox (and mega-million dollar salary acquisition by the Dodgers) was sending career underachiever first baseman James Loney, top pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa, MLB cup of coffee drinkers Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr., and minor league pitching prospect Allen Webster to Boston.
With Carl Crawford recovering from Tommy John surgery and just now (finally) taking live BP, and with Adrian Gonzalez showing signs that his once dominating power may be returning after a successful appearance in the WBC with Team Mexico, along with Josh Beckett and Nick Punto showing up for spring training camp in excellent condition and both doing quite well, every indication is that, in spite of the insane amount of money involved, the Dodgers appear to have come out on top in the deal.
…or did they?
Granted, James Loney has since been traded again to the Tampa Bay Rays and Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr. to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but what about the other two former Dodgers still with the Red Sox – Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster? The answer might surprise you.
Rubby De La Rosa, who many thought might become the right-handed version of Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers until blowing out his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery late in 2011, has pitched a total of 6.2 innings in four spring training games for the Red Sox. He has allowed 7 earned runs on 6 hits for a 9.45 ERA, has walked 5 and struck out 5. In other words, it appears that the Dodgers’ once most coveted pitching prospect will begin the 2013 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
And then there’s Allen Webster.
In four spring training games for the Red Sox, Webster has pitched a total of 11 innings, given up 2 earned runs on 3 hits for a 1.64 ERA, has walked one and has struck out 14… yes, fourteen. So impressed is Red Sox manager John Farrell with Webster that he described the 22-year-old Greensboro, NC native as “pretty damn good.” Good enough, in fact, that Farrell is seriously considering allowing Webster to make a Grapefruit League appearance as a starter.
“The one thing that he’s grasping is that with his stuff and the action of his two-seamer, he doesn’t have to pitch to a third of the plate,” said Farrell. “He can be more aggressive on the white part of the plate, and it’s allowed him to pitch and at least execute strike one at a higher rate. It just opens up so many more options for him. In a nutshell, it’s his ability to attack the strike zone, strike one.”
Webster’s change-up is earning rave reviews among his coaches and teammates, as is his sinker.
“What’s been impressive is young pitchers that are able to throw that change-up on a 3-2 count,” said Farrell. “He is showing the ability to throw a breaking ball to both sides of the plate, in addition to a live fastball, heavy sink. He’s done a great job.”
Meanwhile, down at Pirates spring training camp in Bradenton, FL, Jerry Sands is continuing his painful fall from grace. Sands has appeared in 11 spring training games for the Pirates and is 4 for 22 (.182) with no extra base hits and one walk. He has struck out twice. Barring an absolute miracle, there is no way that Jerry will make the Pirates opening day roster and he figures to begin the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Ivan De Jesus Jr. is faring a little better than Sands as the Pirates second baseman. IDJ has appeared in 12 spring training games and is 6 for 20 (.300) with one double, one home run and two RBIs. He has walked once but has struck out 5 times. Once considered a speedster until breaking his ankle during a B-game while in spring training with the Dodgers in 2010, he has yet to steal a base in Pirates camp. Ivan is competing with veteran Neil Walker for the starting job at second base.
Down the I-75 in Port Charlotte, exiled Dodger first baseman James Loney is having a decent spring, but then, he usually does. In 11 spring training games with the Tampa Bay Rays, Loney is 8 for 27 (.298) with one double and 2 RBIs. He has walked once and struck out twice. Loney has been sharing time at first base with 29-year-old rookie non-roster invitee Leslie Anderson, who has been absolutely tearing it up this spring. Anderson, who defected from Cuba and signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2010 season, has appeared in 15 spring training games and is 14 for 36 (.389) with 2 doubles, one triple, one home run and 11 RBIs. Although Anderson is a natural center fielder, he has made the transition to first base quite well; well enough, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Loney released by the Rays prior to opening day.
So you be the judge. Did the Dodgers spend wisely when they acquired Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett and Punto in exchange for Loney, Sands, De La Rose, De Jesus Jr. and Webster?
I’m thinking they did.