Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hollywood’s New (not so bright) Stars

Welcome back to the last installment in my four piece series breaking down the Dodgers and Red Sox deal. If you missed out on the other three you can view them herehere, and here.

There’s no doubt the intention of the new Dodgers ownership, win now and win big. As the Yankees have shown us in the past money does make winning easier and since the ownership change, money seems like an endless commodity in LA. In the past month or so the Dodgers have accumulated around $300 million worth of contracts for both now and future. The biggest of bunch coming in their latest blockbuster with the Red Sox, but will this new blockbuster be the next Dark Knight or the next Twlight.

Let’s start with the centerpiece of the deal Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez at any level of his game is an instant upgrade over Loney, so at first this looks like it could be a sexy. But there’s many more strings attached. As mentioned in my previous post, I do have some reluctance in Gonzalez continuing to produce at a high caliber level from here on out. Nonetheless he still plays an exceptional first base and hits well enough to produce a solid 3+ fWAR each season.

However Gonzalez’s salary is not cheap, he’s owed $21 million till 2018, in order for Gonzalez to be worth that money he’s going to produce at a level of at least 4+ fWAR (Assuming 1 fWAR costs $4-5 million) to make the deal even and that doesn’t even take into the effect of inflation (Which may actually benefit the Dodgers). Let’s also not forget Gonzalez is 30 now and by next year will be on the wrong side of 30. While Adrian still may be capable of 4+ fWAR potential, it’s almost a guarantee near the end of the deal he won’t be. So if the Dodgers are going to break even here they’re going to need him to produce a lot of that value upfront. But unless he’s able to get back to his old ways as he was with the Padres this looks like it could end up being more gloom than glory.

Josh Beckett is the next big piece in here, for the Dodgers he’s more of a throw-in in order to get Gonzalez. He’s easily one of the most enigmatic pitchers on a year to year basis, he’s either really dominant or flat out bad and for whatever reason in even years he doesn’t seem to have it, but in odd years looks like he could win a Cy Young. I really don’t have an explanation for this however let’s take a look at what his value is to the Dodgers.

Beckett is owed $34 million till 2014, $17 million each year. As mentioned above Beckett is a very difficult pitcher to predict but in order to live up to his contract he’s going to at least have to be worth 3-4 fWAR each year over the next two years. Beckett has shown us he’s capable of producing at a high level and a switch to the NL as well as to a pitchers park should help him out. Yet between age, health, and a decline in velocity, this may not be the easiest of tasks for him. Despite that though if Beckett can stay healthy and produce 2-3 fWAR each  of the next two seasons I think the Dodgers will be happy and can afford him because of the pitching depth they posses.

Carl Crawford the speed demon, 7th wonder of the world, definition of toolbox, and on the latest addition to contracts that didn’t work out well for the Red Sox. In his 8 year tenure with the Rays he produced 36.8 fWAR, since joining the Red Sox .6 fWAR, yeah you read that right .6 easily one of the worst producing contracts in the game right now. Injuries and slumps have really made a human out of Crawford only 161 games played since joining the Red Sox, he’s had it all, groin, wrist, Tommy John, you name it he’s probably had it in the last 2 years. So what does this mean for the Dodgers?

Well for starters living up to that 7 year $142 million deal isn’t happening; so off the bat this deal is probably going to end up a bust right? How big is the question? Will Crawford ever return to form? We can certainly hope so!

Crawford finally got somewhat healthy enough to play this year and in his small sample size his bat was actually Crawford-esque producing a triple slash of .282/.306/.479 while being perfect in 5 steal attempts. Obviously we’d like the OBP to be higher but given the small sample size I can let it slide. However also in a short stint his defense hasn’t lived up to expectations, accumulating a Fld score of -3.9 while producing 115.1 Fld in his previous 8 years. Defense is a huge part of Crawford’s game and without it he’ll have to hit like a madman to produce close to his money value. Whether it be due to injuries or playing the Green Monster in Boston, his defense took a considerable hit, but for now I’m also going to let it slide as well because of these two reasons.

Since his move to the Red Sox Crawford hasn’t been quite right and I still think the verdict is still out on whether he can produce at an elite level and I believe he's a wild card in this deal. This year he showed us despite not being 100% he’s still able to hit and while it’s a small sample size, there’s probably some truth in it. Crawford’s overall contract probably will end up producing negative value as the first two years have essentially been lost and producing near the level he’s owed near the end of the deal won’t help. But if Crawford can stay healthy and his defense didn’t just vanish overnight he can probably still be a solid 3+ fWAR guy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to string a few seasons better than that together.

And finally there’s Nick Punto, there’s not much to say here except that he’s cheap, and any value they get out of him will likely be a plus.

Overall this is an obvious win now move for the Dodgers and considering the $12 million they’re receiving this year, they’re practically getting all the players received for free this year. So at the very least I really like this move for 2012 and assuming health returns to the players mentioned above I do like the next couple years of the move. I also like the fact the Dodgers didn’t have to move Zach Lee as well as Garret Gould and Chris Reed, 3 of the 4 top arms in their system coming into 2012 (Allen Webster being the other who was traded). The move does come with its risks, but has potential for payoff as well. The latter half of these contracts could end up biting the Dodgers rear end. Be that as it may as long the Dodgers stay committed to winning and the money steam stays steady, they should be able to survive reaping some rewards in the process.

All stats and information are from FanGraphs and Cot's Contracts.

Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoyed this series!

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