The Tenth Inning – Week 21 Adrian Gonzalez

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The Tenth Inning – Week 21 – Adrian Gonzalez ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


By Mike Ivcic

By now you’ve likely read plenty of columns and opinions on the Red Sox-Dodgers trade this past weekend. I could give you mine (good trade for both teams, not quite the slam-dunk win-win that some have portrayed it to be) but that’s not really a worthwhile column. Instead, I’m going to ask one simple question, the answer to which, when finally provided by MLB general managers, might completely change the way that front office personnel carry out their orders. It’s a question that no columnist or analyst has asked, so allow me to be the first.


How in great wide world of sports did Adrian Gonzalez wind up actually getting traded to the Dodgers?

Let’s remember one key aspect of this trade – it happened after the July 31 trade deadline, which means one of two things happened for every single player involved in the deal. One, they completely cleared waivers, or two, the winning waiver-wire claim was placed by the team that consummated the trade. Thus, either Gonzalez and the rest of the group made it entirely through waivers, or they were claimed by the Dodgers.

Now, it’s probably not a huge shock in any way to see Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and even Nick Punto make it past all 29 teams without a claim. Between the poor performance, large contracts, or in Punto’s case the relative mediocrity of the player involved, there probably wasn’t a huge demand for any of the players. But Gonzalez is still a productive player (.300, 37 doubles, 15 homers, 86 RBI’s with Boston) so it’s puzzling that he was part of this deal.

For those that may be less familiar with the workings of the waiver wire, most teams place most of their players on waivers on August 1, just to see if they’ll clear. Once they pass through all 29 teams, they can then be dealt in the same fashion as they were prior to the trading deadline. If two or more teams do put in a claim, the winning bid is awarded to the team with the worst record. One little quirk to the wire, however, is that the two leagues still operate somewhat independently from each other, and any claim put in by an American League team on an American League player trumps any claim by any National League team, regardless of record. Thus, in order for the Dodgers to be the winning claim, every American League team declined to put in a bid for Gonzo, as did more than half of the National League teams.

To be fair, the Angels, Tigers, White Sox, and Yankees are fine at first base, and Gonzalez’s contract probably takes the A’s and Rays out of the running. The Orioles might have been able to claim him just to twist the screws on Boston, but they don’t really need another bat either. But it baffles me that the Rangers – who have shown no hesitation to add payroll and may lose Josh Hamilton this offseason – weren’t interested in adding another left-handed bat to what is a right-handed dominant lineup. Likewise, I’m a bit surprised that the man who brought Gonzalez to Boston in the first place – Theo Epstein – wasn’t interested in adding him to a weak-hitting Cubs lineup. It couldn’t be that prohibitive of a contract – after all, isn’t Epstein the one who wrote it? So to me, I’m just a little confused that Gonzalez was actually able to be dealt to the Dodgers. I would argue that a majority of baseball general managers fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

But what does it mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, if the Dodgers go on and win the West and make some postseason noise, it will completely alter the current mindset that adding payroll doesn’t always mean wins. Likewise, if Boston can undergo a quick rebuild with their new found money and imported LA prospects, suddenly shedding large contracts won’t be viewed as the worst game plan, regardless of how many years and how much guaranteed money remains. Perhaps the biggest change, however, is that with so many teams still believing in the postseason with the addition of the second wild card team, more teams will now be willing to gamble on claiming a high-priced waiver-wire player. Not only might it help a contender, but that very same contender could simultaneously block a big-time deal by placing that claim, thus the proverbial “killing two birds with one stone” idea.

At the end of all of this, there’s a good chance that, if baseball execs have learned their lesson, a trade like this will never happen again. Letting a prime player pass through the waiver wire that far is simply a bad baseball decision, regardless of the cost involved. You can bet the farm the Rangers won’t be too happy if Gonzalez pulls a David Freese in the World Series and helps the Dodgers to the championship.

Playoff “Dead” List
August 27 – Miami Marlins – So this team has been done for quite a while, but let’s make it official. Their offseason spending spree clearly didn’t produce the desired results, and as such there’s a distinct possibility that Miami will open the first year of their brand new stadium by finishing in last place. This leaves 16 teams vying for 10 playoff spots, barring the A’s pulling a 2009 Rockies and making the playoffs from my dead list. Assuming that doesn’t happen, with one month remaining I’ll project the other six “dead” teams will be the Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Giants from the NL and the Red Sox, Angels, and Orioles from the AL. Until next week…
August 20 – New York Mets
August 13 – Cleveland Indians
August 6 – Philadelphia Phillies
July 30 – Milwaukee Brewers
July 23 – Toronto Blue Jays
July 16 – Kansas City Royals
July 9 – Oakland Athletics
July 2 – Colorado Rockies
June 25 – Seattle Mariners
June 18 – Houston Astros
June 11 – Minnesota Twins
June 4 – Chicago Cubs
May 28 – San Diego Padres

ee series to watch this week…
1) TB @ TEX (8/27-8/29) – The Rays already dropped the game David Price pitched, and desperately need to take at least one of the final two from Texas. Oakland will see the Rangers a lot down the stretch, so just getting out of Arlington in one piece will be good news for Tampa.
2) CHW @ BAL (8/27-8/30) – Baltimore took game one of this big four-game series. The O’s are trying to snap that 15-year postseason drought, but the Sox are also clinging to a playoff spot of their own, with no guarantee of a wild card berth. Stay tuned for the final three of this one.
3) STL @ PIT (8/27-8/29) – They lost the game to the Cardinals that A.J. Burnett pitched, so at this point, it’s very simple for the Pirates. Win the next two games and stay right in the hunt, split the next two and leave yourself a difficult September, or lose the next two and say farewell to a shot at the playoffs. It’s put up or shut up time, Pirates – now please, go smoke those stupid Redbirds and get back in this thing. You’re not just playing for yourselves and your fans anymore. You’re playing for every Reds, Cubs, Rangers, Mets, Tigers, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Nationals, and Brewers fan too. So, we implore you – win!

If the season ended today, the playoff teams would be…
National League
1. Washington Nationals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Saint Louis Cardinals

American League
1. Texas Rangers
2. New York Yankees
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Oakland Athletics

Check out my weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at

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