The Big One

Adrian-gonzalez

What a weekend!

Someone — my guess is Gordon Edes or Rob Bradford — will have the official tick-tock on what happened yesterday, and my guess is it will show a huge overreaction by the writers covering this situation to the silence that occurred after the passing of the 2 p.m. deadline. I never saw a single source tied to the Red Sox or Adrian Gonzalez say anything other than some version of: "We're still working on it." Yet once Heyman said the deal was off, the lemming-like surge to say the trade was dead was breathtaking, to the extent that Nick Cafardo called the Red Sox "an embarrassing joke" in a blog post he later removed (without comment, which is unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint).

Indeed, Edes this morning has a piece that makes this very criticism, calling reporting on the trade "increasingly hysterical," and that "at no point was the deal dead." That doesn't mean the extension is in place; Edes says it isn't, which means Jon Heyman was doubly wrong: Wrong to call the deal dead in the first place, and wrong to say the sides had agreed to terms but waiting to announce it, even if he was correct in the interim to say the deal had been completed.

Regardless, the Sox will acquire Adrian Gonzalez and are likely to extend him the first week of April. Edes says the sides are still holding fast to six years vs. eight years on length and $20M vs. $23M on salary, but that Gonzalez himself convinced the Sox he wants to play in Boston, apparently after taking a good look look at how close the left-field wall is to the plate. 

So who did the Sox get after all that?


Well, they received a player who spent half his games in a ballfield with a park factor of 91 yet managed a .910 OPS the past three years (good for a 151 OPS+). A player who has been in the lineup all but nine games since becoming a full-time player in 2005. A player who is just 29 next season. A player who has a career road OPS of .943, including 1.045 in 2009 and .980 in 2010. A left-handed hitter with opposite-field power whose hit charts show close to 10 balls that were outs in Petco last season that would be comfortably over the Monster at Fenway, and who ESPN argues would have hit six more homers per season the last three years had his home park been in Boston rather than San Diego.

The obvious comparison, of course, is to the last impact, in-his-prime slugger the Sox acquired: Manny Ramirez, who was a straight free agent signing and who, the last turbulent weeks of his time in Boston notwithstanding, turned out to be worth the huge (8 years, $160 million) contract he received almost exactly 10 years ago (the Gonzalez deal went through two weeks shy of the anniversary of Ramirez's signing).

Are the players truly comparable? Well, no.

Offensively, Gonzalez has been truly elite for just two seasons, posting a 162 OPS+ in 2009 and a 152 in 2010. If you want to include his 139 in 2008, be my guest. Ramirez began posting an OPS+ above 145 in 1995 at age 23 and didn't stop for the next six years with Cleveland. When he signed with Boston, also for his age 29 season, his last two years were monstrous: 173 and 186. 

Ramirez then came to Boston, hit a home run in his first at bat, and never looked back. He didn't post an OPS+ below 160 for three seasons or one below 150 for six. That's impressive. 

Of course, there's more to a player than just hitting. Ramirez wasn't as durable as Gonzalez has been to date — he played just 118 games his final season in Cleveland, then missed significant time in 2002, 2007 and 2008. He also was one of the worst defenders in the league throughout most of his time in Boston, though less bad at the time of his acquisition. Here's a breakdown of B-R's WAR components for Ramirez and Gonzalez by age:

Age MR oWAR AG oWAR MR WAR AG WAR
24 4.7 2.1 3.9 2.9
25 4.6 3.0 3.8 3.8
26 4.5 2.9 4.7 2.9
27 7.8 5.7 8.0 7.0
28 6.4 5.7 4.4 6.3

For what it's worth, Fangraphs' version of WAR is within a half-win to one win to all of these numbers and broadly agrees with the contention that Ramirez was around league average, slightly below until age 28, after which he tanked as a fielder (likely aided by whatever injury limited his time on the field in the first place), whereas Gonzalez' hitting and fielding both improved substantially at age 27. 

Looking at just the last two seasons, the Red Sox are acquiring a player with similar value to Manny Ramirez, with the added benefit of the ballpark (and the surrounding lineup) aiding Gonzalez in ways that are likely to be greater than simply adjusting for ballpark statistically can predict. But Ramirez, of course, had been a much better hitter for far longer. Ten years and two World Championships later, no Red Sox fan would undo Dan Duquette's blockbuster acquisition. Hopefully a decade from now, we will say the same about Theo Epstein's.

46 comments… add one

  • Of course, I should have mentioned Gonzalez’s recent shoulder surgery when discussing durability. Worth noting, though, that he played all season with it bothering him with barely a drop in his production and certainly no time lost because of it.

    Paul SF December 6, 2010, 10:34 am
  • So what does all this mean? Is the trade done and unless he agrees to an extension, he could be a free agent after next year? Or is no one sure at this point…
    Either way. He is a sick player. Good for the Sox.

    krueg December 6, 2010, 10:36 am
  • Krueg,
    From everything I’ve read and listened to today, the trade and extension are both finalized, and the presser is today at Fenway, but the extension won’t officially be announced to MLB in paper form until April 8th, to avoid his 23M being added to this year’s luxury tax, as that is assessed on opening day. So by waiting till the 8th, the Red Sox avoid paying nearly 5M dollars in luxury tax for this year, and allows Papelbon, Ortiz, and Drew to come off the books before he goes on them.
    But yes, even EEI is reporting that deal is completely done.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 10:39 am
  • Theo on EEI today to discuss.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 10:39 am
  • WOW…sweet deal for the Sox if that’s true. The “little guy” working the system? ;)

    krueg December 6, 2010, 10:42 am
  • One thing you didn’t take into account, Paul, and not trying to enhance your post in any way, but how sick are those numbers when you factor in his everyday linup over that time..
    How many more strikes will he see this year? How many more times is he going to come to bat with guys already on base in front of him and Ortiz/Youk/x hitting behind him.
    His opportunities are going to be much, much better this year than they’ve ever been to really put crooked numbers on the board..

    Brad December 6, 2010, 10:45 am
  • I suspect the Sox and Gonzalez have agreed on a broad set of parameters for a deal, shook hands over it, and agreed to put ink to paper the day after Opening Day.
    Worth noting that the Sox did something similar with Pedro Martinez when they executed the trade-and-sign with him in 1997: Traded for him, then signed him to a record-setting extension a month later, though that was purely because it took that long to convince him to sign and figure out the details.
    Press conference is in 15 minutes. Boston.com is live-streaming.

    Paul SF December 6, 2010, 10:47 am
  • Also on EEI onine. Just click the listen live button.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 10:53 am
  • Not sure anything particularly interesting came out of that, except that Epstein said basically the Sox and Gonzalez had built up enough good faith through the negotiating that they were OK with finalizing the trade despite not reaching an agreement before the 2 p.m. Sunday deadline.
    Also, Gonzalez grew up with the Padres and Red Sox as his favorite teams and apparently went to the same high school Ted Williams did, which obviously didn’t hurt during whatever negotiations did take place.

    Paul SF December 6, 2010, 11:42 am
  • Well, that was insightful:/
    What I found most interesting is that Theo basically just said, in no certain words, that Carl Crawford isn’t even on the radar. By saying that “we need to explore our options for a right handed hitter” basically just eliminates CC from the discussion, no?
    I absolutely do not want the Red Sox to sign Crawford or any Type A hitter at this point. I’d take a flyer/short term deal on a guy like Maggs.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 11:47 am
  • Theo is not this stupid. He didn’t trade away 4 players for a yearly rental. The deal is absolutely done, and if not, he should be chased from town immediately.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 11:48 am
  • It’s fun to get a shiny new toy…I hope to get one this week too!
    Cough…cough…LEE…cough…cough…

    krueg December 6, 2010, 12:19 pm
  • Yep.
    If I’m Theo Epstein, I call Manny Ramirez and offer him a one year, 5M dollar deal with incentives to make 20M based on playing time and stats.
    A power righty to split up Ortiz and Gonzales with Ellsbury, Ped, Youk and Drew around them?
    Yeah, Okay.
    Imagine:
    Ellsbury
    Pedroia
    Gonzalez
    Manny
    Ortiz
    Youkilis
    Drew
    Lowrie
    Salty.
    Off the bench:
    Varitek
    Cameron
    Kalish/whatever infielder
    Move Scutaro, who has decent value at this point (low salary, good numbers) for a reliever.
    Sign Scott Downs, and go to spring training.
    I realize I’m alone on this wish.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 12:35 pm
  • Sorry Brad but I think you’re alone on that. Manny ain’t coming back.
    I think Theo will kick the tires on Ordonez or Dye, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up staying with some combination of Drew/Ellsbury/Cameron/Kalish.

    Atheose - SF December 6, 2010, 1:29 pm
  • I agree, Ath.
    It’s not so much a “manny” thing, but more a right handed power/contact bat thing. Maybe someone who could benefit from being between two power lefties..someone who could take advantage of seeing a few good pitches to hit, and will come with a incentive laden deal..

    Brad December 6, 2010, 1:50 pm
  • $100 says the Yankees bribed Angelos to acquire Mark Reynolds so that Lee has extra incentive to pitch in the AL East.

    Atheose - SF December 6, 2010, 1:52 pm
  • He needs extra incentive?

    Brad December 6, 2010, 2:07 pm
  • I welcome Cliff Lee to the East with open arms.. Count me in as the guys that says it’s not going to be good for either Texas or NY, or whomever ends up with that contract.

    Brad December 6, 2010, 2:08 pm
  • I might be less eager to land Lee if there were other options or if the Yankees had more than 2/5s of a rotation shored up, but given that Burnett broke records for being the worst starter in eons and Pettitte has yet to confirm he is returning, they do need him to stay with the Sox. A
    Of course, if the Yanks to get Lee and Pettitte, they’ll have three pretty solid lefties to throw at A-Gon and Ortiz next year, so the Sox really do need that righty bat.

    IronHorse (YF) December 6, 2010, 5:46 pm
  • Well, Gonzalez actually had a reverse split last year and has hit lefties fine throughout his career. The lefty-righty thing was really only a concern vis-a-vis Crawford vs. Werth, once the Sox landed Gonzalez (for about 20 seconds, then Mr. Werth went to Washington). A lefty bat means the Sox start stacking lefties in their lineup, only two of whom – Drew and Gonzalez – have any recent history of success against southpaws. I bet its a Beltre 2010-type deal for Ordonez — one year cheap with a team/player option for 2011 that increases in price if he’s good enough to get a full season’s worth of plate appearances. Between him and Cameron, you’d figure the Sox should get enough decent production over 162 games from left field.

    Paul SF December 6, 2010, 6:25 pm
  • Oops. That should be an option for 2012, of course. Need to set my calendar ahead.

    Paul SF December 6, 2010, 6:25 pm
  • It begins…Millar on MLB Network saying the Sox are the best team in baseball now and the favorite to win the WS because of AG.
    Haven’t most people picked the Sox to win the WS for the last 3 years or so? I agree that AG is an awesome player, but there is no margin for error with this guy evidently? Going from playing in AAAA, in San Diego no less to the pressure cooker that is the AL East and his numbers are just going to be the same? Better? But not worse of course…
    We’ll see.
    PS Love how he mentions “Beating the Yankees” in his presser. Awesome.

    krueg December 6, 2010, 7:08 pm
  • Gammons on board too…Sox in ’11. Just give it to ‘em!

    krueg December 6, 2010, 7:13 pm
  • For nine games next year, the Bronx RF fence just started looking a bit too close.

    attackgerbil December 6, 2010, 7:24 pm
  • Nah…just let Joba pitch to him. ;)

    krueg December 6, 2010, 8:05 pm
  • well, how about that?…i understand the euphoria in red sox nation because i’ve even said gonzo makes them much better, but it might be jumping the gun a bit to install them as the favorite…frankly, i don’t know who the favorite should be until we conclude the off-season maneuverings…
    “…I welcome Cliff Lee to the East with open arms.. …”
    i don’t understand brad, why is it you insinuate cliff lee might have adjustment issues but apparently gonzo won’t?…

    dc December 7, 2010, 1:52 am
  • Dc, don’t get me wrong here, bud: I don’t think there is an adjustment issue at all, but rather, a late thirties soft tossing control pitcher issue.
    Listen, he’s had a great run, and he definitely deserves a home somewherere, but the AL East is just too darn talented to let him slide too much.
    It’s not a knock on him, but let the rest of the best players in baseball start seeing him six or seven times a year.
    I just don’t believe in soft tossers in this divison…just one or two mistakes, and there are some big crooked numbers on the board, quickly.
    I don’t believe either of them will have any “adjustment issues”, but I certainly like the odds on a seven year deal for a supremem hitter versus a seven year deal for a soft tossing lefty who will be close to 40 when it’s all done…I mean, what’s he going to be tossing then? 62mph?
    If teams want to pay him on the back three for his talent in the first three, that’s fine, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.
    I think if Pettitte comes back, you go to it with that and let Texas deal with that problem.
    But, I realize this is fantasy. I’ve lived it far too many times in my life. He’s going to NY if they have to offer 8 years.

    Brad December 7, 2010, 9:01 am
  • For nine games next year, the Bronx RF fence just started looking a bit too close.
    haha. Damon hit 25HR there…was it ever too far away?

    Brad December 7, 2010, 9:03 am
  • i understand where you’re coming from now brad, but like i said yesterday, the yankees have painted themselves in a corner pitching-wise, with aj burnout holding the paint brush, and now are “forced” to try to secure the best non-trade pitcher available…carl pavano is the next best free agent pitcher out there according to some list i saw somewhere…sheesh…pettitte may or may not come back, but he’s not getting any younger either…unless the yanks want to go with another youth movement at starting pitching, try joba again [ugh], or trade for somebody, it very well could be another wasted season, with the rest of the team not getting any younger…and i’m jealous you guys got gonzo…i see him putting a bunch of dents in that dang wall, and spilling more than a few sam adams in the monster seats…

    dc December 7, 2010, 9:22 am
  • I understand where NY is coming from here, I’m just inserting my opinion into it. But, opinions are like colons, and we know where it goes from there.
    And, we both agree on A-Gon. I think he’s going to have a good year this year, and a bunch of great ones after this one.

    Brad December 7, 2010, 9:30 am
  • and for the record, i didn’t really want cliff lee either…i just understand the yankees’ thinking, and i just hope you’re wrong about lee’s not achieving and maintaining effectiveness through at least most of a long term contract…the yankee landscape is littered with so many free agent busts and overpaid disappointments, you just gotta wonder when it will finally break the bank…even the yankees have to have a limit to the number of free agent punches to the gut they can absorb…

    dc December 7, 2010, 9:54 am
  • I don’t have such a problem with pundits anointing the Sox as the favorite at this stage. Right now – on paper – they clearly are. It doesn’t make me any less of a YF to acknowledge as much. Hopefully in about 10 days the Yankees will look substantially better on paper than they do now.
    Brad, I get what you’re saying re: the AL East, but I’m not sure about the soft-toss pitcher thing. Pettitte has been a very effective AL East starter for the vast majority of his career and has never been a flamethrower. Same can be said for Mike Mussina. And both of them started throughout the height of the steroid-era. Lee’s stuff combines Pettitte’s low-90′s fball and cutter with Mussina’s knuckle curve and change-up. Only Lee’s stuff is better, he has even better control than either Pettitte or Mussina, and has shown an ability to handle big moments every bit as well as Pettitte, which is saying alot.
    I do agree that a 7-year deal for any starter is scary, esp one who is already over 30.

    IronHorse (YF) December 7, 2010, 10:24 am
  • SO…Brad thinks AG will dominate and Cliff Lee will choke. SURPRISE!!! ;)
    That’s why they play the games!

    krueg December 7, 2010, 11:52 am
  • Is it in the realm of possibility that AJ actually turns it around next year? The new pitching coach has a history with head cases…
    I know what you think Brad, a resounding “NO WAY, NEVER” but what do others think?
    To me, if AJ can somehow get it together it really changes things for us. If he just would have went .500 in his starts, we would have walked away with the AL East last year.

    krueg December 7, 2010, 11:57 am
  • I wouldnt say that Cliff Lee is a soft-tosser, the guy throws an avg of about 92 MPH for his fastball. Sure, he doesnt have tons of heat compared with the Becketts and Sabathias of the world but thats not his game. He knows how to make his pitches work for him and was in the top 10 in K/9 last year for AL starters. We’ll just have to see if the yankees sign him and how he does. There were many around here who panned the CC signing saying he would break down due to his past workload and would suffer greatly from being the AL east… neither of these things have happened so far.

    sam-YF December 7, 2010, 12:11 pm
  • “There were many around here who panned the CC signing saying he would break down due to his past workload and would suffer greatly from being the AL east… neither of these things have happened so far.”
    Our buddy Brad perhaps??? ;) I remember the bashing by our SF brethren when CC signed…funny how that is not a possibility with AG now though, huh?

    krueg December 7, 2010, 12:16 pm
  • “funny how that is not a possibility with AG now though, huh?”
    there was also no chance that Lackey wouldnt have an amazing year either right?

    sam-YF December 7, 2010, 12:18 pm
  • …or that the small market Sox could even afford such a contract!!! :)
    I’ll take CC and Lee over Beckett and Lackey…Lester is pretty sweet though.

    krueg December 7, 2010, 1:01 pm
  • Wow, leave here for a couple hours, and get lambasted by an angry YF.
    Here, I’ll play along, Krueg.
    What is it about what I said above that you have such issue with?
    A seven year deal for a hitter isnt better than one for a pitcher? You don’t agree on that? Really? Is that honestly what you’re saying. Nowhere in this thread did I ever say Lee was going to fail, I simply said that I don’t think his current level of success will continue in the confines of the AL East. How is that worthy of your retort? You disagree?
    I clearly said above that he’s going to be fine, but not for 7 years, and that it was only my opinion.
    On CC, you’re right, I am surprised, as everyone is, that he hasn’t been hurt yet…Yet being the operative word, since there is afterall, six or so more years to determine his effectiveness, no? Then again, he isn’t the same pitcher in the AL East as he was in the NL before coming here. Still very, very good, but not the same. I didn’t think he’d get hurt becuase he was fragile, I thought he’d be hurt because he was abused so badly leading up to his time with NY.
    I’ve never said the Sox can’t afford squat. I’ve said I don’t want them to, and there is a clear and distinct difference.
    .
    Man, YF’s sure are angry today. I didn’t realize that anything I said was so inflamed. In fact, I actually said yesterday that AJ was too talented to not bounce back, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about there either, Krueg.
    Are you just trying to start shit?

    Brad December 7, 2010, 4:04 pm
  • I’ve said a thousand times on this blog that AJ Burnett is the most talented pitcher on the NY staff…just a headcase.

    Brad December 7, 2010, 4:06 pm
  • Are you trying to tell me that one of the best hitters in the game is going to forget how to hit because he’s coming to the AL East?
    See, I’m of the opinion that the more a hitter sees a pitcher, the advantage goes to a hitter. I guess you just look at it differently.

    Brad December 7, 2010, 4:09 pm
  • My post disappeared…weird.
    No Brad, not trying to start shit.
    I find it funny that you think Lee will be worse in the Bronx but AG will be awesome in Fenway. It seems that one of the two players had actually proven himself in both leagues, playoffs and WS. The other has done nothing but put up big numbers in a AAAA market that no one cares about and never wins anything. Maybe not in the 6th or 7th year for Lee, but still. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball, no matter where he plays. AG has yet to prove he is a great player. He could very well do so in Boston…
    We are past the fighting as far as I’m concerned but it is fun to argue! :)

    krueg December 7, 2010, 4:34 pm
  • PS We may not even get Lee so this could all be moot anyway…

    krueg December 7, 2010, 4:35 pm
  • PS We may not even get Lee so this could all be moot anyway…
    No way. Unless CL is the one in a hundred who isn’t going after the last buck, he’s a Yankee.
    See, even if NY doesn’t go the seven years for CL, they can easily say they’ll do the same $ amount for five as anyone willing to go six or seven, thus allowing him time to maybe sign a lower AAV contract at 37 for three more years while keeping him insanely paid for five starting now.
    I’m 99.99% sure he’ll be a Yankee, Krueg, and so are you:)

    Brad December 8, 2010, 8:25 am
  • I was 99% sure…I am starting to get nervous.
    See, I live right next to Arkansas…and these rednecks are idiots. I’m trying to picture one of them living in or around NYC. Can’t do it. Without the dirt roads and ferel pigs running around, not to mention to cousins for hundreds of miles??? ;)
    Seriously though…he might be the one guy that doesn’t just take the money. If would be quite a coup if the Yankees didn’t get their man…certainly would blow up all the haters talking points though.

    krueg December 8, 2010, 9:30 am
  • EDIT: should read “…NO cousins…”
    Stepped on the joke. Lame.

    krueg December 8, 2010, 9:33 am

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