Dodgers Report: Boston Red Sox

Dodgers claim catcher Ryan Lavarnway

December, 5, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway from the Boston Red Sox and designated Drew Butera for assignment Friday as the new front office continues to tweak the fringes of the team’s roster.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said after tendering a contract to A.J. Ellis earlier this week that the team is considering a rotation at the catcher position, but Lavarnway, like Butera and Ellis, is a right-handed hitter.

In 97 major-league games, Lavarnway, 27, is a .201 hitter and has hit five home runs in 301 plate appearances. In the minor leagues, he batted .283 with an exceptional .375 on-base percentage. The Red Sox were so frustrated with Lavarnway’s catching ability that they had moved him to first base in his final games with them.

Lavarnway grew up in Burbank and attended Yale.

Butera, who appeared in 61 games for the Dodgers last year, is a career .183 hitter. Butera pitched in two blowout losses for the Dodgers last year and touched 94 mph on the radar gun in one of them.

Dodgers swap minor league outfielders

October, 23, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers traded outfielder Alex Castellanos to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and cash considerations Wednesday. Castellanos had been designated for assignment one week ago.

Hazelbaker, 26, batted .257 with 11 home runs and 37 stolen bases at Triple-A Pawtucket last season. He has never played a major-league game.

Castellanos, 27, played in eight games for the Dodgers last season, going 3-for-18 with a home run. He hit .257 at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Dodgers DFA'd him when they acquired outfielder Mike Baxter from the New York Mets.

Grading the week: Still lots to like

August, 27, 2013
In most seasons, for most teams, a 4-3 record in a week that started 2,400 miles from home and concluded against one of the best teams in baseball would be considered successful. For the 2013 Dodgers, you’d have to consider it a mild disappointment.

After doing what you would have expected them to do in Miami, they came home and lost a series to the Boston Red Sox. Before that, they hadn’t lost a series since mid-June.

They ran into very tough Boston starting pitching and the offense in the past week or so has shown some signs of tapering off.

Not that it was a bad week if you’re a Dodger fans. Vin Scully announced he’s returning next season for his 65th year in the broadcast booth. Scully said the excitement of the team’s dramatic season was one of the reasons he decided to come back.


For a while, one of the most impressive aspects of the Dodgers’ surge was their ability to beat quality, sometimes even dominant, starting pitchers. Cliff Lee. Matt Harvey. Shelby Miller. It didn’t matter. The Dodgers somehow got the better of some difficult matchups.

Last week, they settled into a more-pedestrian pattern. They scored off the pitchers you would expect them to score on and looked human against the others. Jose Fernandez, Jake Peavy and Jon Lester all essentially shut them down.

The Dodgers averaged three runs per game, which is closer to their April and May pace than what they’ve shown since. Still, given the pitchers they were facing, it’s all entirely forgivable.

It’s appropriate that Boston was in town on the one-year anniversary of the big trade. Two of the key cogs from that trade have been, once again, keeping the Dodgers offense moving forward. Carl Crawford batted .333 with three walks and a couple of stolen bases. Adrian Gonzalez hit .296 , homered and drove in four runs.

Otherwise, it was a ho-hum week, with phenom Yasiel Puig (.167) struggling as badly as anyone.

Grade: C


The Dodgers are seeing exactly the kind of dynamic in their pitching staff that can make a team difficult to handle in October. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are becoming the best 1-2 combination of starters in the National League.

But it’s not just about them. Ricky Nolasco missed facing his former team when the Dodgers were in Miami, but he made sure the Boston series wasn’t a total loss by giving up just two hits, striking out six, in Friday’s 2-0 win.

The bullpen wasn’t quite as stout as it had been in previous weeks, with J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Chris Withrow all getting hit at times, but in the key spots, it generally held firm. Kenley Jansen has taken all the drama out of the last inning. He had three saves and allowed just one runner to reach base. Carlos Marmol pitched well, cementing his place in the bullpen.

If you were going to comb through this Dodgers team for a flaw, you would say occasionally sloppy defense could be their downfall. They have made 90 errors this season, worse than all but three teams in the NL. Then again, this trend -- like so many others -- seems to be going in a positive direction.

After making a couple of punishing errors in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Hanley Ramirez played a clean week of defense. He might be the Dodgers’ most-improved fielder.

Grade: A-


There’s another trade deadline on the way. The non-waiver period has already passed, but if teams acquire a player before Saturday, that player would be eligible for the post-season roster.

But, even if general manager Ned Colletti found a team willing to move a major piece, what area does he really need to improve? Brian Wilson and Marmol look like they might be the veteran relievers the Dodgers were looking for before the July 31 deadline.

They could try to land another starting pitcher, but considering they’ll only need four once the playoffs begin, even that would be surprising, especially with Nolasco pitching well.

The Dodgers also will get a little help on the fringes when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Was Don Mattingly too lenient on Yasiel Puig when he benched him for only part of one game in Miami, a game in which Puig hit the decisive home run after entering as a defensive replacement? Was he too harsh fining him after Puig got stuck in traffic and showed up late?

Those questions will be debated as the Puig saga unfolds, but it seems Mattingly at least started to take a stand. That should be viewed favorably within the clubhouse.

Grade: B-


We saw the first in-house signs of backlash toward Puig last week, with Mattingly fining him and veteran players beginning to express some disappointment with Puig repeating his on-field mistakes. For now, it seems containable, more a headache for Mattingly than a crisis.

The Dodgers’ clubhouse was already trending toward goofy before Wilson arrived. Now, guys seem to be having even more fun before games. Wilson and Uribe have revived their tradition from the San Francisco Giants days of playing dominos before games, with Uribe’s voice often filling the clubhouse with calls of “Wil-son!”

They’re still winning. What's not to like?

Grade: B-


If Dodgers fans are prone to worry, they might think of a team like the 2011 Atlanta Braves, who, on Aug. 23, were in prime position for a deep playoff run, 10 ˝ games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card standings.

From there, Atlanta went 11-21 and failed to make the playoffs, with the Cardinals making one of the most improbable World Series runs in the sport’s history.

Then again, those types of collapses become famous, because they’re so rare. The Dodgers began the week with a 7 ˝-game lead and they ended it with a 9 1/2-game lead, so how bad can things be?

Grade: A-

Dodgers suffer first series loss since June

August, 25, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Throughout the Los Angeles Dodgers' three-game series against the Boston Red Sox, players have been asked if they felt there was a playoff atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. If they felt this series could be a preview of things to come two months from now.

Over the past three days they've smiled at the questions, nodded their heads, and said there was something different about this interleague series and the atmosphere in the stadium.

The Dodgers, however, can only hope the results of the series aren't any indication of their playoff prospects after an 8-1 loss on Sunday night. The defeat was not only the Dodgers' second consecutive loss to the Red Sox, it gave them their first back-to-back losses at home since June 10. It was also the Dodgers' first series loss since June 16 when they dropped two of three on the road to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before Sunday, they had been unbeaten in their previous 18 series.

As was the case Saturday, Boston jumped out to an early lead and the Dodgers simply could not put any runs on the board outside of an Adrian Gonzalez at-bat.

Mike Napoli started things off in the first inning with a ground-rule double to deep right center that scored Shane Victorino. Boston added two more runs in the third and fourth innings when Dustin Pedroia hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Jacoby Ellsbury, and Xander Bogaerts doubled to center to score Will Middlebrooks. The Red Sox piled on runs in the sixth and seventh innings when Jared Saltalamacchia hit a two-run blast and Victorino homered to left. And after starting things off in the first inning, Napoli put the finishing touches on the game with a two-run homer in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers' lone bright spot was Gonzalez, who hit a solo shot to center field in the fourth inning, but the Dodgers simply couldn't muster anything else against Jake Peavey, who pitched a complete game, giving up only three hits and one run.

As good as the Dodgers' pitching staff has been this summer, Chris Capuano has been viewed as the weak link of the rotation, and he did nothing to dispel that notion Sunday, pitching five innings and giving up five hits and three runs, all earned. The normally reliable bullpen wasn't much better as Chris Withrow came in and gave up two home runs in two innings of work. Brandon League then gave up the two-run shot in the ninth inning as most of the Dodgers fans were already making their way to their cars.

Of course, come playoff time, the Dodgers will lean on Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco, who posted a 2-0 win over Boston on Friday. The Red Sox were able to avoid facing Kershaw and Greinke in this series. That won't be the case if these two teams do end up meeting in an actual playoff series in October.

Crawford given day off, Puig bats leadoff

August, 24, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Carl Crawford said earlier this week that he badly wanted to beat the Boston Red Sox in each of their three games.

After playing a key role in Friday’s win, he’ll be watching from the dugout as the Dodgers go for the second win Saturday.

Crawford was given the day off Saturday against left-handed pitcher Jon Lester. Manager Don Mattingly let Crawford know his decision when Crawford arrived in the clubhouse before the game. Crawford is 9-for-40 in his career against Lester with 13 strikeouts and is hitting .238 against left-handers this season.

“I visited with him before I posted [the lineup],” Mattingly said. “I want to take care of Carl from the standpoint of him being healthy the rest of the year. I’m sure he wants to play. He wants to play all the time, but it’s kind of my job to make sure I give these guys the best chance to stay healthy. We found out with Carl if you go too many days in a row then something ends up ailing him.”

Crawford was on the disabled list for a little more than a month this summer with a left hamstring strain and has also experienced back stiffness, which caused him to be scratched last month. Mattingly has talked to Crawford about easing up on the number of swings he takes during batting practice and on pushing himself physically when the Dodgers aren’t playing.

“Carl is such a hard worker,” Mattingly said. “He works so hard that we feel sometimes he works himself with too many swings. He’s doing too much. We’ve talked to him about being able to back off and also to be comfortable.”

Yasiel Puig, who is batting .342 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in 71 games, will bat leadoff Saturday in place of Crawford.

“He likes to hit leadoff,” Mattingly said. “I felt like a little bit of difference for him would be good. If Yasiel is on it gives him a chance to run. It’s a little bit of a change since Carl’s not there. It’s just something different for him to think about today.”

Here are the lineups for Saturday:

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Dodgers get the jump on Red Sox

August, 23, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- During the Los Angeles Dodgers' historic summer run, they haven't cared much about the opponent they have faced.

Whether it's in the division or out of the division, interleague or not, the Dodgers have simply steamrolled the competition, going 46-10 since June 22, racking up 12 more wins than any other team in the majors during that span.

Friday night's 2-0 win against the Boston Red Sox to give the Dodgers a 10 1/2-game lead atop the National League West seemed different.

That's because, about a year ago, the Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the team. Every player coming to Los Angeles in that deal was painted as an overpriced mistake and reviled in Boston.

The trade was the best thing to happen to them both personally and professionally but doesn't take away the bad memories of their time in Boston.

The Dodgers might not say it publicly, but Friday's win (as well as all this weekend's games against Boston) was for Gonzalez, Crawford, Punto and Beckett, even though Beckett is currently sidelined.

Crawford went 2-for-3 against his former team, including a run and two stolen bases. Hanley Ramirez, a former Red Sox player himself, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, which was all the scoring the Dodgers needed. Ricky Nolasco pitched eight innings of two-hit ball with six strikeouts, and Kenley Jansen came in and successfully converted his 15th consecutive save opportunity.

"That was a great win," Crawford said in an on-field television interview after the game. "Now we want to get the other two."

Carl Crawford is loving LA's fresh breezes

April, 8, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has never been all that worried about how Carl Crawford would handle the pressure of a massive contract and a new team. He already went through that in Boston.

But that doesn’t mean Crawford felt no sense of urgency.

The way he sees it now, the roof began caving in slowly, chunk by tiny chunk, the day he looked at the lineup card in the visiting clubhouse in Arlington, Texas, and saw his name in the No. 7 hole. That was his third game with the Red Sox, April 3, 2011.

Crawford had gone 0-for-7 batting third in the first two games and the Red Sox were facing left-hander Matt Harrison. Manager Terry Francona said at the time, “Looking at him, he’s obviously trying too hard.”

Crawford said Sunday he entered this season intent on giving Mattingly no reason to make such a quick move.

“After going through that, I decided I’m going to try to have hot starts,” Crawford said. “You never know when a manager might panic like that again and tell you things like, ‘We’re doing this for you.’ You know? Going through that definitely messes with your confidence because, first of all, you can’t believe they spent $140 million to put you in the seven-hole and, second, you’ve never been in that situation before so you don’t really know how to take it.

“It was as if the team really doesn’t want you or you’re doing something wrong. Now, your mind just starts to get flustered and cluttered with all kinds of stuff.”

It is, of course, ridiculously early to make any sweeping conclusions, but through the Dodgers’ first six games, Crawford has looked anything but flustered. He looks, in fact, much more like the dynamic, run-scoring force he was for nine seasons in Tampa Bay than the unsure, injury-prone player he became in Boston. He has been the engine of what little offense the Dodgers have produced, hitting .450 and scoring five of the team’s 17 runs.

“I think we're seeing little glimpses of what everybody else was seeing for a while,” Mattingly said.

His rebuilt left elbow has held up fine. He has, in fact, surprised Mattingly and the other coaches by putting more zip on his throws than they would have expected less than eight months removed from surgery.

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De La Rosa and Sands officially traded

October, 4, 2012
The Dodgers announced Thursday what everyone has known for about six weeks: prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands were the players to be named later in the Aug. 25 deal with the Boston Red Sox that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

De La Rosa and Sands were not named at the time, because they would have had to clear waivers to be traded.

De La Rosa pitched only two innings for the Dodgers' Double-A Chattanooga team after the trade because of what general manager Ned Colletti called "professional courtesy."

The Dodgers had already sent James Loney and minor-leaguers Allen Webster and Ivan De Jesus to Boston in the trade.

Mattingly: Things are good with Josh Beckett

September, 29, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Josh Beckett had a reputation for being a difficult personality to work with before the Dodgers acquired him from the Boston Red Sox. Now, that perception has been perpetuated by comments made by Boston manager Bobby Valentine and one of Beckett's former teammates in Florida, Al Leiter.

The Dodgers insist things have been smooth since they acquired Beckett on Aug. 25.

"I didn't hear anything that Bobby said or Al said, but Josh has been great," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's given us absolutely zero problems, I think he's thrown the ball well. I haven't heard anybody complaining about anything, so I can really only talk about what we've seen and it's been great."

In an interview broadcast on ESPN New York, Valentine said he wished he had heeded advice Leiter gave him before the season began.

"The advice was that he had to make sure that he had Josh Beckett. Not contained and controlled ... but somewhere where he was on Bobby's side, because Josh could be difficult," Leiter told Kay, "and he was and it was a divisive kind of scenario and I don't know if he (Bobby) was able to do that."

Al Leiter: Beckett, Valentine didn't get along

September, 28, 2012
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine's relationship with departed pitcher Josh Beckett was the topic du jour on Michael Kay's radio show Friday afternoon, with a third party, former New York Mets pitcher Al Leiter, shedding light on what he said was a fractious relationship between the manager and Beckett.

Leiter, now part of the Yankees broadcast team, happened to be in the booth during the taping of the show, which aired on ESPN New York. Kay noted Leiter's presence to Valentine, who had managed the left-hander when he was with the Mets. Leiter jokingly asked Kay to ask, "Does Bobby still like me?"

"I love Al Leiter and I have for a long time," Valentine said. " ... And if I listened to him on some advice he gave me over the winter I'd probably have been better off this year."

Kay pressed him on the nature of the advice. "He gave me good advice and I didn't heed it."

Leiter hopped on the air after Kay concluded his interview with the Red Sox manager and elaborated.

"The advice was that he had to make sure that he had Josh Beckett," Leiter said, "... not contained and controlled ... but somewhere where he was on Bobby's side, because Josh could be difficult, and he was and it was a divisive kind of scenario and I don't know if he (Bobby) was able to do that."

Kay asked if Beckett "turned against" the manager.

"I don't know if he turned against him," Leiter said. "Bobby went down to Houston and went to the ranch and met Josh and you know tried to. ... You know, because the whole thing with the pitch count, remember? He (Valentine) was doing ESPN and he was like, 'This guy takes forever,' and automatically right from the start Josh was upset with that.

"My conversation was at length of my relationship with Josh Beckett and what I thought he (Bobby) needed to do, and I don't know if he really got it done."

Yankees, Red Sox visit Dodger Stadium in 2013

September, 12, 2012
Next season could be a lucrative one for the Dodgers’ new owners, with home interleague series against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, according to the team’s tentative schedule released Wednesday.

With the Houston Astros moving to the American League next year, teams will play interleague series throughout the season. The Dodgers are scheduled to host the Yankees on July 30 and 31. They play the Red Sox at Dodger Stadium for three games starting Aug. 23. It will be the Yankees’ third regular-season series at Dodger Stadium and the Red Sox’s second.

The Dodgers open the season April 1 against the San Francisco Giants.

Among their road interleague series are trips to Baltimore, New York and Toronto.

Mattingly convenes the team for a chat

August, 30, 2012
Clayton KershawStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw says he was "frustrated" after another loss to the D-backs.

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Don Mattingly wouldn't tell the media what he told his team in a closed-door meeting following a lifeless 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night, but you get the sense he's getting a little tired of one particular excuse.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have remade their roster, turning over more than 30 percent of it in a month. Maybe that takes some getting used to, but their opponents aren't going to politely stand aside while they get to know one another better.

"We're professionals. We've got [junk] going on in our lives and things going on around us all the time. That's why we've got to be good enough to be able to focus during game time and get past all that," Mattingly said. "That's why we're not in Little League or anything else. We're at the professional level, where you're expected to put things behind you and come out ready to play."

The Dodgers just keep hanging around at the periphery of this playoff picture, making feints here and parries there, but never fully engaging. Even as their owners and front office have spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars to bring in new talent, they've stayed stuck on blah.

They have lost four of their Past five and nine of their Past 14. They're losing games to teams that look ripe for the taking. The Colorado Rockies are more than 20 games under .500 AND in last place. Arizona had lost six in a row coming in. Eventually, this could leave a mark. They're only a game-and-a-half out in the wild-card standings, but eventually this inaction could cost them.

In mid-September, they've got 10 straight games against contenders from St. Louis, Washington and Cincinnati. This is "go" time and they can't get moving. Mattingly said part of his message to the team was not to forget where they are. It's still there, right in front of them, but it's not getting any closer.

"Frustrated" was how Clayton Kershaw put it. "We get a lot of new guys. ... On paper, great lineup. Talent-wise, I don't think there's any denying we've got a ton of talent in here."

Of course, you could have injected that comment into the context of the Boston Red Sox's first few months and it would have been equally appropriate. Just because the Dodgers traded for a big chunk of Boston's roster (and even more of its payroll) doesn't mean they have to join them in their Massive Disappointments Club.

Maybe it's not going to be so easy

August, 26, 2012

Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
After enjoying only accolades following his trade from Miami, Hanley Ramirez is just 4-for-his-last-23 and put the Dodgers in a bind against the Marlins by going 0-for-4 and booting a ball.

Sunday came at the right time, offering a helpful, come-back-to-Earth moment for a team that about 15 hours earlier looked like it was preparing for an October parade in August.

The Dodgers essentially bought 15 percent of the Boston Red Sox's roster in the past few days.

On Saturday night, the team set up a podium and microphones near home plate to introduce three of those purchases in a postgame ceremony piped over the loudspeakers at Dodger Stadium.

By Sunday, it watched some of its newest millionaires put up at-bats in the clutch worthy of minor league journeymen in a 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.

The commissioner's office is not just going to award the National League pennant to the team that piles up the biggest contracts. You don't just add up the number of All-Star appearances on the back of a team's baseball cards to sort out the playoff seedings.

The Dodgers forced Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen to use five relievers and scored one run off them. They equaled the Marlins' 11 hits and lost by four runs. They stranded 16 runners on base -- half by Hanley Ramirez -- and were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Frustrating? Yeah. Part of the game? Obviously.

"We'll probably see more of these with this type of club," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I think you'll see days where you get lots of guys out there and you don't score, then, all of a sudden, you're going to see days where you throw up 12 or 14 on a day like this. We'd just like a little more balance."

Baseball is a little too nuanced to assume this team is a World Series contender because it led the league in transactions. We have to see how things sort out over the coming weeks, to see how this assortment of talents, personalities and styles becomes a team. The fact that the bulk of the Dodgers' activity came in late August only shrunk the sample size.

Ramirez has yet to deal with a negative storyline since he got to Los Angeles. He drove in runs immediately and earned adulation for game-winning hits within his first week of traveling west. When the barometric pressure dropped in Miami, his track record doesn't exactly suggest he was a stalwart grinder. Now, he's 4-for-his-last-23, and he hurt his team in so many ways Sunday, including booting a ball on a fairly routine backhand play to allow a run to score and going a painful 0-for-4.

"Just one of those days. It's not the end of the world," Ramirez said. "I've just got to sit down and see what I can learn to come back better. I was swinging at balls out of the strike zone."

The Dodgers don't have long to sit around and see what happens with this experiment in late-season team making. With 34 games left, they're in the thick of the playoff race but in a far-from-comfortable position, just behind the leaders.

"It's not really that time of year to say, 'We'll get them tomorrow,' or, 'We've got a lot of time left,'" Mattingly said.

The Dodgers are in the strange position of having to hurry up to get to know themselves.

Delving into some particulars

August, 25, 2012
MLB IllustrationAdrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford (next season) will give the Dodgers a different look.

LOS ANGELES -- This seems like an opportune time to ask how much better the Los Angeles Dodgers actually got by adding Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and -- eventually -- Carl Crawford.

You may have heard about the little trade the Dodgers just whipped up with the Boston Red Sox and, if you follow baseball and breathe air, you probably have an opinion.

Did they turn themselves into the favorite to win the NL West? A darkhorse contender for the World Series? The favorite to hoist the trophy with all those little flags this October? Or, did they just set themselves up for a very expensive, very embarrassing flop?

Is there a more futile question you could ask right now?

“We have to play games and see how it goes,” said Matt Kemp, when he had finished describing how excited he was over Saturday’s trade. “I can’t predict the future.”

That’s the thing about baseball. Those last 35 games are coming, piling up on top of one another until it’s over, and nobody knows what’s going to happen between now and Oct. 3, even after the Dodgers made the biggest trade in their history.

We don’t know, but maybe we can shed a little light. Let’s take a closer look at the four players the Dodgers added and ask how much they can help them win a title in the next two seasons.

Adrian Gonzalez

Is he in decline at age 30 because he is hitting fewer home runs every year? It’s a pretty linear pattern and that line isn’t pointing up. Gonzalez hit 40 home runs for the San Diego Padres in 2009, 31 the next year, 27 the year after that. After his second-deck shot off Josh Johnson in the first inning Saturday night, he has 16 so far in 2012.

It's real, but are we missing the point? Gonzalez is not, after all, a swing-from-the-heels slugger. He’s a line-drive hitter with power who has a knack for driving in runs. Even with his power in decline, Gonzalez drove in 86 runs for the Red Sox, largely because he was batting .398 with runners in scoring position.

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Is Dodgers' trade a reach for the stars?

August, 24, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- There's a frantic feel to this Dodgers' rush to remake themselves.

It's crazy to think that Adrian Gonzalez isn't a massive upgrade over anybody the Dodgers could run out there at first base. Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford -- when he's finally healthy -- could prove to be classic examples of players who thrive when they leave a toxic environment.

Gonzalez, a quiet, respected Southern Californian whose parents are from Mexico, could be a perfect face for the franchise.

But the risks are, at the very least, worrisome. At some point, every team reaches its financial breaking point. Noticed the New York Yankees throwing money around in the past couple of years? Even the most reckless spenders in baseball have apparently bumped their head on how much luxury tax they're willing to sprinkle around the rest of the league.

The other American League spendthrifts, the Boston Red Sox, clearly are looking to downsize and they've found the perfect partner in the Dodgers. These are two large-market teams passing one another while moving in opposite directions. It's the perfect recipe for the biggest post-deadline trade in baseball history.

Are the Dodgers so sure this team is close to being a World Series contender? It's not so easy to make yourself into a World Series contender starting in July.

We have yet to see a contract this Dodgers ownership group finds too onerous. Cliff Lee and the $87.5 million he'll be owed beyond this season? Why not.

Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett's combined quarter of a billion (plus $12.5 million)? Sure. Never mind that every American League team and 10 National League teams allowed those guys to sail through waivers.

It's pretty obvious what this is about, just as it quickly became clear why the Angels jumped into the Albert Pujols auction at the winter meetings. If there was any doubt, owner Arte Moreno cleared it up when, at Pujols' news conference, he thanked the executives at Fox. It was the $3 billion, 20-year TV deal he had just polished off that emboldened him to become so suddenly aggressive after two years of relative passivity.

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Yasiel Puig
.296 16 69 92
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239