August 25, 2012 at 9:06 PM
The breaking news of the Red Sox's blockbuster trade with the Dodgers took fans to a place they never really had been before.
In trying to get our heads around the massive, nine-player, nearly $300 million deal, most of the focus has been, rightfully so, on the players leaving Boston: Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto. Never had we seen a group of major league players owed this much in contracts shipped out in the same trade. Never had we seen a general manager, Ben Cherington, so swiftly put his stamp on a team, making it his own.
But perhaps getting lost in the hubbub about who the Sox jettisoned is that they managed to get real value in return for those players, in addition to getting the Dodgers to pay just about $260 million of the more than $270 million owed to those four. Boston received two potential impact arms in Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and useful bench pieces in Ivan De Jesus and Jerry Sands, while James Loney rounds out the deal as the man who will take over first base for the rest of this season.
So here is a primer on the five players reportedly coming east to Boston (or more accurately, in a few cases, Pawtucket or Portland):
(ED.'S NOTE: This post is excerpted from a more detailed post over at ESPNBoston.com. For even more on the five new (or pending) Sox, check out the post here.)
1B James Loney
Age: 28; B/T: L/L
MLB Debut: 2006
Drafted by LAD in 2002 (first round)
The lone established major leaguer going to Boston in the deal, Loney is arguably the least important included player because he had zero use in L.A. with Gonzalez now taking over at first base. Although he has been the Dodgers' starting first baseman since 2008, Loney had become something of a punch line to the team's fans, not hitting nearly enough to justify playing at the least important position on the defensive spectrum. In 2012, Loney was hitting just .254/.302/.344 with four home runs and 33 RBIs in 114 games, and his career line of .284/.341/.423 was essentially league-average over his time in the majors -- although not as bad as his poor numbers from this season, but again not the production one expects from a first baseman on a winning club. Loney is athletic and plays a good defensive first base despite his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.
. . .
RHP Allen Webster
Drafted by LAD in 2008 (18th round)
Webster has been one of the steals of the 2008 draft for the Dodgers. Webster played mostly shortstop at McMichael High School in Madison, N.C., but the Dodgers moved him to the mound in the pros and Webster has taken off, rising to now being considered by many the top pitching prospect in the Dodgers' system before the trade. Webster has been very good for Double-A Chattanooga this year, going 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA, striking out 117 and walking 57 in 121.2 innings with a 1.45 WHIP. His strength, however, is in inducing ground balls, which has earned him comparisons to Derek Lowe. He throws a fastball at 92-94 mph, touching 97, showing heavy sink even at higher velocities. His secondary pitches can also all be plus when they are working right and include an 82-84 mph changeup, an 80-82 mph slider and a 76-78 mph curve. All can be inconsistent at times, but when on, the changeup and slider in particular complement his sinker very well. Adding in his plus control, Webster profiles as a middle-to-back-end starter at the major league level.
. . .
RHP Rubby De La Rosa
MLB Debut: 2011
Signed by LAD as an international free agent in 2007
De La Rosa, whose first name is pronounced "Ruby," will technically be included in the trade as a player to be named later after being claimed by Toronto on trade waivers. He only just made his return from Tommy John surgery, making one appearance for the Dodgers after being activated on Aug. 21. In his major league debut last year, which capped a meteoric two-year rise through the Dodgers' system, he struck out 60 batters in 60.2 innings, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 appearances, 10 of those starts. Control was a bit of a problem, as he also walked 30 batters. De La Rosa is a true fire-baller, boasting a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can hit triple-digits. Even a year removed from surgery (which took place on Aug. 9, 2011), he already has most of that velocity back, as he registered 96 mph on the gun in his return to the majors this week. His fastball gets lots of swings and misses and ground balls and is a true weapon. He mixes in two fringe secondary pitches in a changeup and slider. The slider played up better in his MLB debut, but both pitches need work. If he can develop one to be a true complement to the fastball, De La Rosa has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter or high-leverage reliever.
. . .
1B/OF Jerry Sands
Age: 24; B/T: R/R
MLB Debut: 2011
Drafted by LAD in 2008 (25th round)
Sands (who will also be a PTBNL) was another 2008 draft steal for the Dodgers, who selected him out of Division II Catawba College in North Carolina in the 25th round and signed him for just $5,000. He has spent most of this season in Triple-A after making his major league debut and getting 227 plate appearances for Los Angeles in 2011, hitting .253/.338/.389 with four home runs. Sands profiles best as a versatile bench player who can man first base and both outfield corners, although at his peak he could start at first or in left field for a second-division team. He makes slightly above-average contact with above-average power and solid plate discipline but can struggle against off-speed pitches. He has below-average speed, but he is an average defender in left and can play a decent right field thanks to his baseball instincts. This season in Triple-A Albuquerque, a noted hitter's haven in a hitter's league, he is hitting .303/.380/.531 with 24 home runs and 101 RBIs. He has been scorching hot since the All-Star break, hitting .386/.448/.683 with 12 home runs in 37 games. Sands' breakout came in 2010, his second full season, when he made the jump from low Class A Great Lakes to Chattanooga and swatted 35 home runs, earning the Dodgers' minor league player of the year award. Sands will most likely join the Pawtucket Red Sox when the trade becomes official, although the Sox may want to get a look at him in Boston over the season's final month. He burned his second option year this season, and thus has one remaining.
. . .
INF Ivan De Jesus Jr.
Age: 25; B/T: R/R
MLB Debut: 2011
Drafted by LAD in 2005 (second round)
De Jesus, son and namesake of the former major league shortstop who spent most of his 15-year career with the Dodgers, Cubs and Phillies, profiles as a versatile major league utility player. Ivan Jr. has not hit much in a limited, 40-game major league sample and has lost some of what was solid prospect luster since breaking his leg and missing nearly all of the 2009 season. De Jesus' best position is second base, and he can passably play either position on the left side of the infield and even step into the outfield corners in a real pinch. He makes slightly above-average contact and has solid average bat speed, but below-average plate discipline and minimal power limit his offensive impact to being a solid line-drive hitter. Since the leg injury, De Jesus is an average runner.