The Gonzalez Run Down

Adrian Gonzalez

Everyone’s been chatting about the possibility of Adrian Gonzalez playing
clean-up for the Red Sox in 2010 and for years to come. Theo Epstein has made it
clear over the last three years that he’s been a fan of Gonzalez’s skills, and has
highly envied San Diego for being the owners of his contract. However, is a trade for
Gonzalez really worth it? Does Boston really need him in the lineup? Let’s find
out.

Defensively:

First, the statistics:

Career: 654 G, 5740.2 Inn, 5985 Ch, 5419 PO, 533 A, 33 E, 516 DP, .994
Fld%, 2008/2009 Gold Glove

He broke into the majors in 2004 with the Texas Rangers. Traded to San Diego
before 2006, he’s been there ever since. In the last four years he has developed
into one of the best defensive first basemen in the National League, as proven by his
back to back gold gloves.

Signing Adrian Gonzalez would require moving Kevin Youkilis to third base. A Gold
Glove winner in his own right, there’s never been a doubt that Youk can handle the
third base responsibilities. In his career, Kevin has played 474 games at first base
with a .997 Fld% and 217 games at third base with a .966 Fld%, so moving to third is
hardly an issue.

Moving him to third would also resolve the worries of Mike Lowell potentially getting
injured again as the season drags on. In the event of a Lowell injury and no
Gonzalez deal, Youkilis would have to move to third and Martinez or Kotchman would
have to fill the duties at first, provided Epstein doesn’t promote a young gun like Lars
Anderson from within. While a situation like that could solve a temporary problem, a
hole becomes apparent in your defense, somewhere in the infield corners.

At the Plate:

Average Season (over the last 4 years): 160 G, 596 AB, 94 R, 170 H, 36 2B,
2 3B, 33 HR, 100 RBI, 78 BB, 126 K, .286 AVG, .369 OBP

Quickly looking at those stats, the first thing you notice is that he plays almost every
game each year. Being that durable is a huge asset on any team, especially when
you’re relying on his offensive numbers. Not only is he a 100 RBI man, but he scores
just as much as he produces. He also as an average of over 30 HR’s every year
since he’s joined the Padres.He hits for a decent average, and is perennially a force
at the plate. Keeping in mind that all this happens in a park that is widely considered
as the most pitcher-friendly park in the game, and you can only begin to imagine the
kind of numbers he could put up in a place like Fenway (even with it being less of a
hitter-friendly park thanks to the new grandstand).

The only real concern is whether or not he could hit every day against the powerful
pitchers in the American such as Halladay, Sabathia, Burnett, Hernandez, Lackey,
etc (not that I’m degrading the phenomenal pitchers in the National League,
specifically Lincecum and Webb who he faces numerous times every season).
Fortunately, he hasn’t seemed to slow down during inter-league play, and he hit
relatively well in the few games he played in the American League whilst with Texas,
so you assume it isn’t an issue.

Given a chance, one would assume that Adrian would only improve his offensive
numbers in the American League, provided he can handle the quality pitching of the
Yankees and Rays.

In the Clubhouse:

Awards: 2008/2009 Gold Glove, 2008/2009 All-Star Selection

To make a long story short, Adrian is a player that can become the face of an entire
team. This is exactly what he has done in San Diego, and this is exactly what he is
capable of doing in a star-studded clubhouse at Fenway Park. In a team full of
All-Stars capable of hitting .300 and 20+ HR, he’s a man who would be the team’s
clean-up hitter. He’s a viable spark to the offense, he can defend better than most,
and he’s a great general personality, as reported by his teammates. What more
could you want?

What’s It Going to Cost?

Okay, so it’s clear why Epstein is so smitten. But is he worth the cost that it’s going
to take to get him in a Sox uniform?

Jed Hoyer was once Epstein’s assistant in Boston, so there’s no doubt he
knows the prospects Epstein has at his disposal, and also what he is or is not willing
to give up. Anything related to this potential trade has been kept relatively silent, but
names such as Buchholz, Kelly, Papelbon, and others have been mentioned by
varying sources – some relatively credible, some … not so much. The reality here is
that Hoyer is happy with Gonzalez’s performance in San Diego and does not want to
deal him. As such, it will take a decent amount of good prospects to entice Hoyer to
consider the idea seriously. The Padres are looking for young talent as
opposed to aging veterans, so off-loading someone like Drew or Lowell is out of the
question, even if San Diego has a little extra money to spend this year.

If Epstein wants to get this deal done, expect it to be at the cost along the lines of
Clay Buchholz, Lars Anderson, and quite possibly even someone like Casey Kelly as
well.

While Gonzalez is a young stud who can propel the Red Sox into a team that will be
the offensive force like they were back in 2004 for many years to come. That kind of
offense combined with the speed that the new resurgence of young players has
provided us with, and it could mean championships abound. Or it could mean giving
up two of the most highly toted pitching prospects in recent memory for a hitter on a
team with a potential absence of pitching (Provided Beckett leaves, and Wakefield
retires).

Is it worth it? If the deal can get done while giving up only one of the two pitchers,
then I say give it a chance. Otherwise, find a different answer. Anderson had a
rough year in the minors, but all scouts say he’ll be an offensive player in the future
at first base. But will the defense be there? Can Jed Lowrie make a
transition to third? Or is his health too much of an issue? Do we sign someone like
Hank Blalock to play first for 2010? Do we risk Lowell’s health? Now that
Figgins is off the market, there are less options for us in this off season, and some
things are a bigger concern at the moment, such as resigning Bay and finding quality
arms for the rotation and bullpen.

Only time will tell.

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