Monday, December 6, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez (A)gone to Boston

Adrian Gonzalez: From bust to beast
The trade that was on, then off, then back on is now apparently on for good, whether or not the Red Sox can reach an agreement with Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox have acquired him for three prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a PTBNL. 

First things first, Adrian Gonzalez is obviously an awesome player (duh) at a ridiculously cheap price ($6.3M) but he is still only on the books for 2011. Also, while you may look at the names above and say "that's all the Padres got!" we must be reminded that days of the Texas Rangers haul for Mark Teixeira (Teixeira and Ron Mahay for Beau Jones, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Matt Harisson) are long gone, teams value prospects much more now than before.  So, with that now said, the Padres actually got a good return for Gonzalez.

The three prospects the Padres received were were on the Red Sox list of top 10 with two of them (Kelly and Rizzo) likely top 100 prospects in all of baseball.  Since you may not know too much about them let's have a quick overview:

Casey Kelly: Kelly was drafted as a two-way player but finally gave in to the Red Sox request to become a full-time pitcher in 2010.  On paper the results may not look to shiny as his ERA was 5.31 in double-A last year.  However, his 4.03 FIP, young age for the league (20 years old) and glowing scouting reports are more indicative of  his value.  Kelly routinely throws in the low 90s and has a surprising amount of control for all three pitches (fastball, curveball and chanegeup) for what you think a two-way player would have.  Before the 2010 season Kelly ranked as the 24th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America, was considered the Red Sox top prospect and after the season Jon Sickels still had good things to say about Kelly so impressive 2010 results or not, this is a great prospect.  Like any pitcher, Kelly will benefit greatly with the change in league and ball park.  Kelly shouldn't start the season on the Padres but he should finish there finally settling behind Mat Latos atop the Padres rotation.

Anthony Rizzo:  Rizzo projects to the the Padres future replacement at first base for Adrian Gonzalez.   Any prospect would struggle to replace Adrian Gonzalez' performance for the Padres, and Rizzo will have trouble to duplicate his performance but he profiles to be an adequate replacement.   Petco will surely stifle his performance, but he has alot of power (25 homers in the minors this year), patience (9.6% BB rate in AA as a 20 year old) and defensive value at first base.  

Reymond Fuentes: Fuentes is a teenage (19) CF with blazing speed having stole 42 bases this year in 47 tries.  Fuentes is a lot of potential but as a third player in a deal that's a risk worth taking.  Plus, even if Fuentes' bat doesn't fully develop a defensive minded CF with great speed projects to be very useful in Petco's spacious outfield.

As far as the Red Sox are concerned there are no surprises here-- Adrian Gonzalez is a premier player and Kevin Youklis will gladly move to 3b for a player of his stature. If Gonzalez simply duplicated his performance in San Diego with the Red Sox he'd be great but obviously knowing Peto's effect on hitters they may be able to expect more:

 Home OPS
      Road OPS
2010
0.821
0.980
2009
0.859
1.045
2008
0.788
0.946
2007
0.760
0.928
2006
0.815
0.905

It should be noted that the move to the AL will hurt Gonzalez but I have to believe that Petco's park factor hinders performance more than the change in leagues does.  Plus, Fenway is one of the better hitter's parks to play in and should play into Adrian Gonzalez' ability to hit the ball the other way off of the Green Monster.  Gonzalez is a monster player both with the glove and the bat and will obviously help the Red Sox on their quest to return to the post season in 2011.   

This is definitely a great move for the Red Sox but it also confirms that Adrian Beltre will be moving on.  So, before we get too excited and crown the Red Sox as the 2011 AL East Champions we should remember that Beltre had an outstanding 2010 season putting up 7.1 WAR, a higher number than Adrian Gonzalez has ever had.   Adrian Gonzalez is a better, younger player than the other Adrian, but he's replacing Beltre, not joining him and there is a distinct difference there.  

Overall this is a good trade for both sides.  The Red Sox finally get the player they've been tied to for about two years now and the Padres were smart not to let a surprise 2010 distract them from their long term plans getting at least 3 solid prospects in return. 

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