Theo finally gets his bat
The quest started two winters ago, really. That was when Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein knew that the time was near when his team would need a middle-of-the-order bat to carry it through the next several years, much like David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did from 2003-07.
Sure, Ortiz is still around, and still productive. But he’s no longer the guy who can carry a team all season. So Epstein put up a strong fight for Mark Teixeira after the ’08 season, but the first baseman went to New York. It was then that Epstein immediately started eying Gonzalez. He first tried to trade for him in 2009, at the July trade deadline. At the time, two assistants named Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were trying to help him make that swap. It didn’t go through.
So this time, Epstein dealt with Hoyer, the Padres GM, and McLeod, San Diego’s assistant GM, to get the big lefty bat. He trades three very legitimate prospects in Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes, all of whom were selected when McLeod was running Boston’s draft board.
Epstein, meanwhile, gets a 28-year-old lefty bat who should be nothing short of a force in 2011. There’s no contract worked out just yet. But the same could be said in November, 1997, when Dan Duquette traded Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr. for Pedro Martinez. By the time the 1998 season started, Martinez was signed for the next six years, and ultimately for a seventh year thanks to a club option. The same should happen for Gonzalez. The Red Sox wouldn’t make this trade if they weren’t fully confident they were keeping him for the long haul.
Suddenly, the Sox have a certifiable buzz about them again in a trade that might be as big as the one that brought Curt Schilling to Fenway in November, 2003.
As presently constituted, the Red Sox Opening Day lineup would look something like this:
But Epstein is still likely to pursue another bat in the outfield. Stay tuned. But he has made one huge move that will have fans eagerly anticipating 2011.