Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dodgers trade shows that the Colorado Rockies need to be more precise

The Dodgers move made things clear to their opponents.
The new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group didn't waste much time in showing the rest of the National League West that there is a new kid on the block.

The Dodgers completed a huge trade on Saturday, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Red Sox in one of the biggest blockbuster deals in recent memory.

The trade means very little to the Colorado Rockies in 2012. The team is going nowhere. Despite a 5-2 road trip on the heels of a 5-2 home stand, the Rockies are mired in a year that is going to take a very good September to avoid the worst season in their club's history.

While the Rockies don't need to worry about the Dodgers this season, it tells them what they have to expect in the coming seasons. The move means that the Dodgers have even more money than they had before, and signing free agents and acquiring top-notch talent is going to be priority number one for them. It essentially means that they are going to spend money as if they are the National League version of the Yankees and Red Sox.

Of course, the Dodgers have always been able to spend more money than most teams, so that is nothing new. The difference is that the gap is going to get that much greater from what the rest of the National League West and Los Angeles are used to.

It makes sense that the Dodgers would pursue Gonzalez. He is a premier first baseman, and frankly, James Loney has been a bitter disappointment for the Dodgers, except when he plays the Rockies, who seem to consistently break him free of his slumps. However, what is interesting is that the Dodgers were willing to absorb the salaries of both Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. Both players are talented, there is no doubt about that, but both players contracts would fall into the top 10 list of worst contracts in baseball.

The least expensive annual contract of the three belongs to Beckett, who is owed $17 million over each of the next three years. Consider the fact that in two of the last three seasons, Beckett is the owner of an ERA above 5.00. Crawford is in the middle of a 7-year, $142 million deal, which will pay the speedy outfielder $21.85 million in the season where he turns 36-years-old. On top of the contract, Crawford will undergo Tommy John surgery this week and miss the remainder of the 2012 season and the majority of 2013.

What the move says is that the Dodgers, even against their better judgement, are not afraid to spend money to bring in every player who they think will help them get to the top as fast as possible. When teams are willing to spend money, they sometimes make mistakes and overpay for players. However, they aren't afraid to continue to spend until they get the right fit.

The Rockies, a team in a mid-market city, are never going to be in a position to overspend on free agents. It was huge news in Denver when the team overspent to get a guy they really wanted in the offseason. That guy was Michael Cuddyer. Not to take anything away from Cuddyer, who is a very good player, but no one would argue that the outfielder is anywhere close to the acquisition that Gonzalez is for the Dodgers.

What it means for the Rockies is that they simply cannot afford to make mistakes. They can't fail in the draft, they can't fail in free agency, and they can't fail in trades. They have to be perfect, or they will simply get outpaced in their own division by the Dodgers, because they will spend so much money in free agency and before the trade deadline, that the their mistakes will be fixed as soon as they realize that they were made.

It also means that if the Rockies are in a position to compete, they have to develop their players correctly and quickly. They can ill-afford to have a top pick toil in the minor leagues while they have a hole at the big league level.

What the Dodgers did over the weekend was a mandate to the rest of the league. They made it clear that they are going to spend plenty of money to win, and to win now.

The Rockies can still compete. Their model can still work. However, it is going to require them to be more thorough in every aspect of the game. If they aren't, they could feel the negative effects for several years.

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