Pariah conviction: Beckett, Crawford lost in L.A.

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Let’s look back at one of the best trades the Red Sox engineered.

Not Heathcliff “Seattle Slough” Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, although that’s up there.  Not the Carl-Pavano-and-Tony-Armas-for-Pedro-Martinez sucker-swap, either. Not Garciaparra to the Cubs for Orlando Cabrera and Doug "Eye Chart" Mientkiewicz, who stole our hearts and baseballs, respectively. Sorry, Curt Schilling. Not you, either.

We're talking about the blockbuster that was swung last August when Boston booked a Pariah Package Deal and exiled their loose ends to Dodger Stadium in one fell swoop. Gone from the team in an instant was 2007 World Series stalwart Josh Beckett, brittle free-agent bust Carl Crawford and long-coveted first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Oh, and Nick Punto, too.

The Sox received short-term fill-in James Loney at first, top pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. and outfielder Jerry Sands. Boston was able to shave $250 million off its payroll with the move and sew up the crucial addition-by-subtraction transplant process by bringing in well-respected, top-tier clubhouse citizens like Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster.

So how’s it turning out?

Not so well for the Dodgers. Los Angeles is currently clinging to last-place (25-32) in the National League West and has been plagued with injuries all season, the Red Sox castoffs being no exception.

It was announced Wednesday that Beckett, 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 2013, will be off the field for at least a month in an effort to rehabilitate a compressed nerve in his pitching hand. If the reconditioning program fails to yield results, Beckett may well be out for the season, if not longer.

Beckett — part of a blockbuster 2005 exchange that brought the righthander and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for blue-chippers Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez as well as Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia — was optimistic about his future.

“We’re going to do everything we can to beat this thing without surgery. We’re going to be doing a lot of aggressive rehabilitation,” he told the L.A. Times.

However, he admitted that it’s far too soon to tell whether he’ll be able to toe the mound for the Dodgers again this year.

“You really don’t want this to leak into next year. What’s best for the organization is me being healthy and helping this team win next year if I can’t do it this year. It’s tough. I don’t want to walk around here with a ski mask and steal paychecks. That’s not fun, and I want to help these guys win and be a part of that.”

Two days before Beckett’s diagnosis, L.A. placed Crawford on the 15-day disabled list after he was forced to leave a weekend game against the Rockies with a cramp in his left hamstring.

Before he went on the shelf, Crawford had been hitting .301 for the Dodgers with five homers and 13 RBI in 51 games.

Crawford’s three-headed replacement machine, meanwhile, has performed admirably in the shadow of the Monster. While Jonny Gomes has struggled at the plate (32 games, .175, 3 HR, 11 RBI), Daniel Nava (21 games, .298, 8 HR, 38 RBI) and Mike Carp (18 games, .301, 4 HR, 17 RBI) have more than picked up the slack.

At first base, Gonzalez is his same dependable, disciplined, hitterish self out in L.A., batting .328 with eight home runs and 43 RBI, only striking out 26 times and walking 20. While Napoli has been a rampant free swinger, striking out 81 times to date (second-most in the majors), he’s been no slouch offensively, hitting .271 with nine homers and 46 RBI.

Perhaps these figures will add some clarity: Gonzalez is making $21,857,143 in 2013. Napoli, by dint of his restructured, one-year deal, is costing Boston $5 million.

Clearly, one of the best trades the Red Sox front office has made in recent years also appears to be one of its most intuitive.

On a related note, after they were acquired in the marquee Dodger deal, Sands and DeJesus — along with pitchers Stolmy Pimentel and Mark Melancon — were dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for infielder Brock Holt and closer Joel Hanrahan.

Hanrahan went 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA and two blown saves in eight innings of work for the Sox in 2013 before having season-ending Tommy John surgery in May. Melancon, meanwhile, is 1-1 with a 1.19 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 31 appearances.

Moral of the story? Sometimes things go your way. Sometimes, not so much.

Twitter: jan_doh