Aug 24

Why I’m hearing ‘Pedro-Delino’ in ‘Rubby-Adrian’

Adrian Gonzalez is just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers, but at what cost?

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Rubby De La Rosa has been optioned to the minors, enabling him to be traded as a player to be named later in the offseason.

James Loney was listed in the Dodger starting lineup tonight, then scratched. Adrian Gonzales has been scratched by Boston.

It’s happening. The blockbuster trade has the momentum of a Boston-to-Los Angeles freight train. From Gordon Edes of ESPN.com:

The Dodgers and Red Sox are closing in on a deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, though a few hurdles remain before it’s official, multiple baseball sources said Friday.

Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will be headed back to Boston as the centerpiece of the deal, sources say. De La Rosa made his first major league appearance of the season Wednesday, having had Tommy John surgery about 13 months ago. Also included are first baseman James Loney and prospects Ivan De Jesus (infielder) and Jerry Sands (outfielder), according to sources, plus another top prospect that is still unknown. …

I understand the impulse to go for it — I want that World Series too — because I know how much Gonzalez might help the Dodgers. But losing De La Rosa is a huge one for me to swallow.

On Twitter, I’ve already gotten some amount of ridicule for daring to mention this trade in the same breath as the infamous Pedro Martinez-Delino DeShields trade from 1993. But I’m guessing most of those people doing so are using the benefit of hindsight.

Today, DeShields is held in contempt  by Dodger fans — he’s the historic equivalent of Juan Uribe or Andruw Jones as far as Dodger trade acquisitions go. But compare the following at the time of the transaction:

DeShields had also improved three consecutive seasons, from 1991-93. Gonzalez has started to decline over the past three consecutive seasons. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that DeShields, at the time of the transaction, was a more valuable player and had a brighter future than Gonzalez today.

As for De La Rosa … I’ll never forget the time I was in the Dodger dugout, interviewing Orel Hershiser before the 2011 season opener, and heard a key member of the Dodger staff compare De La Rosa to Martinez. It was the first time I heard the comparison — though not the last. De La Rosa’s arm is electric.

At the time of the 1993 trade, Martinez had already logged 115 innings of major-league ball (almost entirely in relief) at age 22 with a 2.58 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which puts him ahead compared to De La Rosa, who has just now recovered from Tommy John surgery. But make no mistake — there were concerns about Martinez’s health too, to the point that Dr. Frank Jobe was concerned he would break down. As high as we were on him, we didn’t know Martinez was going to become a legend any more than we know what De La Rosa’s ultimate journey will be. And I can tell you for a fact that plenty were thrilled about DeShields coming to Los Angeles.

The chances of De La Rosa becoming one of the greatest pitchers of all time might be slim, but De La Rosa doesn’t have to become the second Pedro to represent a major loss for the Dodgers. He could just be really good, while Gonzalez apes DeShields’ decline.

Like I said, I’m hungry for a World Series title, and I’m not saying the risk of trading De La Rosa won’t be worth it. Don’t misunderstand me: The Dodgers need a player like Gonzalez, who boosts them at their weakest position. I even believe that a move back to his Southern California roots and away from the Red Sox maelstrom could revitalize him.

All I’m saying is, short of Clayton Kershaw, the trade of any other pitcher besides De La Rosa would have left me more comfortable.