By Steve Silverman
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When Brian Cashman of the Yankees is tossing compliments to the Boston Red Sox, you know life has turned miserable for the Yankees’ top rivals.
Cashman said he thought the Red Sox made an “excellent” move when they traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney and prospects.
What has really happened is that the Red Sox have disintegrated and they have taken the first steps in a rebuilding or retooling process that could take years to get back to the level they were when they were considered to be the Yankees’ chief challenger in the American League.
But the trade that also will see the Red Sox likely pick up ace pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa at the end of the season is a combination salary dump and a shot in the dark. The Red Sox have gotten rid of $275 million in contractual obligations so Ben Cherington can build the team the way he sees fit.
Cherington’s former boss Theo Epstein left the Red Sox at the end of last season and joined the Chicago Cubs. His goal has been to turn the Cubs into a Red Sox-like organization. Who knew that Cherington’s goal was to turn the Red Sox into a Cubs-like organization?
But this trade could have a significant impact for the Yankees by the end of this season.
New York may be struggling to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays right now, but by the time the regular season comes to an end, it would be a shocker if the Yankees were not in first place with one of the two best records in the American League.
That would put them in a solid position to represent the American League in the World Series. It may not be so easy when you will have to get through teams like the two-time defending American League-champion Texas Rangers as well as the surprising Chicago White Sox and the feisty Rays, but the Yankees should have an excellent chance to play for the World Series.
If the starting pitching proves to be more than CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees will get a chance to play for another World Championship.
It would seem likely that the Los Angeles Dodgers would have an excellent chance to get there. Prior to acquiring Gonzalez, Los Angeles made a big move when they traded for Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins. The Gonzales trade brought the Dodgers some explosive power and one of the most talented players back to the National League.
Gonzalez made his living for years in the National League West when he played first base for the San Diego Padres. He established himself as one of the best hitters in that league.
Gonzalez often flashed his talent for the Red Sox, but he has not been the force that Boston wanted when they brought him in as a free agent prior to the 2011 season. The Red Sox thought he would be their version of Mark Teixeira. He clearly has not been that productive.
He’s also seen as one of the “negative” clubhouse forces that may have tried to undermine Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
Gonzalez has denied sending texts to Red Sox ownership and management about Valentine, but it’s clear he was not one of Valentine’s biggest fans.
Gonzalez gets a new lease on life in Los Angeles. He should also make the middle of the Los Angeles lineup even more dangerous. In addition to Ramirez, they also have Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to provide pop.
On paper, this team should have an excellent chance of overtaking an offensively challenged San Francisco Giants team in the N.L. West.
Then the Dodgers would have to get through teams like the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and perhaps the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If they do, it could set up a New York-Los Angeles World Series, with former Yankee Don Mattingly leading a team of Dodgers that includes Gonzalez manning a key spot in the lineup.
A Dodgers-Yankees World Series has not been seen since Tommy Lasorda led the 1981 Dodgers to a six-game victory over the Yankees.
It would be a World Series to be savored, but the presence of Gonzalez just might tip the matchup in the Dodgers’ favor.
Who do you think will be in this year’s World Series? Will the Yankees get there? What about the Dodgers? Sound off below…