Legacies altered forever following blockbuster deal

Legacies altered forever following blockbuster deal

BOSTON -- A trade of Saturday's magnitude permanently dents and highlights legacies across the board, from the players on up.

The Red Sox said sending Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles was not the same as denouncing them. The problem didn't lie completely with the individual players, they said, but the sum of the parts.

Some players' comments, though -- including those of the traded players -- may serve to show otherwise.

"Not everybody is able to deal with the game, which is super hard, plus another activity off the field that gets you a little bit distracted," David Ortiz said Monday. "It's a little hard. It's harder for some others. Some players can deal with it, some others really can't."

The moves that brought Crawford and Gonzalez to Boston were put in place in 2010, under former general manager Theo Epstein. Epstein gave Beckett a four-year, $68 million extension, and he negotiated seven-year deals with Crawford and Gonzalez that were worth $142 million and $154 million, respectively, in an eight-month stretch in 2010. Epstein also gave up a sought-after package of prospects to get Gonzalez from the Padres, which included right-hander Casey Kelly, who was making his Major League debut for San Diego on Monday night.

Sox general manager Ben Cherington was asked about the moves made at the end of Epstein's tenure, but he would not criticize of those decisions. Cherington just knew they weren't working at this point in time.

No matter how Cherington spends the freed up money, the Sox would never have the money if he didn't make the deal. He has criticisms, too: "Should it have been done last October?" Cherington said of the house-cleaning. "I don't know."

The first-year general manager also is and was as big a proponent of Crawford's deal as anyone.

"I do like Carl, and I would bet on him being a good player again," Cherington said. "Last year was, I think, a difficult transition year for him. I think he admitted that. I think the frustration for all of us, including Carl, was that I think he did come back this spring in a much better position to succeed. He was more comfortable in this environment and ready to play. Unfortunately, he had the setback with the elbow that kind of torpedoed most of his season."

Crawford had Tommy John surgery two days before the trade and hasn't spoken publicly since the deal was announced. Beckett and Gonzalez have.

"We were very talented. We should have played better," said Beckett, now teammates with Hanley Ramirez, whom the Red Sox traded to Florida to acquire Beckett in 2005. "That's what I told Ben Cherington. I don't think he wanted to trade everybody. We just made it impossible. They wanted me to stay, Adrian, Carl to stay.

"Some things aren't in your control. [Principal owner] John Henry and [management in Boston], they put up and did what they're supposed to do as owners and general managers. Ultimately, it comes down to players. We didn't do our jobs and forced their hands."

Of the three big names, Beckett leaves the deepest roots. His time in Boston ran the gamut, from the high of the 2007 World Series to last year's collapse and the carry-over this year that's included maligned golf outings. In 194 starts with the Red Sox, the right-hander went 89-58 with a 4.17 ERA.

The pinnacle was that 2007 season, when Beckett finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting and went 4-0 in the playoffs as the Sox clinched their second title in four years. His regular-season line that season was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA. Beckett's fastball started to decline afterward.

"Very successful," Cherington said of Beckett's time here. "He was on the mound for some of our most important games. We don't win the 2007 World Series without him. I think that's fair to say. He's been a mostly, even recently, a very effective pitcher. Certainly there have been pockets of performance this year and two years ago that he would tell you himself are not up to his standards, but I think his tenure was a great success."

Nonetheless, the one-time ace was at a breaking point with the Sox. Beckett was booed when he left a game with injury this year. He was underperforming at 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA. As the leader of Boston's pitching staff, Beckett drew immense criticism for his perceived bad attitude and stubbornness.

"Ask some more people," Beckett said in Los Angeles when asked about the perception of his character. "Ask some different people. Ask the people that were around me."

He did, however, acknowledge a shortcoming.

"Balls were up, ground balls were hit hard," said Beckett. "There were also some exterior distractions. Just a lot of stuff."

On the field, Gonzalez did his job very, very well. He had the best average of any Major League first baseman in his time with Boston, .321, one point ahead of Cincinnati's Joey Votto. Gonzalez's performance and value was what enabled the Sox to include Beckett and Crawford in the deal.

Still, Gonzalez appears to have created some tension when he reportedly used his phone or allowed it to be used to initiate a July meeting with ownership about manager Bobby Valentine.

"We all make decisions we regret later," Gonzalez said. "I don't regret any moment of being there. ... I'm not going to get into specifics. We all live our lives and we all do things we wish we could take back at times."

Like Crawford, Gonzalez also appeared to be less than enthralled with the Boston spotlight, telling ESPNDeportes.com just before the trade: "In Boston, there is always a novel -- in here they never talk about baseball; it's always the same."

With just 31 games played this year, Crawford's legacy leaves the least behind. Red Sox fans barely knew him, and what they saw was subpar.

The effect that these departures have on Valentine's clubhouse remains to be seen.

"It was a very talented roster coming into the season," Valentine said. "Obviously we didn't have it most of the season, so I don't know that [the trade day] marks some kind of line of demarcation of changing my mind, changing my expectations."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.