Tag: Adrian Gonzalez

Los Angeles Dodgers 2013: Will Adrian Gonzalez Have a Monster Year?

With Adrian Gonzalez entering his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a lot is expected out of the first baseman going into 2013.

Gonzalez came over to the Dodgers last year in a massive blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox that sent him, along with pitcher Josh Beckett, injured outfielder Carl Crawford and utilityman Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney and four prospects.

Gonzalez played well in 36 games with the Dodgers last season (.297/.344/.441, three home runs, 10 doubles, 22 RBI and 12 runs scored in 145 at-bats), but has clearly been missing his power stroke ever since being dealt from the Padres to the Red Sox in 2011.  

Now back in the National League, I expect to see huge things out of Gonzalez’s bat this season and am confident that he will find his power stroke once again.

Not that he wasn’t surrounded by bats in Boston but, with a completely revamped, potent Dodger lineup this year, Gonzalez will have plenty of RBI and run-scoring opportunities.

But, at 30-years-old, has he lost some pop in his bat?

Remember, before Gonzalez was shipped off to the Red Sox, he played in cavernous Petco Park in San Diego and still managed to hit over 30 home runs per year and had close to four straight seasons of 100-plus RBI (he had 99 in 2009).

With his consistent swing and above-average patience at the plate, I’m sure the native Southern Californian will have no problems regaining his stroke in Los Angeles and should put up some huge numbers for the Dodgers in 2013.  

What do you think? How will A-Gon do this year?

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Boston Red Sox: 5 Changes to Team Culture Coming in 2013

In December 2010, the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Shortly after, they signed Gonzalez to a seven-year, $154 million deal and Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal.

The following year, the Red Sox missed the playoffs, finishing third in their division after a September collapse, despite a 90-72 final record. Gonzalez played well, but Crawford batted just .255 with career lows in stolen bases and runs scored. They followed that up with a complete breakdown in 2012, and they shipped both players to Los Angeles.

There is cause for hope in Boston. They re-signed David Ortiz and still have Dustin Pedroia along with young starting pitching and talented prospects who could make an impact in the coming season. What will be different about the 2013 Red Sox? Read on to find out.

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Boston Red Sox Have Been a Team of Mistaken Identity

The Boston Red Sox have been suffering from an identity crisis. 

Yes, this is in part referring to the fact that they finished in the basement of the American League East this season, a feat they had not accomplished since 1993. 

In 1993, Boston still managed to post a record of 80-82, something Sox fans would have been more accepting of instead of the 69-93 record they “earned” this season. That equates to a cool .426 winning percentage. 

The last time the Red Sox had a worse winning percentage was in 1965, when the team went 62-100 for a .383 winning percentage. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office. The Bay of Pigs invasion had not even taken place yet and Elvis Presley was back from war, making music once again. 

In other words, it’s been awhile since the team has been this bad. 

These are the Boston Red Sox after all, aren’t they? 

The problem that exists with the identity of this team has been the front office’s inability to actually identity the right kind of player for Boston. 

Allow me to clarify. 

In some situations, the front office has opted to sign players they’ve lusted after (see J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo). 

Such was the case with Adrian Gonzalez. 

No, the team didn’t sign him via free agency. Lucky for Boston they were fortunate, if you can call it that, to have traded for him. Of course, it did cost them talent in the form of Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly. 

That said, the team was able to get their power hitting corner infielder and promptly signed him to a large contract extension that would pay him $154 million over seven years for an average annual salary of $22 million per season. 


Now, if the production was there to warrant such money, it would be another story. The Red Sox coveted a power hitting corner infielder and what they got was a very nice hitting corner infielder. 

The problem: Boston already had their man, and they let him go. 

Since leaving the Red Sox, Adrian Beltre has been every bit the player the Red Sox wanted Adrian Gonzalez to be, and for less money.

Beltre signed with the Texas Rangers in 2011 for five years and $80 million, or an average annual salary of $16 million. 

In the same time that the Red Sox were waiting for Gonzalez to come around and embrace the role they had predetermined for him, Beltre was doing just that in Texas.

Since 2011, Gonzalez played in 282 games for the Red Sox compared to Beltre’s 280 for the Rangers.

That resulted in 1091 at-bats, 177 runs, 338 hits, 66 doubles, two triples, 68 home runs, 207 RBI and 61 base on balls for Beltre in Texas.

As for Gonzalez in Boston, he had 1114 at-bats, 171 runs, 358 hits, 82 doubles, three triples, 42 home runs, 203 RBI and 105 base on balls.

As for their batting lines:


Beltre .310 .347 .561 .908
Gonzalez .321 .382 .513 .895


As you can see, the offensive numbers are fairly comparable. Why then were Red Sox fans so disappointed in the performance of Adrian Gonzalez?

It might be as simple as the type of extra base hits. It can’t be the quantity—Beltre only has the edge by nine in that category, 136 to 127 in the course of over 1000 at-bats.

Or it could be the fact that Beltre hit home runs while Gonzalez was busy peppering doubles off of the Green Monster.

Of course, it could be the price tag attached to the double-hitting machine. Red Sox fans know better than most as to what it’s like to overpay for a player that just doesn’t give you what you want or need (again, see J.D. Drew).

The value attributed to Beltre is significant as he owns a 12.3 WAR in the past two seasons versus Gonzalez’s 9.2 in the same period of time (9.9 cumulative if you count his time in Los Angeles.)

While nobody will say that they are glad to see Gonzalez gone, there was a collective sigh of relief when the team was able to absolve itself of so much salary.

Whatever the case may be, Red Sox management missed the boat on the opportunity to build the franchise around solid baseball players like Beltre. 

At this juncture in team history, Red Sox Nation can hope for a realigned sense of player scouting and team ideals. This franchise and fanbase may not be able to stomach another season of mistaken identity.


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Los Angeles Dodgers: Can Money Buy Success?

When the Los Angeles Dodgers secured the lineup of Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier, it looked like money could buy success.

At least on paper.

Now, after a record of 6-15 since they put this new team together—and with injuries to key players piling up—it looks like success will be much harder to come by.

Kemp has recently been out of action due to a shoulder injury he got when running into a wall in Colorado.  Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw missed a key start against the Giants due to a sore hip.

Both men may return tonight, but it may not matter in the greater scheme of things this season if they keep playing so poorly.

As of now, the Giants have taken a five-game lead in the NL West, and the Dodgers only hope of making the playoffs seems to be to overtake the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.  L.A. trails by one and a half games and will host the Cardinals this weekend.

But to claim that second wild card, the Dodgers have to score more runs.

In Sunday’s game against the Giants, the Dodgers were 1-for-23 (.043) with men in scoring position, a stat that has become the tale of the tape for L.A. in the past few games. 

Gonzalez has been pretty pathetic, batting.249 since the trade and .202 with RISP.  Kemp, probably due to his injury, has three hits in his last 30 at-bats.

After the trade, the Dodgers are averaging 3.03 runs per game.  Before the trade, they averaged four runs per game.

Numbers don’t tell the entire story, though, as the anemic run production has been the result of a variety of factors:  poor managing by Don Mattingly, a lack of chemistry, suspect pitching, injuries and a general lack of hustle.

The lack of hustle was very apparent against the Giants when Juan Rivera hit a ball down the right-field line and watched it as he trotted to first base, eventually making it to second in a leisurely fashion.  Had he taken off fast and not looked at the ball—as he was taught in Little League—he may have had a triple. He eventually got stuck at second.

At shortstop, Ramirez is anything but slick and seems way too nonchalant. We may have been spoiled by the rocket arm of Rafael Furcal, but Ramirez, no matter what the play, just seems to sling the ball over to first base, with the ball, often times, barely beating the runner.

The highly regarded shortstop and one-time NL batting champ came to the Dodgers with a bad rap for being lazy and disinterested.  Is that what the Dodger fans are going to get from him?

Ramirez is batting a meager .254 for the season, and while he has had some timely run-producing hits, he has only two home runs and four RBI in the last 10 games.

In addition to having temporarily lost Kemp and Kershaw, the Dodgers in recent weeks have lost Chad Billingsley, Kenley Jansen and Adam Kennedy for the season. There is no question that Kemp and Kershaw are the spark plugs for the team, and if they should go out again or cannot produce at their normal levels, the team will be in even more dire straits.

The Dodger pitching remains strong (3.48 ERA) thanks to solid recent performances by Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano and Brandon League, who is filling in nicely as the closer.  But is there really a lot of confidence in Joe Blanton, Aaron Harang and the newly assembled bullpen?

The hardest part of putting together a bunch of new players is getting them to gel.  In this case, the Dodgers threw together a bunch of talented individuals who, on paper, should comprise a winning team.

But what about chemistry?  Should we really expect them to unite quickly, give each other high fives and then go out there and beat the competition to death.  They barely know each other, and they barely know each others’ tendencies.

Anyone watching the games knows that Ramirez is a pull hitter and a first-ball swinger. In a recent game, Gonzalez was at third base with a sizable lead, and Ramirez hit the first pitch on a hop to the third baseman.

Gonzalez had no chance of getting back to bag.  What was he doing off it in the first place?  Maybe he just didn’t know Hanley’s tendency to pull the ball. Why didn’t third base coach Tim Wallach have him back at the bag?

The upshot was yet another run was left stranded.

Ultimately, it is up to the manager to manage all of these details, psych up his team, get them to hit and run, run and hit, move quickly on the bases, bring the heat at the right time and the curveball at others. For the most part, Mattingly has met those responsibilities quite well.

But he could do a lot better.

As a former player, Mattingly may have given his new players a bit too much leeway as they were getting acclimated to their new surroundings.

Perhaps there was a bit of a honeymoon period in which he wanted to observe how they worked individually and together as a team.

Well, Don, the honeymoon is over, and it is time to kick this team into gear or this will look like one bad marriage.


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Los Angeles Dodgers: Are They Becoming the New York Yankees of the West?

Just over one year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers were a team on the verge of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  On May 1, 2012, the team’s fortunes changed dramatically as the Guggenheim group, fronted by Magic Johnson, purchased the team for an astounding $2.15 billion.  Under this new ownership, the Dodgers have become big spenders in a hurry.

In just two months, the Dodgers have acquired a group of big-name stars, including Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.  With the acquisition of those last three players alone, the Dodgers taken on a quarter of a billion dollars in contracts from the Boston Red Sox, a team intent on a salary purge.

However, these moves should come as no surprise, since the Dodgers are under new ownership that expects a cash windfall for local TV rights.  The current deal expires at the conclusion of the 2013 season.  Estimates are that a new deal with Fox could yield $4 billion.  Thus, the team has gone from frugality to big spending seemingly overnight.

Of course, investing large sums of money in top free agents is no guarantee of victory.  The Red Sox, perennial contenders during the first decade of the 2000s, have consistently ranked among the top three in MLB payroll for years.  Still, Boston has not won a playoff game since 2008 and won’t make the postseason this year.  The Yankees, who annually spend more than any other team, have won the World Series—the only measure of success in the Bronx—just one time in the past decade. 

Recently, the Yankees have talked about fiscal prudence, and say they aim to cut payroll in order to avoid the luxury tax imposed on clubs that exceed a salary of $178 million.  Both New York and Boston seem to be looking at the success models of AL East rivals Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, who have fielded competitive teams despite having two of the lowest payrolls in the majors.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, there is an arms race, albeit in different leagues.  The Angels inked a 20-year local TV contract with Fox Sports last December worth more than $3 billion.  The infusion of cash allowed the team to invest more than $300 million in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson

Following the Frank McCourt era, in which the team was cash-strapped and the ownership unlikeable, the Dodgers began to lose some of their relevance in Southern California. Now the team is investing in All-Star players and will certainly have significant dollars available to retain 24-year-old NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, whose contract expires in 2014.  Naturally, Kershaw—and his agent—anticipate that the Dodgers will be the frontrunners to retain his services.

Baseball’s eyes will be turned out west as the 2012 pennant races wind down.  The Dodgers have reloaded in their efforts to catch their longtime rival San Francisco Giants and beat out the St. Louis Cardinals for a wild-card spot.  If the Dodgers fail to win it all this year, I would not be surprised to see them pursue big-name free agents Josh Hamilton and 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke in the offseason.

The question moving forward will be whether the spending on player salaries—by the Dodgers as well as all the other teams—is sustainable in the long term. 

Jed Hughes is Vice Chair of Korn/Ferry and the leader of the executive search firm’s Global Sports Practice.  Among his high-profile placements are Mark Murphy, CEO of the Green Bay Packers; Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference; and Brady Hoke, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.  Earlier in his career, Mr. Hughes coached for two decades in professional and intercollegiate football where he served under five Hall of Fame coaches: Bo Schembechler (Michigan), Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bud Grant (Minnesota Vikings), John Ralston (Stanford) and Terry Donahue (UCLA).  Follow him on Facebook, Twitter @jedhughesKF.

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Ranking the 10 Most Shocking MLB Trades of 2012

MLB personnel moves are frequently prefaced by fan speculation, media probing or an executive announcement. Somebody usually spoils the surprise.

This article celebrates 10 exceptions to that norm that were completed in 2012.

The players involved ranged from future first-ballot Hall of Famers to lifetime reserves. The reasons for relocation varied, too.

However, they all understand what it’s like to be moved in a shocking trade.

Let’s review their experiences from the past year.

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Adrian Gonzalez Shines in LA Dodgers Debut

It didn’t take long for the newest Los Angeles Dodger to make his mark on the team as Adrian Gonzalez‘s debut was a success.

Earlier in the day, ESPNLosAngeles.com writer Mark Saxon reported that the Dodgers and Boston Red Sox had reached a deal that sent Gonzo back to the West Coast. Before coming to Boston, Gonzalez spent four years with the San Diego Padres.

In his first at-bat as a Dodger, Gonzalez launched a three-run homer over the fence against Florida Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson.

Gonzo immediately showed how much he can help his new ballclub, but that would be the end of Gonzalez’s contributions for the night.

The Dodgers first baseman failed to reach base in his next four plate appearances; two ended in a strikeout, one in a groundout to first base and the last resulted in a pop-out to shortstop.

Still, despite only getting one hit, that three-run bomb off the bat of Gonzalez proved to be all the runs the Dodgers would need to beat the Marlins, 8-2.

Coming into the game against Florida, Los Angeles’ offense hasn’t been all that impressive this season, despite adding Hanley Ramirez’s bat to the lineup.

The Dodgers were ranked 25th in the MLB in runs scored and even worse in the home run department, ranking 29th in the league. That should change quickly, however, as L.A. will sport one of the most dangerous 1-2 punches in baseball with Kemp hitting in front of Gonzalez.

Clearly, Gonzalez’s bat will be a huge boost for this squad. Gonzo came in hitting around the .300 mark with 16 homers and 89 RBI. By comparison, the Dodgers’ top home run guy was Matt Kemp with 17, and their top RBI man, Andre Ethier, had driven in 74 runs with a team-leading average of .284.

Upon entering the Dodgers’ locker room, Gonzalez’s full season numbers make him the team leader in all of those categories, which is also thanks in part to his debut home run against the Marlins.

There was no doubt the Dodgers had the pitching depth to make a successful stretch run to the postseason, but with the addition of Gonzalez, now Los Angeles has more than enough offense to surpass their division rivals and take the National League West.

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Adrian Gonzalez: Boston Red Sox 1st Baseman Having Monster 2nd Half

Sometimes in the grind that is a 162-game MLB season, the All-Star break is seen by many players as a blessing. For some, the break provides a golden opportunity to spend time with family and friends. For other players, the break bestows a chance to simply get away and recharge batteries.

I do not know what Adrian Gonzalez did during the break. But whatever the great first baseman did, this consummate professional has had a breakout second half for a Red Sox team fighting mightily to find its way.   

Marching forward, it should be noted that Gonzalez did not produce a poor first half by any stretch of the imagination. For Sox fans, this slugger has been a calm amid the storm.

But keeping things in laymen’s terms, a split of Gonzalez’s first- and second-half stats (per MLB.com), shows a much different player:

1ST 339 96 27  6 45 23 64 .283 .329 .416   .745
2ND 100 39   7  6 29   5 10 .390 .430 .640 1.070

Gonzalez’s second-half numbers are best amongst MLB first basemen.

Even scarier, Gonzalez is showing no signs of slowing down. In the past 10 games, he is batting an astounding .421 (16-for-38), with two home runs and 16 RBI.

And as usual, Gonzalez has been ironclad in the field, too. His .998 fielding percent at first base trails only that of Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees.

As a baseball fan, I truly appreciate players like Gonzalez. Still just 30 years old, this guy carries himself well regardless of what is going on around him. Boston is lucky to have such a ballplayer taking  the field for its team.

As usual, I appreciate your readership and welcome your comments.


Other Red Sox Articles You May Enjoy:

Ryan Westmoreland Epitomizes What’s Great About Baseball

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Adrian Gonzalez Can Blame Right Field, Not Injury, for the Cause of His Cold Bat

June 29, 2011—Adrian Gonzalez takes the field for the Boston Red Sox against the Philadelphia Phillies in interleague play.

The only problem is the Gold Glove first baseman is not positioned in his comfort zone. He would play right field that night for the first time in a Red Sox uniform and for only the second time in his career.

The only other time came in 2005 as a member of the Texas Rangers.

Going into that June night’s action, Gonzalez was batting .357 with a .412 OBP, .605 SLG and a 1.017 OPS.

He had racked up 16 home runs and 71 RBI through 319 at-bats and 114 hits. Roughly, that translates into a hit in every third at-bat with a home run every seventh hit.

Since taking the field June 29, 2011, Gonzalez has hit exactly 16 home runs with 81 RBI. That comes with 569 at-bats and 166 hits.

Those statistics roughly translate into a hit in every 3.5 at-bats, and a home run every 10 or so hits.

For those that have theorized that perhaps the decline of his production came at the hands of participating in the 2011 Home Run Derby, these numbers disprove that case. Gonzalez has been on the decline since doing what was “best” for the Red Sox and playing in a position he was unaccustomed to.

Since then, Gonzo has been placed in right field a total of 19 times.

Surely he did not sign up for this when deciding to play in Boston. While Sox fans can commend him for his willingness to play the outfield, it is having an obvious impact on his bat.

The bottom line is the Red Sox need to get Gonzalez back playing first base every day and back in to his comfort zone. 

Normalcy is the key to rekindling the fire in the star first baseman’s bat.

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Boston Red Sox: What Is Wrong with Adrian Gonzalez?

With all of the injuries this season, the Boston Red Sox have been, arguably, the least fortunate team in the MLB. However, the biggest disappointment has come from the perfectly healthy Adrian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, 30, is currently in the worst slump of his career. He’s hitting only .267 with five home runs, 35 runs batted in and just 18 walks (one intentional). These stats are absolutely the worst of his career, although his 2009 season wasn’t all that much better. It is easy to say that the $154 million dollar man has yet to live up to his expectations. 

Now the big question is, what is wrong with Adrian Gonzalez?

When signed, Gonzalez was projected to increase his power numbers greatly, especially seeing as he was transitioning from a pitcher-friendly ballpark in Petco Park, to the smallest one in the league, Fenway Park. The change didn’t seem to shake up Gonzalez too badly in 2011, as he set several career highs, despite losing a significant amount of home runs.

As of now, he is not on pace to come close to any of his usual statistics, leading many to speculate what his issue is. In a time of such need for consistent bats, Gonzalez has been shockingly bad. In his last ten games alone, he has a .231 batting average with one home run and a mere nine hits (9-for-39).

Some may blame the transition from the National League, but that is invalid. Otherwise, Gonzalez wouldn’t have had the tremendous season he had last year. Even in the prior two seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez produced like he did in 2011.

Others, such as Kevin Dupont and Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, have speculated it may be a result of the lack of production from David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, as well as the absences of Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross and Carl Crawford. That possibility also seems very unlikely, as Gonzalez was a one-man show during his tenure in San Diego.

He has carried a team on his back before, so it is not as if he is new to the responsibilities that come with being such a power bat.

Could it be the pressure of Boston? The lack of morale and motivation? Gonzalez surely does lack the fire that other Red Sox players, such as Dustin Pedroia, seem to have. While Gonzalez has been a team player all year, as evidenced by his voluntary move to the outfield, he has lacked the fire and intensity he once had. Could his quiet personality be keeping him from being a killer at the plate? Who knows? He’s always been incredible at the plate, quiet or not.

Unless there is a distinct injury that we are unaware of, Adrian Gonzalez is an enigma to the Red Sox. This has happened once before, in 2009. At this point of the season three years ago, Gonzalez had almost identical numbers, before going off to have a phenomenal rest of the season. At this point, that is the only reason we have to believe he will bounce back. 

Without any injuries or controversy surrounding Gonzalez, it seems as though Boston fans will have to tough it out and wait for Gonzalez to explode at the plate. It seems as though this is just a career slump, and he will eventually have to break out of it on his own.

He is simply too talented to keep this slump going. Unless, again, there is something Boston is unaware of.

Only time will tell when Gonzalez will break out of his terrible streak. There’s little doubt that he’ll come out of it sooner or later. There is nothing to blame his poor performance on, other than just bad luck. Red Sox Nation, however, should not be demanding his head on a silver platter yet, as we are only halfway through the season.

Give it time.

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