Sunday, August 26, 2012

The trade

Adrian Gonzalez is a Dodger. Following are my rapid reactions to the amazing trade that sent the Tijuana and Chula Vista product to Chavez Ravine:

* I'm happy for Gonzalez. He seemed miserable in Boston.

* The Dodgers spending like the Yankees is good news for new Padres ownership and executives. Our rich guys can portray themselves as gritty smart underdogs compared to the big-spending Dodgers, especially if the Dodgers over-reached by taking on $250 million in guaranteed salary to three players who are all past the typical peak years. In my years of covering the Padres, John Moores and team execs, notably the Smartest Man in Baseball, embraced the underdog role, even cultivated it. If nothing else, it gave them a built-in excuse when things didn't go well. Padres players, to a man, seemed to like the "poor little Padres" schtick, David Wells being a notable exception. With the Dodgers playing the role of gluttonous villains, it'll be easy for the Padres to sell themselves as scrappy upstarts. They can talk about winning the old-fashioned way, through patience and player development. The on-field rivalry could grow as well. San Diegans love to hate L.A. Make no mistake: what's good for the Dodgers can be good for the Padres in a financial sense. A stronger rivalry for the Dodgers will bring higher TV and radio ratings and should sell more tickets (yes, Dodgers fans are among the Padres' customers). If L.A.'s revenue pie grows, the Padres stand to get a bigger slice of financial aid. Although I question whether the Dodgers are on the verge of becoming a strong team, if they are, it's about time that happened, given their market size and incredible tradition. In any event, the Padres have no reason to sulk. They should be excited.

* Competition is a good thing. Tampa Bay outpaced the Red Sox and Yankees to win playoff berths and go to a World Series.The Rays out-smarted their problems. For many years, the Dodgers have underachieved. If they finally were to build powerhouse teams the way the Yankees and Red Sox did in recent years -- and, again, I'm not sure they will -- the Padres may be spurred to be more aggressive and resourceful. Anything the Rays can do, the Padres should be able to do.

* I thought of Tom Werner when the Red Sox agreed to send Gonzalez to the the Dodgers. I was told that Werner, a member of Boston's ownership team, made it known when the Red Sox got Gonzalez from the Padres that he was against the move. I count that as another reason to root for Adrian.

* Don Mattingly, be good. Be very good.

* The Dodgers must know they're going to make an absolute killing on their next TV deal.

* I thought back to something Sandy Alderson told me in the years that Gonzalez was golden for the Padres (as the baseball execs say, his performance-above-cost was very good). Alderson said the Padres needed to take advantage of Gonzalez's brilliant low-salaried work, plus the same from Chris Young and a few relievers. The implication was that at some point, Gonzalez would become too expensive for the Padres. With Gonzalez as their first baseman from 2006-2010, the Padres won one division title and came very close to winning two other playoff berths, but they weren't able to take advantage of his talents to the extent that Alderson said they needed to do.

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