Outskirts of Red Sox Nation

Friday, January 19, 2007

I'm Sorry, Mr. Gonzalez is Not Available To Answer Your Call

Much sought-after Pittsburgh closer Mike Gonzalez is now formerly-much-sought-after former-Pittsburgh closer Mike Gonzalez. The Braves announced that they had completed a trade for Gonzalez. The Braves gave up young first baseman Adam LaRoche, and picked up Gonzalez and minor league shortstop Brent Lillibridge.

The short-term, local news for the Red Sox is, of course, that Mike Gonzalez is pretty much not readily available as a last-minute pickup for the bullpen. Admittedly, though, the news and apparent crisis over what the Sox are going to do for a closer seems to have dulled a bit. This may have more to do with a certain football team continuing their season deep into January, but nevertheless, even the dedicated baseball journalists have stopped smacking themselves in the forehead, wondering if Joel Pineiro is going to work in a relief role. When the Patriots' season ends (hopefully not until early February), we may return to this subject and find that Mike Gonzalez would have been easier to acquire than we thought, but for now, it's a closed door that warrants barely a footnote. After all, Chad Cordero and Brad Lidge are still out there, aren't they?

Looking deeper into this transaction, though, it looks as if that old salt, John Schuerholz, has done it again. Adam LaRoche is a very solid player, probably a couple of notches above average for his position. Mike Gonzalez is probably at about the same level- and both players will fill important needs for their new teams. The kicker of this transaction is the third player. Brent Lillibridge could be the guy to make this a huge win for the Braves. Though scouts and projections vary a bit on his upside, he appears to have the tools and the talent to have an upside resembling that of Rafael Furcal. Adding a potential 6-win shortstop as a throw-in on a deal like this is what separates the decent general managers from the great ones. You taking notes, Theo?


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