SAN FRANCISCO The face of the National League West couldundergo another dramatic change in the next 24 hours.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are more eager to give awaycash than the Publishers Clearing House, are reportedly in agreement to takethe injured Carl Crawford and the fried chicken-loving Josh Beckett off theBoston Red Soxs hands in order to get difference-making first baseman AdrianGonzalez. The deal could become official as soon as Saturday.
The players coming to LA are owed somewhere near 275million in guaranteed salary. It remains to be seen how much cash the Red Soxare willing to contribute in what will go down as one of the biggesttoxic-flush trades in baseball history.
Itll be a huge influx in the Dodgers clubhouse, too.Beckett was at the center of last years controversy that cost Boston managerTerry Francona his job. And Gonzalez was said to be fed up there, too.
(Do you remember back in 2010, when Gonzalez spoke openlyabout his impending free agency as the San Diego Padres were desperately tryingto hold on to first place in the NL West? That should tell you something...)
The Dodgers already picked up a noted malingerer inHanley Ramirez, although he has appeared motivated while making a steadycontribution in the middle of their lineup.
The trade, if it happens, will give the Dodgers offense atremendous boost. But it remains to be seen how the players will come together.Will their clubhouse become a powder keg? Or will they come together like happymisfits, the way a certain team did in 2010?
These current Giants have the luxury of a three-game lead, and thecomfort that they dont really need to care either way about who the Dodgers get. The way players in the Giants clubhouse see it, their house is alreadyin order. And strangely enough, Id argue that Melky Cabreras suspensionhelped them to coalesce to a certain degree. Whether it was mutual anger or some other emotion, it brought them together and theyare playing with more of a united front than at any time this season.
I think were just really were just focused on playingour game, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. Guys are focused on what they cando and thats translating to wins. Its when youre struggling that you try todo more than you can. I like the fact that everyone is just really focused oncontributing.
As for the Dodgers? Did they feel they needed to break thebank to compete with the Giants for the division?
I guess thats a question youd have to ask them,Vogelsong said. If they get those guys, Ill worry about them when I have toface them.
The bottom line: If the Giants keep pitching extremely well,it wont matter. They won't be caught.
Javier Lopez recorded his third save in a week, which has tobe a record for him. But if he hadnt retired all three hitters in the ninth,it wouldve been Clay Hensleys assignment to pitch to Dan Uggla.
So as the media crowded around Lopez again, Hensley watchedfrom his locker and shook his head with joking disapproval.
Nobody likes a closer-by-committee situation. But if yourein it, you might as well have fun with it.
And by the way, having that third lefty in Jose Mijares isone of the reasons that manager Bruce Bochy has been able to get his matchups inthe eighth and ninth. He used Mijares in the seventh and still had Lopezavailable for the middle of Atlantas lineup, which went left-switch-left-left.
When youre going closer-by-committee, you want to keepyour options open, and (Mijares) is allowing us to do that, Lopez said.
It sure sounds like Guillermo Mota will be joining theGiants when hes eligible to return Aug. 28 from his 100-game PED suspension.Manager Bruce Bochy said Mota is throwing well for Triple-A Fresno and continues to show hecan contribute down the stretch.
As for Brad Penny, he made a one-inning start for Single-ASan Jose and allowed an unearned run on two singles with a walk and nostrikeouts.
As for Aubrey Huff, he is back in the home clubhouse andcontinues to get treatment on his knee, but Bochy said hes in a holdingpattern.
Hard to imagine Huff joining the club before rosters expandin September, if at all. When youre in a holding pattern, you eventually makea smooth landing or you run out of fuel and crash.
Bochy, asked if Vogelsong was not happy to be lifted inthe seventh inning:
Hes never happy when he comes out, the manager said, smiling.