Joel's thoughts on the Sox' mega-trade are well-worth reading. I'd add a few things:
One, we need to call this the Punto trade. There really isn't any other option.
Two: I second Joel's sentiment: Show Ortiz the money.
Three: I think one of the major reasons the Sox gave up on Gonzo and CarlCrawford so quickly (other than wanting to save money) was that they expected 2011 & 12 to be their prime - the peak of their bell curve, if you will. The risk in long term contracts is that you'll end up overpaying for past performance in the last years, and since the Sox didn't get what they expected in the beginning, they blanched at the risk over the rest of the deal and took the opportunity to dump both the salaries and the risk.
Implicit in this decision is that they're now committed to building the team "right": developing and promoting in-house talent; making safe, short-term free agent signings; not signing older free agents to long-term deals, etc. The problem with this is that not only can it take a while to develop in-house talent, but it's a crapshoot. There's no guarantee that any of the players we received from the Dodgers will become serviceable major league players, much less superstars. I read somewhere this weekend that the great '04 team only had one regular player that came up through the Sox organization (Nixon). But it's one thing to rely on Pedro and Manny and Damon; it's another to find these type of players on the cheap. Face it: the Sox haven't been great at finding diamonds in the (free agent) rough recently. In fact, in the last few years, the only unqualified success I can think of (although i'm sure there are more) is Beltre. For every average to above-average guy they find (think Cody Ross), there's a slew of Camerons, Renterias, etc.
My point is that while the trade may have been the right move to make, the Sox gave up known commodities in favor of the vagaries of the talent market. And while this may prove successful, it just as likely may mean years of mediocrity. At the very least, it will mean a year or two of odd lineups that blend proven players with developing skills, like what I saw in person on Saturday:
- Podsednik, LF
- Pedroia, 2B
- Ellsbury, CF
- Ross, RF
- Gomez, 1B
- Saltalamacchia, C
- Lavarnway, DH
- Aviles, SS
- Ciriaco, 3B