What next for the Red Sox?

Asking what’s the next step in the Red Sox’s plan after Saturday’s deflating trade with the Dodgers makes a big assumption: that the Red Sox have a plan.

Because nothing in the last year of the Red Sox indicates otherwise. To be fair, that’s not entirely first-year GM Ben Cherington’s fault. He ascended to the job last fall at a dysfunctional moment, but who knew the departures of GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona and the expose of fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse would seem orderly 10 months hence.

From the Dodgers’ perspective, the trade is easy to understand. When you’ve spent $2 billion on a franchise, what’s a couple hundred million more in bloated contracts? (If you think Magic Johnson got in on this deal to be a silent partner, you forgot how good Magic was at the no-look pass. If the Dodgers make the playoffs, Magic will be ubiquitous this fall. Let’s hope Nolan Ryan doesn’t get jealous).

For the Red Sox, though, it’s as if they disavowed everything the franchise has become. Previously when in trouble, they tried to spend their way out of it. But not this time. Adrian Gonzalez and his five years left on a $154 million deal? Gone. Josh Beckett and his two years left on a $68 million deal? Gone. Carl Crawford and his five years left on a $142 million deal? Gone. Nick Punto? Gone. (Quick: who doesn’t belong in this graph?)

If the Red Sox had negotiated harder, maybe they could have piled Edgar Renteria’s contract onto that multi-million dollar bonfire.

In return the Sox get:

Rubby De La Rosa, a hard-throwing 23-year-old who idolizes Pedro Martinez, according to the Boston Globe, but doesn’t pitch like him. Yet. De La Rosa has walked nearly a batter every other inning in his pro career, although control didn’t come to Pedro until he was a major leaguer, either. De La Rosa had Tommy John surgery at age 22, which is not exactly a harbinger of a long career.

Allen Webster, a 22-year-old Class AA pitcher with a 3.34 career ERA and better control than De La Rosa, although not by much.

James Loney, a 28-year-old, .254 hitting first baseman, who will be a Red Sox for the next five weeks. That should be as long as any Red Sox fan can stomach.

Ivan De Jesus, the 25-year-old son of the former big-league shortstop of the same name, who’s not as good as his dad, but may not have to be to take at-bats away from Mike Aviles.

Jerry Sands, like De La Rosa reportedly a player to be named later, who thus far in his Dodger career has been an outfielder to hit later. Sands has mastered AAA but has yet to do likewise in the majors. It might help if he could bring Albuquerque with him.

“Excellent move by Boston,” said Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, according to the Globe. “Unfortunately.”

Who knows if Cashman was patronizing or sincere? Or even right.

No sooner had the deal gone down than speculation started on who the Red Sox could sign with their newfound savings, quickly ignoring the addictive spending that prompted Saturday’s trade. The Sox saved $200 million dollars? Great. Who can they get? As if someone had watched Matt Clement and Crawford and Renteria and Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew for all these years from behind an obstructed view seat at Fenway Park.

The last 11 months have been the worst for the Red Sox since Grady Little dozed in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. September’s collapse was one thing. But the Sox exacerbated it by almost every personnel move of the offseason: trading their two best shortstops (Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie) for relievers (Mark Melancon and Clayton Mortensen) of little value; leaving Aviles to play nearly every day and flail at nearly every pitch; dealing young outfielder Josh Reddick to Oakland for a reliever who rarely pitches (Andrew Bailey) and an outfielder (Ryan Sweeney) who rarely homers; changing Daniel Bard from a reliever to a starter, and then having neither; showing Kevin Youkilis who’s boss by sending him to a pennant race for a utilityman (Bent Lillibridge) who stayed a month and a AAA pitcher (Zach Stewart).

And now those that brought on this 61-67 summer of misfortune are going to correct course? Or is this the baseball equivalent of destroying the team in order to save it?

It doesn’t matter how much money you have to spend if you use it on Bobby Jenks or Dan Wheeler.

Two years ago the Red Sox chose between Anthony Rizzo and Gonzalez as their first baseman of the future. Today they have neither.

Instead they have Mauro Gomez.

At least he’s cheap.

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