The LA Dodgers host the Boston Red Sox in a 3-day series at Dodgers Stadium Friday-Sunday. Phil Vassallo gives you his free pick for Friday's game. Also, we ask what if the Dodgers' brain trust had never pulled off that big trade at the end of August, 2012.

Red Sox Dodgers Big Trade
Let’s make a deal – every time Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford or even Nick
Punto step up to the plate during the Dodgers’ three-game series with the Red
Sox, we think about to about this time a year and wonder: What if?

If the Dodgers’ brain trust wasn’t savvy and wealthy enough to pull off that
waiver-wire deadline deal at the end of August, 2012 and take on all that extra
payroll – including pitcher Josh Beckett – while giving up first baseman James
Loney, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., right-handed pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa and outfielder Jerry Sands, where would they be today? 

Maybe the move saved the Red Sox some $270 million in contracts spread out over
2018, but it saved the Dodgers some face. While Beckett has been on the DL most
of this year, Gonzalez, Crawford and Punto have been key ingredients in their
latest surge to the NL West lead. So how’d the Red Sox fare in all this?

The 24-year-old hot shot De La Rosa has finally worked his way onto the roster
recently, but not into the starting rotation – a place the Dodgers were comfortable
in placing him during the 2010 season before he blew out his arm. He remains on
a pitch count as they’re handling him with care two years removed from Tommy
John surgery. Webster remains at Triple-A Pawtucket (5-4, 4.13 ERA after a brief
callup in April, going 1-2 with a 9.57 ERA). Sands and DeJesus were traded to the
Pirates for ineffective reliever Joel Hanrahan, and are still wallowing away at Triple-A
Indianapolis. And, of course, Looney left to join Tampa Bay as a free agent.

Surely, all of this will give the national broadcast teams something to talk on
and on about as the series progresses. If only Manny Ramirez was still part of the
conversation. (You know, he is now available to either team).

Where to watch the series:
Friday 7:10 p.m., Prime
Saturday, 1:10 p.m., Channel FOX 11
Sunday, 5:05 p.m., ESPN

PictureYankees preparing for life without A-rod
The Detroit Tigers already acquired Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox to fill in during Jhonny Peralta's upcoming suspension. The Rangers are preparing for life without Nelson Cruz based on their targets. The Yankees are in the same boat with Alex Rodriguez. And according to Jeff Passan, there are several major league players the public doesn't know about that will soon be suspended, and those teams will be forced to react accordingly if it could jeopardize their playoff chances.

It seems like all baseball news has been overshadowed by the looming Biogenesis suspensions and the circus that is Alex Rodriguez‘s, Major League Baseball’s and the New York Yankees’ public feud. Indeed, as this week began it appeared as though today’s trade deadline would be a mere afterthought. Or, if not an afterthought, that it would be subservient to the Biogenesis drama, with teams looking to desperately cover for players they will lose to suspension.

Things have calmed down considerably in the past 24, hours, however.

For one thing, one of the teams that stood to be most adversely affected by
Biogenesis suspensions — the Tigers, who will almost certainly lose Jhonny
— filled their imminent shortstop hole with Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox.
That, combined with the news that baseball is not likely to suspend Bartolo Colon
due to him already having been punished for taking the substances he received
from Biogenesis means that only one team currently in the playoff hunt stands to
lose a significant player. That being the Texas Rangers and Nelson Cruz, according
to multiple reports. Other players named in multiple reports include the Padres’
Everth Cabrera, whose team is not in contention, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli,
who is on the 60-day DL with a broken hand. Ryan Braun was suspended for the
remainder of the season, but with his team far from contention, it’s unlikely the Brewers
were going to do anything but sell anyways.

For another — and maybe I’m just imagining this — Major League Baseball
appears to be settling on Friday as D-Day in the Biogenesis mess. Last night
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reported that the timeframe would be “within the next
72 hours”
— a report that was later confirmed by multiple sources — as opposed
to dropping their bomb at or around today’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. Maybe this
is a matter of MLB still having work to do before issuing suspensions. Maybe it’s
a matter of the league wanting to bury bad news on a Friday afternoon like politicians
so often do. But maybe — just maybe — it’s a matter of MLB appreciating that the trade
deadline chatter and commentary is pretty good for its brand and deciding to let
that stuff have the limelight today.

The addition of a second wild card in each league also could be depressing
trade activity, because teams are hesitant to sell while they still are in
contention. Teams still need to sell tickets for the stretch run, and
surrendering before August is no way to do that. Besides, there’s always the
chance that a club goes on a late-season run.

MLB commended Braun for taking responsibility for his actions and said it
wanted to resolve this issue, but otherwise has been publicly silent about the
Biogenesis suspensions. Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, said in a
radio interview this week that his client planned to fight the suspension.

“When the time comes and baseball does whatever it is going to do, then I
will sit down with Alex and talk to him about the process of the appeal, filing
the appeal and going in and presenting our best evidence that we have — and we
think we have good evidence — to defend his interest, to protect him. That’s
what I expect to be doing,” Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith, who was hosting the
Michael Kay Show.

Rodriguez will always dominate the news, especially in New York. A-Rod would
lead New York sports news for years even if he joined a religious sect that had
him swear off sports, public appearances and money. He’s always the story in
Gotham. But outside of that crazy media environment trades and playoff races
seem to have been thrust to the fore last night and today.

Maybe Major League Baseball will fall back on old bad-P.R. habits and drop
it’s bad news bombs after lunch today. But for now it seems pretty darn
refreshing that we can focus on what’s truly good about baseball than what is,
quite frankly, a major, major drag.

Biogenesis is the dark cloud hanging ominously over baseball that simply won't
go away, but with clarity will also come complications for many contenders. We may
get a good look at how those contenders plan on dealing with their complications in
the next 24 hours.