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Josh Beckett

Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez produces when needed

Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez produces when needed

The mood was jolly on that August afternoon, the day the Dodgers officially declared their liberation from the old regime.

The new owners had spent more than $2 billion to buy the team out of bankruptcy court. They had money, yes. But the baseball world did not know how much more money they had to spend for another three months, when they spent another quarter of a billion dollars to get one player.

The Dodgers identified Adrian Gonzalez as a player who would fit every one of their needs — a big bat, a good glove, and a bilingual force in the community. The Boston Red Sox wanted to slash payroll and rid themselves of long-term commitments. If the Dodgers wanted Gonzalez,...