Twenty-four hours ago I asked my wife Ellen to lock up all the sharp knives and put a barrier across the stairs to the third floor.
It was clear to me that the Sox were about to explode, that GM Ben Cherington was about to cast off, minimally, our two top pitchers and one of our top relievers.
For what? A bunch of prospects?
My well being was threatened, and I needed protection from acting impulsively.
This morning I told Ellen she could unlock the knives and take down the barrier to the third floor.
For the moment at least, things didn’t seem so dire.
For their number one, elite pitcher Jon Lester, the Sox got Yeonis Cespedes, a good (and potentially very good) outfielder who will immediately address the Sox biggest current problem: hitting.
I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but the Sox have played, and lost, a significant number of games this year where they were either shut out or lost in a low scoring game by one run. They’ve gone from one of the top batting teams last year to one of the worst ones this year.
Thus their current, last place AL East record of 48-60.
That despite having what everyone thought, prior to the opening of the season. was one of the best pitching rotations in baseball.
Today, four of the five starters are gone, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Felix Dubront, leaving only Clay Buchholz, who is not the lights out pitcher he was last year.
Plus, one of their best relief pitchers, Andrew Miller, is gone too, tho they did get a potentially good LHP in young Eduardo Rodriquez.
So much for baseball being first about pitching?
In, retrospect, Ben Cherington, his playmates in the front office and the brass above him used Lester, Lackey and Miller, two of the three who were about to become free agents and for whom the Sox would get virtually nothing at the end of the season, to get more than anyone expected.
He didn’t go for prospects. He went for established players who could address the hitting needs of the Sox, particularly with Cespedes and hopefully with Allen Craig.
He also cleaned up the shortstop problem with the dumping of Drew on the Yankees and moving both malcontent Dubront and nice guy but struggling Peavy.
That means Xander Bogaerts can go back to short, Will Middlebrooks will have a chance to regain his third base job, knowing Brock Holt is ready to step in at a moment’s notice. The outfield now has in Cespedis a player who has more home runs than the entire current outfield of the Sox. And with the short left field wall, he’s likely to hit even more. Plus, he’s a very good defensive player. Craig should be of help in the outfield too.
But Ellen shouldn’t get rid of the locks or the third floor barriers. Just put them away for the moment.
The Sox have a 54 game head start on next season. Fifty-four games to see how their new players and their highly touted young players from the minors can perform. Tonight may even tell us something as Anthony Ranaudo is coming up from Pawtucket and will start against the Yankees. Plus Cespides and Craig will be in the outfield, and Boegarts and Middlebrooks will be in the infield.
Certainly the Sox will need to address and redress the issue of pitching. They can do that now that they’ve admitted this season is a disaster. Getting the right balance of pitching and hitting is the key. And they have 54 games to figure that out and figure out what they need to add for next year.
Plus, they will have a good deal of money available to go after Lester and Miller, and/or one or two other free agent pitchers at the end of the season.
Which brings me to the issue of money.
I beg to differ with the current lingo that “It’s all about business.”
I would modify that to say, “It’s all about winning.”
Winning, of course, is about business, but it’s about other things too.
Just ask Billy Beane, who has been all about business and hasn’t won very much. His acquisition of Lester and giving up Cespides is, to me, an admission that his generally good model of management hasn’t gotten him a winner. He’s chosen to rent Lester for the balance of this year and go into the playoffs with a very strong pitching staff. Whether giving up Cespides is too high a price remains to be seen. So too for Baltimore with their rental of Miller and loss of Rodriquez.
Finally, (and this issue is really a topic for another time, another post) what about the fans? We learn to identify with elite players, especially home grown ones like Lester. The Cards’ fans are dealing with a similar issue with their loss of Craig and Kelly.
Can we so quickly transfer our allegiances?
What do we tell our kids, the younger generations who have learned about baseball through their identification with particular players, only to have them traded?
I suppose these are lessons that must be learned.
But I do long for the days when I knew who the players were and would be on the Sox team.
But if I am correct that it’s about winning, then I may have to learn to live with players coming and going.
But I don’t like losing a Clemens, a Damon, a Lester.
Let’s see what Cherington’s July trades look like at the end of the season.
(Meanwhile, take a look at what Jonny Gomes said about playing in Boston: I Just Can’t Fathom a Player Wanting to Leave the Red Sox.)