Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Butchers of Lansdowne: The Red Sox brass are mangling the Jon Lester situation.

Jon Lester

As Han Solo would say, I've got a bad feeling about this.

Jon Lester hasn't been traded away by the Boston Red Sox, but, it would appear to be coming soon. First the Dodgers were mentioned as potential suitors and now, tonight, the Orioles are being talked of as a likely landing spot. The Orioles. That's right, another AL East team.

It is hard to believe we have got to this point. Jon Lester, the Ace of the current World Champions, being traded out of town because Boston don't want to pay him. That's what it boils down to, and the Red Sox Front Office might have seriously misjudged on a number of levels here.

In terms of sheer talent level, Boston will take a serious step backwards with a trade of their ace. The Sox can spin this anyway they want, but losing Lester for a couple of un-proven prospects would be a white flag on this season obviously, probably next season and then probably the season after too. We could be talking about several years out in the wilderness if the Sox continue to play-cheap and refuse to pay their top free agent type players.

The Red Sox ownership is not a group of gentlemen that is short of a few dollars to spend. These guys buy sporting franchises on a whim. You would understand if they didn't want to spend money on an older position player with a history of injury, but Lester is only 30, he's strong as an ox and he's a pitcher, he can keep going another decade and be competitive.

There is simply no part of this that makes real, logical sense.

You keep trading away your quality players, you will be staring at years of rebuilding. Lester is top quality, an absolute ace, and a left-handed one to boot. He's a stand up guy, a fierce competitor and he takes the ball and does his best every single time he takes the mound.

Most of all, Lester has proved himself at the very highest level. He has been an integral part of two World Series wins and has proven himself to be a top level Major League Ace. Not just a pitcher. An Ace. What are Boston going to get back in a trade for that? A couple of prospects?

Then there's the damage in the clubhouse. Lester is an incredibly popular team-mate, and to a man the Sox players are just shy of ranting about the potential of him being traded away. Not many of the Sox raised their voices when Gonzalez/Crawford/Beckett were traded, almost all of them have had something to say about Lester potentially being sent packing. He's a huge, calming presence on the mound and in the dugout and the Sox brass risks alienating their own players by trading him.

Then there's the fans.

Boston fans are a lot of things, but they aren't baseball-stupid. You can't wrap something up as quality and try and pawn it off on Sox fans, they will smell it a mile away and the Sox Front Office will be staring at a lot of empty seats if they try and convince Red Sox fans that a Triple-A lineup and bush-league rotation is worth paying $100 to watch. Boston fans know what a good team looks like, and they know what a good pitcher looks like. Having watched Pedro all those years, they know an Ace is hard to come by, and they understand the severity of potentially losing Lester.

Whatever about all that, he's just a very, very popular guy with Boston fans, and this might be one-move-too-many by a tinkering Front Office for fans.

Perhaps most of all, Lester just gets it. He know what it takes to win in Boston, win consistently. He's great with his team-mates, the fans and in the Boston community. He is a proven winner, and has proven he can handle both the best and worst Boston and it's often claustrophobic fans and media can throw at it. There is absolutely no guarantee any of these shiny prospects we keep hearing about will come even close to panning out, and even less of a chance they will ever reach Lester's level of success.

Very little feels 'right' about this potential move. Lester's skill level, his popularity amongst both his team-mates and fans and his intangibles like heart and stamina, it feels like the Sox brass are clutching at straws here, potentially making what they see as the right move, but what in actual fact could be a massive, momentous mistake.


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