The Boston Red Sox now have exactly 1 starter from the 2013 World Series team on the roster, and that’s Clay Buchholz — the guy with -1.5 WAR this year. Jake Peavy was dealt to the Giants this weekend in what appears to be a steal for the Red Sox, and now Jon Lester and John Lackey, the guys who mowed down the Cardinals in Games 5 and 6 of the World Series last year, are gone.
Lester was dealt along with Jonny Gomes to the A’s for Yeonis Cespedes. Lackey was dealt to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Rumor has it that Cherington is even trying to see what he can get in return for me and my 64 MPH high heat.
While I loved the Peavy deal, I’m not that thrilled about either deal today. (I’ll be discussing the Lackey deal in my next post — this one is just about the Lester deal.) Call me crazy, but I don’t think that his HR Derby potential matters very much for the 2015 baseball season, and it seems like people are forgetting that. HR derby power doesn’t always translate into real power, and Bobby Abreu is a perfect example. You know who’s almost as good of an example? Yeonis Cespedes. He homered 23 times in his great 2012, and 26 times in his bad 2013. This season, he has 17 jacks, but his OBP is .303, more than 10 points below the MLB average. Cespedes has 66 HR in 1546 career plate appearances, meaning that he homers in 4.26% of his time in the batter’s box. Jonny Gomes, by comparison, has homered in 4.22% of his PA throughout his career. At this stage, Cespedes is obviously a better player and power hitter than Gomes, and he also plays in Oakland, which rivals the old Pologrounds as far as pitchers’ parks go. But those numbers should give you some food for thought regarding just how much of a baseball obliterator Yeonis Cespedes really is.
Now, let’s look at the fact that Jon Lester is gone. As we said in our post on the Lester trade 2 days ago, payroll flexibility doesn’t start Game 1 of the World Series. Lester practically admitted that he was willing to take less than market value before the year, and the Red Sox tried to take advantage of his loyalty by offering a 4 year, $70 million deal. That’s a joke for an ace with a 2.11 postseason ERA, including a 1.56 ERA in October of 2013.
There are 2 ways of thinking that I’ve heard as to why it makes sense to trade Lester, and we touched on both on Tuesday simply because they both make sense. If the Sox were going to sign Lester at the number they wanted, they would have by now, since Lester wasn’t holding out for every last penny. And the second is that there’s no real reason to overpay for a guy whom you know you’re going to overpay for, so if the Sox can’t meet Lester at their price, then you gotta trade him.
That’s all fine, but I think it looks over a major premise of mine: The Sox should simply spend more. They’re the Red Sox, who have enough money to do such a trade. The 4 years $70 million price tag is obviously just dumb, but I don’t think Lester would’ve held out for something approaching the Ellsbury deal, for example, or at least not more than it. And that’s where I think a lot of Red Sox fans are overlooking things. They’re saying “Well, if Cherington’s and Henry’s price point (it’s really Henry’s price point, not Cherington’s) was too far from Lester’s, then you gotta trade him.” But what if Henry’s price point sucked in and of itself? That’s the issue I have. Lester is an ace, so you’re gonna have to give him ace money. And if he’s admitting that he’s willing to take a discount that isn’t quite robbery but still a significant discount, then pay up.
OR, you can flip him and get fair market value for that ace. That would be an acceptable option to me as well. But that’s the 2nd premise of mine that makes me not too happy with the deal. I just don’t see Yeonis Cespedes as fair value. Not when his OBP is .303, his power, while being very good and by far the 2nd best on the Red Sox roster, is overrated, and his defensive range is average at best. And he’s 28. Just $9 million for him next year is very doable, but not when it costs you your Game 1 World Series starter.
If it were up to me, I would have looked Jon Lester in the eye, said, “Fuck it, we’ll make a real offer,” and rolled the dice that they could resign him. Even if I’m thinking too much with John Henry’s money and not mine (seriously, that dude is LOADED, though — What’s a scarf?), I still think that it would have been worth it to hope to figure it out in the offseason and retain the guy that pitched lights out in the World Series in 2007 Game 4, 2013 Game 1, and 2013 Game 5.
Of course, if Lester does resign with the Sox this offseason, then I’ll shut up. The A’s don’t spend money ever, so they won’t get him back, and Lester might want to spend the next however many years of his life with his wife and young child in the only city that he’s ever known as a baseball player. The problem is that I can only think of 1 guy in any sport (among good players, not dime a dozen role players) who has been traded from a team midseason and then resigned there a month later, and that was the all world talent of Matt Moulson with the Buffalo Sabres earlier this month. I’m praying for that, but it’s unlikely. It seems like the Red Sox just traded their ace for below market value. I hope I’m wrong.
Jon Lester said in spring training that he really wanted to stay in Boston, but that he wanted a fair deal. His agent, Seth Levinson, also reps Pedroia, so the Sox aren’t dealing with Scott Boras here. So if the Sox had offered anything close to market value for Lester by now, he would be locked up. They haven’t, and Buster Olney wrote today that Lester’s close friend says there is “no chance” he signs with Boston at this point, reinforcing what history says about players resigning with teams after they trade them (they don’t). So Lester is gone forever by Thursday.
Paying Market value for 30 year old pitchers isn’t great business. It’s probably even bad. Even big money starters that signed with their own teams (Verlander, Sabathia, Cain) look like albatrosses going forward, so it’s not a case of not knowing a free agent inside and out. Verlander was way better than Lester ever was, and Fangraphs has his contract as the 2nd worst in baseball, even worse than A-Rod. Selling high on Lester at 30 isn’t a bad move, considering that he won’t have his binky David Ross forever, and that Jake “Washed” Peavy just got two prospects that at least are future relievers. Few teams are selling, and Lester is the best guy on the market, even if he is a rental. Another team could even ask for another of Boston’s expiring contracts (Andrew Miller would be a prime candidate) to sweeten the deal, a la the A’s and the Cubs. The Cubs got a top-10 prospect in the whole league for a pitcher worse than Lester (Jeff Samardija), even if he had another year of control, and another decent expiring player (Jason Hammel). Recent rentals have gotten very good return, and Lester is dealing right now.
If this was the Rays, or any other team that’s not the Yankees or the Dodgers, sending Lester and his World Series rings on his way would be right move. And the Red Sox have a budget, too, which is why the Dodgers trade was so important. Two things about that, though: a ton of money is coming off Boston’s books in the next two years — and why do the Red Sox have a budget?? The Red Sox only have $80 million committed for 2015 (just more than half of their 2014 payroll, when Cherington has said they want to be contending again), and $13 million for 2016. A lot of prospects are in the pipeline, which is why Cherington did those short term deals that are coming up in the next couple years. Young guys are cheap, so there is room for Lester, and more importantly, none of those prospects will be probably as good as Lester will be – even after 30. “Payroll flexibility” doesn’t start game one of the playoffs.
The bigger issue is that ownership has a payroll limit in the first place. That ain’t none of my business, but the Red Sox print money. NESN is the owners’ puppet, and WEEI is paying the Sox so much that they couldn’t afford to have the Celtics anymore. It costs $50 to park… and I could go on. John Henry even said in spring training that the luxury tax isn’t necessarily a hindrance going forward. So why is ownership not giving support to a Lester extension? So that John Henry feels good about having a bunch of undervalued players? Wins per dollar spent is something for Tampa to celebrate.
It’s awful that Lester’s going to leave. The Red Sox make so much money that they should never be sellers, and they should never let a stud go unless he is a Manny-in-08 level asshole. But I don’t own the Red Sox, so they will probably trade the first player drafted by John Henry. Boston should get a lot back though, so a trade won’t be that bad, because they will be selling high. Unless Matt Kemp is involved. Then it’s a disaster, but it sounds like he isn’t, Thank Bill Belichick (God).
One of Theo Epstein’s last gifts to the Red Sox was a certain clause that he put into John Lackey’s contract. Before 2010, the Sox and Lackey’s camp agreed that if Lackey missed an entire season from 2010-2014 — the original terms of his 5 year, $82.5 million deal — that Lackey would be also under contract for the Red Sox for 2015 at a measly price of $500,000.
That’s right. In a league where Ryan Dempster earns roughly $13 million a year to close out Game 1 of the World Series in a 12-2 game, and in a league where Barry Zito and Johan Santana were on their team’s books for approximately $7 billion combined until just last October, the Red Sox will get a pitcher with clutch performances in two world series, a 3.60 ERA, 3.56 FIP, and 2.5 WAR for just half a mil.
But this should only mean one thing: Lackey should be dealt before Thursday’s trade deadline. His low salary next year is obviously incredibly appealing to the Red Sox, but wouldn’t it be more appealing to a team with a limited budget and a need for a playoff performer, rather than a team who won’t make the playoffs and has deeper pockets? Even if Lucchino and co. do want to limit their spending for the next few years, the Red Sox are not the kind of team that is in need of cheap labor. (Actually, with the MLB’s revenue expected to reach $9 billion this year and the high amount of revenue sharing that goes on, no team is in need of cheap labor. It’s just that many teams’ owners claim that they are.)
So the question becomes, which teams would most want Lackey’s services for the rest of this year and for all of 2015 at a price that can only be referred to as a pittance? Glad you asked. Here are the top 6, since Lackey won Game 6 of the World Series in my mind in order of least need for Lackey to most. Take notes, Ben Cherrington.
6: Los Angeles Angels
I debated whether or not to put the Angels in this spot, since it was weird that they didn’t make much of a push to keep Lackey after 2009. Seems like there might not be a ton of mutual love there. Then again, maybe they just knew that some team was going to overpay Lackey (Hi, Theo!), and there was no reason to get into a bidding war that they couldn’t win.
After Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards the Angels need help. I gotta believe that CJ Wilson will turn it around a little bit once coming back from the DL, but Tyler Skaggs hasn’t made the jump fast enough, and Hector Santiago is Hector Santiago. Let Lackey take either the 3rd or 4th starter spot in a market and park where he’s excelled before. It’s a little risky to make this deal if the Angels are just going to be a wild card team (which they practically have wrapped up), since they might lose that opening game, basically rendering Lackey useless for this year. But that’s why it’s a good thing that Lackey will be under contract for 2015, and it’s also worth mentioning that the Halos are just 2 back of the A’s. Get Lackey, bump some underachieving dude from the rotation, and make a run for it. Then pay him next to nothing next year. Then they’ll probably let him walk without putting up much of a fight after 2015 like they did in 2009, but whatever.
5: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers would be way higher on this list if not for the simple fact that they don’t give a damn about money, making Lackey’s value next year much smaller for the Dodgers than anyone else. But Lackey would still be a cheaper version of the arm that the Dodgers are trying to acquire with the likes of Jon Lester and David Price. They wouldn’t have to give up the prospects that they would for Lester/Price, and they’d get an extra year out of Lackey that they wouldn’t with the other 2 guys. Bump Dan Haren from the rotation (finally), make a run for the division with the Giants, and let Beckett and Lackey eat all the fried chicken they want in the locker room again.
4: Toronto Blue Jays
I’ve been surprised that the Jays aren’t in as many rumors for pitchers as some other teams. After Mark Buerhle and maybe RA Dickey, there’s no one that Jays fans can really feel confident with on the mound in a playoff series. And why wouldn’t the Blue Jays go for it in 2014? The AL East is horrible, and the Orioles are only better than the Jays in terms of run differential by 6 whole runs. Also, they are 2nd in the wild card standings by just a game, and they gotta hold off the Yanks, Mariners, and co. The Red Sox might not want to trade Lackey within the division, but I’ve almost always rejected that notion. Get the best value you can.
3: Milwaukee Brewers
After Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, and Wily Peralta, the Brew Crew has Marco Estrada and his 4.94 ERA and -.4 WAR as their 5th man. Lackey would provide an easy upgrade there and then some, and there’s a really good chance he’s take the 4th spot in the playoff rotation, given that Peralta is still so unproven and might regress at any time. In fact, his ERA is 3.56 and his FIP is 4.25, so he’s due to regress tomorrow. Combine that with the fact that Lackey will be cheap labor next year for really small market team, and this is a great fit.
2: Baltimore Orioles
Speaking of that, here’s another AL East team that would love Lackey. The Orioles’ ace is Chris Tillman, who you’d be sorta ok with as your 2nd starter. And, if there’s one thing we know about the Angelos, the Orioles’ owners, it’s that they’re cheap. A proven playoff pitcher who can put the team over the top for about $5 million for the rest of this year and a tenth of that next season? How can they say no? Considering this is my 2nd team in the rankings, I feel like I should have more analysis… but this just seems so self-explanatory.
1: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are 30th in WAR for their pitchers, and they’re not even close to 29th. Their rotation is Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Vance Worley, which screams “We need help!” They’re among the cheapest of the small market teams, their fans are dying for a World Series after last season’s heroic playoff run all the way to Game 5 of the NLDS (It’s great to be a Boston sports fan, isn’t it?), they’re 3 games behind the leader in the NL Central and 1.5 back in the wild card… must I go on? There’s no reason for the Pirates not to make this trade. Ben Cherrington should be in Pittsburgh right now trying to sell this trade idea.
*First, wanna apologize for the lack of posts. Life has gotten in the way, but that’s over with now. Gonna be on my grind for a long time now.
Yesterday, the Red Sox traded the guy who loves duckboats more than just about any Boston athlete we’ve seen, which hurts me given the name of this website. But, if there’s one thing that trading Pierce and Garnett taught us, it’s that you have to appreciate a good trade on business alone. (Hey Brooklyn, how’s that team looking next year? Thanks for the 47 first round picks. I look forward to the Celtics having an insane starting 5 in the 2019-2020 season who are all still on rookie contracts, which will open up space for whoever is a free agent at the time. Thanks again.)
Moving on. Ben Cherrington was able to get a great return for Peavy by acquiring minor league pitchers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, who were ranked 2nd and 7th respectively in the Giants’ farm system. Again, this is for a 33 year old who is about to be a free agent and hasn’t been himself at all this year. The Red Sox sold high on Peavy’s stock, and anyone who has a problem with the trade would be a moron. I say “would be” because I (gladly) haven’t heard of any knowledgeable fans who take issue with the trade.
As for Cherrington’s overall direction, let’s all finally agree that anyone who bought into his “we’re trying to go for it” BS about 10 days ago was simply being naive. Of course he has to say that. Now, the Sox have lost their last 5, and of course Cherrington knows enough to sell. After all, he’s not Ruben Amaro Jr.
The only guy who is practically guaranteed to be traded is Mike Carp, who admitted that he asked for a trade. That’s a smart move by him. He deserves to play, and because the Red Sox can’t offer him a starting gig, there’s no reason to stay. Maybe he put up with in 2013 because a World Series title is a World Series title, but in 2014, he’d be dumb not to ask to leave.
There’s a chance that Jon Lester could be next among the pitchers. The guy that I want to be traded is John Lackey. Considering the magnitude of these potential two moves, they deserve their own column each. Coming soon.
As far as position players go, Jonny Gomes has no value right now. Neither does Stephen Drew. Or AJ Pierz- oh, my bad. Screw him. Mike Napoli could be an intriguing trade option, but my guy tells me that the value won’t be there. Nap is doing better than last year statistically, but teams will understandably be scared of his injury history. Also, the Sox wanna contend next year, and Mike Napoli at first base for 1 year and $16 million in a contract year is pretty appealing. Shane Victorino is in the same boat — won’t get the right value, and the Sox will be smart to use him next year in his own contract year.
Daniel Nava could get a decent return, and it could be pretty smart to move him, actually. Maybe teams will fall in love with the fact that he’s boosted his stats a ton from the beginning of the season, but his total 2014 line is still pretty mediocre. The last possibility is Will Middlebrooks, who might be traded for the whole “change of scenery” thing, especially when NESN and the Red Sox (basically the same thing at this point) hate his new fiance.
As for the pitchers other than Lackey and Lester, I’m a big fan of trades involving relievers, both when you’re buying and selling. Even though general managers are now smarter than ever, buyers are still going to value bullpen arms more than the sellers do. Relievers are so volatile from year to year, so there’s no reason for the seller not to sell high. At the same time, I don’t buy that, when you look at each year as a timetable of its own, that a reliever’s stats are quite as random as many statheads do. Each season is still one in its own, and how a guy pitched in April is a far better indicator of how he’ll pitch in October than, say, last season, at least in my mind. Because of all that, relievers automatically should have more value to the buyers than sellers.
Trade Andrew Miller. He’s a very good pitcher, and he’s much better than his career 5.10 ERA suggests. From 2012 through 2014, he’s had an ERA of 3.35, 2.64, and now 2.52, respectively. That’s a good trend, but this year is such an outlier. Just look at his WHIP alone from those 3 years: 1.19, 1.37, 0.94. That last one isn’t gonna hold. Sell high.
And sell high on Burke Badenhop for the same reason. (Note: I realize this is Burke freaking Badenhop. He might get no return whatsoever, but let’s think positively for a second.) Badenhop’s ERA is 2.76 with a 1.39 WHIP and a 3.61 xFIP. His xFip has always been in between 3.40 and 3.77 since 2009, so that suggests some luck with the ERA this year.
I’m cool with either trading or keeping Junichi Tazawa. He’s just 28, and pretty consistent. If the Sox think that having him next year is worth whatever value they can get for him this week, I won’t complain either way.
Lastly, and this hurts me to say this, but Ben Cherrington has to trade Koji Uehara. I love Koji almost as much as David Ortiz does, and I love Koji almost as much as I love his kid. But he’s a 39 year old lights out closer with a 1.51 ERA, .79 WHIP, and a pedigree of shutting people down in the playoffs. Some team is going to give the Red Sox a king’s ransom for Koji. I know he seems like the kind of guy to pitch well until he’s about 42 or 43, but cmon. His value will never be higher, and we all know that. Not enough reason to keep him for 2015 to outweigh the tremendous value they’ll get for Koji.
Posts on Lester and Lackey coming soon.
Whoever you’re rooting for in this game is probably a good indication of whether you rooted for the Heat or Spurs in the NBA Finals. Do you want the team who totally deserves another title (San Antonio or Germany), or are you rooting for the individual player simply for greatness (LeBron, Messi — notice I didn’t put the names of the teams itself right here, only the names of the star players).
That being said, I’m bucking the trend, because I’m rooting for Messi after rooting for San Antonio. I want to see Lionel Messi transcend to a level of greatness that we rarely see. In fact, I’m thinking of him in many of the same ways that I’m thinking about LeBron with his Decision 2.0, because I’m really in the mood to see an athlete amaze us to the point that we have no choice to appreciate the art that we’re seeing.
2-1 Argentina. Messi on the winning goal.
I have no problem with LeBron James going back to Cleveland, just like I have no problem with LeBron James as a person. I will never say that “LeBron did it right this time,” because I think that’s one of the most narcissistic, arrogant mindsets a sports fan can have. People may not have liked The Decision, and I didn’t either, but judging someone for how he announced which team he was going to play for in a sports league is beyond stupid. Remember, LeBron donated his entire earnings from The Decision to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, while ESPN kept their share. Everyone on ESPN couldn’t stop calling him selfish afterwards, which seems a little hypocritical. Fans and media members all over think it’s fair to question an athlete’s own personal decisions from an armchair, despite probably never working as hard on anything as an athlete has to reach the peaks that they’ve reached.
So no, I don’t have a problem with LeBron doing what he wanted to do this time, either. He seems happy, and then I’m happy for him.
But I’m not happy for Dan Gilbert. Not with this letter still on the books. I’ve said it before on this site, but I’m a white, christian, straight male, meaning that I belong to probably the least discriminated-against demographic in history. And even when reading that letter, I felt that there was a huge racial undertone to the bullshit letter.
LeBron is a big man to forgive, and he admitted in his own essay, which was the opposite of Gilbert’s in terms of rationale, even-temperament, and overall maturity, that he understands that everyone makes mistakes.
I am very impressed by LeBron’s maturity and willingness to forgive, but, if there’s one aspect of his free agency process in 2014 that I wish I could change, it would be that Dan Gilbert should have to issue a public apology for that sad joke of a letter in 2010.
Gilbert is the same guy who only started crying poverty once LeBron James left, writing to David Stern about how 25 of the 30 teams in the NBA should change their name to the Washington Generals after Chris Paul was momentarily traded to the Lakers. Now, he’ll go back to crying about why the salary cap isn’t high enough for all of his stars or some bullshit like that. LeBron is happy to go back to Ohio, where his family calls home, and I’m just as happy for him as I am disappointed that Dan Gilbert gets what he wants without publicly saying he’s sorry for the racist letter.
And if you think I’m being too hard on Dan Gilbert, well, the letter was only taken down from the Cavaliers’ website in the past week, and he still hasn’t apologized. That’s because the letter is who he is, at least when a player that he thinks he owns leaves in a way that doesn’t make him happy. But now, he’s also the owner who got LeBron back. Too bad it didn’t come with a public apology first.
The Brooklyn Nets should not be allowed to trade with the Boston Celtics. I’m not saying that that’s a fair, just move that fits in with anything that professional sports has to do with, but if the league really wants to be about “competitive balance,” they gotta make sure that Danny Ainge can’t screw over the Nets any longer.
Also, I’m not saying that the Nets got screwed in the deal, although I didn’t really like their return. I’m just saying that Danny Ainge seems to get a huge reward in terms of first round picks whenever the Nets are involved.
Today, in a 3 team trade with the Nets and Cavs, the Celtics acquired Marcus Thornton, Tyler Zeller, and a 2016 Cavaliers first round pick (Top 10 protected from 2016-18, unprotected in 2019) for a second round pick. Yeah, that’s right.
The Celtics essentially bought the first round pick — as well as Zeller, who has struggled somewhat but is cheap and only entering his 3rd year — by agreeing to take on Marcus Thornton’s contract. Now, you’re probably thinking that Thornton’s contract is long term and therefore pretty bad, which is the only reason the C’s were able to do the deal. That’s what I thought, because I didn’t know his contract off the top of my head.
Nope. He has 1 year left at $8.7 million. He has shown some flashes, but isn’t the kind of guy that’s worth $8.7 million. But who cares? It’s for 1 more year, meaning he’s an expiring deal if the Celtics decide to flip some of these assets for a star. If they don’t, well then his contract is done before next summer’s free agency, so again, who cares?
Well done, Danny. As Boston.com’s Celtics Blog breaks down beautifully, the Celtics will likely have 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders in 2016, 3 firsts and 2 seconds in 2016, 1 first in 2017 that can be swapped with the Nets if they suck (they likely will), and 2 firsts in 2018. That’s insane, and it’s some insane asset management.
That was painful. Both the game and that video.
Seriously, what’s worse than losing like that on your home turf, in the biggest sporting event ever created, in a year when everyone in the country was taking nothing but a win as a success. A friend of mine compared it to USA-Canada in 2010 if the US had won in overtime, but that doesn’t begin to take into account the severity of the score. It would be like Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler, and co. putting up 10 goals to Team Canada’s 0. And then multiply that magnitude by 2, because it’s the fucking World Cup.
Who’s angrier now, Neymar, or every other Brazilian person. I honestly can’t decide.
We’re all anxious, but we gotta realize that the Bruins not having made moves by July 7th is actually one of the best realistic scenarios.
I was holding out hope for the resigning of Jarome Iginla, but it wasn’t as realistic as we all wanted to believe, because of the dumb rule that the Bruins can’t get Marc Savard’s LTIR off the cap until opening night. (It’s not like there’s any doubt as to whether or not Savard will play, so just allow the money to be moved off the cap, right, NHL? Guess not.)
The Bruins have to make a move with their defensemen, because they have 9 by Peter Chiarelli’s own admission. I’m rooting for a defensive corp of Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Hamilton, Krug, Warsofsky, and Bartkowski. That would mean that Adam McQuaid and his $1.56 million cap hit would be sent somewhere else, and it would also dictate that Chiarelli gets Bartkowski for less than Kevan Miller’s $800k because of Bart’s terrible playoffs, and then Miller would be traded.
The Bruins have to make a move defensively because their forward situation is the exact opposite — they have too few. The B’s are set at left wing and center, but, just like last year, they only have 1 right wing signed to a contract. Loui Eriksson will likely play 2RW, Smiddy at 2RW once he signs, and then Matt Fraser will hopefully take 3RW or 4RW. If Jordan Caron has to play… no. Please.
Fraser, Warsofsky, Florek, Caron, and obviously Krug and Smith are RFAs. That’s a lot for a team with about $1.6 million in cap space. Not all of these guys will be on the team, so whether or not they make the opening roster might come down to their salaries. And you know what the good news there is? Ryan Spooner is only signed for $760,000 next year. That’s cheap, and it’s the excuse Chiarelli needs to finally get this kid in the lineup more often. Spooner at 4C, Campbell at 4RW (If you remember, Claude put Campbell at RW for a few games in the 2013 season), Fraser at 3RW to start the season, and Smith back with Bergeron and Smith.
There is some relief about the Bruins cap structure once the season starts, but I’m going to break that down for a post of its own. For now, just be a little appreciative that Peter Chiarelli didn’t panic and make the Bruins’ cap situation even worse. Now let’s just try to go back in time and talk him out of the Kelly, Seidenberg, and McQuaid extensions.
After Sunday’s action, the Red Sox sit 9 games back of 1st in both the AL East and AL Wild Card, and what’s more, they’re 5th in the East and 13th out of 15 teams in the American League. When you actually process and comprehend that last sentence, it becomes clear that the Red Sox seriously have to consider being sellers at the deadline.
It’s easy, and pretty understandable, to look at what happened in 2013 and think that this core can compete this year, or at least next year, just by simply getting a little bit more luck. Last year, a few good things went their way, and what’s to say that this group couldn’t make the playoffs again if those same things bounce Boston’s way, right?
Well, that’s the thing. Last year, there weren’t just a few things that went right — just about everything went right. Besides the Buchholz injury and some early season bruises to others, just about everything turned out great for the Sox. Ortiz, Pedroia, and Ellsbury, who is no longer here, all went HAM, and Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all had the best seasons that we realistically could have expected, and those are just the hitters. Ellsbury and Salty aren’t here, and Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava, and Jonny Gomes are guys that the Red Sox should want to upgrade from, anyway.
On the mound, the Sox should resign Lester, because his price tag for an extension shouldn’t be too insane, and Lester also seems to pitch well for John Farrell. But Lackey and Peavy? Sell them to the highest bidder.
John Lackey will make only $500k next year because of a cool stipulation that Theo Epstein put in his contract in 2010 that Lackey would have a team option in 2015 for just half a million bucks if he missed a season due to an elbow injury. Because of that cost next year, which is insane for a pitcher who would easily earn over $15 million on a 1 year deal next season on the open market, the Red Sox could get a relative treasure chest by trading him. This is a perfect example of a time when a GM should view his player as an asset. Lackey and his low salary are an asset to the Red Sox next season if they hope to contend, but he’s even more of an asset to a small market team who needs pitching. That other team will likely sell itself on not just his low salary, but also the fact that he is a proven playoff performer, the type of thing that a team just making the playoffs for the first time would love to have for the end of 2014 and all of 2015. Wouldn’t a team like the Orioles, who have only 1 pitcher — the amazing Bud Norris, who has thrown more than 50 innings this year with an ERA under 4.00, love to have Lackey? Or if the Sox are afraid of trading in the division, what about Pittsburgh? They need pitching and then some. Milwaukee? Maybe even Washington, who isn’t a small market but would love a playoff performer, or Oakland, if Billy Beane feels that they still lack pitching.
As for Peavy, he’s going to be a 33 year old free agent, and he’s pitching to a 4.64 ERA and 1.44 WHIP this year. That’s exactly the kind of guy that you trade come July 31. The Sox will already have Lester, assuming he resigns, Felix Doubront, Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz If He Is Healthy, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Henry Owens, Anthony Raunado, Brian Johnson, and Matt Barnes as pitching options next year. A few of those guys are unlikely to make the show by next year, of course, but the point is that trading Peavy before the Sox could resign and probably overpay him isn’t exactly a huge loss.
I’d like to see the Sox trade AJ Pierzynski, and that would be true even if they didn’t have Blake Swihart or Christian Vazquez. But even if catcher is weak around the league, I don’t see a replacement-level catcher getting a ton in a trade. It would kill me to see Gomes and Napoli after how awesome they were for the clubhouse last year, but the Sox might get their best value ever on them. I’d probably keep them and head into 2015 with both of the chief bearded brothers, but I would totally understand selling on them.
That leaves one final guy who the Red Sox should absolutely look to trade, as much pain as it would cause: Koji Uehara. Everybody in Boston loves Koji, and we might love his son even more. But he’s also a 39 year old closer for whom it would be just about impossible to pitch as well in 2015 as he did in 2013 and is pitching in 2014, much less improve on those microscopic ERA and FIP numbers. After last October, some contender will pony up the money for Koji, and the Red Sox should jump at the chance.
But this all assumes that the Red Sox would sell, and I’m not saying that they should start the firesale today. My thoughts on the timetable for if and when the Sox should become sellers is simple: Wait a few weeks, like everybody else is saying anyway. Very few teams are gonna trade substantially more for one of these guys than they would before the deadline itself. Wait until about July 25, and then start selling high if things don’t improve.
So why did I write an almost 1000 word column saying how the Red Sox should become sellers if I’m not even saying that they should right now? Well, because I don’t think that things are going to improve too much for the Sox between now and then. They’re 13th of 15 in the AL for a reason.