The Nation: Trade Deadline grades

Stress. That’s what the trade deadline amounts to for many players, fans, and organizations in baseball. The trade deadline usually gets really good (or bad, depending on how you see it) on the last day, July 31st, when many teams go all out to buy or sell. This year, the Red Sox were the biggest sellers. In my article, I’m going to lay out each trade that the Red Sox made and give it a grade. If you agree, great, if not, that’s fine too, please just respect my opinions.

Trade: Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick

My grade: A-

This deal was heart wrenching. I will be the first to tell you I shed more than a few tears when I found out Lester was packing his bags for Oakland, along with Gomes who is also a huge fan favorite. But for all the bad that was involved, there was a sizable amount of good. We finally got a good hitter, a power hitter. In fact, we got the back-to-back home run derby champ in Yoenis Cespedes, arguably the A’s best hitter overall. The 28 year old is controllable for all of next season as well, but I 100% expect the Red Sox to extend him. He’s gonna hit balls over the monster for years to come. Okay, great. Got a hitter. What else is good about the deal? We got a competitive balance draft pick. Don’t underestimate the value of this. I have a feeling it’s going to come in very, very handy. I had this deal as a solid B to B+ earlier, but my mind has changed and I’ve raised it to an A- for one reason: Lester MAY be coming back to us. One of my recent blogs was all about why Lester WOULDN’T pitch for the Sox again, but I don’t fully buy that statement now. Here’s why: 1) He said he’d return. In fact, at one point he declared they would have to physically rip a Red Sox jersey off of his back. 2) Recent reports have given me further optimism that the Red Sox will indeed go all out and bring him back at season’s end. And 3) David Price was traded to the Tigers. How does this affect anything? Price will most likely be the one the Tigers intend to keep long term, leaving them unable to afford Scherzer as well. Here’s what I see happening, the Yankees will get Scherzer. Okay, whatever. They can have him. They’ll definitely overpay for him. Once that happens, Lester will have fewer high-spending teams to choose from. If the reports are true, the Red Sox will be one of them. And I expect if they offer ANYTHING close to what other teams are offering, Jon will be our starter opening day. Right back where he belongs. For that, I give this entire trade an A-

Trade: John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly

My grade: A

Perhaps the most underrated trade of the day. We get a young pitcher in Kelly, who pitched against us in Game 3 of the World Series last year. When he’s right, the guy can pitch. His career ERA is just above 3, making him a quality asset. Craig has had a rough year. But let’s not forget how well he hit last year and in the 2011 World Series. If he can replicate his former self, the Red Sox will have another threat in their lineup. But what about Lackey, you ask? He was signed for the league minimum for next year and he won Game 6 for us last year to clinch it. Okay. Also consider he asked for the trade. He wanted out. Whatever pride he had in being a member of the Red Sox, it evaporated rather quickly the past week or so. Personally, I don’t want a guy here that doesn’t want to be here. Have fun in St. Louis, cowboy John. We’re better off without you from here on out anyway.

Trade: Andrew Miller for Eduardo Rodriguez

My grade: A+

Who? That’s what I was asked multiple times after I reported the deal. Well, Rodriguez was ranked as the 3rd best prospect in the entire Orioles farm system. Now he’s ours. He’s a pitcher, and a left handed one at that. He’s also only 21. Plenty of upside with this guy. Guess what else? The O’s will have Miller for 2 months, 3 tops if they’re lucky. Guess what else? Miller, like Lester, said he’d be open to returning to the Red Sox next year. I’ll take the risk.

Trade: Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson

My grade: B+

Red Sox fans were split over Drew. Oh, who am I kidding. Most weren’t fond of him at all. I respect Drew. And I don’t dislike him. He did help us win a World Series last year (with his glove of course). But Drew was clogging up the infield. And him being at short took away from Xander’s time there. Trading Drew to the Yankees is why this only gets a B+. We got Kelly Johnson in return. He’s barely hitting better than Drew. BUT we save a size able amount in payroll because those pinstriped jackasses will be paying the rest. It was a good move, and the first trade with the Yankees since 1997. Been awhile. But why did I give it only a B+? It helps the Yankees, believe it or not. And I don’t like that. Sure, Drew can’t hit worth a damn. We all know that. But his defense is really good, and that’s gonna help the Yankees. I don’t want them to succeed. For that, I give it a B+.

Overall reaction: It was a rough day. I lost a family member (figuratively, of course) in Jon Lester, my favorite pitcher and second only to Ortiz for my favorite player. We lost Gomes, another guy I was very find of. We traded Miller and Lackey and Drew: all three apart of the 2013 champion team. But we got a lot of hope and promise back. Cespedes will be a force with the Green Monster in left. I’m gonna enjoy watching him and Ortiz piss countless pitchers off (eh-hem, Chris Archer) when they smash homers and flip their bats. I’m have faith in Craig and Kelly. And Rodriguez just adds to an already talented group of prospects. Johnson was more for financial reasons, but he may give us a decent bat off the bench. It’s all gonna be alright, Red Sox nation. Maybe we’ll even come away with Jon Lester at the end of it all. That’s a happy ending in my book. Thanks for reading!

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The Nation: An ace for a bat

If you haven’t heard by now, the Red Sox traded Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics (along with Jonny Gomes) in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, a power hitting outfielder who will have great success as a right handed hitter at Fenway Park. But was it a good deal?

Yes and no.

Why yes?

Because we FINALLY got a middle of the order hitter with some massive firepower. Cespedes has 17 homeruns so far this season, and my guess is he’ll finish with anywhere from 25-30 now, hitting plenty of those at Fenway. He’ll primarily be playing left field, and Nava will look to be the 4th guy in the outfield rotation (this is without Holt playing in the outfield). Where’s he gonna hit in the order? I will venture to say 5th, with Ortiz and Napoli ahead of him. However, should he get hot, Farrell may decide to hit him 3rd, especially against lefties. Another good thing about Cespedes? He’s 28. Not the youngest guy, but still plenty of good years left in him. I’m excited to see him hit some monstrous homers at Fenway.

Why not?

We traded Jon Lester. We traded Jon Lester. We TRADED JON LESTER. He was our ace, our guy. A great teammate and pitcher, loved by the guys in the Red Sox clubhouse and obviously by us. This trade hurts a lot worse than when we traded Nomar back in 2004. In my opinion, at least. In Lester, we had a true number one. There was always confidence that he could give us a great effort, give us at least 7 innings, and obliterate hitters with that nasty cutter. This is perhaps the best year of his illustrious career, and we traded him. He came up with us. Straight from high school in 2002. We watched him grow. We saw him defeat cancer and throw a no hitter. We witnessed him dominate in the postseason, en route to TWO World Series rings. We love him. And he loves us. Oakland fans will appreciate him, he’ll appreciate them. But Lester was our guy. And we all know that. Losing him honest to God feels like I’ve lost a family member.

Okay, aside from all that, why is this not a good deal? Losing Gomes? No, not really, although I’m a big fan of Jonny and I love the guy. Why then? The main reason is that Cespedes is only under contract for next season. His contract states he can become a free agent at the end of the year, without arbitration. That means if the Red Sox really want to keep him, they’ll have to negotiate an extension, something they wouldn’t do for Lester. Now, I honestly think they’ll work on that and try to keep him because he’s not a 30 year old pitcher. We’ll have to see. But why else was this a bad deal? Back to Lester. He’s a free agent after his two months in California are up. And many of you seem adamant he’s coming right back get after the season and we’ll all live happily ever after. I’m a realist, I tend to view things in a pessimistic way. I made it clear in an earlier blog that the Red Sox wouldn’t extend Lester now, why would they when 4-6 teams are throwing 100’s of millions of dollars at Lester and giving him upwards of 6-7 years? He’d be crazy to turn that down. I can assure you, the Red Sox won’t offer top dollar. Will they at least TRY to get him back? Of course. They’ll make their dues. They’ll offer him a little more than the 70 million the offered in spring training (a slap in the face). But they won’t be the highest bidders, in years or in money. And I fully expect Jon will be pitching somewhere else next season. If I’m wrong, and he’s back in a Red Sox uniform where he belongs, fantastic. I’ll have never been happier to have been wrong. But it remains to be seen.

Anyway, I suggest you enjoy watching Cespedes crank homers for the final months, and come October, tune into some A’s baseball and cheer for our former guys. I would bet my money they’re going a long, long way this postseason. Thanks for reading, as always!

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The Nation: Lester’s farewell

The trade is coming. To who and when, those are the only questions remaining. I would like to tell you Jon Lester will be with the Red Sox for life. I would like to tell you that after continuously proving himself, winning in the postseason (including 2 World Series rings), putting up Cy Young seasons like this year, oh, yea, and pitching a no hitter after beating cancer, that Jon Lester would never pitch a home game outside of Fenway Park.

But I’m going to be up front about it all. I’m going to be realistic. For some of you optimists out there, you’ll scold me and disagree with me. But for those realists taking a look at what I say, you’re probably already feeling the emptiness knowing Jon Lester has pitched his last game with the Red Sox.

Some of you are already saying, “No, that’s wrong. We’ll trade him and he’ll just sign with us after the season.” Others are saying, “we won’t even trade him. We’ll extend him after the trade deadline.” But realistically, both of those ideas won’t come to pass. Here’s why:

The Red Sox have made it very clear they won’t give a big contract to a 30 year old pitcher. No matter who that pitcher may be. Here’s what bothers me about that: They’ve done that. Plenty of times. They did it with Lackey, a guy who wasn’t home grown. But they won’t do it for Jon Lester. A guy we all love, a guy we’ve witnessed grow in this game. He loves Boston. And we love him. But the ownership doesn’t see that. That’s reason number one.

Secondly, they already offered him a low ball deal of 70 million. A guy as good as Lester shouldn’t be taking any offer below 105 million dollars. That’s should be a starting point. But the Red Sox haven’t made any negotiations since then. If the Red Sox REALLY wanted to keep Jon Lester, believe me, they have the money to do it. They don’t want to keep him. That’s why they’re trading him.

Lastly, once Lester is traded, one of two things will happen after the season. The first: the team he is traded to will negotiate a new contract to keep him (if it can afford it). Secondly, he will hit the open market and see who the highest bidder for his services is. I’ll really ruin the mood now. The Yankees are going to be offering a LOT of money. The Red Sox? Sure, they may get involved. They may even raise that 70 million dollar offer to around 100 million. But that’s not enough. It’ll be too late by then. Jon Lester will be pitching for another team next year and beyond. I hate it as much as you do. Trust me, I’m a huge Jon Lester fan. And when I get that dreaded notification that he’s packed his bags and is shipping out, my heart will drop even lower than it has right now.

We’ll survive. Hell, we may even go out and get another good pitcher or two for next year. But no matter who those guys MAY be, they won’t be Jon Lester and they certainly won’t be beloved and adored like he is here in Boston.

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The Nation: What’s the best deal?

I just wrote a piece about what the Red Sox could possibly acquire for Jon Lester from multiple interested teams. But which of those deals would be the best? Here’s my opinion.

The trade: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller

The teams: Dodgers

Their trade pieces: Matt Kemp (with the Dodgers eating a lot of his salary) Joc Pederson, and Chris Anderson. There’s a possibility Seager or another top prospect would be included as well.

This deal makes sense for both teams. Especially if the Dodgers are willing to eat a large amount of Kemp’s salary. This saves the Red Sox money (since they’re so stingy), gives them a future star in Pederson, a lower-risk, high reward gamble with Kemp (seeing as his salary would be very manageable with LA paying a lot of it) and another top pitching prospect in Anderson. The Dodgers could afford to pay Lester after the season and could control Lackey through next year. Keeping Miller would be possible as well. It works for both sides. This is the best deal to me, and I would take it if it was on the table.

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The Nation: Big returns for an ace

You all know by now that Jon Lester is available in a trade. Because he’s an ace, the team that wants him the most will have to give up some serious talent in return. I expect Jon has pitched his last game in Boston. And as much as I’d like to hold out hope that he would re-sign with us after the season, I’m going to be realistic and say that’s not going to happen. So, here are the teams interested in Jon Lester and the potential prospects they could package in a deal for Lester.

I’ll start with the AL East first (although these two teams are highly unlikely to acquire Lester from us, since they’re division rivals)

Orioles – Always hungry for starting pitching, the Orioles have contacted the Red Sox about Lester.

Possible trade pieces: Dylan Bundy (1), Hunter Harvey (2)

These are the top two prospects for the O’s. Bundy has a phenomenal upside and is going to be a great pitcher for a long time. I’ve scouted Bundy in person and I’ve seen the talent. The kid can pitch.

Blue Jays – Like the O’s, the Blue Jays have a talented lineup and lack the pitching needed for a deep playoff run. Lester could change that.

Possible trade pieces: Daniel Norris (1), Dalton Pompey (2)

Norris is a horse. He also has a great mix of pitches with some good control. I’m more interested in Pompey though. He’s a switch hitting outfielder that the Red Sox will definitely want in any deal.

Brewers – Remember when they got CC a few years ago? He changed them into a contender. They figure Lester could do the same.

Possible trade pieces: Jimmy Nelson (1), Tyrone Taylor (2)

Nelson is another top of the line pitching prospect. Taylor is an outfielder. It would be hard for the Red Sox to trade Lester to the Brewers without one or both of these guys.

Mariners – Seattle has been doing their best to buy a championship this year. With Cano and a recently added Morales, they believe all they lack is another great pitcher.

Possible trade pieces: Taijuan Walker (1), Alex Jackson (2)

Walker is great when he can stay healthy. Jackson is a good-hitting outfield prospect. The Red Sox would like to add both in any deal.

Braves – solid lineup, questionable pitching. The Braves lack an ace, making it hard for them to compete against a team like the Dodgers in the playoffs.

Possible trade pieces: Evan Gattis, Braxton Davidson (4)

Gattis is a longshot for the Red Sox to acquire. The Braves love him and the Red Sox have 2 talented catchers in the making. But Gattis could play some outfield and even DH in the future. Davidson is, of course, an outfielder the Sox would like to add.

Dodgers – Speaking of LA, the Dodgers have the best talent available to land Lester and even Lackey if they truly want him.

Possible trade pieces: Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson (1), Corey Seager (2)

The Dodgers have a great team. The best in my opinion. Adding Lester and possibly even Lackey and or Miller would further their already high chances of winning the World Series. Kemp would be a great fit IF he’s healthy and IF the Dodgers eat a huge amount of his salary. Ethier would have a bigger role in Boston, but the Red Sox aren’t very keen on him. The real prize is Joc Pederson. I have also scouted him in person. Should the Red Sox acquire him, expect him to make a huge impact in the near and far future at Fenway Park.

Lastly,

Pirates – The Pirates have been somewhat hurt by losing AJ Burnett. Adding Jon Lester would certainly make them forget about him.

Possible trade pieces: Tyler Glasnow (1), Josh Bell (3), Jose Tabata

Glasnow projects as a possible front of the rotation starter while Bell is a very talented outfielder. Tabata struggled mightily this year, but I still see upside in him. Pittsburgh may very well be the dark horse in the Lester race. I expect them to make a strong offer.

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The Nation: Trading Jon Lester

If you’re reading this, your heart had probably dropped multiple times when you’ve heard that our beloved Jon Lester could very well be traded. A man that has come through our system, worn a Red Sox jersey his entire career and has even beaten cancer and thrown a no hitter. A true “ace” on and off the field. I’m going to be realistic here. And I’m going to go ahead and say that I fully believe the Red Sox WILL trade Jon Lester. Here’s why:

The Red Sox are stingy. I mean HORRIBLY stingy. They have tons upon tons of payroll flexibility and a huge excess of money to spend, yet since the debacle of the huge contracts dished out to Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox are terrified of making those mistakes again. Because of that, they are very unwilling to dish out money to anyone, even a guy like Jon Lester. They have become the Oakland A’s version 2.0. The problem with that is that they have tons of money. Yet they won’t use it.

The Red Sox are also hesitant to extend Lester because they are worried his arm will give out or he’ll rapidly decline, like most pitchers in their 30’s tend to do in short spans. Here’s the problem with that. They’re guessing. They’re literally basing their opinions on other pitchers and not giving Lester enough credit. Do I think he’ll be dominating at age 34 or 35? No. I’m realistic. But the man is as good as anyone in the game (except Kershaw). Yes, I would put Lester on par with or even above David Price. However, my opinion has no weight to the front office in Boston.

Lastly, the Red Sox will trade Lester to acquire even more minor league talent and or Matt Kemp. My problem with that? Look at our minor league systems. We have a phenomenal surplus of talented kids waiting in the wings. Why in the world would you keep stacking an already stacked system when you can win as early as next year with your ace leading a talented pitching staff? As for Matt Kemp: I love the guy. I do. I’m a fan. And I fully believe he would succeed in Fenway Park. BUT he’s not Jon Lester. Lester is our guy and we love him. Though he has said multiple times he would re-sign with the Red Sox if he’s traded, I don’t buy it. The Red Sox wouldn’t pay him while he’s here, they’re certainly not going to overpay him when he’s on the verge of leaving. It hurts me to say this, but I fully expect Jon Lester to be pitching in another uniform in 2015 and beyond. You can thank Ben and company for that. They’ve ruined this season and they’ll ruin my respect by letting an icon like Jon Lester pitch anywhere but where he belongs: Fenway Park, where you and I love him and adore him.

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The Nation: Trade deadline

Jake Peavy is used to being traded to a contender. He was traded to the White Sox and again to the Red Sox last year. Now, the Red Sox are far from contending. Because of that, he’ll make his next start for a great NL West team in the Giants. Peavy is the first to go. He won’t be the last. Here are a list of possible players that could be traded and to what teams.

Stephen Drew – Tigers

Drew’s bat has been mostly silent since he signed back with the Red Sox mid season. His defense, however, will at least intrigue a number of teams interested in bolstering their middle infield depth. I see the Tigers as the most likely candidate to acquire Drew should they have enough interest.

Burke Badenhop – Pirates

The Pirates are always looking for bullpen help. And Badenhop would be a great fit. He’s hit a rough spot lately, but still continues to get ground ball outs.

Craig Breslow – Angels

The Angels inquired about Breslow earlier this year. If they want to catch the A’s, adding Breslow to the bullpen might slightly increase their efforts. If the Red Sox are willing to trade Tazawa as well, I could see a package deal including both guys to LA.

Andrew Miller – Braves
An unlikely deal, but it’s very possible. The Braves are in love with Miller and would certainly want him in their pen. With him only being 29, he makes perfect sense. The Red Sox would have to receive a very tempting offer, however. As I assume they will try to re-sign him in the offseason.

Felix Doubront – Indians

This one is a longshot. The Indians are interested in adding a starter. Doubront was demoted to the bullpen. If the Indians want to take a gamble to see if he can regain his form, the Red Sox would certainly make him available.

And lastly. The most unpopular choice.

Jon Lester – Dodgers

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for keeping Lester and I will be severely upset if he’s not pitching for the Red Sox in 2015 and beyond. But with the front office being EXTREMELY stingy, the chances for an extension this season are quickly evaporating. The Dodgers are a longshot, but given the Rays recent resurgence, they will be very likely to hold on to Price. That makes Lester the most coveted arm. IF the Dodgers offer Joc Pederson, hold your hopes out that Lester was serious about returning to the Red Sox if he’s traded.

Other candidates: Koji and Lackey.

These are the two that are highly unlikely to go. Earlier in the month, it seemed all but certain Koji would be traded. But the Red Sox have recently expressed interest in bringing him back for next year. The same is true with Lackey. The Red Sox want to extend him before he hits FA after 2015.

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