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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