What if Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career Continued?

The Prologue

In 2014, Boston was at a crossroads with their franchise pitcher. Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career was in question due to his then upcoming free agency. He had claimed to be willing to take a “hometown discount” so he could stay in Boston. But when Red Sox brass reportedly offered him a 4-year/$70-million-dollar contract, the two sides never reached an agreement. Jon Lester's Red Sox Career

Lester stayed with the Sox for the beginning of the 2014 season and made the All-Star Game. However, the team was seemingly out of it at the trade deadline, and Lester was shipped to Oakland as a rental with Jonny Gomes in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes.

At the end of the season, Cespedes was traded to Detroit for Rick Porcello. Meanwhile, Lester still became a free agent. The Red Sox were in talks to re-sign him but faced huge competition from the Chicago Cubs. Thus, Jon Lester’s Red Sox career was in jeopardy.

Eventually, the Cubs won the bidding and signed Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal with a vesting option for a seventh year at $15 million. The move reunited him with both David Ross and Theo Epstein. John Lackey, who was also traded in July 2014, would join the club the following year.

What if Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career Continued??

But what if John Henry and Co. had signed Lester to a big deal of their own? Let’s say at around the same price the Cubs paid, or more.

Well for starters, David Price would either be a Yankee, a Cub, or a Cardinal.

Rick Porcello may or may not be on the roster. Depends on how comfortable they would’ve been with Lester, Clay Buchholz, and prospects like Rubby de la Rosa, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo.

Only one of those guys (Workman) remains on the 40-man roster today. Eduardo Rodriguez, though still very young then, could have been another compliment.

Both Justin Masterson and Wade Miley wouldn’t have been acquired. Obviously, they were only placeholders until Price came along. But, of course, with Lester who needs Price?

Additionally, David Ross would’ve stayed with Boston for the remainder of his career. He and David Ortiz would’ve retired at the same time.

Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t have been hired because the Ben Cherington would’ve had less pressure to succeed if he had kept Epstein’s guys, like Lester, around to help. Likewise, I believe the Sox would’ve won more games in 2015 with one ace as opposed to five #4 starters.

So would the Cubs win the World Series in 2016 without Lester? Nope.

Instead, I bet Theo would’ve chased Price or Zack Greinke in the 2015 offseason. Especially if Lester had slipped away and the team failed to reach the NLCS. The ’16 Cubs would then, of course, have a similar campaign and reach the postseason. Only to lose Game 5 of the NLDS to the Giants with David Price on the mound.

The Giants would’ve made the World Series and played the young and exciting Red Sox (of course). Jon Lester would pitch Game 7 against Madison Bumgarner in an epic duel. Almost as good as the Cubs-Indians duel.

It’s a shame that the team who drafted, developed, and gave him everything didn’t resign him. Jon Lester is a hero to many – and his resilience through cancer, dominance on the mound, and consistent sportsmanship is legendary.

We may never know.

Red Sox Fans Now Chicago Cubs Fans

For one month, and one month only,  much of Red Sox Nation has jumped on the Chicago Cubs bandwagon. Why? Because the Cubs have suffered longer than Red Sox fans, going 107 years without a championship. After the Red Sox waited 86 years in between championships, most of Red Sox Nation can empathize with the Cubs, and were quick to jump on their bandwagon.

And when you look at the Chicago Cubs, it’s not hard to find reasons to root for them. For Chicago Cubsstarters, ex-Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, part of 2 championships, and ex-GM Theo Epstein, who built the team who broke the “Curse of the Bambino,” are both with the Cubs now. Not to mention Manny Ramirez, who won the World Series MVP in 2004, and David Ross, who was one of the leaders of the beard movement in 2013. Second, the Cubs are loaded with young talent, notably Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant. Those are just a couple of the things the Cubs have going for them.

But the main thing? Empathy. For 86 years, the Red Sox were in the same boat as the Cubs. While our curse involved a questionable trade, being unlucky in the World Series, a missed ground ball, and a few ill-timed home runs by the New York Yankees, we eventually broke it after 86 years. The Cubs are cursed in a different way; theirs involving a goat, a tavern, and an unfortunate case of fan interference back in 2003 in the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. So, the Red Sox and Cubs are similar in that they were both cursed for long periods of time.

Personally, I really hope the Cubs finish the job. They need to break their curse, since they’re the only team left with a “curse”, and they need to win it all. They’ll face the New York Mets in the NLCS. Go Cubs.

Middlebrooks Gone, Red Sox Get Ryan Hanigan

ryan hanigan

In need of a backup catcher, the Boston Red Sox were able to kill two birds with one stone.
kids air max 95
First of all, Will Middlebrooks posed a bit of a problem for the club. He hit .254 in his first 169 big league games and smacked 32 home runs, making it clear that he was going to be one of the best power hitting third baseman in the game.

In 63 games in 2014, Middlebrooks hit just two home runs in 63 games with a dismal .256 OBP, putting his future with the Red Sox organization in peril.

Also, the Red Sox needed a backup catcher and were able to get one by trading Will Middlebrooks to the San Diego Padres. In return, the Boston Red Sox will obtain catcher Ryan Hanigan who the Padres will get in the Wil Myers deal when it is all said and done.ryan hanigan

Hanigan, who never has and most likely never will play in a big league game for the San Diego Padres, spent 2014 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and hit .218 with a .318 OBP in 84 games and clipped five home runs. It was a down year for Hanigan and the Red Sox will bank on him being better than he was this past season.
air jordan xii
Plate discipline has always been a big part of Hanigan’s game. He has walked 220 times and struck out on just 198 in his career, showing his knowledge of the strike zone. As a result, Hanigan puts a lot of balls in play and is good for a few sacrifice hits a season.

Defensively, Hanigan has thrown out 38% of attempted base stealers in his career and lead the league gunning down 48% in 2012 and 45% in 2013.
air jordan 11
Typically, Hanigan serves his team as a platoon catcher, playing more than a backup but less than a starter. Expect Red Sox rookie catcher Christian Vazquez to catch at around 60%-67% of the time next season while Hanigan will see around 33%-40% of the reps if all goes well.

Now that the Red Sox have Hanigan who is signed for the next two years, trading Blake Swihart is a definite possibility. Although many people may not want to trade him, the return would be rather large and could set the Red Sox up for a championship next season.
nike kobe shoe
The 34-year-old Hanigan is a graduate of Andover High School in Andover, Massachusetts. Welcome back Ryan Hanigan, welcome back.

Is This David Ross’ Last Year in a Red Sox Uniform?

David Ross

Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

While watching the Boston Red Sox triumph over the contending Kansas City Royals 8-4 on Sunday, a thought dawned on me. Well, actually, two thoughts; one of which revolved around Ned Yost’s inexplicable decision to leave Aaron Crow in against Daniel Nava, with Kelvin Herrera right there.

But that’s a story for a different day.

Anyway, I sat there Sunday and watched as the “Blue Wolf,” more popularly known as David Ross, drew a walk in two of his four plate appearances on the afternoon. It was the first time the backstop had reached base since September 2nd. Granted, Ross only played in one other game in that time span, so he didn’t really have ample opportunities to get on base. Yet, it was a rare occurrence, as the bearded veteran only has compiled a pedestrian .264 on-base percentage this year, but it was a welcomed sight nonetheless.

Offensively, there’s nothing better to describe Ross’ two-year tenure in Beantown other than a complete disaster. In 290 plate appearances with the Red Sox, the 37-year-old compiled an abysmal .195/.274/.359 slash line to this point. Now, he didn’t have lofty offensive expectations when he joined the club during the 2012-2013 offseason, but the man does own a .753 career OPS and is a right-handed hitter in Fenway Park. That said, injuries have plagued him, notably concussions, which played a huge role in his offensive demise these last two years. Still, even with his offensive shortcomings, there’s a plausible argument to be made that Ross has, indeed, been a valuable commodity as a member of the Red Sox.

Intangibles aside, his defensive metrics have registered him a positive fWAR in each of the last two seasons despite his horrendous offensive numbers. Keep in mind those numbers don’t take into account pitch framing, something Ross does exceptionally well with. StatCorner, though, does track pitch framing, and rates Ross as the fifth-most valuable catcher, where pitch framing is concerned, in the American League, even with his limited playing time.

This speaks volumes to how important Ross really is to the Red Sox. Unfortunately, however, his contract runs out after this season, and although he said he’d like to play one more year, there’s a good chance he won’t come back next season.

Boston likely desires a left-handed complement for Christian Vazquez next year, something Ross isn’t, and with Blake Swihart knocking on the door, the outlook for a return is glum.

The humble father of two has become a fan favorite the last few seasons, representing more than just 1’s and 0’s. He’s from every indication, a great guy, teammate, and leader; something that a young team like the Red Sox could use. It’s also not as if he’s attributing negative value; no, he’s added value with his defensive talent.

The aforementioned thought was this, “it sure would be sad to see Ross leave.”

Indeed, it would.

Who Will the Boston Red Sox Catchers be Next Season?

christian vasquezBoston Red Sox rookie catcher Christian Vazquez has taken the league by storm in nearly a quarter of a season playing in the big leagues. In 39 games for Boston, the Puerto Rican catcher is hitting .234/.292/.289, but his defense gives him pride. Behind the dish, he has gunned down 10 of 21 attempted base stealers good for 48% caught stealing. Compare this to the league average which is a mere 27%. His WAR on defense stands at 1.0 and will only get better as he plays in more games. Defense alone is enough to warrant Vazquez a starting job, but the fact that his bat will come around is a plus.
air jordan collection
Since Vazquez is set to be the starting catcher, Boston is in position to bring in a new backup. With David Ross set to be a free agent, there is an outside chance the club brings in someone else to catch instead of their backup who is set to turn 38-years-old by Opening Day 2015.

Of the catchers set to be free agents this offseason, none of them are the least bit appealing. Sure, they would make decent backup catchers, but they are all a few years removed from their primes and are hardly good enough to be considered replacement players anymore (WAR > 0.0). Gerald Laird, Geovany Soto, John Buck, Wil Nieves and A.J. Pierzynski are hardly appealing options for Boston, especially when these men refuse to play for under $1 million a year as Doug Mirabelli did in the last year of his career. Instead, these men want several million a year to hurt the team’s chances for success.
air jordan 6 retro
Although he is hardly a replacement player anymore, re-signing David Ross seems like a more appealing option each day. His .184/.256/.362 slash line does not appeal to most, but his veteran presence in the clubhouse does. Defensively, he is nowhere near his old self gunning down just 21% of would-be base stealers compared to 48% in 2009. It does not hurt that he has such a positive reputation in Boston and a weak free agency market boosts his case even further.

Lastly, Dan Butler makes an interesting case to be a backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox next season. Set to earn the league minimum, Butler is a cheaper option who may be able to give the same type of output at the plate and behind the plate as some of these veterans on their ways out. Boasting good plate discipline and everything a pitcher wants from a catcher, he could find his way on the Opening Day roster next season.
black air max 95
With Blake Swihart catching in AAA Pawtucket, Boston would be in position to try Swihart out at the big league level if either catcher struggled — Vazquez or the catcher to be named later. Now though, Boston must look at their options carefully and decide who their best options are at catcher.

Red Sox First Half Report Card by Position: Catcher

Red Sox first half catchers

With maybe the Red Sox’ biggest free agency signing of last offseason gone in A.J. Pierzynski, the team has caught a good glimpse of who may be their future catcher—Christian Vazquez. Pierzynski replaced Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who posted solid numbers last season which included a slash line of .273/.338/.466. The most hated player in the league just wasn’t putting up the numbers that would warrant him staying with the team though. With just 15 extra base hits and nine walks through 72 games, the “offensive” catcher may have trouble finding a new job elsewhere.

David Ross isn’t quite doing his job as well as last year either. Base stealers have been successful 74% of the time, up from 59% last year. While we don’t expect much at the plate from him, his .176 average needs to improve a bit. With all this being said, it is clear that he has a connection with some of the pitchers on the team, including the ace, Jon Lester.

Ross isn’t the only catcher on the team that knows how to call a game anymore though.

If there wasn’t anyone waiting in the wings, the Sox may have had to stick out the rest of the season with Pierzynski. Luckily, Christian Vazquez appears as if he is ready to play in the big leagues. He has already shown his quickness behind the plate, making some confident snap throws down to first, which is something that not all rookies would do in their first few games. At the plate, he’s gone 5-11 in his first three games, with three doubles and five RBIs. He wasn’t brought up for his bat, but the 23-year-old hit .289 in Portland last season and was hitting .279 in Pawtucket at the time of his call-up. It would be great if Vazquez could provide similar numbers in the majors, which I don’t think any Sox fan would complain about.

A.J. Pierzynski- Grade: D

David Ross- Grade: C

Christian Vazquez: Incomplete (A so far)