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.

Clay Buchholz: The Biggest Waste Of Time In Red Sox History

Baseball may still be a business, but the Boston Red Sox have certainly have not treated it as such with Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has been nothing short of a disappointment since 2010, for the exception of a terrific half-season in 2013, and he has really not been reprimanded for it. The problems stretch out to every facet of his game.

Buchholz On The Field

Since winning 17 games in 2010, Buchholz has primarily used his energy on excusesBuchholz instead of trying to get guys out it seems. For the exception of 2013, when he only started 16 games, Buchholz’s lowest ERA for a season since 2010 has been a fairly pedestrian 3.26 and now has a career ERA of 4.00. Also, there’s only been two seasons in his career where he has had a WHIP of under 1.2, about average for a starter. The two seasons his WHIP was under that were 2013 and 2007, when he only had three starts. However, one of those 2007 starts was a no-hitter. Had he had an average night of 5 hits allowed in 7 innings, his WHIP would be right back up to 1.3.

Buchholz Off The Field

The issue with Buchholz has not been entirely on the field though. He has become as famous for his post-game excuses as he has for his eccentric haircuts. In the 2013 World Series, the microphones were all in front of him before his start in Game 4. All Buchholz could talk about was how he was going to have a tough time pitching and basically complaining that the Red Sox would start him in such a big game. To the surprise of no one, Buchholz came out after four innings and was ultimately completely let off the hook with a World Series title.

The real red flag with Buchholz didn’t come about until the trade deadline of 2014. After Jon Lester and John Lackey were dealt, reporters flooded to Clay’s locker. Buchholz basically asked who the ace of the staff would be after that. That was when all hope was lost. Look in the freaking mirror Clay good God!

The veteran Texan has somehow still not matured to the major leagues on and off the field. We still hear about how great his stuff is, yet he still sucks. Must be mental, right? This guy turns 32 later this month, how has he not adjusted to this level? What a joke. Yet, he has not been traded. He has not been DFA’d. He has not gotten a fake injury for a DL stint. In fact, they found a spot for him in the bullpen. It is now past the trade deadline and he’s still here. How much longer must fans deal with this?

John Lackey Should Still Be With Boston

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey was a strong contributor to the 2013 World Series team and trading him was a big mistake. Lackey had a roller coaster ride in a Sox uniform as he struggled in his first two seasons before becoming a reliable arm every fifth day for the organization. When the 2014 team was scuffling and the trade deadline came around, former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington decided to part ways with John Lackey, trading him for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.

Craig was struggling and his career looked to be dwindling and Kelly had his struggles inJohn Lackey the National League which typically doesn’t lead to success in the more hitter friendly American League. Meanwhile, Lackey seemed to be gaining form and becoming who the Sox thought they were getting him when they signed him to a five year $82.5 million deal. That improvement has continued and John Lackey is pitching like an ace, often going unnoticed behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the best starting pitching rotation in baseball.

Last season in St. Louis, Lackey had a 2.77 ERA and this season he has a 2.63 ERA for the Cubs. At this point in his career he will not wow you with his stuff but he hits his spots and gets guys out, something many Sox pitchers struggle to do. Lackey seems to be blossoming late in his career as last season was his best season to date and he’s on track to improve on those numbers this year. With John Lackey pitching so great, the Sox return of Joe Kelly and Allen Craig in the trade has been a catastrophe.

John Lackey Belongs with Red Sox Nation

Kelly has not established himself in the Sox rotation and is not looking likely to do so. Kelly has good stuff to work with but he has yet to put it together and it seems like yesterday the 28 year old was still a promising prospect. Kelly is now in the minor leagues, joining the other piece in the trade, Craig. Craig has been a disaster as he has been a minor leaguer for most of his tenure with the Sox organization. A once promising offensive player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Craig has seen his career vanish quickly and likely has played his last inning in the major leagues.

The Sox let go of a pitcher that was big time in the postseason in 2013 in order to gamble on a pitcher with upside who hadn’t put it together and a bat that was on the downfall. As a result, this trade is one of the worst in recent memory and the Sox 4.22 ERA as a pitching staff would be much better if Ben Cherington had stayed with John Lackey.

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career

Pablo Sandoval was probably pretty disappointed when he found out he was going to need season-ending shoulder surgery. Nobody wants to be told they’re done for the year when it’s only just begun. If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that surgery could save Sandoval’s career.

Let’s face it; 2016 was shaping up to be another lost season for Boston’s maligned third basemanSurgery Could Save Sandoval's Career. Coming off the worst year of his career, he arrived at spring training overweight (again), failed to bat said weight and wound up losing his starting job to a player making $17 million less than him. Sandoval rode the pine in April, appearing in just three games as Shaw and the Red Sox got off to torrid starts.

Sandoval was stuck. His team had little use for him while his contract and recent performance made him untradeable. So he wasted away on the bench, watching Shaw’s success systematically destroy whatever shot he had at redemption in 2016.

Now, with Sandoval out for the rest of the year, he’ll have to wait until 2017 to get back in Boston’s good graces. That gives him loads of time to get in the best shape of his life and prove he’s serious about his conditioning. It also gives him time to fix whatever broke in his swing last year and work on his defense.

Sandoval has nothing but time. The question is: will he use it effectively?

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career, or Finish it

A year off could do Sandoval wonders. It certainly did for John Lackey, another West Coast star who initially struggled upon signing a big contract with the Red Sox. After pitching at a historically awful level in 2011, Lackey missed all of ’12 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It was a turning point in his career, as a slimmed-down Lackey returned to form in 2013 and is still going strong as he enters his late 30s.

Surgery could save Sandoval’s career, too..It’s not hard to imagine him having a similar renaissance next year, given that he’ll only be 30. He’ll also be extra motivated to win his job back after everything that’s happened this spring.

On the other hand, going under the knife may only hasten Sandoval’s decline. Adrian Gonzalez fell off significantly as a hitter following the same procedure, which doesn’t bode well for Sandoval. He may also find that taking a whole year off severely disrupts his timing, which could prevent him from having the kind of start he needs to secure regular playing time again.

How the rest of Sandoval’s career plays out will likely be decided by what he does over the next calendar year. If he buckles down and sheds some pounds, he may yet find his way back into Boston’s lineup. But if he sits around and lets his skills continue to erode, he better get used to watching Travis Shaw at the hot corner.

Rick Porcello Out-Pitches Chris Sale in 3-0 win

Rick Porcello pitched 7 strong innings in a rare good start that pleasantly surprised me. The Red Sox righty out-dueled one of baseball’s best young talents last night in Chris Sale behind his strong outing and some late help from Travis Shaw, who hit a 2-run home run in the 8th inning to seal the deal. Porcello struck out 5, while walking none in his 7 innings on Wednesday, thus earning his first win since July.

As to where this performance came from, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe Rick Rick PorcelloPorcello missing time helped him work through his kinks, or maybe it was just the familiarity of pitching at US Cellular Field as a member of the Detroit Tigers that made it easier for him to settle for in. Personally, I hope it’s the former, because it means Rick Porcello has turned a corner during his disappointing first season with the team. That would be ideal after the Red Sox traded for him last off-season, then signed him to a 4-year/$82 million extension in April before he even threw a pitch.

When the news came out that the team extended him, I was initially a fan of the deal, but ate my words after he posted a 5-11 record and an ERA up near 6 before he was sidelined these past few weeks.

Maybe he’ll end up emulating John Lackey, who was very disappointing for the first 2 seasons of the team, was sidelined for all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery before bouncing back in 2013 and 2014 and becoming the guy we thought we signed in 2010. At least until he was traded at the 2014 trade deadline last season. I hope Porcello is going to follow a similar path, albeit a little faster than Lackey, because Porcello is better than he’s shown in a Red Sox uniform. This season is far from being all on him, but he has certainly played his part in the struggles of the 2015 Red Sox.

Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I really want Porcello to succeed here and go back to the guy he was in Detroit. He’s got a ways to go, but it starts with a single step, and he took that step last night.

Red Sox Unlikely to Make Major Moves

This past season has been a massive disappointment for most of Red Sox Nation, to the point where one fan was caught on camera barfing from the right field deck during Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. But the most disappointing thing so far? Probably the fact that the team has yet to even attempt to make a major move this year. At least at this time last year, they were trying to make moves and trying to make the team better.

The return for dealing Jon Lester and John Lackey was a bad return on investment, to sayRed Sox the least, as none of the pieces they ultimately received has made much of an impact, but at least they made some kind of effort last year. This year is a different story, though. The front office hasn’t made much of an effort to even build for the future before the deadline this year, and barring something dramatic, that won’t happen this time around.

Mind you, something dramatic could still happen, but it seems unlikely that the Red Sox make a major move. Rumors are still out there that they could go after Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel on the San Diego Padres, but with the deadline this afternoon, it seems like a long shot.

I’m thinking this trade deadline will pass without the team making any major moves, which would be the worst possible outcome for the tea, but the good news is that they at least have a couple pieces to build around in the off-season, namely guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, but it would have been nice to see the Red Sox go out and get a veteran starter or bullpen help to make it easier, but the Red Sox would need a miracle at this point for that to happen.

The best we can hope for is that they can get someone in free agency, but that might be too much to expect at the moment.