Amidst all of the trade rumors swirling around the head of their left-handed ace, the Red Sox have decided to scratch Lester from his scheduled start tonight against the Blue Jays. Whether or not that means Lester will be gone by 7:10 tonight, and it likely does, it means that Lester will certainly be gone by 4:00 tomorrow (the MLB Trade Deadline).
In his place, Brandon Workman (1-3, 4.13 ERA) will make the start tonight against Mark Buehrle (10-7, 3.19 ERA) in the finale of this series, of which the Red Sox have already lost the first two games. However, instead of focusing specifically on this scratch, let’s take a moment and celebrate Lester’s career, which will go down as one of the best in Red Sox’ history.
When most people think “best Red Sox starter of all-time,” they might think Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, or maybe even Cy Young. Now, Lester isn’t quite on par with those starters (I want to say yet, but I know that this is the end), but anyway you slice it, he’s right there in the mix. In the organization, Lester ranks sixth all-time in WAR for starting pitchers (and second for left-handed pitchers), ninth all-time in wins (once again, second for left-handers), and fourth in strikeouts (first for left-handers). And while those statistics qualify him as one of the best ever in this organization, Lester’s value goes so far beyond his success as a starting pitcher.
After all, while Lester has cemented himself as one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball (as well as in Red Sox history), he has become a franchise icon for the Red Sox. The man beat cancer, has been phenomenal on the mound, helped bring two World Series Championships to Boston, and all the while, has said exclusively the right things with the media.
As a relatively young Red Sox fan (hint: I’m not an adult), Lester is the best Red Sox starter that I’ve ever seen and it’s really not very close. I will miss him tremendously and am very sad to see him go.
That being said, trading Lester is the right move. With the current seller’s market at the Trade Deadline, the Red Sox will be able to net themselves an impressive prospect haul which should put them right back into the running over the next few years. Given the interest surrounding Lester, the Red Sox will not trade him without getting a huge return (and since they are going to trade him, they are also going to get a huge return) and that is a silver lining to this mess. The Red Sox will be able to add some impact talent to an already-strong farm system and that is never a bad thing.
I just wish it didn’t have to come at Lester’s expense.