Your 2015 Boston Red Sox: Jon Lester


You win with pitching.

The lexicon of baseball clichés regarding pitching is full of statements that are quite accurate. The most significant component of defense is pitching. So why dump three pitchers? And three that were crème de la crème.

The trades of Jon Lester and John Lackey for Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes were very basic. Two rubber arms for two wooden bats and not the other way around. For Andrew Miller you get a prospect who, if reports are correct, has a certain ability to toss a baseball. But the bats are the important thing.

This season has been an offensive surprise for me. Traditionally the Red Sox find hitting. Someone steps up. Problem is they stepped down. Jackie Bradley is a good field and no hit outfielder with Richie Ashburn like power but lacking Ashburn’s .300 average. Hitting failure. Defensive whiz.

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Xander Bogaerts has tanked offensively and defensively. Bogaerts has struck out an alarming rate and his OBP is shrinking considerably. Bogaerts ability to make a precise toss in the general vicinity of first base is questionable as are his various decisions on the base paths and with a fielder’s mitt.

With JBJ and X-Man there is regression and not progression and, of course, the never-ending saga of oft-injured Will Middlebrooks.

That right-handed power bat has operated mostly in the International League where its damage has been minimal. Recalled recently, Middlebrooks continues to flail away like he has disturbed a nest of hornets. Cries to send Middlebrooks to the broadcast medium and Jenny Dell to third have been heard more than once.

So the newcomers have to fill the void where it exists thanks to the obvious failures of several players. A tip of the batting helmet to Ben Cherington in setting the stage for 2015.

The Red Sox pitching staff is in trouble. When a fragile Clay Buchholz reaches ace status by default, then changes are in the wind. I am sure that in the sabermetrics bunker at Fenway, Cherington and his minions have a large target board of pitching options. Just what will they do?

Parsimony has never been in the picture for the Red Sox despite the baying within certain sections of RSN. Just a glance at team payroll figures since John Henry assumed hierarchical control puts a damper on all but the confirmed zealots.

I’m of the school of thought that they will buy. That may be Lester or it may be Max Scherzer. Or it could be James Shields? Or maybe two of them? And don’t forget Andrew Miller.

Lester has professed his affection for the area and the Red Sox returned the love with an offer that is a wee bit under market value. Will they up the ante? Will Lester get something that is respectable for someone of his caliber? Will John Henry dispense a welcoming hug as he did for departure?

Scherzer has professed his own love and that love begins somewhere north of $144 M. Somehow I suspect if the locals are going to toss around green in that rarefied atmosphere it would be for Lester.

The idea of Shields is intriguing. Shields is like Lester in that he is good for 200 innings a year, keeps his ERA under 4.00 and does what every competent starter is supposed to do – give you a chance to win.

So I will go out on the early prediction ledge. I am sure it will be as accurate as my picks of Felix Doubront for breakout player of the year and Bogaerts as ROY. Here it is. The Sox will sign Lester, Shields and Miller, and Joe Kelly will turn out to be the sleeper in all this trade activity.

You win with pitching.