Jon Lester

GM Meetings

The Red Sox have the major task of building a starting rotation.  While they have a handful of OF talent to dangle in any trades, they also have a check book capable of paying some free agents.

2 names that have been discussed in Boston include Jon Lester and the Phillies Cole Hamels.  To get Lester, they need to match his asking price and even if he is offering a “home town discount” it’s still going to cost the Red Sox a great deal to land him.  Hamels, on the other hand, will require spending money (as in paying him his salary) and prospects.  Hamels is on the books for another 4 years at $22.5 each (and a 5th year that vest predicated on durability and good health).  So landing Hamels will mean they are only on the hook for 4 years guaranteed but they spend dearly by giving up prospects.

To me this is a no brainer, they should re-sign Lester.  Let’s say they can get him for 6 years and $120m and please, we all have ideas as to what it will take, but let’s use this as a starting point and acknowledge it could be higher or maybe even lower I if a home town discount is really possbile.  That allows the Red Sox to hold onto their prospects while the down side is an extra 2 years of liability for a pitcher who will be 31 in January.  Still I take my chances on Lester over Hamels.

Lester has proven he can pitch in Boston, not every pitcher can do it.

Now, that’s just one starting pitcher, they need another.  The GM meetings are when both trade and free agent ideas are floated and then the owners meetings are when things start to happen.

The Red Sox New Beginning?

It’s being reported that the Red Sox have traded Felix Doubront. There are also rumors of them entertaining offers for Jon Lester and John Lackey.

I can understand trading Doubront as he seems to be a bit of a malcontent. But moving both Lester and Lackey, your respective one and two starters, means the Red Sox are apparently in overhaul mode.

Today ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that he hopes the Red Sox have a Plan B. He couldn’t be more correct, the Red Sox are basically trying to unload 3/5 of their starting rotation (Felix started the year in the rotation) and if they also move Clay Buchholz, make it 4/5 (he’s the one starter I really won’t miss if he is moved).

Who’s going to start for the next year? One rumor has the Red Sox pursuing the Philidelphia Phillies Cole Hamels. I asked why not just re-sign Jon Lester? You know he can pitch in the American League East, and he’s a known quantity. And it won’t take any draft picks to sign him.

To echo Buster Olney, I really do hope they know what they’re doing.

In Search of an Ace

With Jon Lester’s latest clunker, I think it is time to stop considering him the staff ace. In fact, he might be the worst starter on the Red Sox right now.

Buchholz, Lackey, Dempster and Doubront all have better ERA’s than Lester and despite a great April, Lester has been bad the last 2 seasons.

With a team option for 2014, the Red Sox have a decision to make on Lester. They can keep him this year and next, they can keep him for this year and let him walk, they can keep him this year and trade him in the off-season or they can deal him this year. Because of his early career success, I think Lester has some decent trade value but if he finishes up this season the way he is pitching now, he won’t.

As for who would fill in for Lester should be be moved, well, Allan Webster isn’t lighting the world on fire but a combination of Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales might be just as good as Lester.

Falling back on old timey visual evidence, Lester seems relatively indifferent about his pitching performances. After Monday night’s disaster he told the media he felt he pitched much better than the results suggested. If 9 hits, 2 walks and 5 earned runs in 5 innings has enough wiggle room to be considered a better outing than it appears well, ok then.

Me? I trade Lester and get as much as I can for him. He seems to have almost completely morphed himself into Josh Beckett, only with better health. I know the Red Sox are in the thick of it and are on target to make the playoffs (albeit with a ton of baseball left) but Lester isn’t who he once was and the sooner Boston recognizes that, the better. He isn’t pitching well and will have trouble making the playoff roster if he continues this way.

The Boston Bruins just made a bold trade in dealing Tyler Seguin and the Boston Celtics just made two bold moves in dealing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and by signing Brad Stevens as coach (I won’t discuss the Patriots here…), perhaps it’s time for the Red Sox to do something bold as well.