How comfortable do you feel about where the Red Sox are heading?
Not a soul in Boston thought for one second, coming off an improbable World Series Championship that the Red Sox would be left making some wholesale changes. Wholesale being an understatement. With the Red Sox clearly looking at a year with a non postseason berth, the Red Sox decided to sell at the deadline, trading the like's of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Jonny Gomes. Hell, even Stephen Drew got dealt.
But what baffled me more, fully expecting a glutton of prospects in return for some, if not most, of their most important player's on the championship squad, was the Sox willingness to get major league ready player's, player's already in the MLB, if you will.
Jon Lester's trade also included Jonny Gomes and fetched the Red Sox Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes. Now I don't think anyone will ever get value for Jon Lester no matter where's he playing or where he goes, but with the Red Sox completely lacking in the offensive department, they addressed a need for the rest of the year and 2015 season's, which is power. Power from the outfield as well. Before the trade, Red Sox outfielders had combined for 14 homerun's, this is including Grady Sizemore's 2 before being designated for assignment. Cespedes totes his 17 homerun's, while playing at o.Co in Oakland, a very large pitcher's ball park. Needless to say, he can bring the wood. The negative that Cespedes brings to the Boston lineup is the fact that he hacks at the plate. He's not a very disciplined hitter, but when he connects with the ball, look out, as evidenced by his 2 homerun derby crowns and mammoth homerun's. He boasts a .256 average coming into Boston. Not bad, but not great. He's really there for his power. In Fenway park, he could do some serious damage.
The trade that made me scratch my head the most was the Lackey trade to St. Louis. While Lackey and his contract next season looks sexy on paper at $500,000, the league minimum because of a DL stint, the Red Sox made out really well in this deal, fetching 1B/OF Allen Craig and SP Joe Kelly. This deal honestly looks better at the coupe that Tampa Bay got back in the David Price trade. Craig could generate some really nice numbers at Fenway. He's struggling this season with injuries so his numbers don't really dictate what kind of player he has been through his career thus far. He's a .300 hitter with 20 homerun potential and can hit all over the field. In a loaded Red Sox lineup, he could easily hit 20 HR and drive in 100 RBI. Joe Kelly is a young pitcher who boasts a 3.20 ERA to his name thus far in his career. He has showed plenty of potential at 25 year's of age and can be a solid 3 or 4 pitcher in a decent rotation. I liked this trade for Boston very much so.
Andrew Miller was dealt to division rival Baltimore in a deal that netted them a very young and talent pitching prospect in Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez, rated the 3rd prospect in the O's farm system, possess a low to mid 90's fastball with plus secondary pitches. Another solid get for a bullpen arm.
A very important piece to the Red Sox success last season, believe it or not was SS Stephen Drew. While his offense won't wow people, his defense is like no other. While he's not always going to make the flashiest of plays all the time, he's very sound, very mechanical and can make tough plays look easy. His defense is a big reason why the Sox made it to the playoffs and won the championship. But with him hitting under .200 since his return while pushing SS of the future Xander Bogaerts over to 3rd, trading Drew was best for both sides. Drew gets to go play for a contender in New York and Bogaerts can roam SS again and find that swagger he had before regretfully signing Drew. The deal that sent Drew to New York fetched Boston versatile player Kelly Johnson, who is on the disabled list. He's a capable player but I don't see a fit on this roster for him.
The Red Sox plan was building to compete in 2015 and I think with these deadline moves, they have put themselves into a good position to do so. They will be fun to watch the rest of the season. But there is also another big problem:
The Sox have to address their pitching rotation in the offseason.
They cannot go into the next season with a rotation that feature Clay Buchholz as it's ace. It just will not end well for Boston. Buchholz still has a chance to be very good but this is contingent upon his ability to locate. He doesn't have the mid 90's fastball that he could sometimes bail himself out with. He has really good stuff, but he has to locate to be successful (Greg Maddux). I fully expect them to scrounge the free agent market for 2 maybe even 3 capable pitcher's. Whether that means they legitimately target Jon Lester or not, they still need pitching at the end of the day. Lester and Boston left the door open for a possible reunion, but to me if Boston wanted him all along, they would have already payed him. So instead, they got what they could for him. But I'm not at all ruling him out. I'm just calling it unlikely. They may look to stay like a small market team in free agency again, looking to sign player's on short deals with a high average annual salary, which worked for them last season. This year, not so much.
2015 has got off on the right foot, in a sense. But have no fear Red Sox Nation, you'll find out what kind of team you'll be, come December, when we're in the middle of a blizzard.