Grading the Trade That Sent Red Sox Ace John Lackey to the Cardinals

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2147948-grading-the-trade-that-sent-red-sox-ace-john-lackey-to-the-cardinals

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired starting pitcher John Lackey (along with pitching prospect Corey Littrell and cash considerations) from the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig.

Who do you think got the better deal? What grades would you give each team?

Watch as B/R’s Lead MLB Columnist Scott Miller grades the trade for both teams involved.

Grading the Jon Lester-Yoenis Cespedes Blockbuster Trade for Both Teams

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2147640-grading-the-jon-lester-yoenis-cespedes-blockbuster-trade-for-both-teams

The MLB trade deadline is only hours away, and the first blockbuster deal of this season has been agreed upon.

As first reported by Alex Speier of WEEI 93.7 FM in Boston, the Oakland Athletics have traded Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedesand a competitive balance pick to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for starting pitcher Jon Lester, outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash considerations. Who do you think got the better deal? What grades would you give to each team?

Watch as B/R’s Lead MLB Columnist Scott Miller grades the trade for both teams involved.

Red Sox Trade Jon Lester for A’s Yoenis Cespedes

After weeks of speculation, debate, and anticipation, the Red Sox finally moved Jon Lester in a trade that will reshape the current major league roster. On the morning of the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox shipped Lester (along with Jonny Gomes and cash) to Oakland in exchange for two-time reigningHome Run Derby Champion (and outfield cannon holder) Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 Competitive Balance Round B draft pick. While it is sad to see a player such as Jon Lester go, the return for him is substantial, as is the chance that the Red Sox could make a run at bringing Lester back in free agency following the season.

This trade represents a slight surprise to most fans due to the fact that all trade talk involving Lester up to this point suggested that the Red Sox were seeking several high-level prospects for Lester, as opposed to established major leaguers. In hindsight, a return such as this should have been expected, since it would be hard for any opposing general manager to justify trading multiple high-impact prospects for two months of Lester’s services. But in getting Cespedes, Ben Cherington filled one of the Red Sox’ most glaring needs: an outfield bat that can hit in the middle of the lineup. The Red Sox’ offensive struggles have been well documented in 2014, and the outfield has been a key contributor (or non-contributor). To this point in 2014, Cespedes brings a .256/.303/.464 triple-slash, good for a .332 wOBA and 113 wRC+. While these numbers on their surface may make Cespedes seem like a relatively unimpressive player, other stats such as his .208 ISO and .278 BABIP suggest that there is room for improvement in his game. This is all to say nothing of the effect playing all of your home games at the O.co Coliseum can have on one’s offensive numbers. When taking into context Cespedes’s career numbers (in addition to the fact that he will not turn 29 until October), it is not unreasonable to think that he could put up a line closer to his rookie season in 2012 (.292/.356/.505) with a full season’s worth of home games at Fenway Park.

The deal also makes a great deal of sense from the Red Sox’ standpoint. Since the Red Sox were not going to be able to work out a new contract with Lester before the offseason anyway, it is prudent for them to get a valuable piece back before they make another attempt to sign him long-term. They helped their own cause in trading him to Oakland because the A’s operate on one of the lowest payroll budgets in the game and there is no chance they would enter the free agent bidding for Lester. This way, the team can go into free agency with Lester in essentially the same exact position they would have been in had they kept him, where they will most likely have to pay close to full market value. Needless to say it would be a major haul if Lester ended up coming back to Boston. But even if Lester were to sign elsewhere, the Red Sox would still come out with a power-hitting outfielder who could potentially be signed long-term despite being eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. By that time, the Red Sox will have most of their largest contracts off of the books (Stephen Drew, John Lackey, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Edward Mujica, and possibly Koji Uehara will each have their contracts expire by the end of the 2015 seaosn) and will likely have many young players assuming prominent roles while making close to league minimum. This will free up a great deal of money to be spent on top of their game players such as Cespedes. In addition, the draft pick the Red Sox receive from the A’s will give them similar value to the one they would have gotten had Lester stayed and rejected a qualifying offer after the season.

Lester was a fan favorite in Boston and it is tough to see him wear another uniform after all he has accomplished with the Red Sox. We wish him luck in Oakland, but by no means is the door closed on a potential return to Boston. This could very well not be the last time we see Jon Lester wearing white in Fenway, just the last time for now.

Clock’s Ticking on Boston’s Best Trade Option

It’s no secret: Since Theo Epstein went on a shopping spree overspending on Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez after the 2011 season, the Red Sox have been hesitant to give any players a long term deal. It’s a bit understandable because of the situation the Red Sox were in until the Dodgers bailed them out, but if there’s anybody worth giving out a large contract to, it’s Jon Lester.

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We’ve heard about it all season long. The Red Sox went to Lester, low-balled him, and negotiations went nowhere. According to reports, Lester wants a guaranteed 6 years from the Red Sox. By the time that contract were to end, Lester would be 36 years old. It’s old for a baseball player, but Lester has never had any major injuries before that have caused him to miss much time.

In parts of 9 seasons, Lester has 110 career wins, and his worst year was the dreadful Bobby Valentine year of 2012 when he only had 9 wins. Sure that year he showed his frustration and didn’t become the stopper that a club needs, but it’s hard to fault him because he had a clown as a manager.

I’ve also heard fans and experts talk about the Red Sox trading Lester this week, or letting him walk after the year and signing Max Scherzer. Scherzer has told the Tigers he is going to test the Free Agent market, but it just doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox to go with Scherzer over Lester. The two aces are the same age, and yes Scherzer has won a Cy Young award, but Lester has proven he has what it takes to play in the AL East, which up until this season, was the toughest division to pitch in.

If Lester wants the 6 years, Cherington needs to buck up and give him that deal. Sure maybe those final two years will be a bust, but it’s the price you need to pay to get a great pitcher in his prime. You see the Yankees doing it all the time with guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, and that’s not a good thing to constantly do, but with a pitcher as special as Lester, you have got to pay that price.

The theory that Lester will be traded for some prospects by the trading deadline and then sign with the Red Sox after the season is absolutely LUDICROUS!! It’s like a couple who is fighting and somebody is leaving the house: IF YOU LEAVE, THAT’S IT. THERE’S NO COMING BACK!

If Cherington does trade Lester, all hope with Lester on the Red Sox in the future is over, and the rebuild will offically begin for the franchise.

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games & More

TONIGHT ON STRICTLY SPORTS, we will have a huge exclusive in the world of the NFL, Ray Rice getting suspended for two games, a big announcement from me, Hudson Street going to the Los Angeles Angels, Steven Gerrard retiring from the England National Team, J-Rod signing with Real Madrid, Frank Lampard signing with New York Football Club & the main event will be the MLB Power Rankings.

New England Patriots 2014 Season Preview

In recent years Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots have always started an NFL season as many peoples favourites following 3 Super Bowl triumphs in the Brady-Belichick era. With that being said the team haven’t lifted the Lombardi trophy since 2004 and have also fell at the final hurdle twice in 2007 and 2011. For most franchises going deep in to the postseason is still considered a successful campaign but for the Patriots it’s win the big one or bust.

This is at the forefront of New England’s mind especially heading in to a season where the GQ quarterback Tom Brady will be 37 come kick-off time on September 7th. You can certainly argue that the window is closing for the legendary although it has been said as well as mentioned often that Terrific Tom could play in to his 40s. Personally I would put him in a bracket along other sporting legends who’ve enjoyed success in their twilight years such as Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and Ryan Giggs of Manchester United.

So with that being said whilst looking at Brady’s career in recent years it is clear to see that he can still get it done and hasn’t deteriorated even with a receiving cast last year that including rookies along with no real superstars to throw to. A fourth Super Bowl ring would almost certainly cement Brady as the best quarterback of all-time; I mean who could argue with 4 Super Bowl wins and 6 appearances on the grandest stage of the all. If that happens this year retirement will naturally be thrown out there by the media but regardless of whether the Pats win it all this year I think Brady will play for at least another 3 seasons, including this one, as that would mean he would be 39 when the 2016 season starts and potentially could signal the end of his career.

Regardless of when Brady and Belichick leave New England one things for sure you have to say that with these two at the helm of the organisation as well as taking in to consideration that New England have added to a roster that made the AFC Championship game last year you’d definitely put the Patriots as one of the favourites to represent the AFC come Super Bowl 49 in Arizona just after the turn of the new year. They’ll have to contend with the likes of the Denver Broncos who they had an arms race with this past off-season during free-agency. A Brady vs Manning AFC Championship game is well on the cards again when you look at the rosters assembled by New England and Denver but don’t count out a young Indianapolis Colts team that is led but a superb young quarterback in Andrew Luck who just gets better and better as he prepares to enter his 3rd season in the NFL to shake things up for the old dogs in this conference.

The Pats last made the Super Bowl in 2011 and since then have also made the past 2 AFC Championship games so naturally any Patriots fan will have high hopes for New England to make it to the big game but after unfortunate injuries down the stretch in recent years and the fact that the Patriots in general have been spoilt for success over the past decade I personally am looking at the 2014 season through more objective eyes. New England’s success will come down to the young guns stepping up as this roster does have a lot of young talent; Only Vince Wilfork along with Tom Brady remain on the roster from the team’s last Super Bowl victory. You can expect even bigger things from young defensive players such as Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower who enter their third season this year as well as Jamie Collins who emerged as a gem late in the 2013 season. The secondary is looking scarily good with Devin McCourty, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis all on the roster and all hunting out opposing offenses.

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New England’s success will come down to the young guns stepping up as this roster does have a lot of young talent; Only Vince Wilfork along with Tom Brady remain on the roster from the team’s last Super Bowl victory. You can expect even bigger things from young defensive players such as Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower who enter their third season this year as well as Jamie Collins who emerged as a gem late in the 2013 season. The secondary is looking scarily good with Devin McCourty, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis all on the roster and all hunting out opposing offenses.

On offense the Patriots have added Brandon LaFell to the likes of Julian Edelman as well as second year players Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins with Dobson in particular being predicted for a breakout season. It is clear to see that this offense of the Patriots has potential with Rob Gronkowski being the key player to any success that the offense looks to have with his blocking for the running game as well as drawing double coverage in the passing game being key. That’s along with the fact that when he receives the ball he is one of the best players in the league especially at getting in to the end-zone and putting points on the board.

With that being said Gronk has struggled for injuries in recent years but if he can stay healthy, especially in the playoffs, then the Patriots have a real shot to go all the way in 2014. For now though I’m sure they’ll be honing their skills and getting back to basics whilst focusing on getting their passing game back to top notch for the 2014 season. If the offense can get it going this season along with a defence that has the potential and players to create a unit that will rival the legendary defensive units from the past 3 Super Bowl winning teams then you’d say that New England has one of the most well equipped rosters in the National Football League and has all the tools to make it to Phoenix Stadium in 2015 with the franchise having a shot at winning it’s 4th NFL Championship.

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The Pros & Cons of the Boston Red Sox Trading for Cole Hamels

There have been rumors this week that the Red Sox are thinking about making a trade for Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels to protect themselves against a potential loss of Jon Lester on the free agent market. While some might be excited that the Red Sox are willing to go that far to stay in contention and build a strong rotation, there should be more that question the logic behind such a trade. Given the current circumstances the team finds itself in, there is absolutely no reason to trade for Cole Hamels.

What would the Red Sox actually be getting in Cole Hamels? The easy answer is a very good starting pitcher. In 17 starts to this point in 2014, Hamels has put up 9.05 K/9 and 2.99 BB/9 with a 48.5% Groundball rate, 78.1% strand rate, 2.83 ERA and 3.14 FIP. Hamels also has a pretty impressive postseason record: in 81.2 innings across 13 playoff starts, Hamels sports a 3.09 ERA with 77 strikeouts, just 21 walks, a 1.05 WHIP and .218 average against. There could be some concern that Hamels’s numbers might look a little better because he has spent his whole career in the National League, but that is counteracted by the fact that his home ballpark (Citizens Bank Park) is widely considered to be one of the better hitters’ parks in the game. So there is a lot to like about Hamels as a player, and any team would do well to have him at the top of their rotation. The problem this causes for the Red Sox is that the better the player, the better the return required in a trade for him.

Now this is where logic starts to exit the building in these rumors. The reports referenced above agree that it would take at least three top prospects to convince the Phillies to move Hamels, and rightly so. However, Hamels is also signed to a long, expensive contract that pays him $24 million a year AAV. The Red Sox have what is considered one of the deepest, most high-impact farm systems in baseball, so losing three top prospects might not hurt them as much as it would other teams, but three top prospects is a steep price to pay for any player, never mind that they are already earning one of the highest salaries at their position. Money is also not a problem for the Red Sox, as they are one of the highest-revenue teams in baseball and have as much payroll flexibility as any team in the game. However, current circumstances leave them in a position where they would not have to give in on both fronts.

The Cole Hamels trade is being billed as a potential Plan B for Jon Lester’s possible defection, however there is no reason why it should come to that point. If the choice is between paying Jon Lester or to letting him walk and trading for Cole Hamels, there should be no second thoughts; pay Jon Lester. For one thing, Lester is actually a better pitcher than Hamels (not to mention he has pitched his whole career in Boston, so he is a proven success here), and for another he has gone on the record as saying he would be willing to take a discount to stay in Boston. You could probably get Lester signed for a deal resembling the one Hamels signed, right around $24 million/season and be able to bring back your homegrown ace without touching your farm system. Instead, the choice would be to have to pay the same premium price on Hamels’s deal, while also giving up prime assets from the farm system. The Red Sox have to face the reality of their situation at this point. They are going to have to pay a steep price (in $$) to keep Lester, but there is absolutely no reason they should pay heavily in both dollars and prospects to acquire Hamels.