July 2014

After sleepless night, Cherington completes eventful day

So, how much sleep did Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington get on Trade Deadline eve?

“Didn’t [sleep] last night and maybe not much the previous couple nights,” Cherington said. “A lot of coffee and other stuff. We had to see what we could do and try to take advantage of the unfortunate position we’re in. Hopefully we were able to do some things that give us a headstart on that.”

The first domino fell between 3 and 4 a.m. Thursday, when Cherington and Billy Beane created a rare blockbuster of All-Star Players. Jon Lester, along with Jonny Gomes, went to the A’s. Yoenis Cespedes, who could give the parking lot behind the Green Monster a workout, comes to the Red Sox.

“I don’t know if I’m going to get the time exactly right — but we had an agreement in principle on like the structure, it was probably between 3-4 this morning,” Cherington said. “And then, you know, you’ve got to get through medicals and Major League approval and all of that stuff, so it doesn’t get really official until later. So sometime in the middle of the night.”

Then, there was the deal that sent John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Then, the one that sent Andrew Miller to the Orioles for lefty prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. And finally, the one that sent shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson.

Cherington put his battle plan in motion about a week ago, when the Red Sox went through yet another slide that took away the momentum of winning eight of nine.

“We’ve made a series of trades today that we believe give us a good head start on building again and hopefully building towards a very good team as quickly as possible,” Cherington said. “Our intent going into today and really this week was just, given where we were, given where the team was in the standings and given the math that we’re fighting coming into this week, our intent was to try to see what opportunities are out there for us. There was a lot of interest in our players and we wanted to see if there were opportunities to turn that into moves that like, I said, could give us a head start on building again and becoming better as quickly as we can. That was our general sort of guiding philosophy this week and hopefully we turned it into some moves that make us better now and give us a real head start the rest of the season and going into the offseason with the full intent of building a strong contending team for 2015.”

It was a collaborative effort, as Cherington and much of his staff worked into the wee hours of Thursday to re-shape the roster.

“We had a group of 15 or so of us that were sort of consistently in the room, and that’s a combination of front office folks and scouts and ownership’s in and out,” Cherington said. “Roughly 15, and then that gets bigger, gets smaller sometimes. It gets a little smaller by 4 in the morning. But yeah, you know, we were here the whole time.”

That’s been the case for the last week or so.

“Long days and long nights. As everyone knows, you all know, for every trade you do make, there’s 20 or 30 other iterations that don’t come together. Even for the ones you do make, especially bigger ones, and some of these are bigger ones, those require a lot of phone calls, a lot of work from a lot of different people. We haven’t slept much the last three or four days,” Cherington said. “You can probably tell. But we knew coming into this week that we had a job to do: We had to find a way to take advantage of the unfortunate position that we’re in and try to kickstart a little bit building the next team. So that’s what we try to do. It was a great team effort from a lot of people, including ownership, but certainly baseball operations, and John Farrell is involved. We worked around the clock, literally.”

“I think I’m proud of the group that I work with because it’s a group that literally worked around the clock for about 4-5 days to try to do this. And again, time will tell what the results are, but I’m proud of the people I work with for how hard they worked. They were prepared and ready and, you know, everything we needed to give ourselves a chance to make decisions was there thanks to the people that I work with. As far as challenging, I just think this year has been challenging. Use any word you want. It’s been frustrating, disappointing, hard to explain at times, and certainly as I said before, I take responsibility for where we are. So I think the year, it’s not the last two days, it’s the whole year’s been challenging. We’ve got to get better. We know that.”

Thursday might have been the first step back to contention for 2015 and beyond.

Red Sox get their slugger

Though trading ace Jon Lester is undoubtedly hard for the Red Sox and their fans, it becomes a little easier when you factor in the return. By packaging Lester and Jonny Gomes, the Red Sox get Yoenis Cespedes, an outfielder with the type of power the club currently lacks beyond David Ortiz.

Though the arrival of Cespedes is probably too late to salvage Boston’s postseason hopes this season, he gives them a cornerstone for 2015, and perhaps beyond.

There’s at least a chance Cespedes will debut for the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park in a rivalry matchup with the Yankees.

Cespedes, who is mainly a left fielder but has also started three games in center this season, came over from Cuba in 2012. The Red Sox had interest in him at that time before he signed with Oakland.

The 28-year-old Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 contact when he went to the Athletics. Per terms of his original contract, he can become a free agent if he isn’t re-signed by October 31, 2015, or five days after the last game Boston plays that season.

Though the Red Sox have long valued Lester as a pitcher, a teammate and a leader, his contract expires at the end of this season and the club feared losing him for nothing more than draft compensation.

To this point, Boston had been unable to find common ground on a contract with the lefty, who was masterful last October in helping guide Boston to a World Series title.

A few days ago, Lester told reporters he would still be open to re-signing with the Red Sox even if he got traded.

So there’s at least a chance Boston could have a 2015 roster that features Lester as the ace and Cespedes as a key bat.

For the short term, Lester and Gomes have a legitimate chance to play in the World Series for the second straight season. The Athletics own the best record in the Majors at 66-41.

The sight of watching Cespedes take aim at the Green Monster should bring some joy to Red Sox fans, who have been disenchanted at watching the defending World Series champions get off to a 48-60 start and fall 13 games out in the American League East.

Lester scratched from start; trade talks continue

The Red Sox did nothing to diminish rumors that Jon Lester will be traded to a contender when they scratched him from Wednesday night’s start against the Blue Jays.

“Yeah, Brandon Workman will start tomorrow,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “In light of all the uncertainty surrounding Jon Lester, it’s probably in everyone’s best interests that he does not make that start, so Brandon will be recalled. There will be a corresponding move roster-wise at some point tomorrow.”

By scratching Lester from his Wednesday start, the Red Sox could increase the urgency of their suitors to sweeten their offer in advance of Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Also, Lester becomes more attractive to a potential suitor if he can pitch immediately after a trade, rather than having to wait until Monday.

Numerous teams have talked to the Red Sox about Lester, and there was a lot of buzz about the Pirates on Tuesday. The Dodgers are another possible destination, though they’ve thus far been unwilling to part with the type of top prospects (Corey Seager, Joc Pederson) the Red Sox seek. The Marlins have also expressed interest, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network radio.

While Red Sox veterans were still hoping the lefty would stay, they were bracing for the possibility of his exit.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” said Dustin Pedroia, who came up with Lester through the farm system and has won a pair of World Series titles with him. “We’re not teammates – we’re family. It’s something you don’t like going through. It makes you feel worse. We don’t want to be in this position. I know a lot of guys feel that if you play up to your capability … we should be adding instead of subtracting. Hopefully he’s here.”

Lester-Kemp not likely

Though Jon Lester could well be traded by Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, two sources told MLB.com that the Red Sox are not interested in acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers in exchange for the lefty, contrary to a rumor that surfaced Sunday.

In fact, there has yet to be a lot of dialogue between the two teams, though the Dodgers, with World Series aspirations, could certainly become a player for lefty. If the Dodgers were successful in getting Lester, they would have the most impressive front three in the game, featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Lester.

If the Red Sox are to trade Lester, they would need at least one top-level prospect. Would the Dodgers be willing to part with center field prospect Joc Pederson? If so, talks could heat up quickly. But there’s been no indication to this point Los Angeles would include Pederson.

Though Lester certainly warrants a top prospect or prospects in return, he amounts to a two-month rental. Lester is eligible for free agency at season’s end, and he indicated that even if he does get traded, his top desire would still be to return to Boston as a free agent.

Lester has been red-hot of late, pitching perhaps the best baseball of his career. He is scheduled to start for the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway against the Blue Jays, the final game before the trade deadline.

All eyes on Lester

A scenario that seemed unfathomable when the season started — the Red Sox contemplating a trade of ace Jon Lester — can no longer be ruled out. With the defending World Series champions close to fading out of contention and Lester a free agent at season’s end, Boston general manager Ben Cherington will at least listen to offers regarding the lefty, who has been red-hot over the last few weeks.

“I’m not going to comment on any particular player,” said Cherington. “We have to talk to teams. We have to listen to what teams are looking to do and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there. Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015. And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’t know yet. But you guys know how we feel about Jon.”

Interestingly, Lester said he would harbor no hard feelings toward the Red Sox if they traded him and he would still be interested in trying to re-sign with Boston in November even if traded in July.

“We’re certainly happy that statement reflects how he feels about the relationship. We feel good about our relationship with him. Our position hasn’t changed: We’d certainly love for Jon to be here in 2015,” said Cherington.

Peavy ‘understands’ trade talks

Twice in his career, Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy has been traded just prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Peavy is realistic enough to know that a third deal could happen before this month ends.

Peavy (1-7, 4.64 ERA) has struggled this season and so have the Red Sox, who entered Tuesday trailing by 10 games in the American League East.

“We all our professionals and understand this time of year,” said Peavy. “At the same time, our focus is here and trying to figure out a way, me personally, to get better, for Saturday night in Houston. And to help my teammates get prepared to win tonight.”

There have been rumblings that the Cardinals, who pursued Peavy last summer before he went to the Red Sox, could be a destination. One reason it might make sense for Boston to move Peavy is that it would open up a roster spot for Rubby De La Rosa, the hard-throwing righty who has been dominant at times when given the chance.

“This will be my third time my name has really been thrown out there with a legitimate chance to be traded, and I’ve been traded twice previous,” said Peavy. “I do understand what this is like. I don’t have any anxiety if it were to happen. I’m going to handle things because I know the whole process. Like I said, it’s a difficult one.”

Even though Peavy is the ultimate professional, it is unsettling for any player to wonder if their life will be uprooted in the middle of the season.

“My life is in Boston – everything I have,” said Peavy. “And to pick and move to a new city where you don’t know anybody, it’s challenging times for anybody. But that being said, and having been through it, there’s no anxiety about any of that. I really won’t comment on anything in the future until really something happens because it does nobody any good.”

On July 31, 2009, Peavy was traded from the Padres to the White Sox. And last year, his deal to Boston happened on July 30.

“I’ll handle it the way I handled it last year and the way I’ve handled it before,” said Peavy. “Just try to continually not lose focus on the task at hand. The task at hand is to come here to work, to get better. It’s to get ready to win your next time out. We all certainly understand the situation, the times we’re in. At the end of the day, it’s not our job to be wrapped up in that.

“We answer questions when asked about it. We certainly are kept abreast through our representation and good dialogue with the front office and to have an idea what’s going on with your situation. But at the end of the day, it’s not in our control. Put your head down and work. That’s what I’ve done the past few years and if something happens, you get called in and just go from there. At the end of the day, it’s hard for me to comment on any kind of heresy and any kind of rumors. It is what it is. My head is here.”

And until Peavy hears anything different, he plans on pitching for the Red Sox against the Astros on Saturday in Houston.

Peavy takes pride in pitching for the Red Sox, and that includes the good times like last year and even the struggles of this season.

“I’ve said it since I’ve got here,” said Peavy. “This place, being in this room, is home to me. There’s a lot of people here in the year that I’ve spent here in Boston that are very, very special to me and that’s on the field and off the field. When you experience what we all got a chance to go through last year, you become extremely tight.

“And when you go through times like these, you find out who your buddies are and who’s with you and who’s in your corner. I love this place and I’ve said that since Spring Training — I’ve always wanted to be here.”

Though this season has been a long way from the Cy Young season Peavy had for the Padres in 2007, he cautions people not to give up on him.

“I’ve got a lot of baseball left in me and good baseball too,” said Peavy. “So I’m just going to try to work and be a pro. That’s the only way I know how to be, to be the best teammate I can be and the be the best employee I can be and that’s doing everything I can do to get myself better to help the Red Sox win.”

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