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Friday, August 1, 2014

Are the Red Sox trying to go from worst to first and back again?

George Scione

So, Jon Lester is gone, huh? That’s the news that had everybody in the five New England states – Connecticut doesn’t count – waking up on the wrong side of the bed Thursday morning.

Connecticut joined its New York brethren in celebrating another monumental collapse by the Boston Red Sox. ...

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So, Jon Lester is gone, huh? That’s the news that had everybody in the five New England states – Connecticut doesn’t count – waking up on the wrong side of the bed Thursday morning.

Connecticut joined its New York brethren in celebrating another monumental collapse by the Boston Red Sox.

Then came the deals unloading John Lackey and Andrew Miller. The Yankees took Stephen Drew off their hands, and the Cubs did the same with Felix Doubront.

Is it possible to go from worst to first and back to worst? It appears these Red Sox are trying really hard to do just that.

In the first 90 years of Major League Baseball, no team had ever gone from worst to first. When the Red Sox completed the turnaround in 2013, they were the 11th team to do so in the last 24 years.

It appears only one team in Major League Baseball history has done the return trip, but in reverse order. Instead of a worst-to-first-to-worst scenario, the San Diego Padres went from first in 1996 to worst in 1997 and back to first in 1998. They are the only MLB team to reverse course in three consecutive seasons.

This Red Sox hierarchy is all about history and legacy. Perhaps this is exactly what they wanted?

Heck, forget worst in the AL East, which they currently have a firm grasp on – let’s go for the worst in all of baseball.

Tell the Texas Rangers, who are five games worse than Boston, to pick up the pace a little here. Likewise with the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and Cubs – all four games worse than Boston. That same message goes for the Philadelphia Phillies (one game worse) and the Minnesota Twins (on equal footing).

There’s a brick commemorating the accomplishment in somebody’s future.

Thursday morning a brick was thrown into the chest of Red Sox Nation. Lester, one of the few major leaguers who actually gets it, was officially sent packing.

The Red Sox traded Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick in 2015.

Lester has always been a fan favorite. He’s the furthest from a diva one could ever know. He’s a proven winner in a big market full of media that scrutinizes every bit of information and performance of its athletes.

He’s coming up on the eighth anniversary of being diagnosed with and treated for anaplastic large cell lymphoma. That sort of thing puts life in perspective.

His approach is refreshing – on the mound, in the public and with cameras and microphones in his face. He wants to stay in Boston, but realizes it’s a business and sometimes both sides don’t see eye to eye.

Unlike others in the recent past – supposed team leaders – who whine to the public for support in their negotiations, Lester realizes it’s not life and death. He already faced that challenge.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox were unable to face their challenge head on. It was a simple task of signing their ace for slightly less than the open market will offer for a long-term deal.

Now fans see Lester, who posted a 110-63 record, 3.64 ERA and six playoff wins with Boston, heading west and the Red Sox continuing south.

Of course there were good things to come out of Thursday’s activity.

Boston received Cespedes, a 28-year-old slugger and defensive gem – who was runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year voting and 10th in AL MVP voting in 2012. The two-time Home Run Derby champion is closing in on a third straight season with at least 23 home runs (23 in 2012, 26 in 2013 and 17 through 101 games this season).

Boston also unloaded Gomes, one of the biggest frauds any clubhouse ever did see.

His WWE schtick is like Kevin Millar meets John Cena in the squared circle known as a baseball diamond.

From his wrestling attire – Tim Gunn’s eyes must have shot out of their sockets when viewing Gomes’ tacky USA outfit during the Red Sox White House visit – to his feeding reporters questions to ask during national TV interviews, then not skipping a beat with rehearsed, cliche-laden responses when that same reporter calls him out. He’s all flash and little substance.

Now, despite losing a player of substance in Lester, the Red Sox swapped outfielders. Going from one that offers catch phrases in Gomes to Cespedes, who can actually catch a baseball hit in his general direction. Cespedes also is more consistent in making contact with the ball.

Sometimes there is a silver lining in the loss of something good. For Red Sox fans, that’s saying goodbye to Gomes.

Let’s hope the A’s win it all this fall. Then Oakland fans can enjoy that promo about war.

No, not the statistic, rather the fact that no team wants to go to war without him.

It’s that same speech he forced down the throats of local reporters, then with FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, following their 2013 World Series victory on FOX. Something about turning teams around four times, including Boston, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.

Well, good luck Oakland. The A’s already hold baseball’s best record. Should they win it all, it will most likely be because Gomes, not Lester, was added at the trade deadline.

Let’s be real here – there is no Gomes without me. And that’s just how Jonny Baseball likes it. Certainly, A’s fans will too. At least that’s how Gomes will spin it.

Now the Red Sox brass can spin their angle, as they do so well when players and managers leave town.

It’s a mess at Fenway Park, again.

Worst to first and back to worst.

They may as well start engraving those commemorative bricks now. Everybody’s buying.

George Scione can be reached at 594-6520 or gscione@nashua telegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter (@Telegraph_BigG).