Resigned optimism hung over Yawkey Way on Thursday as the Red Sox finished a weeklong roster liquidation that saw players flying out of Fenway Park like a deep drive over the Green Monster.
Fans had accepted that moves were imminent, with the Red Sox stuck in a down year at 48-60. They clung Thursday to the unseeable, hoping the players the team got in return for star pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey could produce in the long term.
“I think it looks as though they’re pretty much giving up on the rest of this season,” said Ian Stern, 27, a manager in the team store on Yawkey Way. “But they’ve got to rebuild.”
Coming off a championship year, Stern said the Red Sox had a lot of buzz, “but the stars did not align” in 2014 and the team over the last week has traded four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation on Opening Day, including Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront.
The Sox also dealt reliever Andrew Miller and shortstop Stephen Drew on Thursday. Outfielder Jonny Gomes went to the A’s in the Lester deal.
Managers at the team store were marking down prices on the jerseys of every traded player except Lester, Stern said, because the homegrown ace is a free agent at the end of the season and there is hope he will return.
“That wall is certainly going to look a lot different next year,” Stern said, sweeping an arm over the racks of T-shirts at his back.
In return for Lester and Gomes, the Red Sox received Yoenis Cespedes, an All-Star outfielder and salve for the fire sale’s sting. Lackey went to the Cardinals in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly.
Cespedes, a two-time Home Run Derby winner, will add clout to a Red Sox outfield that has hit just 14 home runs this year.
“They haven’t had power in the outfield all season,” said Pat O’Neill, 29, of Acton, from a stool at the Cask ’n Flagon.
He said the up-and-down Sox, who two years ago finished 69-93, are “not making it easy to be a fan right now.”
“In 2012 I was just so annoyed with the season . . . and last year it was awesome, it was great, and now they stink again,” O’Neill said.
The loss of Lester, who rose through the Red Sox system and battled cancer in 2006, was particularly hard for some fans.
“I wish him the best, as long as he doesn’t end up with the Yankees,” said Andy Lawrence, 40, of Richmond.
“I wasn’t a big Lackey fan, but Lester, he’s a young kid that came up around here,” said Mary Aufiero of Watertown, eating a hot dog on Yawkey Way with her 7-year-old son, Connor.
Aufiero is confident management knows how to rebuild.
“There was a plan when they traded Nomar [Garciaparra], so there must be a plan,” she said.
Jake Costello, 24, of Arlington, said the slumping Red Sox had to make some moves.
“If you’re in last place, in the cellar, and you’ve got good pitching . . . you’ve got to get younger,” he said.