Maybe there should be a new rule: If your team stinks, it should have no All-Stars.
That’s how it felt when American League manager John Farrell announced that the Red Sox’ Jon Lester had made the AL squad, with Koji Uehara the first option if a pitcher can’t go to the game.
The announcement came after Sunday’s gut-wrenching 7-6 loss at Fenway Park to the Orioles in 12 innings.
Lester and Uehara are certainly deserving, but it just doesn’t feel right. With the loss the Red Sox fell a season-high 10 games below .500. It’s been cumulative awfulness.
One can just hear Jim Mora saying, “All-Stars?”
At least the voters and the players didn’t go wild selecting Red Sox players. Farrell had to select Lester as one of the four choices he had.
David Ortiz was left off because of the better years being had by Nelson Cruz and Victor Martinez. Big Papi was diplomatic about it and had a few conversations with Farrell about being left off the team.
“I’ll be back to the All-Star Game next year,” Ortiz said.
Now that the Red Sox have shown life with the bat recently, their bullpen has gone south. Other than Jackie Bradley Jr. throwing out a runner at the plate and his great circus catch in center Sunday, their defense hasn’t been very good lately, particularly from Xander Bogaerts.
Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz made blunders on the base paths Sunday. They both said they were trying to make something happen and get in scoring position, but those decisions haven’t worked out for Sox runners all season.
At least there was some life with a five-run comeback to tie it in the seventh, and Ortiz said, “We hit the ball good. We did some good things with the bat.” But not with their legs.
The players and Farrell still hold out hope there’s a run in this team, but the poor play has just gone on too long.
The Sox are probably leaning more toward selling off players than keeping them at this moment, building for next season as opposed to saving this season. Which is why picking up a veteran such as Alfonso Soriano, who was designated for assignment Sunday by the Yankees, probably doesn’t make any sense.
It also stands to reason that they’re looking toward next year because they have kept their struggling rookies — Bradley and Bogaerts — on the team through their offensive, and in Bogaerts’s case, defensive struggles.
Might as well stick with them now and hope they adapt to major league life between now and the end of the season, which will help them in 2015.
The Red Sox won’t need a major overhaul. The big decision will be whether they deal Lester if they plan to stick to their philosophy of not handing out long-term deals to players age 30 and over.
The Lester talks remain the biggest topic on this team. The situation is confusing because one minute Lester wants to avoid distractions by not negotiating, but on the other hand he’s told media friends he would be on board with a quick negotiation over a couple of days at midseason if they could get it done.
It doesn’t appear the team will deal Lester at the deadline unless it had exhausted all opportunities to sign him. Not sure that will take place by the end of the month.
Or the Sox can hold on to Lester, make him a qualifying offer he would reject, and take the draft pick. Right now the Sox would be picking in the top five, anyway.
The All-Star nod was likely good news for Lester, who continues to build his résumé as one of the elite pitchers in baseball.
The Red Sox already have chips to obtain Giancarlo Stanton, if Miami has a change of heart and decides it can’t keep Stanton long term.
The Sox could add more chips by trading off veterans.
The Cubs recently came to that conclusion with Jeff Samardzija and shipped him and Jason Hammel to Oakland, which probably won’t sign Samardzija long term, either. Samardzija basically forced Theo Epstein’s hand because he didn’t want to play for a losing team long term.
Stanton has to see more optimism with the Marlins, who have remained viable in the NL East despite losing superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery.
Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said there’s no way he’s dealing Stanton, but we’ll see if that changes this offseason and where contract talks go.
If the Sox try to sell off veteran pieces, they likely would be Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino (if healthy), A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Stephen Drew, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, Burke Badenhop, and Edward Mujica.
One National League assistant GM was wondering if his team could get Mike Napoli away from the Red Sox.
Peavy on Sunday increased the possibility that he will be traded with his second straight strong six-inning outing. Team representatives from Pittsburgh and Milwaukee were on hand to watch. Arizona was also on hand, but its interest is obviously not Peavy, being so far out of the race.
All signs point to the Red Sox wanting to keep Uehara — at least that’s the preference of one team official who believes Uehara still can be viable on another one-year deal (but for far more money). Closers are just tough to come by and Uehara still can pitch at a high level.
The Red Sox should be able to rebuild as they did after the 2012 season. They still will have the veteran core of Ortiz, Pedroia, and Napoli. They likely will add a righthanded power-hitting outfielder.
But the biggest leap of faith will have to come in whether they believe their young crop of players — Bogaerts, Bradley, Mookie Betts, Will Middlebrooks, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, etc. — are good enough to commit to them in 2015. And you might as well add Pawtucket shortstop Deven Marrero to the mix.
If the Red Sox believe Bogaerts is not an adequate enough major league shortstop, then Marrero has a chance to take his place as the shortstop of the future. One also would have to take a similar leap if Christian Vazquez was to replace one of the two veteran catchers.
Lester and probably Uehara are Red Sox All-Stars.
It just doesn’t seem that way when things are going this badly.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.