Will Red Sox fans be patient if Jon Lester departs?
The Red Sox think you love Fenway Park so much — and that you are so happy about last year — that you aren’t bothered by their abysmal showing in 2014. They think you’ll be OK just watching “the kids.’’ They want you to stick with them as they refuse to compete in the marketplace for their best pitcher, Jon Lester.
Think about that. The Sox are telling you they won’t pay the going rate for their World Series-hero, cancer-beatin’, high-road-takin’, lefthanded ace. They are going to trade Lester Wednesday or Thursday. Or they will let him walk this winter and accept a nifty draft pick. But they will not pay stupid, long-term money for Jon Lester because they have data that shows it is not a good investment. Let the Yankees, Dodgers, Tigers, and Angels play the fools. The Sox can compete in that money market. But they won’t. The Sox know better. And they are counting on your continued loyalty.
Maybe the Boston bosses are right. Sure, there were some boos for Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront Monday night, but fans still joyously sang “Sweet Caroline” while the last-place Sox trailed the Blue Jays, 14-1, before the home half of the eighth inning.
Warm. Touching warm. Reaching out. Touching me. Touching you . . .
Monday’s beat-down gave way to Tuesday drama as we crept toward Thursday’s trading deadline. Larry Lucchino no doubt has old friend Stan Kasten (Dodgers) on speed dial.
Fenway was like the TMZ idea room. Rumors and storylines were tossed about like spaghetti strands. We all wanted to see if anything would stick to the left field Wall.
Walking past the players parking lot at 2 p.m., I was approached by a Sox fan who breathlessly told me, “Lester just sent out a goodbye tweet to the fans! And I saw FedEx boxes being delivered to the clubhouse!’’
Checking Twitter, there was a missive from Lester. It was not a “goodbye” message, but it was interesting nonetheless.
“Thanks for the love y’all!,’’ Lester tweeted to his 258,000 followers. “Grateful for everyday I get to wake up a Red Sox! This game can be uncertain at times, just gotta roll with it!’’
Another win for Jon Lester as the veteran lefty continues to crush the Red Sox in the court of public opinion.
First, the club low-balled him, offering him half of his market value when talks opened in spring training. Lester said nothing. He has continued to profess his love for all things Boston, all things Red Sox. He even said he’d be OK getting traded — he’d still give the Sox an opportunity to sign him when he becomes a free agent after the season. His latest tweet was just another perfect move in his near-perfect walkaway season.
Unfortunately, he is 30 years old and Sox/Globe owner John Henry read a study that said teams should not invest in 30-year-old players.
“To me, the most important thing this study shows is that virtually all of the underpaid players are under 30 and virtually all of the overpaid players are over 30,’’ Henry told the Bloomberg Businessweek in the springtime. “Yet teams continue to extravagantly overpay for players above the age of 30.’’
Not your Boston Red Sox. Not anymore. Lessons were learned when evil Theo Epstein tricked his bosses into long-term deals for the likes of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford. Never again. Nevermore.
Lester was scheduled to be the Sox’ starting pitcher Wednesday night at Fenway against the Blue Jays before being replaced by Brandon Workman. The trade deadline is Thursday at 4 p.m. Sox manager John Farrell said he had spoken with Lester about the delicacy of Wednesday’s schedule.
“He’s not traded yet,’’ the manager reminded reporters.
Farrell’s daily mid-afternoon session was close to the bone. Farrell is ever-polite and sticks up for his guys in Terry Francona fashion, but he’s clearly peeved at Doubront, who has asked to be traded and submitted an unprofessional effort Monday. The manager is no doubt deflated that ownership is not going to compete for the future of Lester. And it’s certainly no fun to live in the cellar as we prepare for a fire sale.
While acknowledging the awkwardness of trying to manage while much of his roster is being discussed in trades, Farrell said, “It can’t take away from the way we play. That’s unacceptable.’’
So what about it, Red Sox fans? Are you positive? Are you patient? Are you still of a mind to give the Sox brass the benefit of the doubt? Are you just happy to be at the park and sing along with Neil Diamond? Do the Red Sox get a free pass this year because they won the World Series last year? How about 2015? A free pass for next year, too? A lifetime free pass, perhaps?
I hope not. Impatience, baseball acumen, and a need-to-compete have always been hallmarks of the Sox fan experience. Sox fans pay the highest ticket prices in baseball. They never complain about things that are wrong with the ballpark — things that are impossible to fix (poles, cramped seats and aisles, seats that face the bullpens, parking, etc.). They put up with little inconveniences because they love baseball, they love the Red Sox. They love star ballplayers. They love guys who hustle, play hard, and respect the fans.
It would be a shame to abandon those standards at this hour, as ownership prepares to say goodbye to a player who has served the team so well, so long.
So long, Jon Lester.