Just 17 days ago, baseball fans awoke on the morning of the 2014 MLB Trade Deadline waiting to see what rumors became reality. For Boston Red Sox fans, it was a particularly nerve-racking day considering the ongoing trade talks involving the team’s left-handed, ace, Jon Lester, among other potential deals.
By the end of the day, the defending World Series champion Red Sox had a completely new look. Lester and Jonny Gomes were sent to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for the slugging outfielder Yoenis Céspedes and a competitive balance B draft pick. Then Boston sent another starting pitcher, John Lackey, along with minor league pitching prospect, Corey Littrell, to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Later in the day, the Red Sox made deals within their division, trading relief pitcher Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez, and lastly sent Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees for Kelly Johnson.
Looking at the roster that night, there were a lot of holes on this team, particularly with the starting rotation. Clay Buchholz, who’s having quite the forgettable year, was the one veteran remaining. They obviously added Kelly, but he’s no Lester or Lackey right now, and yeah, Céspedes offers the offense that was missing all year, but at what cost?
However, with two weeks plus of watching this new Red Sox team in action, those moves are certainly turning out to be the correct ones and credit needs to be given to Boston’s management team, particularly GM Ben Cherington.
Despite batting just .240, Céspedes has been fantastic at the plate with three home runs and 10 RBIs in just 10 games. Kelly hasn’t notched his first win in a Red Sox uniform yet, but has a solid 2.08 ERA in two starts. Craig, unfortunately hit the disabled list but I expect he’ll bring even more pop to the Boston lineup upon his return.
What has made these moves a success, though, isn’t just the performance of the new acquisitions, but the performance of the entire team. The offense as a whole has picked up its production, and scoring runs is what Boston lacked prior to the trade deadline. Young pitching talents such as Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and Brandon Workman have stepped up into starting roles and pitched competitively on a number of occasions.
With all that in mind, I want to applaud Boston’s front office for not only making the right trades back on July 31 to improve the team, but for trusting that what they kept was right as well. The future is certainly bright in Boston with a management group that is familiar with building a championship recipe. I expect that they will bring in more pieces during the offseason that blend with the roster in place now, and I look forward to seeing what that roster looks like come opening day 2015.