Turn to your right and look at the guy next to you. Turn to the left and look at the guy on that side of you. Either one of them could be the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox tonight – or both in the next couple of days.
After Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox do not own a pitching staff. They dumped so many guys that it is anybody’s guess what players might be filling out the rotation over the rest of the 2014 season. Talk about blowing up a pitching staff. The dust may never settle after this one.
Goodbye Jon Lester (a move likely to be regretted). Goodbye John Lackey (we hardly knew ye at your best). Goodbye Jake Peavey (better luck elsewhere; it would have to be). Goodbye Andrew Miller. Goodbye Felix Doubront. While they were at it, the Red Sox exiled position players Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes, too.
Red Sox ownership didn’t even bother to write out a suicide note. Apparently, they took it for granted that everyone knew the team was already dead. Any delusional fans thinking the Sox had a last run in them this season were disabused of that idea. Sitting in last place in the American League East Division, that is where they will stay for the final two months of the season.
The strangest thing is that the 2013 World Series champs’ biggest foible this year was failure to hit in clutch. So it’s not clear how getting rid of just about every sound arm will help this situation. There is a chance that Sox fans will be talking about this pitcher clear-out for years.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers, a club that has designs on this year’s World Series crown, added David Price to the best rotation in baseball. The perennial All-Star’s acquisition from Tampa Bay cost center fielder Austin Jackson, a fine player, and pitcher Drew Smyly, who won’t be missed because Detroit now has Price, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander available on consecutive days.
In some ways adding Price was overkill. The Tigers shored up their strength while diminishing their hitting depth (though they are still loaded) and yet Detroit fans should still be worried. The flashy addition does not obscure the team’s chief weakness. A few weeks ago the Tigers, aware that they needed a reliable closer to win a championship, obtained Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers in hopes of filling the spot. So far he has been a bust. It seems that Detroit added the wrong All-Star to the pitching mix. The Tigers should have tried harder to pry Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies. Papelbon wanted out. He is still in Philadelphia and the Tigers still have a problem.
The Oakland Athletics have the best record in baseball, but they have been acting as if they are a fringe playoff contender, aggressively adding starting pitching. A couple of weeks ago the A’s acquired All-Star Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs, but Hammel has fizzled. Now they have added All-Star Jon Lester in place of the underachieving Yoenis Cespedes, gone to Boston. Oakland is preparing to go arm-for-arm with the Tigers in a playoff match that could determine the Series champs.
Did anybody notice, although they tried, the New York Yankees were not the biggest players at the trade deadline? The Yankees were unable to flex financial muscle as they have done so many times in the past and they were unable to make a big personnel splash. It is the Yankees, not the A’s, who are at best borderline playoff contenders in 2014.
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