Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trade Deadline Sports Chowdah Update- So Long Jon, Lester, Lackey Dealt at Trade Deadline; The Price is Right

RED SOX- Never mind remaining members of the 2004 or 2007 World Series team on the Boston Roster- after the July 31st trade deadline, the 2014 iteration of the Boston Red Sox is now quite unrecognizable from last season's World Series champions.

After getting out to a 4-0 start immediately after the All Star break- including a sweep of the resurgent Kansas City Royals- the Red Sox fleetingly looked like contenders in the AL East. However, after a convincing 14-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays last week, the Red Sox lost eight of their last nine games- all of them within the AL East. On Saturday, the Red Sox traded starter Jon Lester to San Francisco for minor league pitchers Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar. Following that, Boston sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.

But the Peavy and Doubront transactions were mere appetizers to the main course for Thursday. The first big deal of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline had the Red Sox dealing ace pitcher Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A's for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes [.256, 17 HR and 67 RBI] and Oakland's competitive balance pick in the 2015 MLB draft. The trade sends Boston's homegrown ace to Oakland as what is essentially a rental for the AL West leader's pennant run and raises questions to where Lester will end up at the end of the season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Currently, the A's [who have a number of former Red Sox players and prospects on their roster before this transaction even took place- NANESB!] lead the AL West over the Angels by two games and have the best record in the big leagues at 66-41. Earlier in the week, there were reports that the Mariners, Pirates, Orioles and Cardinals were in talks with Boston to acquire Lester, all of them given even more credence when Lester was scratched from Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays and Brandon Workman made the start in his place.

However, the wheeling and dealing by Cherrington wasn't done yet. After the Lester deal was announced, starter John Lackey and minor league pitcher Corey Littrell were sent to the St Louis Cardinals- their opponent in the 2004 and 2013 World Series- for right-handed starter Joe Kelly [2-2; 4.37 ERA] and outfielder Allen Craig [.237, 7 HR and 44 RBI].

Following that up, the Red Sox sent relief pitcher Andrew Miller to Baltimore in return for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and SS Stephen Drew was sent to the Yankees in return for infielder Kelly Johnson, who is currently on the DL but is expected to play at 3rd while Bogaerts may end up moving back to shortstop.

The Miller and Drew transactions surprised me not so much that they departed, but that Cherrington was willing to trade within the division- although Johnson represents a slight upgrade offensively from Drew. With Jeter playing the rest of the season (his final season, no less) at shortstop for the Yankees, Drew is expected to play second after the Yankees after the Bronx Bombers designated 2B Brian Roberts for assignment.

Interestingly, Drew won't even have to leave Boston right away- just use the visitor's clubhouse at Fenway for this weekend's upcoming series between the Yankees and Red Sox. Game 1 gets underway on Friday night and will have former Red Sox reliever Chris Capuano [1-1; 4.30 ERA] going up against PawSox callup Anthony Ranaudo, who is making his MLB debut for Boston. Ranaudo has spent the entire 2014 season in Pawtucket and has a 12-4 record and 2.41 ERA with the PawSox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN as well as the MLB network in some markets.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Not to be outdone by the A's acquisition of Jon Lester, the Detroit Tigers acquired Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price in a 3-way deal that was announced with less than 40 minutes to go before the trade deadline.

In return for getting David Price, the Tigers sent OF Austin Jackson to Seattle and left handed pitcher Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames to Tampa Bay. Seattle sends 2B Nick Franklin to Tampa to complete the deal.

The acquisition of Price gives Detroit no fewer than three Cy Young winners in their starting rotation with Price, Verlander and Max Scherzer. Since Price isn't a free agent until after the 2015 season, this also gives Detroit some flexibility with Scherzer, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

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