Jon Lester Appears To Be The Red Sox Latest Casualty
Paradise lost. That is essentially what the Boston Red Sox have become over the last 9 months. Babies who were conceived “When Good Times Never Seemed So Good” are being born into a Red Sox Nation that is rapidly beginning to resemble the Bad Old Days on Yawkey Way. This is not another referendum of Chicken & Beer or September 2011. This a notification that home grown, left handed ace, Jon Lester appears set to join Terry Francona & Theo Epstein as major casualties of last fall’s epic collapse.
The Lester story is unique. The first time we heard about the left hander from Tacoma, Washington he was the only prospect that was to be included in the bombastic Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox trade in the nuclear winter of 2003. A shade less than 3 years later Lester made his Red Sox debut and was holding down a job as a regular contributor in Boston’s starting rotation. Late in the summer of 2006 Lester got into an auto accident on Storrow Drive which led him into him to his uncle’s office who is a physician in Lester’s native Washington. There it was discovered that Lester had a treatable form of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
The rest is history. The pitcher beat cancer within a year, and was back in the big leagues in time to win the close out game of the 2007 World Series in Denver. A no-hitter against Kansas City at Fenway the following May was proceeded by a fine 2008 season which saw Lester emerge as the team’s defacto ace as he stepped in for an injured Josh Beckett to shut down the Angels in Game 1 of the Division Series that October.
The next few seasons saw Lester become one of the better pitchers in the big leagues, with commanding stuff and the makeup of a bona fide ace. But like so much of what the Red Sox have become, the wheels have completely fallen off for one of the faces of the franchise.
When you watch Lester this summer it’s hard to fathom that it was only 24 months ago that Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley proclaimed that Lester was on the ground floor of a Hall of Fame career. Now we’ve reached the point where Lester sits here in the middle of the season with a 5-6 record and a 4.50 ERA. Health has not been an issue, as Lester hasn’t missed a turn in the rotation.
This past week Peter Gammons appeared on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub and suggested that it might be wise for the Red Sox to deal Lester before the July 31st deadline, as he would net the biggest return of any current Red Sox commodity. Gammons also noted that Lester looked very unhappy this season.
Collateral Damage exists in all walks of life, and it’s clear that the fallout from last September is not nearly over. Now the best pitcher on Red Sox, a homegrown ace, who beat cancer and became a symbol of the 21st century of the Boston Baseball Club has lost his game, and looks like a man who wants to be anywhere but here.
Let The Bad Times Roll.