Posted on: June 11, 2010 1:04 pm
In the words of Nationals' radio play-by-play broadcaster Charlie Slowes following the remarkable debut by Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday in Washington D.C., "There's a new mayor in town, and the campaign took one night."
It is permissible to let our imaginations run wild with a player like Strasburg, and not just because everyone else is doing it. However, the fact remains that it is very unlikely that there is a player in baseball right now with the potential to hit 60 home runs, which has long been the most alluring statistical figure in baseball. But the last two A.L. home run champions (37 for Miguel Cabrera in 2008, 39 for Carlos Pena and Mark Teixeira in 2009) have only totaled 76 home runs, which would break the standing home run record by only 2!
As baseball fans, we have to look elsewhere from home runs for a national story. The past few years, the age of the young pitcher has been dominating the national scene. Tim Lincecum has two Cy Young awards by age 25, Zack Grienke took home the Cy Young at age 25 and posted a ridiculous ERA for the A.L., and N.L. teams this season can speak to the utter dominance by 26-year-old phenom Ubaldo Jimenez.
The strikeout has become the new home run. The last generation of great pitchers (Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson) have now been replaced by a younger ensemble of hard-throwing hurlers. It is obvious to say that every team wants Stephen Strasburg, and not so that local diners can cash in on a wide variety of sandwiches called "The Strasburger." Every teams wants him for the national draw that he is getting, in addition to the seemingly limitless pitching talent.
So, the question is: Who would you be willing to part with for Stephen Strasburg?
The Boston Red Sox have 25 players on their active roster, and a total of 34 players have donned a uniform so far this season. They have seven minor league affliates, which would put the total number of payers affliated with the Boston Red Sox at around 200.
There is only one player that I would not give up under any circumstances, even if the trade was 1 to 1, and that is Jon Lester. Lester has, believe it or not, the exact same potential that Strasburg does, except that Lester has already begun to follow through with success. Does this sound crazy?
The sport of professional baseball is over 150 years old. Using <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/player_stats.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=mlb&teamPosCode=all&statType=Overview&sitSplit=&venueID=&timeFrame=3&timeSubFrame2=0&Submit=Submit" target="_blank">mlb.com's historical statistics page , they list approximately 17,200 hitters who have recorded an at-bat in the majors and about 8,350 pitchers who have recorded an out, with incomplete records dating back to 1871. Yes, there will be some duplicates, but we can very roughly estimate that somewhere around 20,000 people have played professional baseball. Of that number, who has the highest winning percentage with at least 100 starts?
If you guessed Stephen Strasburg, well you'd be wrong. If you guessed Jon Lester, you've earned a sticker for today. With a career record of 49-18, Lester's .731 winning percentage is higher than anybody with at least that many starts. Oh, and he also happens to be leading the A.L. in strikeouts.
Lester has everything that Strasburg has - the size, the pitching repertoire - without the same fanfare because he wasn't the number one overall pick. Lester also has done all of his work in the best division in baseball since he came up, so imagine what his numbers would have been like if Boston played in the N.L. West. Lester has not pitched his last no hitter, and he will win at least one Cy Young Award. At 26 and with the record he has already acquired, Lester is Boston's Strasburg.
As for the rest of the players in Boston, it would depend on what else was included in the deal, but the only other player I would not trade, unless it was 1 to 1 (which would never happen), would be Dustin Pedroia. Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a Gold Glove already, he has batting titles and several more GGs in his future.
The next closest player that I would have initial problems dealing away would be Kevin Youkilis. He plays two positions, is a very consistent .300+ hitter with one of, if not the best, eye in the game, he has the potential to hit 40 home runs and is the cleanup hitter on the team that has scored the most runs in the A.L. this year. But, and this is somewhat surprising, Youkilis is already 31, which means that he is in his prime right now. Nobody expects him to fall off anytime soon, but we said the same thing about David Ortiz, whose last impact year came when he was 31, and we all feel that at 34, he is exceptionally over the hill.
I was thinking that, with respect to the almost 200 players in the Sox farm system, there would be some that I would hold onto. I might have to hold onto Casey Kelly, but he is only in his first year being a full time pitcher, while around the same age as Strasburg.
Lester is a dominant pitcher already, and he would be the one player from this Red Sox team that I would not give up for Stephen Strasburg. <!-- EndFragment-->
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Carlos Pena, Casey Kelly, Charlie Slowes, Cy Young, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Greg Maddux, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, Tom Glavine, Ubaldo Jimenez, Washington Nationals, Zack Grienke
Posted on: April 9, 2008 11:22 pm
The Red Sox lost to the Tigers tonight, giving the Tigers the first win of the season, and the first loss for the Sox on U.S. soil. Some thoughts on today’s game:
Jon Lester was moving through the Tiger’s lineup with few bumps until the fourth inning. He had only given up one hit and two walks through the first three frames. He was getting ahead of batters early, and attacking the strike zone with his two seam fastball that set up a very effective cut fastball and curveball. His fastball was consistently at 93 MPH, even as he approached 100 pitches. He got in trouble when he tried to assert the fastball too often before going to his off-speed stuff. His cutter is probably his best pitch, but he tried to aim pitches to Jose Guillen and Miguel Cabrera but walked both in the fourth, and likewise with Marcus Thames, who connected on an inside fastball for a two run home run. Lester didn’t pitch that poorly; he just needs to mix up his pitches more on the second time around the lineup otherwise hitters will pick up on his stuff.
Mike Lowell left the game after making a diving stop on a ground ball in the first inning. Lowell landed awkwardly and jammed his glove hand into the ground before firing the ball to first to put out Ivan Rodriguez. He had x-Rays taken and they were negative. Because Sean Casey has done such a nice job filling in at the plate so far this season, collecting two hits today, the Sox will not rush Lowell back. He had injury problems with his hand in the past, and the injury is on his left hand, which applies most of the pressure with his swing. Look for Kevin Youkilis and Alex Cora to get some playing time at third until Lowell gets back, probably around this weekend.
It does seem like it is a reoccurring topic on this recap, but it is the last roster spot not yet determined. Both Bryan Corey and Javier Lopez did nothing to enhance their résumés to stay with the team, while David Aardsma looked sharper than he has in recent performances. Mike Timlin has pitched very successfully in Pawtucket and he is ready to come back, so the decision will be made soon. The Sox are convinced that they need another left hander in the bullpen because Hideki Okajima has a determined role as the set-up guy and can not be used for situational spots. The balance seems slightly in Corey’s favor, but the series with the Yankees’ will likely decide the spot.
Jacoby Ellsbury was on base twice tonight with two walks, one coming with the bases loaded to drive in a run. He has started off slow, and is batting under .200, but it is clear that the Sox have no intention of sitting him down for longer than one game at a time, and that he will continue to be the Sox starting center fielder. They will continue to shop Coco Crisp, who is very unhappy to be platooning with Ellsbury right now, and until they can get a deal with him, it will likely be that Ellsbury will play about 60 percent of the games, and never start against left handed pitchers. He does not have his timing down at the plate, and is trying too hard to provide the offensive spark he did for the club last year. It may take him until the end of April to get his swing together, but it will be worth the wait.
Look for this recap tomorrow as the Sox take on the Tigers in the rubber game of this series. (To view previous recaps, follow this link).