The Red Sox Royally Screwed Up with Jon Lester

I’m concerned for my Red Sox. My unease isn’t due to the fact that they’re losing – that happens, and I told everyone who would listen that they were due to come back down to earth this year because last season’s team played well over its head. What worries me is the way they’re attempting to build the team.

Recent reports indicate that the Sox are looking to trade ace Jon Lester, the best pitcher the team’s had since Pedro Martinez. We’re talking about a guy with a 3.64 ERA and a 110-63 record in nine big league seasons. If you want to get fancy, he’s got a 3.62 FIP and has generated 22.5 WARP over that time.  He’s ninth on the team’s all-time wins list and fourth in strikeouts. He’s thirty years old and he’s only hit the disabled list three times – and two of those were for fucking cancer. I’m going to skip his World Series heroics because I’m not a fan of relying on playoff stats, but he’s been great in the postseason as well. This is a guy every team in the majors should want in their rotation.

So of course, the Red Sox, who pride themselves on being super tough negotiators, low balled Lester during extension talks. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the team offered Lester a four year deal between $70 and $80 million. Sounds like a lot of money, right? Not for a player who’s been one of the top ten starters in all of baseball for a good chunk of the last ten years. Pitchers like that regularly receive upwards of $25 million a year on the open market. Lester’s track record certainly makes somewhere in the $20-$25 million a year range more than acceptable.

Here’s where my team-building worries come in. Number one, offering someone like Lester such a shitty deal sends a pretty solid message to the rest of the players in the league that you’re a bunch of assholes. The Sox are the only team Lester’s played for. He beat cancer while coming up in their system. He’s been a part of two World Series victories. He’s made statements indicating he’d prefer to stay in Boston. Shouldn’t all that be worth something? Players constantly talk about wanting to be appreciated. That contract offer suggests the team would never actually give a shit about anyone it employs. If they don’t appreciate Jon Lester, who in the fuck would they ever appreciate? Why would any player ever give 110% for a team they know is going to just dick them over?

Number two, the team’s made a pretty pronounced shift away from signing big money veterans toward developing from within and offering short-term deals to good but not great players. When you’re a low revenue team, this strategy makes sense: keep costs low and roll the dice with kids and cheap retreads. It’s worked in Tampa, but Boston ain’t Florida. New England is one of the biggest baseball markets around and the Red Sox brand stretches all the way across the nation in a way rivaled only by the Yankees. That means they’ve got cash. If you’re a big market team that isn’t using its cash to lockup superstars, you’re wasting your single biggest advantage. Plus, the greatest value of building a strong farm system is that every home grown player you bring up frees up a ton of cash to use elsewhere. The Sox, in focusing on prospects and cost savings, are going about things completely ass backwards. This team should be a mix of high-priced superstars and solid young players on cheap deals.

Third, there’s a growing argument that prospects are becoming overvalued. Dumping a veteran doesn’t generate quite the haul it used to because teams are hording their cheap young assets. The smartest general manager in the game, Oakland’s Billy Beane, seems to have recognized this and flipped it on its head. He recently shipped out blue-chip shortstop prospect Addison Russell and useful young arm Dan Straily to Chicago in exchange for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, a pair of veterans that should really solidify his staff going forward. He got a borderline ace and a solid number three for one great prospect and a fourth or fifth starter type. Oakland sits at 65-40 as of this writing. That’s only the best record in the Major Leagues.

Regardless of how you slice it, the Sox really fucked this one up.  Hopefully it’s a one-time screw up and not a sign of dumb bullshit to come. Lester’s going to look great in pinstripes next year, isn’t he?

Keeping Up With New York

According to the New York City Mayor’s Office, Staten Island may soon be the home of the world’s largest ferris wheel. As a resident of the Boston area with an inferiority complex who’s had too much to drink, I’m outraged. We’ve lost the baseball arms race to the hated Yankees. Peyton Manning’s goofy little brother fucked the Patriots over in the Superbowl twice. Boston can’t afford to fall behind in the all-important giant carnival shit market. Failing to keep up could mean an end to our way of life; New York could soon annex all of New England and turn it into an extension of Brooklyn, forcing us all to drink PBR, listen to shitty music, and bow down to Jay-Z.

Fuck that. I look like a total douche in square glasses and a cardigan, and that’s saying something considering how douchy I all ready look. This is a future we must prevent at all costs. Boston needs to install at least one of the following:

  • The world’s largest bumper cars. No, the minivan cabs in Faneuil Hall at 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights don’t count. Neither does the Red Line when its drivers are busy texting. I want bumper cars big enough to hold entire football teams. There’s room in Somerville if they fill in the crater where Good Times used to be–and putting a large fair ride on the former site of the Boston area’s greatest drunken carnival would just be fitting.
  • The world’s largest ring toss. I suppose we can use the tips of the Zakum Bridge as targets. Think of all the jobs the world’s largest wooden ring factory is going to create.
  • The world’s largest hall of mirrors. Just slap that shit on the walls of the Ted Williams tunnel and we’re good to go. I debated suggesting that we convert that section of the Big Dig into the world’s largest tunnel of love, but the mood in that hole just isn’t quite right.
  • The world’s largest frog launch game. You know what would finalize the seaport area’s transformation into the new Innovation District? A catapult that hurls giant rubber frogs at the harbor islands.
  • The world’s largest Matterhorn. This could replace 93 south and offer us all a much easier way to get to Cape Cod Friday after work.

Get on this shit pronto, Mayor Menino. What’s that, Your Honor? Well, mabahabahbaamabagah to you too! Asshole.

I Stole Your Lunch

Business is booming in Boston’s Seaport District. For the last two years, swarms of construction workers have been busy turning a neighborhood that used to be a boring parking lot into a mecca of modern capitalism. Unfortunately, all those new buildings are full of people–and those people need lunch.

“No problem!” you might declare after checking out a map of the area. “There’s a restaurant on every corner, many of which weren’t there six months ago!” True dat. But what that map you so cleverly Googled doesn’t tell you is that none of those joints is any good for lunch. Although $12 crab rangoons make great appetizers for rich douche bags attempting to bed the gold digging skanks they meet on OKCupid, such fare is inappropriate for the midday meal. The Seaport lunch scene–which, let’s face it, was never all that great to begin with–is literally collapsing under the weight of the blue button-down shirts and khaki pants that have infested the neighborhood. Outside tables are always occupied. Special sandwiches are always gone way too quickly. And lines are perpetually clogged with snappily dressed yuppies intent on making sure the sandwich guy only puts “a little bit” of mayonnaise on their bread and that they get red onions instead of white onions and that the focaccia is cut at a precise 45 degree angle and OH JESUS CHRIST SOMEONE CALL NEXUS-INVASION-ERA DANIEL BRYAN CUZ I SEE SOME PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE CHOKED OUT WITH THEIR OWN TIES.

Luckily, I’ve got a plan that will save my sanity, keep Daniel Bryan focused on regaining his World Heavyweight Championship, and improve the overall lunchability of Boston’s Seaport District: build a few dumps and stock them with cheap, good-but-not-great food. I’m talking greasy spoons here, people, not trendy food trucks or cafes staffed with hipsters who judge me because I don’t always eat my crust. I want narrow, stuffy joints with questionable air conditioning and bathrooms you wouldn’t use unless pissing in the nearby harbor would somehow make you spontaneously combust. I want food that won’t send me running to said bathroom but also won’t attract undo attention by being particularly good; Pour House or Squealing Pig quality would do. I want these places to be staffed by gruff, no-nonsense men and women with names like Sully and Val and Sketchy Pete. Most of all, I want places people who prefer to take care of business casually will turn their noses up at on their way to have $10 guacamole made right at their table by a man who can’t spell guacamole but sure smiles a lot at the rich folk while he makes it.

Get on this shit STAT, Mayor Menino. Your reelection might depend on it.