Sorry if I’m a few days late in expressing my thoughts on the blockbuster trades that occurred just prior to the non-waiver deadline. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, and it’s taken me some time to digest some of the moves that seem to defy logic, especially those that involve Latino players.
I don’t quite understand why the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers, teams that could use some pitching help, made feeble attempts to improve their offense. And why would the pitching-rich Oakland A’s ship off their premier slugger and drawing card for an ace hurler who could walk away at the end of the season?
I had previously predicted that the Yankees had an interest in Martin Prado, a veteran third baseman formerly employed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. But that was before New York General Manager Brian Cashman acquired Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres. So now, Prado has been asked to start in right field, one of the few positions the versatile Venezuelan has never played. Presumably, he will then be lifted in the later innings for defensive purposes by Ichiro Suzuki. The only positive element I can see here is that Prado would be an insurance policy in 2015 if Headley opts for free agency. But don’t the Yankees want to win this year, in Derek Jeter’s final season?
Milwaukee’s negotiations with Arizona to obtain the services of Gerardo Parra makes even less sense to me. It appears that the former Gold Glove recipient will now be the fourth outfielder on a club that needs more depth in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza can be red hot or ice cold, and closer Francisco Rodriguez has been scuffling lately.
The transaction that is beyond my comprehension, however, is the one that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester. Was Oakland’s chief executive Billy Beane at a downtown bar when he contacted Beantown boss Ben Cherington? I doubt it, since Billy’s controversial trades are usually well calculated. I’m guessing that Mr. Moneyball anticipated that the Detroit Tigers were going to win the David Price sweepstakes and decided to aggressively pursue Lester to offset that move. But the Tigers have the luxury of knowing Price will be around for at least another year, while Lester could be a mere two-month rental.
Oakland has not made a decent showing in recent postseason appearances, and Detroit will be a major roadblock in any quest to earn a spot in the Fall Classic. So, for the sake of argument, lets say the A’s starting rotation is on a par with Detroit’s pitching staff. Without Cespedes, though, who will Oakland send up to the plate to compete with Miguel Cabrera? Besides, who else other than the Cuban superstar can draw droves of patrons every game to baseball’s worst venue? Lester will pack the house, too, but how many starts will he have in Oakland before the end of the regular season? Not enough dates for me to bother doing the math.
Meanwhile in Boston, fans will be more than entertained with the David Ortiz-Cespedes fireworks show. Can you imagine the pride and inspiration Big Papi will have in matching moonshots with the game’s back-to-back Home Run Derby winner? Ortiz might be energized to perform at a high level far beyond his guaranteed contract. And what a different experience it will be for the often-cocky Cespedes, 28, who could be slightly humbled in the presence of a Red Sox icon. He seems to already be soaking in the Fenway tradition.
“I’m very happy to share a part of my career with such a legendary team,” confirmed Yoenis Cespedes, who still speaks only Spanish but articulates better than most Latino athletes.
Look, if it goes down to the seventh game in the ALCS and Jon Lester beats the best Detroit has to offer on that day, then Billy Beane will continue to look like a genius and the A’s will be in business. But that’s a high stakes gamble that isn’t very realistic. And the five-tool player Beane meticulously scouted for two years, Yoenis Cespedes, will now help the rebuilding Boston Red Sox get back on top by launching bombs over the Green Monster.