The jury is still out, but the moves Ben Cherrington made in the July 31 “fire sale” are looking good. If two players can change the momentum of a team, Yoenis Cespedes and Joe Kelly have done it. Allen Craig remains a mixed blessing on the disabled list, but he showed every promise of a consistent hitter in his few appearances.
Cespedes drove in the winning runs in three consecutive games, the Sunday game in Los Angeles and the the two games in Cincinnati. Clearly those games would have been lost without Cespedes, because no other team mates were producing in those low-scoring affairs. Meanwhile Big Papi has now seen better pitches with Cespedes batting behind him. They are becoming another Ortiz-Ramirez duo, this time with Ortiz the primary beneficiary.
Joe Kelly has pitched effectively into the seventh inning of both starts since the trade. He looks like a No. 2 pitcher in the rotation, a comparable to John Lackey. The Cardinals will get their money’s worth out of Lackey if they get into the post-season, but with Allen Craig thrown into this deal, the Red Sox have the potential advantage from the trade.
Kelly is also a complete athlete, fielding, running, even hitting. This could mean durability as a starter as well. He won’t be stumbling off the mound when it comes to fielding a bunt or a squibber. He looks like a good mentor to the younger pitchers, if only because he works fast and throws strikes. Pitchers like Allen Webster and Rubby DeLaRosa could follow his example.
We know Allen Craig can hit good pitching from the World Series. That is what the Red Sox will need to compete with the upper division teams in the future. If he can stay healthy, he will make the 3-4-5 positions in the line-up a force to be reckoned with. That is a big “if,” but considering Joe Kelly’s value in the trade, Craig becomes a bonus.
Probably the Red Sox are also better in August because Pedroia and Nava are starting to hit and Bucholz is finding the plate again. You could also point to the blossoming of DeLaRosa and even Webster, but all of these individuals needed some catalysts in the line-up to make the difference. Yoenis Cespedes and Joe Kelly have made that difference.
So, cheers for Cherrington!