So you’ve brought the hitting mercenaries in for the next battle. The hired guns cost $200 million. Now let’s bring back the field commander, the guy Boston loves and who loves Boston– Jon Lester. What would you pay to anchor a pitching staff?
If you let Lester go, you might as well put David Ortiz up for sale and auction the Green Monster. You might as well trade “Sweet Caroline” to the Yankees, who could really use some decent music. You might as well tear up the Fenway sod and spread a carpet in Ted Williams’ back yard.
This workhorse came up in the system, took his early licks as a pitcher, then some more licks with cancer, then a year of proving himself all over again, then a year when he anchored a World Champion pitching staff. That’s local history. That’s the last remnant of a pitching tradition following the likes of Martinez and Schilling. That’s Jon Legend.
Ask the master: Clayton Kershaw said he studied Lester and admired him. He oughta know! The Dodgers could peel off a wad of bills to put another platinum left-hander to their rotation. They’d love to have two or three stoppers. Are you going to let them buy a member of your family?
Don’t blow $100 million on a loose cannon like Hanley Ramirez and say you don’t have enough to sign a Top Gun like Jon Lester. Don’t claim you’ll break the luxury tax ceiling to sign him, and then say he asked for too much. Don’t wait till some maniac with a checkbook throws stupid money at him. Make the next move!
You know the pitching market is going to be calibrated by Lester. No one’s coming cheap after him. There are pretenders out there ready to claim their share of “Lester money.” So don’t plan to bargain your way to a pitching staff. Set the trend with a respectable hometown offer, one that makes the man proud to sign.
Let’s dispense with the coyness, the positioning, the jockeying and bring Jon Lester back to Boston. If he gets away. Mr. Cherrington, it’s your fault.