In case you are a Red Sox fan and missed it, last night’s National League opening Division Playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs featured ex- Red Sox pitchers John Lackey and Jon Lester in a classic pitcher’s duel for 7 1/3 innings. Lackey went 7 1/3 innings for the Cardinals and shut out the Cubs on just two hits, leaving ahead 1-0 and getting the win. Lester held the Cards to just one over 7 1/3 innings before giving up two with one out in the eighth and got the loss. Both were traded at the trade deadline last year when the Red Sox were wallowing in the cellar and unloading most of their pitching staff.
Lackey went to St. Louis and has been in the Playoffs both years since and Lester went to Oakland and signed with Chicago as a Free Agent this year. Lackey was 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA and pitched 218 innings in 33 starts this year. Lester was 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts and threw 205 innings. The Cardinals won Game number one but Lackey and Lester may face each other again in the fifth game if there is one.
Lackey and Lester are not the only Red Sox players who have been traded or lost over the last couple of years and have found greener pastures while the Sox have remained in the basement.
Andrew Miller, who was also traded at the trade deadline last year, went to Baltimore and this year signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees. With the Yankees, he became their closer and appeared in 60 games, saving 36 games in 38 tries and finishing with a 2.04 ERA and a remarkable 100 strikeouts in just 61 2/3 innings pitched. Of course the Yankees and Miller made the Post Season but were eliminated by Houston in The Wild Card playoff game. Jacoby Ellsbury, former Red Sox center fielder was an integral part of that Yankee team.
Jake Peavy, who was traded to the San Francisco Giants last year at the same time, was a member of and pitched in the World Series for the Giants’ World Series Championship team last year. He was 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA for the second place Giants this year.
Yoenis Cespedes, who came to the Sox in the trade for Jon Lester last year and was traded to the Detroit Tigers this year for Rick Porcello, was traded to the New York Mets during the season. He hit .291 with 35 homers and 105 RBI’s between the two teams and is in the Playoffs as a member of the Mets this fall. He batted third in Game 1, which the Mets won, and went 0-4 at the plate.
Mike Napoli, who was hitting .207 with the Sox before being traded to the Texas Rangers this year, played in 35 games for the Rangers and hit .295 with five homers and started Game one at first place for Texas in their Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jonny Gomes, who was traded to Oakland with Lester last year, has since played for Atlanta and was traded to Kansas City late in the season and played only 12 games for them this year, hitting just .167 in limited playing time. He did not make the roster for the first round of the Playoffs against Houston being edged out of an outfield spot by speedster Terrence Gore but may make the roster if the Royals advance.
Rubby De La Rosa, who was traded to Arizona in the deal that brought Wade Miley to the Sox, had a 14-9 record, with a 4.67 ERA in 32 starts for the third place Diamondbacks and was an important part of their starting rotation.
Watching the two ex Red Sox starters duel last night must have made some Red Sox fans wonder what might have happened if the sell off had not occurred, especially since, after the additions of Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Sox still ended up with another lost season in last place.
As for myself, I think that the addition of Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, with the turn around Porcello, Miley and Kelly experienced late in the season, combined with the solid team of position players that evolved over this season bodes well for the Red Sox in 2016.
All that is left for Dave Dombrowski, the new President of Baseball Operations, to do is work his magic and unload Ramirez and Sandoval, even if he has to absorb part of their salaries, for another quality starter and one or two relievers and Red Sox fans could enjoy another Worst to First dream come true.
In the meantime enjoy a playoff and World Series season that could be as exciting and competitive as any you have ever seen even if the Red Sox are not in it.