It seems like forever ago that the Boston Red Sox were riding high on a mantra of ‘Boston Strong,’ taking a city on its back and carrying its people all the way to a World Series title – the franchise’s third championship since the turn of the century.
Heading into this week’s All-Star festivities, Boston finds itself in dead-last in the American League East at 43-52, trailing the first-place Baltimore Orioles by 9 1/2 games. With just weeks until the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the next 10-to-14 days could very well decide the fate of general manager Ben Cherington’s team.
The biggest question mark is whether or not the team will be able to re-sign southpaw ace Jon Lester. As recently as early July, reports emerged that the 30-year-old lefty would consider a midseason contract extension, but as of Monday night, the two sides appeared no closer to a deal than at that point earlier this month. Rob Bradford of WEEI offered his take on the Red Sox approach in getting a deal done.
The team has seemingly taken the approach of starting on the low end of Lester’s perceived market value, coming in with an initial offer of four years at $70 million. It is the same strategy taken by the Red Sox in talks with Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Other notable names that have come up include John Lackey, whose career as seen a major resurgence since coming to Boston, Andrew Miller and Jake Peavy – who came to Boston in a trade last season. The performance of the team’s outfielders has been less-than-expected, namely the sub-par performance of Jackie Bradley Jr.
If the team can’t bounce back from its first-half woes quickly, Cherington may be faced with a serious decision: deal from its pitching depth and acquire younger talent – a formula that worked so well in Boston in the first decade of the century – or hope this team of veterans can rediscover its camaraderie from its championship-winning season a year ago.