Dear Red Sox,
You won the World Series in 2013, something that has still not yet sunk in because it was one of the most magical seasons in recent memory-it feels like a dream. That being said, you are in a prime position to repeat again within a few years-maybe even by 2017. You have several superstars coming up. You have catching prospects that will be ready next year. You have a sure-fire star in your shortstop. You have a possible Hall of Famer second baseman. You have a good thing going in your outfield with a balance of young, experienced, speed, power and contact. You have a good bullpen and some starting pitching. But, you need to make sure that one piece of the puzzle will be here in Boston for years to come. His name is Jon Lester.
What can we say about Jon Lester? He started his big league career in 2006, was diagnosed with lymphoma, beat it, came back in 2007, won the clinching game in the 2007 World Series, threw a no-hitter at Fenway Park in 2008, became of the one of the best lefties in the game, hit a couple of bumps in the row during 2012, came back strong last year, won not one, but two huge games as we won the World Series. He’s not the best pitcher in the game, but he can be extremely valuable to the Sox’s success going forward. He won every playoff game he pitched in last year. He has become our big-game pitcher. Sign him to a hometown discount, which Lester has said that he is willing to do.
What can we do otherwise? Felix Dobrount is not an ace. Clay Buchholz is not healthy enough to be given the title of an ace. There aren’t any free agents worth signing to be given the title of ace. These days, when a team has a good pitcher-no, a great pitcher, they usually try to make him stay put-Clayton Kershaw for the L.A. Dodgers, Felix Hernandez for the Mariners and so on. True, Lester is not one of them. But he’s still really good. The paying millions on millions of dollars for an ace is not in the style of the Red Sox. John Lackey, God bless his soul for getting back from his dungeon, will not realistically do what he did last year long term. He’s getting too old. Ryan Dempster is not an ace pitcher. The prospects, although Henry Owens might be there someday, are not ‘aces’ until they can prove they can pitch in the major league level-so they are still at least two or three years away from the ‘ace’ status. So, where does that leave us? Jake Peavy was an ace-years ago, with the San Diego Padres. There is only one answer.
The Sox need Lester. Especially if they want to compete at the level that with the exception of the awful 2012 season-which I have tried desperately to remove from my memory. There are no other options that make both economical and performance-based sense. Lester was lights out during the World Series run and there is no evidence to the contrary that he will not continue that success entering 2014. Re-sign Jon Lester. Don’t give Kershaw money, but give him want it takes to keep our home-grown boy here. He has more than earned it.