AL East Notes: Lester, Victorino, Rays, Robertson

The lack of a contract extension between the Red Sox and Jon Lester now presents the possibility that this could be Lester's last Opening Day with the team, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber adds that the season will now be rife with speculation regarding Lester's contract situation and opines that a strong performance out of the 30-year-old lefty could make the Red Sox regret not presenting Lester with a "Scherzer-like offer" (six years, $144MM) when all is said and done. Of course, that deal would hardly represent the discount to which Lester has previously referred.

Here are some more notes on Lester, the Red Sox, and the AL East…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports appeared on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning and discussed a number of topics, including Lester. Rosenthal pointed to a column he wrote last week in which he said he felt that Lester should end up around five years and $115MM. He adds that the Red Sox won't be able to get a Dustin Pedroia-like extension very often: "Pedroia’s deal is ridiculously club-friendly, and if the Red Sox think they’re getting that deal out of every player they’re out of their minds."
  • The Red Sox announced today that Shane Victorino will open the season on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, and Jackie Bradley Jr. will begin the year with the big league club. On the Dennis & Callahan show, Rosenthal talked about Victorino's importance to the club, noting that if he misses a significant chunk of time this season, it could lead many to wonder what might've been if the team hadn't let Jacoby Ellsbury go. However, as Rosenthal plainly states, Boston was simply never going to approach the kind of money that Ellsbury got from the division-rival Yankees.
  • Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke with Rays GM Andrew Friedman about the club's transformation from a perennial 90-loss team to a divisional powerhouse despite one of the game's most modest payrolls. "We have to act decisively but with a smaller margin for error than most clubs, and so we can’t box ourselves in," said Friedman. "We need to react more quickly when circumstances change or opportunities present themselves." Nicholson-Smith's piece is full of excellent quotes from the Rays' GM and reminds how far the team has come since the days of Gabe Gross, Akinori Iwamura and Andy Sonnanstine, who were all on the Opening Day roster as recently as 2008.
  • Some scouts have expressed concern over David Robertson's fastball, George A. King III of the New York Post reported last night. Robertson's heater was sitting between 88 and 90 mph late in Spring Training. King notes that Robertson's fastball typically improves as the season goes on, but a look at his velocity charts (per Fangraphs) shows that he's been inconsistent at best over the past two seasons, and his end-of-season velocity hasn't been much better than his Opening Day heat. As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk noted in his recent review of the Yankees' offseason, the team did little to address the bullpen this offseason and is relying on a group of largely unproven relievers.

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