This year’s World Series representatives, the Cubs and Indians, have benefited from the Red Sox’s September collapse in 2011, as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post observes. After the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in the wild-card race that year, the team parted with two-time World Series-winning manager Terry Francona, who is now one victory away from helping the Indians to their first championship since 1948. The executive who hired Francona in Boston, Theo Epstein, departed after that season to take over the Cubs, with whom he has built what should be a long-term contender. And two of his veteran free agents signings in Chicago, starters Jon Lester and John Lackey, were at the center of a memorable controversy with the Sox in 2011. Along with fellow starter Josh Beckett, Lester and Lackey made a habit of drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing videogames in the clubhouse during games in which they weren’t pitching. The Red Sox didn’t ax any of those pitchers because of it, though, as each was on the team in 2012. They eventually traded Beckett to the Dodgers in August 2012, while Lester and Lackey were part of the franchise’s latest championship squad in 2013.
More from around the majors:
- Speaking of Lester, the fact that he’s no longer with the Red Sox is “inexplicable,” opines Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. The club selected Lester in the second round of the 2002 draft and helped develop him into a star, but it then traded him to the Athletics in the midst of a non-contending season in 2014. The Red Sox got Yoenis Cespedes in return and later flipped him for rotation stalwart Rick Porcello, so it wasn’t a total loss for Boston. The Sox could have ended up with both Lester and Porcello, but they were unwilling to match the Cubs’ winning offer for the then-free agent left-hander in December 2014. Lester will take the ball in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday and attempt to help Chicago, down 3-1, keep its title hopes alive.
- The Astros are a fit for catcher Brian McCann if the Yankees shop him during the offseason, opines the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who cites both Houston’s need for a left-handed bat and backstop Jason Castro’s status as a soon-to-be free agent. With catcher/designated hitter Evan Gattis joining Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel, the Astros are slated to have at least six right-handed batters in their lineup next year. McCann would add balance, and serve as an offensive upgrade over Castro, while likely alternating with Gattis behind the plate and at DH. There are potential roadblocks in the way of a McCann deal, however, including the 32-year-old’s full no-trade clause and the $34MM left on his contract through 2018.
- With Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler all set to become free agents, the Red Sox are likely to focus heavily on their bullpen during the offseason, writes Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Drellich doesn’t expect the Red Sox to go after the top soon-to-be available relievers – Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon – instead listing Sergio Romo, Drew Storen and Boone Logan as a few possibilities they could pursue on the open market. While the popular belief is that the Red Sox will go after Edwin Encarnacion to replace the retired David Ortiz at DH, Carlos Beltran is also a possible target, Drellich suggests. Boston was among the teams interested in Beltran before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but the archrival Yankees ultimately dealt him to the Rangers.