The Oakland Athletics strengthened an already amazing rotation Thursday morning when they shipped Home Run Derby phenom Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for lefty ace Jon Lester and part time outfielder Jonny Gomes. It was the first of several deals by the Red Sox, who went on a mini fire sale in the final hours of the trade deadline. Shortstop Stephen Drew and fellow starting pitcher John Lackey also saw their ways out of Titletown.
The 28 year old Cuban born Yoenis Cespedes will be joining the second team of his young career. Known mostly for his back to back Home Run Derby titles and superhuman throws from the outfield, Cespedes sports a .256 batting average with 17 home runs and 67 RBI. The 17 home runs are three more than the 14 total Boston’s outfielders have combined to hit this year; a historically bad number. All in all, a solid return for Jon Lester, one of the league’s premier pitchers. Shortly after, the Athletics shipped left hander Tom Milone to Minnesota for Sam Fuld; an outfielder whom will probably eat up some of the newly freed up playing time in Oakland.
Lester is having quite possibly the best season of his illustrious career. The AL All-Star team starter dons a 10-7 record and a 2.52 ERA, not to mention the sixth most strikeouts in the American League with 149. Lester doesn’t simply just have postseason experiences under his belt. He holds a pristine 0.43 ERA in his three World Series starts and two titles, the second one coming just last year.
Oakland’s Billy Beane showed yet again that he isn’t afraid to pull off a big trade, bringing in Lester just barely a month after acquiring Chicago Cubs star Jeff Samardzija and fellow starter Jason Hammel. Across the nation, the Detroit Tigers pulled off a blockbuster trade of their own, adding David Price to their already stellar rotation. Detroit now holds the only staff in baseball comparable to Oakland’s. With Sonny Gray, Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, and Hammel leading the way, the best record in baseball will seemingly get even better.
Sonny Gray holds a 2.65 ERA (7th), Scott Kazmir a 2.37 (3rd), and Lester a 2.52 (5th), giving Oakland three of the top-10 best ERA pitchers in the American League. Not to mention Jeff Samardzija’s 2.92 total ERA between the NL and AL, which would put him at number nine on the top-10 list. Oakland’s staff now contains a dominance unparalleled in major league baseball.
Oakland holds a 2 ½ game lead over their fellow AL West contenders the Los Angeles Angels and the season is winding down. If the offense can continue to do what’s it’s been doing (1st in offense, 6th in .OBP) without the presence of Cespedes, Oakland should be considered the favorites for this season’s World Series. Who would have expected a trade deadline in baseball to finally be eventful. It was a busy day for Billy Beane and it will be a busy several months for his Athletics, but expect them to be displaying their dominance on the biggest stage come October.