That thumping sound heard all across the East Bay this morning was that of Oakland Athletics fans’ jaws dropping when they heard the news of fan favorite slugger Yoenis Cespedes being traded to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes.
In departing with Cespedes who was hitting .256 with 17 home runs, the A’s gain three-time All-Star and two-time World Series Champion Lester with a 10-7 record on the year and a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts. Lester also pitched a no-hitter in 2008.
Jonny Gomes returns as a big chemistry guy for the clubhouse but only with a .234 BA and 6 HRs, far short of the hit and home run production of Cespedes.
With the trade, the RUN-DMC combo of Josh Donaldon, Brandon Moss, and Cespedes is no more. The pressure is now on Donaldson, Moss, and even Derick Norris to a lesser extent to produce and give the now-fabulous pitching staff enough runs on the board to get W’s.
The move makes sense. Cespedes, with his maverick defense and oft-changing batting stance was a free agent after the 2015 season and, barring a flop next season, would have been out of the A’s price range.
The consensus among the experts and analysts is that the A’s just made the ultimate win-now move. A Post-Season rotation of Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, and Sonny Gray is (green and) golden and the A’s are now the overwhelming World Series favorite .
(The irony of this trade is Lester’s fist start will be Saturday, the date planned for the Cespedes “La Potencia” shirt give-away)
Canseco, also of Cuban descent, was the Rookie of the Year in 1986. Two years later, at age 23, he won the MVP Award, becoming baseball’s first 40 homers–40 steals man. The A’s won the first of three consecutive pennants in 1988, with Canseco their biggest name. In 1991, he led the AL in homers with 44.
The A’s gained a starter in Witt who never lived up to the team’s expectations with a failing fastball and no command. He started 63 games for Oakland and then the A’s gave him walking papers Russell was good, but the A’s already had Dennis Eckersley as their closer. The A’s let Russell walk in the offseason.
At the time, it seemed like a huge deal. Looking back, it was a grand disappointment all around as Canseco went from a known great player to a could-have-been.
Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself with this deal.