Postgame Spread
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where Would We Play Jon Lester?    

It's been a long, long time since I posted anything genuinely positive on this here Tuberblog, so it gives me great pleasure to say that Jon Lester's chemo is about to be over.  He's got a lot of hard work to do before returning to the club, but even a conservative timeline should have him back in uniform sometime this season.  I'm extremely happy about this.

This begs the question of what to do with him.  I suspect the glut of starting talent (pending Daisuke Matsuzaka's arrival) will delay Lester's return well beyond the point where he could come back.  Even the healthy, pre-cancer, blue-chip, A- prospect Lester would be the odd man out in Boston, with or without the glaring question marks associated with each of the Sox' five projected starters (Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Matsuzaka and Jonathan Papelbon).  Hence the paraphrased Lou Gorman quote in the post title... where would we play Jon Lester???

Each of the myriad options I can think of is unlikely to do much good to anybody:

  1. Stashing him in Pawtucket is pointless.  The guy's a major-league pitcher, having proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt last season.  And he's a lefty to boot.  You don't send away AAA lefties, let alone legitimate major leaguers.
  2. Sticking him in the bullpen is the obvious solution, but is he likely to get enough work as the long man?  (If that question made you ask yourself how often Josh Beckett pitches, you get a cookie.)
  3. The Schilling-as-closer experiment in 2005 was an utter disaster.  Shoving him back to the pen could keep him healthier, but the guy didn't show a particular aptitude for it.  Besides, he's not too likely to take a back seat in his swan song.
  4. They really shouldn't trade any of the five starters in Lester's way.  The injuries that ensued in the aftermath of the Arroyo/Pena trade are proof enough.

I bet he'll end up as the long reliever/spot starter, but only until one of those starting five gets hurt.  Schilling basically pitched a full 2006, and Wakie had a pretty nasty injury, so it's possible that they won't be quite themselves.  Barring that, I certainly don't envy Theo and Tito's decision.

Hey, why wait until March to talk about roster decisions?  Spring training's only a couple months away...


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