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Ben Cherington Shows Guts, Makes Best From Red Sox Mess

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The newest member of the Red Sox - as of 10 a.m. Thursday, anyway - Yoenis Cespedes (OBF Illustration).

We love the Red Sox all over again.

Or at least we're madly in like.

This is what we do in New England.

Hate them one day, not so much the next.

At least these Boston Milwaukee Red Sox are trying to make things interesting.

Jon Lester has been traded to the Oakland A's along Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Lester. Your World Series record in Boston is unmatched in this century. You will forever be remembered for what you did for the Red Sox in 2007 and '13.

Gomes gave the Red Sox a spiritual lift last year, as well, along with that clutch home run he hit in Game 4 of the World Series.

He knew how to dress, as well.

Funny thing about that photo, there's only two players left in that photo will will definitely be on the Red Sox after Thursday - those being David Ross and Mike Napoli. Jake Peavy is gone. Lester and Gomes are headed west to the head of the A.L. pennant race. John Lackey was shipped to St. Louis later Thursday. In return, the Red Sox got outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig and righty starter Joe Kelly.

Both Cespedes and Craig are former All-Stars would should begin playing in Boston immediately.

Both Lester and Gomes have the very real and rare opportunity to win back-to-back World Series titles with different ball clubs. "I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Boston," Gomes said on WEEI's "M-F-B" midday show Thursday. "In 2012, I was 14 1/2 games back (in Oakland) and we came back and won the division. Season's not over."

Gomes spoke about this year's problems. "You need talent. But there are some formulas and chemistry twists and (you) have to all on the same page and have a shoulder to lean on. Chemistry isn't throwing a pitch. Chemistry isn't swinging. It's the icing on the cake. It's not the cake," he said. "This was different than a team, it was like a brotherhood."

Gomes played with Cespedes in Oakland. "He can hit," Gomes said.

Kudos to Ben Cherington for delivering an outcome here that was far beyond any of us with little faith could have imagined. After being blitzed with reports about the Red Sox potentially dealing Lester for no-name prospects, Cherington made chicken cordon bleu out of chicken poop.

Yes, he and the Red Sox created this mess. But that point has been pounded here early and often. Now, we must deal with the reality of July 31, 2014.

Lester, whose departure was foretold here in April, was 110-63 record and a 3.64 ERA in his Red Sox career. More importantly, he was 3-0 in the World Series, allowing just one run in 21 innings.

Should the Red Sox have signed Lester for five years, $110 million six months ago? Yes. But they didn't. Now, we have to deal with the reality of July 31, 2014.

Cespedes won the 2013-14 All-Star Game Home Run Derbies. This year, he totalled 30 home runs in the event. You can watch all his bombs right here and just imagine how some of them would look at Fenway Park. Folks parking across the street from the Green Monster might want to think about paying extra for non-deductible on glass coverage.

Cespedes has 17 homes runs and 67 RBI in 399 at bats this season. We'd love to post a clip of his home runs in Boston but he has yet to homer in his 26 Fenway Park plate appearances. His next home in Boston will be his first. The Red Sox will be getting a compensation pick from Oakland in 2015, as well.

Before you get all giddy about how Billy Beane shafted Cherington, remember how many championships he's won as a GM.

That would be zero.

Not even Brad Pitt can make that look good. Funny, all the Money Ball and Sabermetric hype and rubbish aside, it may end up that the A's win their first World Series of the post Bash Brothers era after picking up Lester and Jeff Samardzija during the season to do it. A two-month rental and a one-and-a-half season rental. So much for Jonah Hill's brilliance.

Cespedes theoretically give the Red Sox the right-handed power they've been lacking since Manny Ramirez was sent into exile for only being able to help the Red Sox win two World Series titles in his eight seasons here.

The 2014 season has been over since the Red Sox got themselves swept in disastrous fashion on Memorial Day weekend in St. Pete. The Red Sox, at least until 9:30 or so this morning, had screwed up Lester's situation by offering him what amounts to the baseball minimum wage for soon-to-be-All-Star, front-line, left-handed starters.

The Red Sox were able to get a legit, power-hitting outfielder in return. They've also laid more kindling to the conspiracy fires that Boston and Lester worked out a wink-wink deal that would have him be traded only to return to Boston in the offseason.

If that does happen, it might be time to renounce our never-dying allegiance to Bill Belichick and instead anoint Cherington as New England's resident genius.

That's what we've got to hang on here, folks.

As of now, Cherington has done the nearly unthinkable. He's traded Lester and the masses will not riot, at least for now. There will be no calls for boycotts, yet. Instead, all eyes will turn to the offseason and see if the Red Sox can indeed land Lester as a free-agent. Or, get someone who might be close to his caliber.

Red Sox fans are not rational, deep-thinking types. Many of us work off emotion. This is as it should be. Watching the Red Sox is not rocket science, nor is it the practice of medicine or law.

The Red Sox are, at their root, entertainment. This season has been nothing close to entertaining. It's been horrible to watch. Not in a 2011 or 2012 sense, but in a boring-as-hell sense. They cannot hit. And far too many good pitching performances have been wasted.

If they are to lose Lester permanently, he will join the never-ending list of great players who have departed this city and gone on to greatness, at least the way it appears in the A.L West.

Cespedes is signed through 2015. Perhaps, if the Red Sox find him worth keeping, they might actually move to sign him early instead of later in the process. Cherington has bought the Red Sox some time.

Given where the Red Sox stood 24 hours ago, that was a major achievement.

Or Boston could always trade him for the ultimate prize - Giancarlo Stanton. That is about as unlikely as the Red Sox re-signing Lester. But when you're in last place, crazy trade scenarios are all you've got.

Lester's departure became inevitable thanks to the botched handling of his contract before this season. It should have never come to this point. But it did.

There will be decades to lament the loss of Lester if indeed he's gone for good. For now, the Red Sox have begun the slow process of climbing out from the bottom. When they did it in 2012, they won a World Series 15 months later.

We'll see what happens this time.

The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit up Bill on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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