Context drives so much of fantasy value, so let's appreciate what the Athletics and Red Sox did for us on Thursday. Jon Lester, enjoy your new pitcher's park. Yoenis Cespedes, have a blast in Friendly Fenway.
Call it a win-win. Location, location, location.
Billy Beane's model has yet to show much in October, but he's having a helluva July. The A's moved Cespedes to the Red Sox on Thursday morning, getting Lester and Jonny Gomes in return. Lester becomes a free agent after the year; Cespedes is locked up through 2015. (The A's also pick up cash, while Boston scores Oakland's competitive balance pick for 2015.)
The timing was right for Boston to ship its ace lefty; Lester's having his best season (2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) and the team is nowhere near contention. And heck, the Red Sox could always get back into the bidding after the year, assuming Oakland doesn't hash out a contract before then.
Fenway Park never spooked Lester much - he has a career 3.59 ERA and 1.31 WHIP at home, against 3.69/1.27 ratios on the road. Then again, what pitcher wouldn't want to move to Oakland's roomy ballpark, with all the foul territory. The A's are also the top-scoring team in the majors, while Boston is 25th.
The Cespedes splits have been strange through his Oakland career: he's a .278/.344/.494 slasher in the Coliseum, against a .248/.293/.447 line on the road. It's common for big league players to have better results at home, for any number of comfort and familiary reasons, but usually a big ballpark will take its tax.
Cespedes also loses in the context exchange - Oakland has a deep lineup this year, Boston does not. But let's not forget that Fenway Park has boosted scoring by 11 percent over the last three years, while the Oakland yard has deflated scoring by nine percent. Assuming Cespedes isn't thrown too much emotionally by the shocking trade, he should do fine in The Hub.
Gomes doesn't get much of a change - he was a short-side platoon guy in Boston, and the A's should keep him in that role. Oakland did land some additional outfield help, though - shipping lefty Tom Milone to Minnesota for journeyman Sam Fuld. Normally you'd look at Fuld as a spare part on a winning club, but you get the idea the Athletics are worried about Coco Crisp's neck injury.
Dominant pitching doesn't guarantee a thing in the postseason - the Braves won just one title in the Bobby Cox era - but the A's nonetheless look formidable for October. In some order, they can hit teams with a Big Four of Lester, Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir. That's going to be fun to watch.
The fifth spot going forward could be in flux. Jason Hammel has been rocked in his brief Oakland stint and converted reliever Jesse Chavez appears to be tiring. Drew Pomeranz is on the mend and maybe he'll rejoin the mix soon. Perhaps we'll see more deadline activity in Oakland, too. Heck, the AL West title could come down to the final day of the season - the Angels are damn good as well.
Nonetheless, the A's are probably the 2014 World Series favorites about now. And the Red Sox look good for the 2015 Home Run Derby.