Cliff Lee stymies a lot of lineups; this is nothing out of the ordinary. Predictably, within 8 hours of his (8 IP/4 hits/1 ER) performance, the Red Sox's mouthpieces were up to their more than predictable daily flip-flop: "Trade for Cliff Lee!" "What would we have to give up to acquire Cliff Lee?"
Such conjecture has become fairly routine and expected amongst Boston sports media, whether that be one of the two sports radio stations who beat mundane topics to death to fill air time, or via the disproportionate number of Red Sox writers who devour each and every action of anything Red Sox-related like 10 red-headed vultures preying on a lone and injured Fenway frank. Eventually, the two cross paths on their daily quests to provide new and refreshing ideas related to the Red Sox and when beating topics to death becomes the raison d'être, subjects like trading for Cliff Lee actually seem reasonable. Say something enough and eventually it seems palatable, not unlike cooky cult leaders and their jelly-minded followers.
Facts are conjecture's antivirus. So to this group of hungry scavengers, I say, wait just a minute! Cliff Lee pitches every fifth game. Cliff Lee commands $25 million per year through 2015. Cliff Lee will be 35 in August. Cliff Lee's last three postseason performances are as follows: 3 starts, 0 wins, 3 losses, 17.2 IP and a 7.13 ERA.
Do the Red Sox really want to consider bloated contracts less than one year after dumping the over-priced Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, three players who would have netted approximately $57 million in 2013? Have we forgotten so soon? I thought this year was going to be different. These same aforementioned media mouthpieces expected a .500 ballclub as recently as April and were perfectly content with this expectation. The important thing for them was so-called "character guys" in the clubhouse; players who played hard, do not tip the boat and likewise do not command salaries on par with Forbes' list of top-earning CEOs.
So what is with all of this seemingly contradictory dribble?
This year's Red Sox team is purposefully composed, so the owners would have the fans believe, of players who are not prima-donnas. Their ability to jell thus far, remain competitive and provide late-inning dramatics is not unlike the lovable idiots from 2004. The team is 33-23 after 56 games, just as they were in 2004. The changes made to the 2004 team late in the season were not for over-priced pitchers; the changes were for defensive purposes, tweaks that were added insurance at SS/1B and the outfield. These were conservative and well-informed maneuvers, not mindless panaceas.
So, let's let the owners and their hired experts do what they do best. So far, there is no reason to complain; they seem to have a team very similar to the lovable idiots of 2004. I expect their late-season tweaks to this roster to be the same, and not a result of mindless conjecture.
Patrick Bernier is a freelance writer who has been following the Boston Red Sox for 25 years. You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickBern7.
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