This is my 100th post on the blog. For a few days, I’ve thought about writing a special piece to mark the occasion, but I ultimately decided to save any fanfare for later given the Red Sox drama that is going on. I’m sure there will be a lot more to write by tomorrow afternoon, so I didn’t think I had the energy to expend on a long post about the meaning of being a fan or something like that. I’ll save that for number 200.
While all the big trade talk in Boston has been around Jon Lester, John Lackey and Andrew Miller in the last 24 hours or so, the only trade made today was a deal that sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs. Having witnessed Doubront’s worst performance in a Red Sox uniform on Monday night, I wrote some pretty negative stuff about him yesterday morning. He looked like he no longer cared on the mound, and for me, that was the final straw. No matter how much you dislike your role, you can never mail in a performance.
So when I saw the news that Doubront was heading out of town, I felt it was the right move even without knowing the return. When a player gives up on his own role, he gives up on the team. A player who has given up quickly can send the clubhouse into a negative spiral, so getting him out of there was necessary, even if the return ending up being only a low-level prospect to be named later.
Doubront was tantalizingly talented on the mound, so much so that many believed he could develop into a top of the line starter in Boston. He showed up at Spring Training this year more in shape than ever before, and it appeared he was on the verge of taking the final step toward becoming that star left hander. But instead, he struggled from the start this year, never finding his rhythm in his return to the rotation following a stint in the bullpen last postseason. Eventually he was demoted to long-reliever as a result of his poor pitching. And he sure didn’t like it.
It’s easy to recall how effective he was at times last year, both as a starter and in the pen. He could always be counted on for 6 innings and 2 or 3 runs, always pitching games that left his team in a position to win. At his best, his plus-stuff left hitters off balance at the plate, and he earned a lot of weak swings. One particular start last June that I attended stands out in my mind as the best Doubront ever pitched – 8 shutout innings on only 93 pitches, 6 strikeouts and 3 hits allowed against a good Rays team – but that game will be more likely remembered for Jonny Gomes’s first Red Sox walkoff home run (i.e. the helmet punt game). And in the World Series, Doubront was excellent as a middle reliever, particularly in Games 3 and 4.
Doubront did some good on the mound in Boston, and he earned himself a World Series ring. But he wasn’t cut out to be a long term starter for the Red Sox, and he drove himself out of town with his poor attitude. Given that he is such a talented pitcher, the Red Sox will be disappointed to be forced to give up on him for next to nothing in return. But GM Ben Cherington had no choice at this point. He had to get Doubront out of the clubhouse. It’s a shame it didn’t work out here in the long run, but I wish him luck going forward. I’ll remember him fondly for that start against the Rays and for his World Series performance. A change of scenery should do him a lot of good.
Many other players will say goodbye to Boston tomorrow, and I’ll have full coverage on all of the goings on with the Trading Deadline. Stay tuned. It could be a sad one.