ESPN's Peter Gammons writes that the Red Sox inking Jon Lester to a (cheap) long-term deal is a great move for the club:
In the offseason a year ago, Lester's name came up in discussions about a deal with the Twins for Johan Santana. At the 2007 winter meetings, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell stood up in an organizational meeting and predicted Lester would be the equal of Santana over the next five years.
"You just don't find people and talent like Lester, especially that young," said Farrell.
What defines Lester is when he says the following: "When people talk about competing, that isn't enough. I don't want to just compete, I want to win. All my physical and mental preparation is about winning."
Just look at this poll: you can't argue with this deal. While everyone is worried about how Lester's arm will hold up over the course of 2009 after pitching a career-high 236 innings in '08, we don't have to worry about his drive to win. As long as he's breathing, he's going to be pitching and working his hardest. You have to love that in a pitcher.
Personally, I love this nugget Gammons throws in his post:
So as the Red Sox prepare to sign Lester for five years and $30M, they will have Beckett, Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz for less than $36M; including two $3M bonuses CC Sabathia will receive during the 2009 season, Sabathia and Burnett will make $36.5M. Boston has 2009 obligations to Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka for $21M.
Does anyone else just want to bellow out a hearty laugh? I do. I've never meant it more than when I say it right now: I hope Sabathia, Burnett and Mark Teixeira blow up big time in Hank Steinbrenner's face.
As Gammons also points out at the end of his column, the Red Sox didn't make any big free agent signings this offseason, but what they did outside of that was even bigger. Signing Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and now Lester long term has put a solid core of great players on this team for many years to come.
Now the question is this: when can we ink Jonathan Papelbon long-term? Please, Theo. (I say this while wearing my Papelbon t-shirt, of course.)