Often, names that the Orioles are linked to near the non-waiver trade deadline are the sorts of names that make you recoil in horror, shrinking away in error as various at-or-above-4.00 ERA candidates are floated as players who interest the team. That's how it usually goes, but on Monday afternoon, the two-headed Fox Sports tandem reported that the Orioles have contacted the Red Sox about Jon Lester:
Well, now that's an eye popper. Lester is the kind of pitcher who would represent an unambiguous upgrade for the Orioles rotation. This is not debating whether Jorge de la Rosa will do better outside of Colorado or whatever. This is talking about renting a strong left-handed starter, who's dialed in for his contract year.
Lester, in particular, is striking out about a quarter of all batters he faces, while he walks only about 5%. Those are very un-Orioles starter-like numbers. So's his 2.52 ERA, and so is the fact that he averages nearly seven innings per start. He's been so good that you almost can't even imagine him being on the Orioles because the Orioles, as a rule, don't get pitchers this good.
Of course, saying the Orioles have "contacted" the Red Sox about Lester isn't telling us very much. For all that we know, the conversation consisted of Dan Duquette asking the Sox if they had gone insane and decided to give away Lester just for laughs, and the Sox then hung up on him. It could have just as easily been Duquette calling up the Boston front office, hearing what they wanted back, and then moving elsewhere in his discussions.
The non-waiver deadline is Thursday at 4pm Eastern.
When considering baseball rumors, one important thing to keep in mind is that the sheer volume of rumors is such that most of the time, a given rumor will amount to nothing at all. That doesn't mean it's false - although many of them probably are, even from respected reporters - just that the information it offers amounts to nothing. It could be true that the Orioles contacted the Red Sox about Lester and this fact could be completely and utterly meaningless in the scheme of who the O's do or don't acquire.
What would the Red Sox ask for two months of Lester? Probably more than the Orioles would be willing to give up, although I guess you never know. Barring an injury, he'll make another 10-12 starts, plus any that he might make in the postseason, should the team that trades for him get their way into the postseason. Lester is also due in the vicinity of $4.3 million for the remainder of the season.
It'll probably never happen, but it's worth getting excited for a minute thinking about it. Now that the moment has passed, let's sit back and prepare ourselves for disappointment when Tim Berry is traded for two months of Kurt Suzuki.
Could you stand having one of the fried chicken and beer ringleaders on the Orioles, even if just for two months?