A couple months back, while waiting to get a haircut, I found ESPN the Magazine’s 2008 baseball preview stuck between the random copies of Men’s Health and The Lynn Jones Guide to Grooming. So I leaned back in ESPN the Chair, took a deep breath of ESPN the Oxygen, and thumbed over to the Red Sox section.

There I read this:

“Jon Lester is a back-of-the-rotation guy,” says an AL scout. “If he was the difference between getting Johan Santana or not, [the Red Sox] made a mistake.”

At the time, I probably agreed. Packaging up Lester and a couple other players of unknown stock for a proven commodity like Santana seemed a no-brainer. But halfway through the 2008 season, Lester is making the Sox brass look like geniuses.

With last night’s complete game shutout of the Yanks in the Bronx, Lestah is 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA over 117.2 innings. Conversely, Santana is 7-7 with a 3.01 ERA over 113.2 innings–all at a cost of roughly 16 million dollars more than Lester will be making this season. Granted, Santana is also pitching for the woeful Mets, but in Lester we’re getting the chance to see a potential staff ace blossom before our eyes. And that’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.

So thank you, Theo and company, for being far more patient and rational than me, not pulling a “Jeff Bagwell”, and giving us fans the chance to sit back and watch the homegrown young’uns prove themselves on the hill. For the most part, it’s been a damn fine ride.

*Regarding the title of this post: Of course, Jon Lester would never say such a thing, even to those who would doubt him. It really is a fantastic embellishment on the part of me and about 18 Coors Lights.