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Kevin Millar on MFB: Red Sox ‘have a star now’ in Yoenis Cespedes

08.01.14 at 12:59 pm ET
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MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar checked in with Middays with MFB to discuss the Sox’ trade deadline activity. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox were busier than any other team at Thursday’s deadline, making four trades by the 4 p.m. mark. The most notable losses were pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey, which brought in A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes and the Cardinals’ Allen Craig and Joe Kelly in return.

“I love what the Red Sox did,” Millar said. “At some point if they’re going to trade Jon Lester, it’s never going to pacify anybody, it doesn’t make sense. But you know what they got? They got three major league players. They traded Lester and Lackey, and they got three major league players immediately to help this club out.”

They biggest name acquired by the Sox was Cespedes. The Cuban has had a tough year at the plate, hitting just .256 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs, but Millar said he expects him to be a big presence in the Sox’ lineup, especially hitting at Fenway Park.

“At the end of the day, aren’t you tired of looking at the outfield’s offensive production?” Millar said. “Say what you want, we got to see him on the big stage in the Home Run Derby. I know it doesn’t mean anything, but we had a good time watching him last year at Citi Field, had a good time watching him this year at Minnesota, but at least he’s dynamic. I’d put him like kind of a star. He’s going to be a presence behind David Ortiz now. It immediately makes this team kind of like, ‘Whoa, that’s a 3-4 combination.’

“I’m looking at a guy and it’s kind of like you can lean your hat on somebody. We have a star now. Last year’s Red Sox World Series win, we leaned on the whole team because of the whole dynamic of the Boston bombing and the city and everything that went around it.”

Added Millar: “I’m just saying it’s kind of cool. You’re going to have some pop in that lineup. And hey, I’m all for it.”

While the Sox improved offensively, their pitching rotation took a big hit as a result of trading Lester, Lackey and Jake Peavy in the last week. The only Opening Day starter left on the team is Clay Buchholz, who has struggled for most of the season.

“If you’re going to get rid of Lester, I hope you have a backup plan,” Millar said. “Whether that’s Max Scherzer coming in, whether they get Lester back this offseason. … I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I know there’s some free agents coming on. They’re going to have to get somebody to be that dynamic No. 1 starter at the top of the rotation. Who that’s going to be, I have no idea.”

Craig and Kelly both have had success early in their careers but have struggled in 2014. Craig is having the worst season of his career at the plate, while Kelly has a 7.32 ERA in his four starts since coming off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two months.

Millar, however, sees potential for both players to bounce back.

“The game is very tough,” Millar said. “Mike Lowell hit .232 with about five homers in 2002 or 2003. He’s a 20-home run, averages 80-90 RBIs guy. All of a sudden Mike Lowell can’t play anymore.

“You have off years. Allen Craig has just had a rough three months. He hit about .450 last year with runners in scoring position. He drove in 90-plus RBIs. He was in talks in the MVP voting. I was surprised the Cardinals traded him. They signed him to a 30-plus million dollar extension. Give him to the Red Sox. This guy hits with runners on base, this guy hits with runners in scoring position, he drives in tough RBIs. I’ll take those guys.”

Millar added: “This game is tough. You’re allowed to have off years. Joe Kelly, I’ll take that young arm any day of the week. He’s got some hamstring issues this year, but a good kid. He was on that staff. They develop great pitchers. Great trade by Ben Cherington if you’re going to have to get rid of Lackey.”

Read More: Kevin Millar, Yoenis Cespedes,
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