Jon Lester is an Oakland Athletic. Those words are starting to sink in, but it still doesn't quite seem real yet. Even seeing a lineup sans Yoenis Cespedes won't do the trick, because it's not unusual for him to miss a game now and then. But that will all change Saturday, when Lester takes the mound at the Coliseum against the Kansas City Royals.
We don't have to go back far to find the lefty's last start against the Royals. He faced them on July 20, and he threw eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball with eight strikeouts and two walks. Yeah, that'll do. As for his overall recent performance, I chose his last five starts as an arbitrary endpoint because look at these stats: 3 earned runs in 37 innings (0.73 ERA), 40 strikeouts, 5 walks, 27 hits, 1 homer. If you're unclear why the A's just traded Cespedes, that is why. Those numbers are insane. In three of those five starts, he finished eight innings and didn't allow an earned run. His opponents in that stretch included the White Sox (No. 7 offense in MLB) and Orioles (No. 10), so they weren't all pushovers either.
However, there is one extra twist to Saturday's game. You see, the promotional schedule is finalized before the season even starts, and for some reason teams still haven't learned to stop having player-specific promos after July 31. In this case, the giveaway on Saturday is a La Potencia t-shirt featuring the likeness of Yoenis Cespedes. Whoops. You'd better hope you win your debut, Jonny Boy, because there are going to be 10,000 people wearing a shirt of the beloved player you were acquired for.
There's no need to look at this as a negative, though, or as an embarrassment to the A's. In fact, they've really made the most of it with a positive spin:
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Athletics announced today that it will distribute 10,000 La Potencia T-shirts, sponsored by NetSuite, at Saturday's 1:05 p.m. game against Kansas City as originally planned. La Potencia means "The Power" in Spanish and recognizes Yoenis Cespedes for his contributions to back-to-back American League West titles. This morning the A's traded Cespedes to Boston in exchange for outfielder Jonny Gomes and three-time All-Star pitcher Jon Lester, who is scheduled to start on Saturday.
In addition, the A's today announced the team has added a new giveaway date on this homestand's promotional calendar. On Thursday, Aug. 7, 15,000 fans will receive a Josh Donaldson Silhouette T-shirt, also sponsored by NetSuite, prior to Oakland's 7:05 p.m. game with the Minnesota Twins. In addition, fans that act quickly can take advantage of a special $10 ticket offer for field level tickets at that game while supplies last.
Not only did they frame it as a commemoration to Cespedes' time here, which is a valid thing to celebrate even after his departure, but they also found a way to fix the situation by offering a new Donaldson shirt next Thursday. Congratulations to the A's for making the best of an awkward situation.
So, there are two good reasons to go watch some baseball on Saturday. You can see Lester throw a no-hitter in his debut, and you can get a cool collector's item. Now, let's just hope the A's have a better proof-reader than the Rockies do and that they spell "La Potencia" correctly.