The Boston Globe broke the story yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies have finally received an offer from the Boston Red Sox for lefty starting pitcher Cole Hamels. However, the price could be more than Red Sox Nation is comfortable with.
NJ.com reporter Matt Lombardo claims that the price to bring Hamels to Boston would have to be so good for Philly that it would bulk up the roster for the future. “Because of the organization’s desire to rebuild the farm system, the Phillies are hoping to acquire a slew of top prospects in exchange for Hamels who is coming off the best statistical season of his career in 2014. Hamels, 31, finished with a 9-9 record 2.46 ERA last season.” That makes sense for the Phillies, because they pumped so much money into their starting rotation, years ago, that to come away with no championships and a boatload of bills would hardly be compensation for the pitchers to be traded.
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Does that make sense for the Red Sox, though? Hamels is set to make $96 million for whatever team(s) he plays for in only the next four years.
Apparently, the Red Sox brass thinks so. The Boston Globe recently reported that the Red Sox had to rethink how to construct their team after the abysmal 2014 season. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington blamed himself for the utter disappointment across the board, but hinted to reporter Alex Speier that the issue was regarding young talent developing properly:
"“We just underperformed across the board. And now we’re trying to build a winning team and one that can hopefully sustain a level over time, and young players are going to be a part of that.” – Ben Cherington, as reported by The Boston Globe"
Speier went on to suggest that youth was relied on too heavily last season, which created insurmountable odds for the Red Sox to come out of the tailspin. “The youth movement reached such unexpected dimensions that in some corners of the club, the team was jokingly referred to as the ‘Boston PawSox.’ No team in the American League used more rookie position players than the Red Sox (12). No team in the AL had more games played by rookie position players (552). No team entrusted more plate appearances to rookies — in fact, no team came within 300 of the Red Sox.”
Fair enough, the evidence is pretty clear that the Red Sox played their rookies more than anyone else. Yet, does anyone actually think the rookies were the problem?
The debacle between Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks at third base put aside, as that is well-noted, what other positions were drastically weaker because of a rookie or a still-youthful player? Mookie Betts and Brock Holt had breakout seasons to show their potential. Christian Vazquez looked like one of the best defensive catchers in both major leagues, which is why there has been almost no talk about replacing him as a starter with a veteran. If anything, the rumors have been whether it should be Vazquez or Blake Swihart, another top prospect.
The youth movement is not the problem. The way that they were introduced? Possibly, but it was not like that could have been helped. Who would have foreseen that Dustin Pedroia was going to be injured? We should have expected Shane Victorino‘s long-standing injury, based on his history.
And, while we are freely passing out blame, how about the fact that other than Jon Lester, who was later traded to the Oakland Athletics, no Red Sox pitcher made the MLB top 40 in lowest ERA. Wiley veteran John Lackey had a decent 2014 with the Red Sox, although it was nothing amazing, either, at a 11-7 record, with a 3.60 ERA, before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and ballooning to a 4.30 ERA. The rest of the starting rotation was much worse. Jake Peavy was 1-9 in 20 starts, before the veteran was traded to the San Francisco Giants. Clay Buchholz was supposed to take over the team when the others were gone, but he did nothing of the sort, with a record of 8-11 and a 5.34 ERA. It was a complete disaster in the pitching staff, compared to the potential, but not dominating, help from the rookies.
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Now, the Red Sox execs and experts want us to believe that bringing in another veteran, with a huge price tag in terms of money and prospects, is going to be the one decision that saves Boston from the division basement? Hamels would clearly be the ace of the rotation, if the trade becomes a reality, but is he needed that badly? To lose ‘a slew’ of prospects, as Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is demanding, seems a bit drastic. Bringing inPablo Sandoval
seems like a good way to break the youth in slowly at different positions, to cover the outfield and infield until the rookies and second-year boys are ready to be starters. So, why go away from that plan? All that will remain, once the Hamels experiment takes effect, in an already-suspect pitching rotation, is the same problem: older pitchers who may give out runs like candy at Halloween, while injury-prone, veteran position players will not have the young lads filling in for them.
But, it’s all about risking it all for more championships, right?