Look who’s doing the damage for the Boston Red Sox. Every so often, like last night, the veteran, big-name hitters crank some home runs; however, it’s the youth of the club that is helping to gain victories. Players like Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, and Xander Bogaerts are earning their keep while keeping the team afloat, just six games back of the American League East division lead. If the Red Sox can keep winning games, they will not be the sellers that everyone in May expected them to be. If that’s the case, and the team’s head office still wants to make a run, they will still need a starting pitcher to help the cause. Just don’t expect a trade for another veteran.
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Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported, “According to a major league source, the Red Sox priority leading up to the July 31 deadline is to find younger pitchers who are under team control beyond just this season. Also per the source, it isn’t likely the Red Sox would be chasing pitchers already owed a substantial chunk of money.”
Hamels, the lefty veteran on the Philadelphia Phillies, is going to be 32 years old and needing $67.5 million to be paid to him by 2018. Cueto, a free agent in 2016, is having a great season on a 36-41 team with the Cincinnati Reds, just one win less than the Red Sox. If either pitcher made his way onto Boston’s staff, what good would they be? They play on sub-par teams, already. Bringing either of them into the fold is hardly going to be the ‘savior’ moment that Red Sox Nation would be hoping for.
Bradford brings up a quick financial statistic at the end of his article which highlights, whether intentionally or not, why Hamels and Cueto make no sense for Boston. “Of the starters currently in the Red Sox’ rotation, Rick Porcello ($20 million), Clay Buchholz ($13 million club option) and Wade Miley ($6 million) are seemingly locked in for next season’s rotation.”
Porcello got lit up on July 1st by division-rival bats, one of many poor appearances for him after signing a new contract with the Red Sox. Both Buchholz and Miley are pitching fairly well as of late, but both also have records that are less than stellar. In 16 starts, Buchholz is 6-6 and Miley is 8-7, with a 3.48 and 4.53 ERA respectively. Even if each of these pitchers does well for the rest of the season, their early problems are not what the Red Sox can afford to live with in the future, even if they have to live with their multi-year contracts.
With the first half of the season winding down, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is on a bit of a hot seat. He signed players like Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Justin Masterson, Rusney Castillo, as well as Porcello to big contracts. Ramirez has produced, but continues to have been bitten by the injury bug. Sandoval has shown glimpses of brilliance with a ton of terrible play at the plate. Masterson had to come back from injury after a 2-2 record and 6.37 ERA in seven starts. Castillo, once thought of as a Cuban phenom, has yet to prove that he can stay with the big club, being sent back to Pawtucket for hitting .230 in 74 at-bats. With adding to that Porcello’s recent horror-movie starts and Miley’s trade providing evidence of success at a snail’s pace, Cherington doesn’t exactly have an impressive track record of bringing in veterans or potential talent to Boston.
And we’re not even going to touch the adventures of the Joe Kelly trade. Let’s just say former Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey has a winning record with the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Where are Kelly and positional player Allen Craig right now? That’s right, the minors.
Cherington has thrown veterans into holes and hoped that they would patch them. He’s thrown younger talent, which was proven but discarded by others, at those holes with hopes that they would stick together. Both strategies have not gone as planned. He paid big money for all of these players, most of whom will be around for a long time after this season. If Cherington isn’t the most worried man in Boston, he should be.
The trouble with saying that you want young arms for less money is that it’s like saying that your strategy is to win the lottery. Of course you want young talent on the cheap; every single team wants that. Why pay amazing talent if you don’t have to do so? Nobody would, if they could get away with that.
The fact is that Cherington and the Red Sox are caught. They tried a strategy that didn’t work out very well, and now they’ve given too much money to the wrong people. At least it appears that way at this point in the year. They don’t want to spend more money, but they are likely going to drown if they don’t pay for a life preserver of some kind, soon. It would be nice if the Red Sox can make a trade for a younger, but proven, pitcher to salvage some wins that Porcello has given up before the third inning. It would also be nice for the Red Sox to find another five Hall-of-Fame players to carry them into a dynasty. The likelihood is very minimal. Nobody is going to trade a cheap blue-chip pitcher for nothing.
Who are they going to trade in return? Ramirez? Sandoval? Do you want them to trade their youthful position players? Some experts think that Alejandro De Aza, a recent pickup from the Baltimore Orioles, is a good trading piece, but he’s been one of the only bright spots on the team who isn’t a kid. You want to trade him away now, while the team is possibly turning things around with some wins?
The Red Sox are going to need to bite the bullet and live with the decisions that they’ve made, at least for now. Unless some other general manager in all of MLB is foolish enough to trade a young, cheap stud on the mound for some magic beans, Cherington better pray to the baseball gods that his roster pulls up their red stockings and starting winning more games to get back in the division race.
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