Cole Hamels Traded to the Rangers

One more potential target for the Red Sox is now off the board. Cole Hamels, who had been mentioned for months as a possible target for the Red Sox dating back to when the Chicago Cubs signed Jon Lester, was traded to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday for 3 prospects from the Texas Rangers according to Fox Sports.

Whether you particularly wanted Cole Hamels in a Red Sox uniform or not (I know I didn’t), that makes 2 potential targets, Hamels and Johnny Cueto, that the Red Sox hadcole hamels traded been linked with in the media now in different uniforms. Cole Hamels is in Texas, while Johnny Cueto is now in Kansas City. While I stand by the fact that I didn’t want Hamels in Boston, the fact that the front office hasn’t been active enough when it comes to pitching makes me crazy. From all reports, it sounded like Ben Cherington wasn’t very active with either guy, which is worse than not actually getting the guys.

Whether the Red Sox buy or sell before Friday’s deadline is somewhat irrelavent. The worst thing they could do is stand pat with the guys they have on the roster. For the most part, the 2015 Red Sox have been largely disappointing, and they have to make major changes if they expect to get back into contention. That starts with getting at least one solid starter before the deadline. The Red Sox have also been linked with Sonny Gray, but that’s a pipe dream at this point and would take a miracle.

If I’m surprised by anything regarding the Cole Hamels deal, it’s that he ended up in Texas. The Texas Rangers have a tough task if they want to make the playoff – they share a division with the LA Angels and the Houston Astros, both of whom have been playing good baseball. If anything, I’m surprised a team in better shape to contend didn’t make more of a push. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit atop the NL West at the moment, were also rumored to be a frontrunner, but I guess they weren’t willing to pay the price in prospects and in terms of money.

Oh, well. Take notes, Ben. We need at least one more pitcher before the deadline. Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Cueto to KC; Pirates Pursue Red Sox Pair

On Sunday, the Kansas City Royals acquired ace starter Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati, ending the sweepstakes for a premier pitcher in whom the Red Sox were rumored to hold an interest.

The Reds received a strong package of three well-regarded southpaw pitchers in return Red Soxfor their 29-year old superstar, who will be a free agent following this season. Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed will move from Kansas to Cincinnati, as the Reds wave a white flag and declare themselves as deadline sellers.

With a 2.55 ERA and 1.042 WHIP over the past five years, Cueto is a genuine ace who will anchor the rotation of a Royals team destined for another run deep into October. Cueto also won 60 games and struck out 687 batters in that span, distinguishing himself as a truly elite performer.

As virtually everybody on the planet knows, the Red Sox desperately need an ace of that caliber; a genuine workhorse to spearhead a weary rotation. However, there is no indication that Boston ever got seriously involved in the Cueto negotiations, beyond courtesy scouting trips and general due diligence. In all likelihood, Red Sox management would’ve viewed the acquisition cost as prohibitive.

But, even as Boston lurks in the American League basement, it is still apparently shopping for logical upgrades. General Manager Ben Cherington said as much in a recent media session, explaining how the Red Sox have “still got to pursue things that are going to make us better and continue to try to build a good team.”

In this regard, the Red Sox seem to be targeting long-term pieces. A recent report by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests Boston has inquired on the availability of numerous cost-controlled Cleveland Indians pitchers, without much traction. However, the Red Sox’ desire to add sustainable arms, such as Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar, fits with the recent ideology set down by management.

Yet, even while cautiously roaming the buyer’s market, Boston must also remain realistic. Right now, the Red Sox are 12 games back in the AL East, and 8.5 adrift of a Wildcard berth. To reach the postseason, this team would, at best, have to outperform four other club’s and, at worst, overcome thirteen other ‘contenders.’ The likelihood of that occurring is very slim and, thus, the Red Sox are listening to offers for certain veterans on their roster.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported last night that the Pirates have engaged the Sox in talks for Mike Napoli and/or Shane Victorino, two upcoming free agents who have under-performed massively in 2015. I can definitely see this kind of deal happening. Not only would it free the Red Sox from remaining salary obligations, but either player could be a very decent buy-low pickup for a contending team such as Pittsburgh.

Ultimately, we’re still waiting for the first domino to fall on Yawkey Way. Either the Red Sox clinch a deal for a long-term building block, or they begin trading away expendable pieces. Sooner or later, a decision is going to be made, which should set the precedent for how Boston will play the impending trade deadline.