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?

Shane Victorino Traded to Angels

The Red Sox have made their first move of the deadline week, trading Shane Victorino and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge on Monday, according to the Boston Globe.

Josh Rutledge is a career .259 hitter in 266 career games, and previously spent 3 years in Shane VictorinoColorado with the Rockies before coming to the Angels according to the Boston Globe. He’s listed as a 2nd baseman, but plays shortstop and also has limited experience at 3rd base as well (5 career games at 3rd).

This move isn’t bad, considering Victorino’s injury history. While the Red Sox have Brock Holt at 2nd base right now filling in for Dustin Pedroia, a little extra depth never went amiss given Rutledge’s versatility. Plus the move clears space in that overcrowded outfield for the likes of Rusney Castillo, who got called up after the deal and will hit 7th tonight.

Looking back at Shane’s time with Boston, people will remember the injuries of the past couple of years, but they’ll also remember what he did for the Red Sox and the city of Boston during that magical 2013 season. Remember the grand slam in game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, or the 4 RBI game in game 6 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals? While the past couple of years have been filled with injuries for Shane Victorino, he was a solid addition to the roster, at least for that one unforgettable 2013 season.

This move seemed inevitable in a way. With both Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. down in Pawtucket, the Red Sox needed to do something to clear space for them to return, and this was part of that. Both of them should be with the big league ball club. I think it’s about time Castillo got a long, hard look in the major league, after signing that $72 million deal late last summer. Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to have turned a corner, has played better in the minors and needs a better shot to showcase what he can do.

So long, Shane, and thanks for 2013. Hopefully, he gets another shot at the playoffs with LA.

Red Sox Uncertain as Deadline Looms

With the MLB trade deadline fast approaching, the Red Sox still seem unclear on what direction they want to go in for remainder of 2015. For the second straight season, the Red Sox sit well out of playoff contention. While a 2014-esque fire sale seems unlikely because they have very few pieces of value, it seems like the focus will be more on 2016 then it will be on making the current squad better.

Looking at the Red Sox current team, it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox need to focus on Red Soxpitching. That became much tougher yesterday as ex-Reds ace, and possible target, Johnny Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals for 3 prospects. Cole Hamels is still out there, but it’s not a good idea to begin with and the LA Dodgers and Texas Rangers have emerged as the favorites to land Hamels according to an ESPN report.

A few guys will surely not be here come July 31st as well, and that can also make it tough on the clubhouse—especially if there are heavy rumors surrounding certain players. John Farrell acknowledged as much, but also said that he thinks they have enough veterans on the squad to stay focused on the game in hand through the rumors, according to NESN.

The deadline is in a few days, and hopefully the Red Sox roster will be at least a little different on August 1st. The worst thing the team can do is stand pat with a roster in disarray. The 25 guys on the roster have not gotten the job done and, while there have been a few bright spots, the Red Sox have to make at least a few moves before the deadline—whether they’re buyers or sellers.

Who comes and who goes is still unclear. Now, it’s just the waiting game.

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.

Red Sox Lose 4 in a Row to Angels

I probably should have guessed that the Red Sox streak right before the All-Star game was too good to be true—and I would have been right. The Red Sox lost their first 4 games after the All-Star break against the L.A. Angels, putting up a grand total of 4 runs in 4 games. Those 4 runs all came Monday as part of a day-night double-header. Not that they did any good, though, as Los Angeles put up 18 runs in those 2 games against Red Sox pitching. The Angels out scored the Red Sox 22-4 for the series. Yikes!

A small part of me thought this would happen, that the Red Sox didn’t really stand a Red Soxchance, and I probably should have listened to that part of me, because they really are done now. This team doesn’t have the talent or the will to make a push, even in a division as weak as the AL East has been this year. Any hope I might have had died this weekend, watching this sad display against the Angels.

Now, it doesn’t really matter if the Red Sox go out and trade for Sonny Gray, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, or all 3! It’s officially too late for them to dig themselves out of this hole, especially after this weekend’s display. My only hope right now is that the Red Sox can get their act together enough to at least pull themselves out of last place in the Al East, but even that might be too much to ask.

After this series, it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox should be sellers at the trade deadline, because, as I mentioned above, any hopes they might have had of playing themselves back into contention died after being so thoroughly out-played in Anaheim. I thought before the All-Star break that the Red Sox might be able acquire a few good veteran pieces and get themselves back into contention, but I’ve now given up on that. Any moves they make should be geared towards 2016, because 2015 is now a lost cause.

Red Sox Trade Rumors Round-Up

Despite continued troubles on the field, the Red Sox still appear to be in something of a holding pattern at boardroom level, waiting until the last possible moment to declare themselves buyers or sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Let’s take a look at the Red Sox trade rumors though, shall we?

In his latest column, famed sportswriter Peter Gammons offered his thoughts on a variety of Red Sox-related topics. Most importantly, he wrote that, while optimistic coming out of Red Soxthe All-Star break, Boston officials have been forced by the team’s five-game losing streak to consider which Major League players could possibly be sold off. However, simultaneously, Gammons suggests that the Red Sox are still grappling with the notion of pursuing either Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels, the premier starting pitchers on the trading block this summer.

Indeed, Rob Bradford of WEEI recently reported that Boston may trade for Cueto mainly to give themselves a running start in the sweepstakes when the Reds’ ace becomes a free agent this winter. I personally don’t see the logic here; the Red Sox are nine games adrift of a guaranteed playoff berth, and expending valuable prospects on a player who will be available for cash alone in four months just isn’t something this front office has ever been inclined to do.

Bradford also says that, from a philosophical viewpoint, the Red Sox covet young, cost-controlled arms. In that case, I struggle to see them being legitimate players in the market for Hamels, who will be 32 going into next season, and will likely cost too much in terms of prospects for Boston to be seriously interested.

Nonetheless, the Red Sox did send high-ranking executive Allard Baird to watch Hamels’ last start, as ESPN’s Gordon Edes and others have reported, which would suggest they still feel compelled to complete due diligence on all available players. However, as Ken Rosenthal conveyed in his latest FOX Sports video, Boston would be just one of several teams chasing Hamels, alongside the Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers and possibly Orioles.

Ultimately, the Red Sox have two things making life difficult just now: the standings, and the calendar. Boston is currently a last-place team, perhaps more likely to lose ninety games than overcome the surging Yankees. Furthermore, just ten days remain until the trade deadline, meaning large and crucial decisions will have to be made in a short and panic-filled timeframe. Right now, we can only sit tight and wait for the first domino to fall.