Red Sox Exec Watched Cole Hamels

On Sunday, the Red Sox were rumored to have an executive in the crowd in Philadelphia to possibly scout out Cole Hamels, who started for the Phillies against the Miami Marlins, according to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. Edes reports that it was Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, Allard Baird.

On Sunday, Cole Hamels was roughed up for 5 runs on 8 hits in 3 innings, and his last Cole Hamelsstart was even worse—9 runs on 12 hits in 3.1 innings. Aside from his recent struggles, he is owed $70.5 million guaranteed over the next 3 years, plus either a $20 million team option or a $24 million vesting option for 2019, and the Red Sox have been reluctant to make major financial commitment to pitchers over 30 (Hamels in now 31). That was the reason they didn’t bring Jon Lester back after last season.

Cole Hamels has had his ups and downs this season, and to me, he’s not worth what it would cost, both financially and in terms of prospects. Gordon Edes talks about a package deal including the likes of Jackie Bradley Jr, Henry Owens, and Manuel Margot, among others, which would be too much to give up in my opinion.

To me, Hamels is an 11th hour type deal if they can’t get anyone else. If it were me, I would prioritize younger blood – Sonny Gray and Johnny Cueto could both be on the block, and both would be preferable to me, over a guy like Hamels, who could make around $100 million for the next few years, which isn’t worth it in my opinion. He’s had some ups this season, but he’s also had his downs, especially recently, as I mentioned above. We also roughed him up on Opening Day, and I’m going to have to say pass on Hamels unless our options are limited come deadline day. But, we’ll see. The Red Sox might decide to make Hamels a priority, or they might decide to blow it up like last season. It’s still unclear whether they’ll be buyers or sellers at the deadline.

Remembering the Manny Ramirez Trade

When the trade deadline approaches each July, I’m transported back to 2008, when the Red Sox dealt Manny Ramirez, my all-time favorite player, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending his tumultuous reign as Boston’s defining superstar.

I was a truly fanatical fan in those days, staying up well past midnight in Britain to watch the Red Sox despite the prospect of school lurking the next morning. Accordingly, to suchManny Ramirez a diehard rooter, the loss of the most charismatic and infectious character in the history of New England sports was a major blow. My world caved in when Manny left for Hollywood.

Of course, rumors of Ramirez’ eventual exit percolated even as the ink dried on his 8-year, $160 million contract. Seemingly every year throughout his tenure in Boston, Manny Ramirez demanded some kind of trade away from Beantown and, when he wasn’t complaining, management rocked the boat by seeking ways to offload his complex, high-maintenance personality. Yet, in the end, Manny always stayed with the Red Sox, no matter how loud the trade chatter. His prodigious talent was always too much to give up.

I thought this would also be the case in 2008. A few teams would call the Sox and register an interest, I figured, but Theo Epstein would never let such a lethal offensive force get away amid a heated pennant race. Thus, when the news of Manny’s departure eventually exploded, like a cannonball to the head, I was totally shocked and incredulous.

At the time, it was difficult to follow Major League Baseball from England. In the pre-Twitter realm, all we could do was constantly refresh the webpages of various sports sites, hoping to stay in the loop. That’s what I did for hour upon hour as the 2008 deadline approached. However, as the clock continued to tick, I was dragged along on a family day trip to Liverpool on the Mersey Ferryboats. I did protest, citing the importance of the trade deadline, but little credence was given to the 13-year old possessed by an immense obsession with the Boston Red Sox.

We eventually returned home in time for me to watch the last hour of deadline action. The minutes ticked by slowly, and it appeared ever more likely that my beloved slugger would stay. Then, barely ten minutes before the deadline, the dreaded news finally filtered through to England: Manny Ramirez, my original baseball hero, had been traded to the Dodgers, and a rather peculiar fellow named Jason Bay was the new left fielder for the Boston Red Sox, as part of a three-team deal with Pittsburgh.

That night, I cried myself to sleep. Yes, Manny was perpetually annoying. And, yes, his mood swings frustrated Red Sox Nation. But he was arguably the greatest right-handed hitter ever to represent The Olde Towne Team. Manny Ramirez lodged 2,574 career hits, launched 555 home runs, and won two World Series titles with the Red Sox, but, more than that, he was an icon, a superhero in whom young fans like myself could believe. Manny Ramirez made you dream.

Manny Ramirez

In LA, Manny unleashed the greatest 53-game stretch of his career to round out 2008, hitting .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI. Meanwhile, Jason Bay was pretty good, but he just wasn’t Manny Ramirez. Therefore, I never truly overcame the loss of Number 24.

I firmly believe the Red Sox would have won the pennant and possibly a second consecutive World Series had Ramirez stayed. Instead, Boston finally dealt him away, and Red Sox baseball simply hasn’t been the same since.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Sonny Gray

The Red Sox finished up the first half of the season on a 10-5 run, and could be a couple of pieces away from being contenders for at least a Wild Card spot. The main area of concern right now is the pitching, which became more of a dire need after Clay Buchholz went down with an injury. Clay Buchholz was pitching well before said injury, but he was also pitching well before his injury in 2013. He came back from that and hasn’t looked like the same guy until this season.

Aside from Cole Hamels, who has been talked about for months now ad nauseam, Sonny Grayanother possible move could be Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics. While the Red Sox have yet to decide if they’ll buy or sell this season, I think they’re poised pretty well to be buyers, especially if they come back and pick up where they left off before the All Star Break.

As MassLive points out, and I agree with this, the price for Gray might be high – he has a 2.04 ERA, and 108 strikeouts to 30 walks this season. The A’s are currently 8.5 games back in a very tough AL West division, so they may look to do what the Red Sox did at the trade deadline last year and sell off their best guys to get some young players in return. If that’s the case, the Red Sox make for prime targets, as they have one of the best farm systems in the league.

Will the Red Sox actually pull together a package for Gray? I hope so. If it came down to it, I’d rather have Sonny Gray over Cole Hamels if the Red Sox do make a move for a pitcher – he’s got the stuff to succeed here and he’s only 25, so he’s still hitting his prime, which is a scary thought. Cole Hamels would be a win today type of move, while Gray would make an immediate impact this year and beyond. What do they have to lose?

Why the Red Sox Should Buy, Not Sell

Two weeks is a long time in baseball, as the Red Sox are currently discovering to their benefit. In the last 13 games, Boston has gone 9-4, transitioning from 10 to 5 games below .500, and changing the outlook of a mediocre American League. Once hopeless cellar-dwellers, the Red Sox took two of three from Tampa Bay; three of four from Toronto; two of three from Houston; and the series opener against Miami, hauling themselves back into contention.

On June 27th, the Sox were nine games out in the AL East and eight adrift of a Wildcard Red Soxspot. Now, their division deficit is just five games, while the Wildcard is only five-and-a-half games out of reach. When the East-leading Yankees roll into town this weekend, the Red Sox may have an opportunity to draw level in the standings, a situation that seemed virtually impossible just three weeks ago.

In light of this resurgence, Boston’s need to add talent, rather than shed salary, at the upcoming trade deadline is even more pronounced. Having invested heavily in elite talent over the winter, then watched it struggle but enjoy a renaissance, Ben Cherington would be wrong not to double down and reward his battling players by acquiring some reinforcements. David Ortiz said as much in a recent interview, articulating his hope that the front office “can get something that can help you continue winning games.”

So, what exactly is that “something” for the 2015 Red Sox? What does this team need to continue its forward momentum? Well, offensively, the Sox have really improved lately, to the point where the team now ranks in the top ten in hits, runs scored and OBP. Finally, the powerful lineup we all envisaged is coming to fruition, with Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval joining Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia as consistently productive bats. I feel confident that, with the present lineup, the Red Sox will score enough runs to compete.

However, the pitching staff inspires no such confidence. Quite frankly, it’s a mess. Always has been, always will be, until management admits it’s mistakes and finally corrects them. Admittedly, Clay Buchholz has been tremendous recently, and Eduardo Rodriguez adds a youthful enthusiasm to proceedings, but the remainder of this rotation, namely Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, has simply been awful.

Porcello currently has a 6.08 ERA and 1.40 WHIP; Miley is at 4.50 and 1.44; and Masterson tops the field with his astonishing marks of 6.14 and 1.68. Essentially, regardless of the money they’re owed, and regardless of the commitment Red Sox management has made to these guys, this team isn’t going to reach the postseason with truly woeful pitchers starting three out of every five games. You could tolerate one of the trio sticking around to fill out the rotation, but two makes this team bad, and three makes it borderline embarrassing.

Red SoxSo, what starters are available? Of course, Cole Hamels is on the block, but new Phillies chief Andy MacPhail may wait until the offseason to move him. Elsewhere, Miami may deal Dan Haren and Mat Latos; San Diego could take their annual offers on Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner; while Cincinnati is likely to seriously consider bids for Mike Leake and ace Johnny Cueto.

Whether the Red Sox’ perpetually disappointing front office is finally prepared to deal prospects for a rotation upgrade, or indeed let a strong two-week run force them into acquiring talent, remains to be seen. But, philosophically, there is no doubt. This team needs new blood, new stars, new hope. This team must buy at the deadline. After all, they’re the Boston Red Sox, whose loyal fans deserve the opportunity to dream again.

Red Sox Continue to Tease Us

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the current best team in the AL after Hanley Ramirez hit a game-winning 2-run home run Sunday to lift the Sox over the Houston Astros. That home run gave the Red Sox their 11th win in 17 games, as they continue to tease us. The worst part—this team looks like a completely different team than the one that we have been watching for the past 3 months.

Minus a few exceptions, notably Rick Porcello (who got slammed in his last start against Red SoxToronto), everyone has been performing better in the past couple of weeks. Hanley Ramirez has hit 5 home runs in his last 10 games, and catcher Ryan Hanigan recorded his first 3 hit game in over a year against the Astros. Let’s not forget to mention the stability Hanigan brings behind the plate (the Sox are 12-8 in games that he starts this season).

And then there’s Koji Uehara who is riding a 7 inning scoreless streak and holding opposing hitters to 1-23 during that span. Like I said, the Red Sox are getting more consistent performances from more of the players.

The Red Sox are making me be optimistic again, and while I really want to believe they can get hot, I’ve heard this story before. Specifically, last year. The Red Sox went 9-1 right before the All Star Break last year, and fell apart after the Red Sox front office dealt away 4 of their 5 starters at the trade deadline. Everything went to pieces after that. Now, I don’t know what their plans for this trade deadline are, but I’m a little worried about that happening again.

I hope my worst fears don’t come true and the front office doesn’t decide to be sellers again. It seems, at least right now, like they’re poised to make a run if they are buyers at the deadline. I think they’re a good #1 starter and some bullpen help away from making a late season push in a weak AL East division if they hold on to their core guys, and add the parts I just suggested. I hope they can pull it off, but I could be wrong. I hope I’m not though. I’ve said before that I hate losing.

AL East Could Be Open Again

The Red Sox are doing it again – playing well enough to make me think they could go on a run. The Red Sox have gone 5-2 in their last 7 games against AL East opposition, and have won 3 of their last 4 series (8-5 overall). Which includes a series victory against the defending AL champs, the Kansas City Royals, by the way.

If they want to have any chance at making a run, Gordon Edes points out that they wouldAL East Red Sox 2015 have to go on a ridiculous tear worthy of what the 2004 Red Sox did. Hypothetically, if 90 wins were enough to win the AL East, the Red Sox would have to go 53-28 for the rest of the season. As Edes points out, the only time the Red Sox have been able to put together that kind of run since the schedule moved to 162 games in 1961 is when they went 54-27 down the stretch in 2004 en route to a World Series title.

Could they do it? Talent-wise, they might (key word being might!) be able to. In reality, though, probably not, given the way this season has gone. The problem, as Edes points out (and I agree with him), is that the 2004 team was loaded – they had Curt Schilling (still in top form), Pedro Martinez, the best 3-4 offensive combination at the time in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and a Gold Glove infield, among other pieces. The 2015 team falls woefully short of that, to say the least.

They’ll have to make a few trade deadline deals and fill some of their holes if they want to have any shot of contending for the AL East this year, and I hope they do. If they can make a few moves without breaking their farm system while fetching good, major league-ready talent in return, then I’d be for it.

This could just be me starting to tell myself that there’s still hope where there is none, but I hope not. I’m sick of losing, and I would love to see the Red Sox at least make some kind of effort to get back into contention for the AL East. And hope some of the other guys

Hey, I can dream, can’t I? We’re only 6.5 out at the moment.