For those Red Sox fans still hoping to see Ben Cherington pull off a big trade to bring Phillies starter Cole Hamels to Boston, it might be time to pin your hopes on a different ace. Peter Gammons has painted a dire picture of the disconnect between the demands of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the willingness of the Red Sox to surrender their best talent in a trade for an expensive arm, with Amaro not likely to listen to those in his organization who could make a trade happen.
Gammons first brings some good news for those more concerned than excited by the idea of a Hamels trade:
The Red Sox made it clear when they opened talks about Hamels that they will not deal Mookie Betts, who is clearly a regular and he who wills the vital role of leadoff hitter...They will also not trade catcher Blake Swihart.
Then the bad news for those hoping their might still be a deal to be made:
Now, Charlie Manuel saw more games in the Boston system than any other team and believes Garin Cecchini is a rising star and loves several others, but while Manuel is one of the best evaluators-particularly of hitters-in the game, his voice is not heard by Amaro. Nor is the voice of Pat Gillick, who would look at this list of the nine big trades for "ace" pitchers in the last seven years, thought out building to 2017 and gone immediately to outfielder Manuel Margot, third baseman Rafael Devers or shortstop Javier Guerra.
It seems like there's a deal to be made here, but not with the one man in Philadelphia whose opinion actually matters.
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It's in question just how much longer that will continue to be the case. Gillick built a World Series winning team (led by Manuel) and then passed it off to Ruben Amaro Jr., who has proceeded to make moves with no real eye for the future. Unfortunately for him and Phillies fans alike, after a few more successful seasons, said future arrived in 2012, and it's been three ugly seasons for the team with no clear end in sight. Hell, Ryan Howard is still under contract for two more years, and owed $10 million in 2017 if (when) the Phillies decline his option!
But teams do not make dramatic changes in leadership with the offseason in full swing. However the Amaro saga plays out in Philadelphia over the next few years, all that's relevant to the Red Sox for now is that he's in charge now, and there seems to be little chance of making a trade happen while that's the case.
There is one name conspicuously absent from Gammons' article, however: Xander Bogaerts. As bad as the middle months of 2014 were for the young shortstop, it's hard to imagine that his first full season in the majors was enough to push Boston's estimation of Bogaerts below that of, say, Swihart, who is apparently untouchable. Particularly when you take into account how positively the season started, and the signs of life he showed in September.
Still, if a Xander Bogaerts trade seems unlikely, it's something to keep an eye on, if only for the fact that Gammons so explicitly ruled out the most obvious other candidates in Betts and Swihart while leaving Bogaerts unmentioned.