You were there. You know how it was. Red Sox fans saying the Phillies were wrong for asking so much for Cole Hamels. Phillies fans saying the Red Sox were overrating their prospects and underrating the impact Hamels could have. These are the kinds of things that happen when both sides are right: the Phillies should have asked for what seemed like too much for their ace, and the Sox had every right to hope 2015 turned out alright without him so they could hold on to the kids they held the most dear.
Now, though, former Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro works for the Red Sox as their first base coach, which means he can speak on the matter more honestly than he could before. Given he now works alongside the players he wanted -- specifically, Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart -- it's not a surprise to hear his thoughts on then-general manager Ben Cherington refusing to deal them. Still, though, it is good to hear, and since he shared those thoughts with USA TODAY and Bob Nightengale, now you can:
Amaro let then-Red Sox GM Ben Cherington know exactly what he wanted: Outfield prospect Mookie Betts and catching prospect Blake Swihart.
Cherington refused. Amaro modified his demand, swapping one of them for pitcher Henry Owens, but still no one budged.
"Ben did the right thing by not trading them.’’
Now, the Phillies eventually got the significant prospect package they wanted, but from the Rangers: they were right to refuse to remove both of Betts and Swihart from the deal. The Sox were stung for their insistence on keeping their favored prospects last summer, but they spent this winter using their considerable finances to lock up David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal, and now Mookie Betts is arguably their best position player and a future leader on and off the field, while Swihart is their starting catcher already. That's not a bad trio to have, and you can argue Hamels wasn't going to change 2015's ill fortune by himself, either.
It took some time -- and a whole lot of arguing -- but both organizations are where they want to be. The Sox got their ace while keeping their future intact, and since their future is also their present, that was key, and the reason Cherington wouldn't move Betts or Swihart in the first place -- you know Cherington was holding out to eventually move the likes of Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot along with Owens and whatever else was needed, just like Dave Dombrowski was fine with dealing Guerra and Margot for Kimbrel.
The Phillies had to go to Texas to get the package they wanted, but their rebuild is looking good, so it worked out in their favor not to force a trade with Boston. Yes, yes, it's sometimes difficult to believe that both sides can benefit or be right in trade matters, but it's true. It's harder to argue about, sure, and there's less blood and vitriol this way, but it can happen!
It's a shame that Amaro isn't still working in the Phillies' front office in some capacity -- he wasn't a bad baseball mind so much as maybe he should not have been running the entire team -- but that was an impossibility even before the Hamels' situation. Andy MacPhail, who took over in a similar role to Dombrowski in Boston, was going to hire his own guy, and the organization was going to look far different than it had during the Amaro years. As for Cherington, he had his chance to stick on, but chose to walk away from the game for a time, in the same way Amaro has chosen to try coaching after a career on the field and in the front office.
At least both former executives can take solace in knowing they did the right thing, and that both of their former organizations are the better for it. And hey, Amaro might not be in charge, but he does get paid to watch Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart every day. That's not so bad.