We've heard this once a week since the season ended for Boston at the end of September. But you wonder if it's something that is going to become more reality then just a pipe dream. The question I leave to everyone is as simple as this:
Is Cole Hamels coming to Boston?
My answer to that is very back and forth and I've been thinking about it for quite some time. Boston is in dire need of a top of he line starter. Cole Hamels is or could be that in Boston. As a baseball fan, Boston bias aside, do you feel comfortable with a rotation that Clay Buchholz leads? I didn't think so. And while I give this rotation a little more slack then I should, the need for a top tier starter is clear. I believe everyone that currently sits in this rotation will have bounce back years and CAN be successful. Rick Porcello is looking to build off of last years success and land a monster contract. Justin Masterson is looking to return to 2012-2013 form, which I believe he has a chance to do. Joe Kelly has proven he can pitch in the American League but can he do it all year? Wade Miley is known to be an innings eater, but can he be a successful innings eater and help win games? Is this enough to win a World Series? The correct answer is no. Too many question marks.
While I have never been a huge fan of Hamels, the talent is there. He produced his best statistical year in his career last season, excluding wins. A 2.46 ERA should not go unnoticed in a hitter friendly environment. Would those stats cross over into the vaunted AL East? Probably not. But he certainly fits the bill as an upgrade in the rotation. His stats against the American League is nothing to write home about compiling an 8-13 record with an ERA north of 4.50. That doesn't wreak ace material to me. But he has proven he can pitch in all circumstances, winning a World Series while finishing in the top 10 in Cy Young voting 3 times. He has pitched over 200 innings in all but 3 seasons since 2006, '06 being his rookie season. The other 2 seasons he pitched 183 and 193 innings. So he is an innings eater.
Is that enough to justify sending multiple prospects for a 31 year old pitcher whose contract runs through his ages 35 and 36 seasons? Probably not. But maybe so. To me, it really depends on whom you part with. You cannot part with budding star in the makings in Mookie Betts as my father in-law, for one, won't let that happen and will more then likely go nutty on GM Ben Cherrington. Joking aside, Betts has star potential and is already showcasing that with a monster spring training. Blake Swihart is more off limits now then ever with the injury to current starting catcher Christian Vazquez and has potential to be a Buster Posey clone as a switch hitter. Henry Owens presents the Red Sox future as a left handed pitcher whose ceiling can be compared to a Jon Lester. Again, this list is whom I don't think they should part with. So what does that leave the Sox to part with you ask?
Shortstop Devin Mererro, LHP Brian Johnson, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, INF Sean Coyle, OF Bryce Brentz and the list goes on. The Red Sox farm system is as good as it gets in baseball but if they want something big, they're going to have to give up something big.
They need a stopper after they endure a 3, 4, 5 game losing streak. It's very possible Hamels fits that bill but I don't believe giving up the farm will solve that problem so I think the Sox wait this out. There are other starters on the market and some others that could should their teams falter (Jordan Zimmerman, Jonny Cueto to name a few).
Would I take a shot at Hamels? I would, though I'm not particularly big on him. Only if the Price is right. Do I think he's coming to Boston? Eh...