The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies showed how far they have fallen during the July 31 trade deadline. For the Red Sox, they waved the white flag on defending their World Series crown by trading off the best pitchers they had left in Jon Lester and John Lackey. But for the Phillies, the trade deadline further illuminated their decline because they made no moves at all.
Both the Red Sox and Phillies needed to shed their massive payrolls and get new talent, after their glory days crashed and burned. But Boston was the only one to pull it off, as it traded Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes but landed Yoenis Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics. Hours later, the Red Sox sent Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly.
Craig and Kelly have struggled this season, while Cespedes could only be a rental for the Red Sox. Still, Boston had the ability to make the hard choices needed to start over. After being in last place in 2012, winning the World Series in 2013 and going back into last place this season, the Red Sox hope the pattern will hold and result in a comeback for 2015 -- even if they now need a new ace.
The Phillies have their share of aces, which is now part of the problem. With Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee having two of the many expensive, bloated contracts on the team, they were talked about as potential trade bait. For that matter, so were Marlon Byrd, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Jonathan Papelbon, and even Ryan Howard.
For some time, there has been pressure on general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to sell off the aging, expensive players that made up the Phillies' would-be dynasty between 2007 and 2011. Yet although the pressure was greater than ever before the trade deadline, not one player was sent away from Philadelphia. Amaro reportedly blamed other general managers for not offering enough -- but the price for Hamels and the cost of taking on Lee's contract and injury troubles were just too high.
Frustrated Phillies fans likely looked on with envy at the Red Sox during the trade deadline. However, these two former champions are still going nowhere for a while, although Boston's light at the end of the tunnel is at least somewhat clearer today.