Both the Phillies and the Rangers did well in the Cole Hamels trade

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It’s a lot of fun to mock Ruben Amaro. To say that he should’ve started rebuilding two years ago, etc. etc. And there’s a lot of truth in such criticisms. But credit where it is due: Amaro did well in trading Cole Hamels to the Rangers yesterday.

To review, the Rangers got Hamels and pitcher Jake Diekman. The Phillies got the following prospects (and Matt Harrison):

C Jorge Alfaro
OF Nick Williams
SP Alec Asher
SP Jerad Eickhoff
SP Jake Thompson
SP Matt Harrison

Harrison is a keep-it-respectable-now starter who helps offset some money. The rest of the people are pieces with which the Phillies will build their future. And they’re nice pieces mostly, Alfaro and Thompson chief among them. As Keith Law (ESPN Insider only) notes, Alfaro has 80 power and an 80 arm, though he’s still an alarmingly free swinger. He’s still young, however, and catchers often develop a tad more slowly. Thompson projects to be a solid major league starter as well, with a solid fastball and an excellent slider even if he is a couple of years away.

Williams is hitting .300/.357/.480 in the Texas League (and he’s young for the Texas League) and played in the Futures Game last year. Eickhoff and Asher are more organizational arms who could be back-end starters or relievers in the bigs. Which is still valuable even if most people’s attention is paid to top tier prospects. The Phillies issue was not just a lack of projectable talent but a lack of talent of all stripes throughout its organization.

As for the Rangers, Hamels will slot alongside a healthy Yu Darvish and Martin Perez which should make the Rangers competitive in 2016 and 2017. They also didn’t have to give up Joey Gallo for him Hamels, which many might have assumed they’d do in such a big deal. Texas has been mildly competitive this year despite the Darvish injury. With Hamels in the fold, they should be considered playoff contenders going forward.

So, while all trades are judged twice — when they’re made and a couple of years later when we see how they turned out — this is a win-win at the time of the deal. Kudos to both Jon Daniels and Ruben Amaro for doing what needed to be done for their organizations.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.