The Hamels Decision
“So is it cha-ching or ca-ching?”
“I always go with cha-ching,” I told him.
Hamels threw eight scoreless innings against the Nationals to improve to 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He is tied for the big-league lead in wins. He is fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.08), ninth in ERA and 11th in WHIP (1.01).
From 2010-12, he ranks sixth in ERA (2.83), seventh in WHIP (1.07) and fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.99).
He is just 28 years old, too.
(Buster Olney talks more about Hamels’ score in his column today.)
There are 133 days remaining in the 2012 regular season. The Phillies are hoping to be preparing for the National League Division Series at that point, but the reality is they are 22-23 and last in the National League East. Ryan Howard is rehabbing in Florida, but there are no indications he is close to beginning a rehab assignment. Chase Utley takes ground balls with the Phillies occassionally. He claims he is making progress, but you have to wonder (he didn’t seem particularly mobile the other day). Roy Halladay hasn’t looked like himself. Cliff Lee is winless. Jimmy Rollins‘ .578 OPS is 20th out of 25 big-league shortstops. Hunter Pence is in his head, struggling in clutch situations. The bullpen has pitched better recently, but remains a question mark. Charlie Manuel‘s lineup this week included Hector Luna (opened season in Triple-A) and Mike Fontenot (released by San Francisco before opening season in Lehigh Valley).
And those are just a few of the issues facing the Phillies right now.
(Ken Rosenthal offered his take on the Phillies today.)
If the Phillies continue at this pace, you have to wonder how they will handle Hamels’ impending free agency.
They are no closer to a deal than they were during spring training. I’ve got to think the Dodgers are going to make a huge splash in the offseason, and there’s no better way to do that than by signing one of the best pitchers in baseball — no matter the cost. Brad Lidge told Jon Heyman this week he thinks the Phillies will have to ante up for Hamels. I tend to agree. I think if Hamels hits the open market and the Dodgers (or somebody else) blow away the Phillies’ offer he leaves.
So if you’re the Phillies, it’s July 24 and you’re two under .500 (or even if you’re a game or two over .500), what do you do? If the front office has a good feeling they won’t be able to hit Hamels’ magic number they might owe it to themselves to trade him and retool for 2013. They need to get some sure-fire, big-league ready prospects, a player or two that can help them next season. By trading Hamels you at least get something in return for him (draft picks as compensation doesn’t help Halladay, Lee and others win next year).
It also doesn’t preclude you from still trying to resign Hamels in the offseason, either.
Of course, this only happens if the Phillies feel they are not contenders. The second wild card team muddies this picture consideribly. Right now the Phillies are only 4 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and only 3 behind the Reds for the second wild card spot. It would be hard to pull the plug in July if they were only 3 back. But it wouldn’t be so hard if Howard and Utley weren’t back or the team just looked too inconsistent to make a run in September and October.
Lots of things to think about with Hamels. How confident are they about resigning him? Would they rather sink their money in another ace or more offense? Where does the team have to be in the standings before they seriously consider trading him? It would be a tough pill to swallow, but if the reality is this isn’t the Phillies’ year they have to accept that and move on.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.