Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’
“It’s a secret,” he said.
Everybody in the world knew it would be Cole Hamels. It literally could be nobody else. But Sandberg made the obvious official Sunday afternoon at Bright House Field, where he anti-climatically announced Hamels is the guy.
“It’ll be Hamels and (Aaron) Harang to start the season, officially, in that order to start the year,” Sandberg said after a 4-4 tie with the Pirates.
Hamels will face the Red Sox on April 6 at Citizens Bank Park. It will be the second Opening Day start of his career.
Sandberg said the Phillies have not lined up anything beyond that, but David Buchanan and Jerome Williams will be the No. 3 and 4 starters.
The No. 5 starter is expected to be Sean O’Sullivan or Kevin Slowey with O’Sullivan, who is in Minor League camp, considered the favorite. The Phillies do not need a No. 5 starter until April 12, and the organization is hopeful Chad Billingsley will be able to join the rotation before the end of April.
Billingsley is recovering from a pair of right elbow surgeries.
But Hamels will pitch Opening Day. How long he remains in the Phillies’ rotation remains to be seen. He is available in a trade, but the Phillies have not found an offer they like.
It makes sense. Getting something is better than getting nothing. Lee essentially is untradeable at this point, even if he finds a way to pitch this season. No team is going to give up a top prospect for a 36-year-old pitcher with continual flare ups in his elbow, especially one making $25 million this season with a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016.
But imagine if something unfortunate happens to Hamels, who is healthy. The Phillies will have nothing to show for their most valuable asset.
Such a loss could cripple their rebuilding plans.
But while many are pointing to the pitchers that have dropped like flies this spring, the Phillies can point to two past examples why they should not trade Hamels before they are ready:
Curt Schilling in 2000 and Lee in 2009.
Schilling had been harshly and steadily criticizing the Phillies ownership and front office for some time. He had publicly demanded a trade. It was ugly. So the Phillies traded Schilling to Arizona on July 26, 2000, more than a year before he could become a free agent, for Travis Lee, Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla.
Former Phillies general manager Ed Wade told The Philadelphia Inquirer in Sept. 2007, that he regretted the deal.
“In retrospect, I would have held on to Schilling,” Wade said. “It would have been better if I ignored his trade demand one more time and run the risk of only getting draft picks” if he left following the 2001 season.
None of the four players the Phillies acquired for Schilling made a long term impact with the organization.
The Phillies traded Lee to Seattle for prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez, the same day they announced they acquired Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays in December 2009. The Phillies traded Lee, who was making an incredibly affordable $9 million in 2010, because former president David Montgomery told general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. he needed to replenish the farm system after trading seven top prospects to acquire Lee from the Indians in July 2009 and Halladay.
Amaro said he could not wait because he could not acquire Halladay one day then trade Lee a short time later.
He said it would have been a bad message to fans.
“If I made a mistake in that process, it was that I didn’t take the time to really maximize,” Amaro said in 2011 in “The Rotation.”
Aumont has struggled with the Phillies and it out of options. This spring is his last shot to make the team. Gillies and Ramirez are no longer with the organization.
So the Phillies are prepared to roll the dice and bet on Hamels not only staying healthy, but pitching like one of the best left-handers in baseball. It is a risk, but they have been rushed into trading aces before. They do not want to make the same mistake again.
“Look at the history of this era,” Amaro said last month. “There’s more Wild Card teams. There’s a lot more clubs with opportunities. You’ll see as many as 15 teams, half the league is kind of in the race well into the season. Everybody always needs pitching. There’s always a risk that somebody can get hurt. Somebody not getting the performance they want might change our circumstance.
“Again, if there were deals that we felt were appropriate for us to move forward then we would. So far some of the deals that we’ve discussed with some of our players have not yielded what we’ve wanted to do. And in some cases we feel like we’re better off staying with the players that we have for a variety of different reasons. We’ll move forward accordingly.”
But then Cole Hamels told USA Today he wants to win and “I know it’s not going to happen here.”
It sounds like manager and pitcher are not on the same page. But Ruben Amaro Jr. and Sandberg said today they had no problem with Hamels’ comments. How could they? The Phillies front office has said the organization is rebuilding for the future and the process could take at least a couple seasons before the team can be a postseason contender.
“Maybe I would have liked for him to have chosen his words a little differently, but it’s totally understandable,” Amaro said Thursday. “Cole wants to win. I think everyone is on the same page. We all want to win.”
Sandberg said he spoke with Hamels about those words. He said Hamels told him that he made those comments “a while ago and it didn’t reflect on his feelings coming into camp. I think it was unfortunate timing and it wasn’t a reflection on how he feels coming into camp.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Wednesday’s story. He said he interviewed Hamels for the story Tuesday.
Perhaps Hamels completely changed his feelings from Tuesday to Thursday, when Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout at Carpenter Complex.
Perhaps Hamels simply does not want to ruffle any feathers.
But Hamels has said numerous times he does not want to spend his prime years on a losing team. He told USA Today his limited no-trade clause would not scuttle a trade to a contender.
“He’s one of those guys that sits in the sweet spot for us,” Amaro said about Hamels. “He’s going to be a tremendous asset if he stays with us, and if we get to the point where we move him, it’s going to be because we get assets back that are going to move us forward. He’s in our camp. I fully expect him to pitch on Opening Day for us. I’m glad to have him. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and I’m happy to move forward with him and get us going back on track.”
Amaro said he has talked to veterans like Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee since they have arrived in camp. Each player has indicated in the past they would like to play for a winning team.
“There’s a lot of talk about us rebuilding and these (veterans) being disgruntled and all of that stuff,” Amaro said. “(But) these guys are all professionals, and they’re going to play and pitch and they’re going to do their best to win baseball games for the Phillies, I’m sure of that.”
Cliff Lee missed much of last season with an injured left elbow, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said last night that Lee has thrown three or four times off a mound recently without any issues. Amaro said Lee is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training opens next month.
That is significant because if Lee can stay healthy and pitch effectively, he could become a valuable trade chip come July.
“There’s plenty of teams out there that need pitching, especially when you talk about top of the rotation left-handers,” Amaro said. “They don’t fall off trees. I know there are going to be more than one or two contenders out there.”
The demolition has begun.
Rollins is regarded as the greatest shortstop in franchise history, and he has the longest tenure of any professional athlete in the city. The Phillies selected him in the second round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft. He made his big league debut in 2000, won the 2007 National League MVP Award, helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series and set the franchise’s all-time hits record this season.
Rollins would be the first iconic player to fall in a potentially franchise-altering offseason. Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and others could be next in an extensive rebuilding project, although it is too early to tell. But multiple sources said Wednesday afternoon that the Phillies will trade Rollins to Los Angeles. The deal has not been finalized because a third team is involved in the trade, and money needs to be exchanged among them, which requires approval from the Commissioner’s Office.
“I know that there’s a lot of Jimmy Rollins stuff out there,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in the team’s hotel suite at the Winter Meetings. “There’s nothing to announce, and as I’ve said before, we’re keeping our options open and our minds open on any way that we can improve our club long term.”
Well, the pin has been pulled.
The Cubs and Lester have agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract, which means trade discussions regarding Cole Hamels are heating up. The Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers had been most interested in Hamels, but with the Cubs out of the picture the attention turns to the Red Sox and Dodgers, who have the prospects and wherewithal to take the remaining four years and $96 million on Hamels’ deal.
(Hamels’ contract jumps to five years, $110 million if a 2019 club option automatically vests based on innings pitched.)
A source said the Giants also are taking a run at Hamels. They pursued Lester, but finished third in that sweepstakes.
Ryne Sandberg said yesterday the Phillies would have to be wowed to trade Hamels, which is true to an extent. They are not going to trade Hamels for a crop of mid-level prospects. They cannot make the same mistake they made in 2009, when they traded Cliff Lee to the Mariners for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. The Phillies’ return for Hunter Pence, who they traded to San Francisco in 2012, also has been lackluster.
If the Phillies trade Hamels they have to hit big.
The Dodgers have a couple prospects the Phillies would love to have: infielder Corey Seager (No. 13 in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list) and outfielder Joc Pederson (No. 15). They might be able to pry away one. A source indicated the Dodgers and Phillies could put together a bigger package to improve the Phillies’ return, and that package could include Jimmy Rollins.
First, the Cardinals traded pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves for outfielder Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Walden. Second, the Blue Jays signed catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract.
Everybody in baseball knows the Phillies are willing to trade anybody on their roster as they plan a significant rebuilding process. That includes left-hander Cole Hamels and catcher Carlos Ruiz, two of the five remaining pieces from the 2008 World Series championship roster.
The Phillies will trade Hamels only if they receive what they consider a legitimate return. (They are not looking to shed payroll here.) The Cardinals-Braves trade gives a rough outline for what the Phillies could request for Hamels. He is significantly more accomplished than Miller, although he also is owed $96 million over the next four seasons. Still, he could be viewed as an attractive alternative to free-agent aces like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. The $96 million Hamels is owed certainly will be less than Lester and Scherzer will receive as free agents, although the teams that sign them will not have to give up prospects to get them.
(The team that signs Scherzer will lose a draft pick. The team that signs Lester will not.)
But if the Cardinals can acquire an everyday outfielder – albeit one that becomes a free agent next winter – and a setup man, the Phillies theoretically should be able to acquire more. That is not to say the Phillies will be looking exclusively at big-league talent for Hamels, but they at least will be looking for a blue-chip prospect or two, not a handful of fringe prospects that need a little luck to pan out.
The Cliff Lee-Seattle trade is on the minds of Phillies’ front office officials as they talk to teams about Hamels.
They cannot make the same mistake twice.
Now that Martin is off the market, teams needing a catcher are looking at a remarkably thin free-agent market. Teams serious about upgrading at catcher might have to make a trade to fill that need.
Ruiz is an option, although Arizona’s Miguel Montero is the hottest name at the moment. Ruiz is owed $17.5 million over the next two seasons. He is known as a good game caller (Roy Halladay loved the guy) and has been one of the most well liked and highly respected players in the Phillies clubhouse for years.
Ruiz hit .252 with 25 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 31 RBIs, a .347 on-base percentage and a .717 OPS last season. Ruiz and Montero each have a career .763 OPS.
The knock against Ruiz, 35, is that he has trouble staying healthy. He has spent time on the disabled list each of the previous six seasons.
He had several interesting things to say, including the fact he hopes to remain in Philadelphia, but he will not hold a grudge if he is traded. Hamels has said a player has a limited amount of prime years in his career, and he would rather spend them winning than losing. Hamels acknowledged the fact the Phillies appear to be a long way from winning again, which is why it sounded like he would not stand in their way if they want to trade him to a team on his limited no-trade list.
He also made a good point when somebody asked him about organizations like the Cardinals and their ability to retool year after year.
“They had Albert Pujols for a while and they got rid of him,” he said.
The Phillies have finally acknowledged they held on too long to the belief they could win with the 2008 World Series championship core, if they simply surrounded it with complimentary players. But will they take the next step? Will they move on from an iconic player or two, if the right situation presents itself in the offseason?
I understand the difficulty in doing that, but I do not believe an organization should grip tightly to its iconic players because it is worried about alienating its fan base. How many fewer fans would the Phillies have drawn this season, if they had traded somebody like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard or Hamels before the season? The team drew 2,423,852 fans, a nearly 20 percent drop from last season and its lowest season total since its final year at Veterans Stadium in 2003, when they drew 2,259,948. Fans love their heroes, but they love winning more. Organizations, not just the Phillies, must stomach the short-term backlash of trading, releasing or not resigning an icon for the long-term benefit of winning.
I can relate to one example as a native Wisconsinite, which SI.com’s Peter King wrote about last month. Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round in his first draft as GM in 2005. Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons, and after Packers icon Brett Favre lost the NFC championship game at home in the 2007 season, Thompson decided he needed to move on from the aging quarterback. Favre initially helped when he retired, but then he unretired and wanted his job back as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
But Thompson essentially told one of the most popular players in NFL history, “No, we’re moving on. We’re not giving you your job back. Good bye.”
Fans went crazy. They hated Thompson. Hated him.
But then a funny thing happened. Rodgers played well and led the Packers to the Super Bowl championship in 2010, while Favre got old and finally retired for good. You can’t find too many fans who still hate Thompson for the decision to move on from the iconic Favre. Because in the end, no matter how much fans love a player, they really love winning. Thompson believed he could no longer win with Favre, so moved on. He stuck to his beliefs, weathered the storm and was proven correct.
I am not advocating dumping players just for the sake of dumping them. They should always be moves that make sense from a baseball perspective. But organizations must not be afraid to move on from a popular player because of the possible marketing or ticket sales implications. If unpopular changes are made, but they lead to winning in the future, the fans will return. They always do, and they always forget why they were so mad at the team in the first place.
Before tonight’s game the Phillies honored Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon for last week’s combined no-hitter against the Braves.
They were supposed to stand there and tip their caps to the crowd. That’s it. But Papelbon had other ideas. He led the group behind home plate, where they met Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker. The four stood there for a moment before Papelbon grabbed the mike, beginning the most awkward and awesome 60 seconds of the season.
“I want to thank everybody. Thank the fans,” Papelbon said. “And we have someone here, on behalf of all four of us, that’s going to speak for us.”
Papelbon handed the mike to Giles, who immediately recoiled.
“Really?” Giles said.
Hamels and Diekman started cracking up.
“Well, someone put me on the spot,” Giles said. “That’s all right. Well, thank you everybody for coming and celebrating this great day for us. And, um, I don’t know, what’s, um, I feel really awkward right now. I don’t know what to say. Let’s just out there and, um … let’s play some ball right now!”
There has been plenty of speculation recently about his availability, but sources told MLB.com on Tuesday that the Phillies have had no substantive talks with any team about him. That includes the Dodgers. There are multiple reports that the Dodgers and Phillies have been in contact recently, and the Phillies have requested the Dodgers’ top three prospects to make a deal.
But one source said the Phillies have made no such requests because the two teams have not talked that in depth.
The Phillies have made teams aware they would need to be thoroughly impressed to trade Hamels, but talks have never gotten much further than that. Hamels allowed six hits and struck out eight in eight scoreless innings last night against the Mets to improve to 6-5 with a 2.55 ERA. He has a 1.58 ERA (15 earned runs in 85 2/3 innings) in his last 12 starts, entering the night sixth out of 95 qualifying pitchers in ERA since June 1.
A source said the Phillies haven’t gotten particularly close to the finish line in any trade discussions. They have numerous players available, including Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett and Antonio Bastardo, but some teams believe Ruben Amaro Jr. is under pressure to deal and ultimately will sell low to make a trade. They seem to be waiting for Amaro to cave.
But ownership has not ordered Amaro to shed payroll, which does not force his hand. Players like Hamels, Lee, Papelbon, Byrd and other veterans are signed through at least next season, which means Amaro can try to clear them through waivers next month and trade them before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.
The Phillies can also wait to try to trade them in the offseason.
It seems the Phillies are prepared for that possibility.
It looks like nobody is going anywhere right now, although everything can change with one phone call before Thursday’s Deadline.