Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Saying Bye to Icons Take Guts, Could Be Right Call

Cole HamelsCole Hamels answered numerous questions about the future following yesterday’s season finale at Citizens Bank Park.

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.

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Giles’ Awkward, Hilarious Address


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!”

Don’t Expect Hamels to Go Anywhere

Cole HamelsDo not expect Cole Hamels to be traded before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

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.

Phillies Busy as Trade Deadline Approaches

Cole HamelsLet the rumors, speculation and stories filled with unnamed scouts and insiders begin!

The Phillies return to action tonight in Atlanta, and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is 13 days away. The Phillies are busy trying to find trade partners for several veteran players, but just because they have players to trade it doesn’t mean they’ll trade them. They’re not pressured to make something happen before July 31. The front office hasn’t been told by ownership to shed payroll no matter what. Remember, the Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason.

Let’s repeat that: The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason. Especially if they’re not getting much of a return in their current discussions. Would you trade Byrd or Lee or Papelbon for Tyson Gillies 2.0 just so you can turn to Phillies fans and say, “Look, guys, we made some trades!” It’s doubtful.

A report Sunday had the Mariners hot and heavy for Marlon Byrd, but reports since said their interest has cooled or talks have stalled. Keep this in mind as you read countless reports between today and July 31: 95 percent of this stuff is teams kicking the tires and reporters taking a kernel of information and writing it. For example, when you read a team with a need for starting pitching has inquired about Cole Hamels, don’t say to yourself, “Oh my God! The (insert team here) are going to get Cole Hamels!” Say to yourself, “Well, no kidding! Of course they’re interested in Cole.”

A team expressing interest in a Phillies player and a team actually making a legitimate offer are two totally different things. Maybe the Mariners called the Phillies last weekend and said, “We’d really like Marlon Byrd, but we’ll only give you a marginal prospect for him.” In that scenario, Ruben Amaro Jr. most likely said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and hung up the phone.

A few reminders as the July 31 deadline approaches:

  • The Phillies are absolutely open to trading Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The contracts and limited no-trade clauses for Papelbon, Lee, Burnett and Byrd could be stumbling blocks, but I just don’t see the Phillies making deals if they’re only getting a light-hitting outfielder or a middling reliever in return.
  • They would need to receive a huge package of prospects to trade Cole Hamels.
  • Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 10-and-5 rights and have repeatedly expressed their desire to remain in Philadelphia. The Phillies will listen to offers for Hamels, Utley and Rollins, but they are not going to give them away.

So, yes, the Phillies are not “looking” to trade Hamels. And they absolutely prefer to trade Lee over him. They would welcome a Papelbon trade, and they are willing to part with Bastardo because they have two younger, less expensive left-handers in Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands.

It is going to be an interesting couple of weeks for the Phillies. Like I said, they are active. But like I also mentioned, there are no indications they’re going to just get rid of players, either.

Enjoy the weekend.

Utley Doesn’t Plan on Going Anywhere

Utley Addresses His Injured KneeThe Phillies have 33 games to play before the July 31 trade deadline, which leaves plenty of time for minds to change.

But Chase Utley indicated yesterday that he does not expect to change his mind.

Utley’s name is popping up as the trade deadline approaches with the Phillies sitting below the .500 mark and in last place in the National League East. The Phillies have played better recently, but they still have plenty of work to do. In fact, if they struggle leading to the deadline, the Phillies front office could initiate a fire sale with Utley becoming an attractive piece for postseason contenders, although the club has said it has no inclination to trade him.

Utley has indicated his desire to remain in Philadelphia, but what if the team begins a long rebuilding effort?

“Well, you’re creating situations that aren’t necessarily going to happen,” Utley told MLB.com. “I guess we’d have to see at that point, but I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Utley has 10-and-5 rights — 10 years in the Major Leagues, the last five with the same team — so he can refuse any trade at any time for any reason. He signed a $27 million contract extension last August, which could be worth as much as $75 if options are vested.

Utley said then that one reason he re-signed is because he believed the Phillies could win in the future.

“Last year, re-signing here was something I really wanted to do,” he said. “Great organization. Nothing has changed since then.

“I mean, honestly, I haven’t thought about it.”

But Utley said he still thinks the Phillies can win in the future.

“I think the mentality of trying to win will be there,” Utley said. “I think we need to make improvements as does every team in baseball.”

Utley’s comments follow ones made recently by Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. Rollins, who also has 10-and-5 rights, told USA Today that the Phillies “would have to come up with a reason for me to leave. … if they tell me to go, then I got no choice. I’ll go. If you make it that clear that you don’t want me, you don’t have to tell me twice.

“I’m not going to volunteer to go anywhere. Even if somewhere else was the perfect spot, this is what I know. You weigh that against the instant gratification of winning right now. You leave, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to win anyways. You pack up to leave for a different organization, a different city, and it feels temporary.”

Asked about his desire to remain in Philadelphia should the club elect to rebuild, Hamels, who has a partial no-trade clause, told CSNPhilly.com: “Then it’s a different situation. And I think you kind of have to look at it in a different way because your careers are only so long. Your good years only last so long. You want to make them count.”

But each player has indicated he wants to stay.

Hamels Embarrassed After Brutal Night

Cole HamelsEven after the fact, long after Cole Hamels suffered his worst start in nearly three years, he knew the Phillies and Mets needed to play.

It was a brutal night last night at Citizens Bank Park. It rained throughout the 6-1 loss. The wind never stopped blowing. The first-pitch temperature sat at 46 degrees. Hamels could not grip the ball. But knowing the Phillies had no games scheduled Monday and Thursday and with more rain scheduled Wednesday, the Phillies needed to play Tuesday otherwise they would go Monday through Thursday without playing a single game. And regardless of the conditions, sometimes you need to play to fit in a 162-game schedule.

Hamels walked four batters in an inning for the first time in his career. He walked a runner home for the fifth time in his career. Not a good night.

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Jayson Nix went 0-for-3 last night, dropping Phillies third basemen’s OPS to a miniscule .478, which is the lowest mark in baseball. According to Stats Inc., the 1981 Blue Jays had a .516 OPS from their third basemen, which is the lowest mark in the majors from 1974-2013. Cody Asche‘s .584 OPS is better than Nix’s .446 and Freddy Galvis‘ .124. I understand Galvis is the team’s best defensive player, but he’s going to have to hit eventually because in the long run the defensive benefits won’t outweigh the offensive black hole he represents in the lineup.

And if you believe in modern metrics, Galvis has a -0.8 WAR, while Asche has a -0.7 and Nix has a -0.1.

Galvis had a .668 OPS last season. The Phillies would kill for that right now.

Hamels Back, Phillies Finally Healthy

Matt Cain,Cole Hamels rejoins the Phillies rotation tonight at Dodger Stadium.

I’m not sure if this is an interesting fact or a case of digging too deep, but yesterday I discovered that today will be just the sixth day since the final month of the 2011 season that the Phillies will not have at least one everyday position player or member of their five-man rotation on the disabled list.

The Phillies had a five-day stretch in 2012 when Roy Halladay finished his stint on the DL on July 17 before Placido Polanco went on the DL on July 23.

That’s it, other than today.

The Phillies are averaging 9,373 fewer fans per game this season than last season, which is the steepest drop of any team in baseball. One reason is because fans simply didn’t buy the team’s sales pitch that they would be good if they were healthy. Well, they’re finally healthy, so they’ve got a chance to put that theory to the test. They are 10-10 without a full roster with three blown late-inning leads, including two in the ninth inning. They have been exactly what a 10-10 team looks like. They have shown some encouraging signs, but they also have played inconsistently, which is what .500 teams and teams with losing records do.

But the Philllies have played well these past two games against the Dodgers, who some considered the best team in the National League. If the Phillies can win one of these next two games in LA, they will head to Arizona to play a terrible Diamondbacks team with a chance to finish the 10-game road trip with a winning record.

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This is why you hustle. Carlos Ruiz keyed last night’s victory by hustling to second base on a routine pop up in shallow left field.

It’s Official: Hamels Back Wednesday

Ryne Sandberg, A.J. Burnett, Cole HamelsRyne Sandberg is eager to finally see everybody in the Phillies rotation next week in Los Angeles.

Cole Hamels is set to make his first start of the season Wednesday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He opened the disabled list because of inflammation in his left shoulder. His recovery following a setback March 1 cost him three starts.

“I’ve been waiting for that day,” Sandberg said. “First of all, we get everybody healthy. We get the full strength of the team with (setup man Mike) Adams and Hamels. The potential and possibilities in the rotation, once we did sign (A.J.) Burnett in the spring, we’ll see it next week when Hamels is in there. We’ll see the rotation in complete strength. I’ve been waiting for that day.”

Cliff Lee will pitch Monday, Burnett will pitch Tuesday and Hamels will pitch Wednesday. If everybody is healthy and pitches like they have in the past, it could be a formidable trio.

“I’m super excited just to be with them and watch the bullpens and be on the bench with them and know that I’m actually here to participate as opposed to just being around to get my work in,” Hamels said. “I’ll actually be able to have a part.”

Hamels went 0-1 with a 2.12 ERA in three rehab starts with Class A Clearwater.

“I was able to go down there and get everything accomplished, my strength, building up pitch count and really try to execute pitches to both side of the plate,” Hamels said. “That’s what you need to be successful in the big leagues, you have to be able to hit both sides of the plate with all of your pitches. My workouts are pretty much what everybody else’s are right now. Now kick it in gear and increase the intensity and know these games actually matter. This is where I wanted to be the whole time. It’s just unfortunate I wasn’t able to break early and be with the team early.”

Hamels Will Pitch In LA

Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy HalladayCole Hamels will rejoin the Phillies rotation next week in Los Angeles.

Ryne Sandberg said this afternoon at Coors Field that Hamels is most likely to start Wednesday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium because it would allow the Phillies to split up left-handers Cliff Lee and Hamels with right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Lee is scheduled to pitch Monday. Burnett is scheduled to pitch Tuesday.

Hamels, who opened the season on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left shoulder, allowed one run in seven innings last night in his final rehab start with Class A Clearwater. He will join the team this weekend at Coors Field.

“Good reports on him,” Sandberg said. “Command was good. He was throwing strikes and throwing all of his pitches in the zone for strikes. That’s all good.”

Hamels opened Spring Training behind schedule after feeling shoulder discomfort in November. He expected to miss only a start or two until he suffered a setback March 1. At the time the Phillies said they hoped Hamels could rejoin the rotation sometime before May 1.

Technically, he came back a little earlier than expected.

It could be a big boost for a struggling pitching staff. Lee allowed one run and struck out 13 in a complete-game loss Wednesday against the Braves. Burnett threw seven scoreless innings yesterday in a victory over the Braves. The Phillies opened Spring Training with high expectations for the top of their rotation. If Lee, Burnett and Hamels pitch like they have pitched in the past, the Phillies should have a formidable rotation.

“I think those guys set a tone of what could be to come with adding Hamels to the rotation,” Sandberg said.

Hamels will make his home debut at Citizens Bank Park against the Mets on April 29.

Burnett Plans to Pitch with Hernia

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizA.J. Burnett will need surgery at some point, but he said today he plans to pitch the rest of the season with an inguinal hernia.

Burnett received a cortisone injection today and is scheduled to start Wednesday.

“It’s something that I think is manageable,” he said.

And what makes it manageable?

“I guess manageable is that I’m going to have to deal with it,” he said. “Paying attention to it, knowing it’s there, knowing what I can do to overdo it and knowing what I can do to keep it where it needs to be. I’m more of a go getter and I’m not really a take it easy kind of guy, so it’s going to be a test.”

Burnett had to be pulled from Friday’s start in the fifth inning because of discomfort, but he said, “I’ve pitched with worse. The other night was more of an uncertainty because I didn’t know where it was coming from. I didn’t know if it was hip, groin, whether I tweaked something or pulled something. Now that I know upstairs what I’m dealing with, I can deal with it a lot better.”

Cole Hamels pitched with same injury in 2011 before having surgery in the offseason. He went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts) and finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

In a perfect world Burnett performs similarly to Hamels in 2011, and waits until the offseason to surgically repair it as recovery can take six to eight weeks. Burnett said he is confident he still can pitch like he had the past couple seasons with the Pirates, when he went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 61 starts.

Burnett is 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts this season. In 16 innings, he has allowed 17 hits, 11 runs (seven earned runs) and 14 walks with 10 strikeouts.

“It could be a blessing in disguise and I pay attention more to my delivery,” he said. “The two pitches I felt it in my bullpen (Sunday) is when my timing was a tick off. I flew open early or something was off. But when I nailed my delivery in the next 15, it was fine. I’m not worried about it now that today happened. I talked to the doctors and had my questions answered. How severe is it? Can it get really, really worse?”

Can it?

“It can get larger,” he said. “But as far as pain wise, they said it would be the same. Uncomfortable.”

But surgery will come at some point. He knows that. He just hopes it’s not until after the season.

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