Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Halladay on Trade Deadline and Hamels

Roy Halladay rejoined the rotation last night in a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.

Here is what he said after the game, commenting on his performance, the trade deadline and Cole Hamels‘ future with the Phillies:

Question: How did you feel?
Halladay: Good. I feel like each time it’s getting a little bit better. Consistency, there’s still some mechanical things that I just want to be able to repeat better. But I felt good. I think things were improved from the rehab start. Yeah, I want to go deeper, so once I get the pitch count up that’ll be nice. Overall, I was happy with pitch execution. I obviously felt good. That hasn’t been an issue since I’ve started throwing. It’s just a matter of repeating mechanics. I feel like it’s come along pretty well.

Question: Has this been tough to watch while you’ve been on the DL? Do you think you can help?
Halladay: One guy isn’t going to turn it around. I know they keep talking about Chase coming back and Ryan and me, but one guy’s not going to do it. We all need to chip in where we can. I think that’s important to look at it that way and realize that you’re not going to do it yourself. There’s not one guy that’s going to do it alone. It’s important to keep in mind. We need everybody. We’ve been playing better here. It’s positive for us so we want to keep that going as much as we can.

Question: Did you feel some urgency to come back because of the team’s situation?
Halladay: Yeah, but … it does and it doesn’t have to do with our situation. I want to get back and I want to help our team, but I think I would have felt that urgency one way or the other. Again, it’s being smart. I feel good and I feel like I can contribute. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have tried to pitch. If I felt like was going to go out there and be a detriment to the team I would have gone and pitched more. I feel like I can go out and be competitive, and give us a chance. Anybody who competes wants to be out there regardless. I don’t care if you’re 15 up in the standings or 15 down. You want to be out there and contribute. You definitely think about it, but I think I would have thought the same if we were up.

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What It Takes

Before the Phillies opened the second half of their season Friday in Colorado, what would you have said they needed to play in 15 games before the trade deadline to keep Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and others?

I thought for a while they would need to finish 10-5, but the more I think about it the more I think it has to be better than that.

If they finish a very good 10-5 they’ll still be eight games under .500 entering the trade deadline. Is that good enough for Ruben Amaro Jr.? Should it be? If you’re looking at things with a cold and calculated eye it shouldn’t be. Entering tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium, the Phillies are 10 games out of the NL Wild Card with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. The Pirates, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, are on pace to win 89 games. The Phillies need to finish 49-22 (.690) to win 89.

So say it’s July 30 or 31 and the Phillies are 10-5 since the break. They’re looking better. Roy Halladay has stabilized the rotation, taking pressure off the bullpen. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look closer to form. They’re playing good, solid baseball. You start to think, “Boy, maybe these guys can get on a run.” But then you look at the standings and see the Phillies are 47-55, still way behind the Nationals in the NL East and something like seven or eight games behind the Wild Card leaders with seven teams ahead of them in the standings.

Then a team like the Rangers call.

Hey, Ruben. Listen, we thought about it and we’ll give you that package you want for Hamels. We’re just too close to winning the World Series not to go for it. What do you say?

What do you say? Do you say no on a long shot to win a Wild Card spot, which only guarantees one playoff game? Do you pass up on an opportunity to get younger and fill a few holes, like finding a power-hitting third baseman you sorely need?

These were the things running through my mind as I headed to the visitor’s clubhouse following last night’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers. The victory gave the Phillies a three-game winning streak, their first winning streak of three or more games since May 23-26. It also was the first time since May 13 they won a game when scoring three or fewer runs.

Does 12-3 convince Amaro to stand pat? They’d still be four games under .500, and they still would need to play 40-20 (.667) the rest of the way to finish with 89 wins. But it’s a more difficult decision at that point. Fans will start getting excited again. They’ll start believing. But don’t you have to push through and make the trade anyway? If it’s the package you want I think you probably do. But it must be the package you want. No settling. You can’t get Vicente Padilla, Travis Lee, Omar Daal and Nelson Figueroa, like they got for Curt Schilling in 2000. They can’t get Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin, like they got for Scott Rolen in 2002. They have to get the guys they want.

Tough call, isn’t it?

So what would it take for you not to sell?

Tell me what it takes to let you go

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Jimmy Rollins played coy or simply did not want to answer my questions about waiving his trade rights.

Deep Thoughts …

Hola, amigos.

I’ve been laying low a few days, recharging the batteries and getting back to neutral after a long first half. But I’m back and it’s a gorgeous afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Things are good. Well, things are good except for the Phillies. They are 39-51, 14 games behind the Nationals and 11 games behind the Wild Card leaders — even after taking 2 of 3 from the Rockies this weekend.

I know a lot has been written about the next couple weeks, but I thought I’d offer my take.

In no particular order:

  • The Phillies will make their best offer to Cole Hamels soon. I expect him to reject it, unless he is absolutely blown away. What does that mean? Well, the Phillies signed Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract in Dec. 2010. If the Phillies offer Hamels five years, $125 million or five years, $130 million with some sort of sixth-year option or whatever, I don’t think that’s going to blow him away. I just don’t. Now, a seven year, $175 million offer might get the job done, but I’m not sure the Phillies will go that far. Hamels has said everything right over the past couple weeks. He says he wants to stay in Philadelphia. He says he trusts the organization will do everything it can to be competitive next season and beyond. But he also says this is one of the only times in his life he can discover his true value. Hamels is two or three months away from free agency. Really, why sign now?
  • If Hamels doesn’t sign I think the Phillies must trade him. I have read a lot of stories about how the new salary arbitration rules could hurt the Phillies’ chances of getting a big haul for him because a team won’t receive compensatory draft picks if he leaves after the season. I don’t believe that. Let’s look at the Rangers, for example. If the Rangers believe they are one piece away from winning a World Series, are they really going to hold up a deal because they don’t want to trade Double-A third baseman Mike Olt? He might be one of the best prospects in baseball, but at the moment he is just a prospect. Big teams have to roll the dice and take a shot. You play to win the World Series. The Phillies rolled the dice the past few seasons. They came up short, but at least they took a shot. Of course a team like the Pirates won’t give the Phillies what they want because they have no shot at signing Hamels following the season and they’re more than one piece away from winning the World Series. But a team like the Rangers or Angels? If push comes to shove I think somebody will put together an attractive package for Hamels.
  • The Phillies will take a PR hit for trading Hamels, but they shouldn’t let that influence their decision making. Bad PR today will be forgotten if they make a great trade and the Phillies make the playoffs next season. In the end, winning is the only thing that matters. Players come and go, no matter how much they are beloved. (I must say I think it’s a little funny how fans that criticized Hamels for being “soft” will be outraged if he is traded.) Feelings fade. Winning solves everything.
  • Better make a good trade, though. A repeat of the Lee trade to Seattle would be disastrous. DISASTROUS. They have to hit and hit big.
  • Are the Phillies definitely sellers? The Braves and Pirates lead the Wild Car race and are on pace for 90 wins. The Phillies would need to finish 51-21 (.708) to win 90 games. Impossible? No. Highly unlikely? Absolutely. At some point you have to look at things realistically. Sure, the Phillies might get hot, but even if they get hot and play .667 baseball the rest of the way they finish 87-75, which still would be short of the postseason. And then you’ll feel like a real sap if Hamels and others walk after the season.
  • Asking prices for Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and others remain high as they should. Those prices could drop, but I don’t think the Phillies will give away those guys, either. That wouldn’t make sense for a few reasons: First, if a team only wants to give up a couple marginal prospects for Victorino, you might as well keep him, let him walk after the season and collect the draft picks. Second, they’re not compelled to trade them. They’re not in a salary dump situation. Third, the Phillies have nobody to play those positions the remainder of the season. I’m not sure the Phillies want to trade guys like Victorino and Polanco for nothing and have John Mayberry Jr. roaming center field and Ty Wigginton and Mike Fontenot manning third base.

That’s all for now.

Agree? Disagree?

Papelbon, Rollins Agree: Don’t Trade Hamels

I’m not in Kansas City this week, but I wanted to pass this along …

When asked yesterday about the possibility Cole Hamels is traded before the end of the month, Jonathan Papelbon told reporters, “I don’t necessarily know if our clubhouse would take that too well.”

That echoes a similar comment Jimmy Rollins made in a telephone interview Sunday evening.

“If guys are going to get traded, it has nothing to do with contracts,” Rollins said. “That means that was their plan from the beginning. You just don’t trade a guy right now, especially a guy like Cole Hamels, for example, just because the team is losing. You don’t do that. If you’re going to let them go to free agency and hope to sign them after the season, then that’s what you’re going to do. You’re not going to all of a sudden start jumping to trade guys. That doesn’t make any sense.

“I know that’s what a lot of times people want to see happen: ‘Well, we need to start rebuilding the team.’ No, you don’t. You don’t hit the panic button. You let it play out. And with some guys, you have to take a chance.”

I’m guessing almost everybody in the clubhouse would feel the same way. It just adds another challenge to the front office: selling the trade to the team as a good thing, if they make it.

Lee Wins; Amaro and Hamels Meet

Who’s the big winner?

Cliff Lee! Cliff wins!

Lee downplayed his first win of the season this afternoon, but it was a big deal. So big Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels dumped Gatorade over Lee’s head to celebrate.

Read the story here.

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Hamels and Ruben Amaro Jr. met privately after Tuesday’s game. Amaro and Hamels kept quiet about it, but I’d bet my life Hamels’ potential contract extension and the trade speculation surrounding him came up.

Amaro Discuses Hamels Speculation

If Phillies fans think speculation about Cole Hamels is hot today, just wait a couple weeks.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the Phillies remain optimistic they can sign Hamels to a contract extension, despite indications the parties are not close to an agreement. He also downplayed multiple reports the Phillies are calling teams to gauge interest in Hamels, in the event they decide to make a move as the teams falls further and further from contention in the National League.

The Phillies are 36-45, their worst record through 81 games since 1997.

“It’s a matter of having good players, including Cole and others, who are outstanding All-Star caliber players,” Amaro said about the reports involving Hamels. “And teams who are contenders have an interest in them. That’s how it works. It’s a product of the time and circumstance.”

Hamels will command a monster deal if he hits the free agent market. Certainly he should get more than the five-year, $120 million contract Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies in Dec. 2010, considering his talents and age.

Hamels is just 28.

“I’ve never had any indication at all, to be frank with you, that the goals haven’t remained the same on both sides,” Amaro said. “One, a club that wants to continue to have the player. Two, the player that — I believe – has given no indication that he wants to leave.”

Asked Saturday in Miami if the Phillies’ losing ways could impact his decision in the offseason, Hamels said, “I’m not even thinking about that. I’m trying to not lose. Like today. I’ve got a game in five days, so that’s all my focus.”

The front office could take that answer one of two ways: Hamels did not answer the question because he simply does not want to talk about his contract situation, or Hamels did not answer the question because he did not want to give an honest answer.

Amaro would not comment on where negotiations stand with Hamels, although ESPN.com reported the Phillies will make one more push to sign him before they seriously consider trading him.

“I have no indication at all that anything is too late for anything,” Amaro said. “We stay optimistic that we’re going to keep him in our uniform. And that’s the bottom line. Whether we can do it or not, I don’t know, but we stay optimistic that we will.”

But if the Phillies continue to lose, they will have to start thinking about retooling for next season. Hamels could get quite a haul. Trades involving Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and others also could change the dynamic and chemistry of the clubhouse.

“Those are things that we may have to think about down the road,” Amaro said. “But they’re not what we’re actively trying to do now.

“Our goal will always be the same: it is to be a contender this year and beyond and to keep Cole Hamels in our uniform as long as he possibly can after 2012. I think our best chance to continue to be a contender is with him and not without him. We don’t comment on all this stuff, but the one thing I can say about it is this is a product of the time of year, the fact we’re not playing well and that we have very, very good players people will speculate and ask about.”

Everybody is taking heat for the Phillies’ losing ways, including Charlie Manuel. Amaro said about Manuel: “He has done a fantastic job. We haven’t played well.”

Ruiz, Hamels, Papelbon Are NL All-Stars

Chooch made it.

Major League Baseball announced its All-Star Game rosters this afternoon and Carlos Ruiz made the National League team as a reserve.

It would have been a shock had Ruiz not made the roster. He entered Sunday leading baseball in batting average (.358). He also ranked third in on-base percentage (.423), eighth in slugging percentage (.585) and fourth in OPS (1.008).

It is a special moment for Ruiz, who is one of the most popular players in the Phillies clubhouse, because he made the All-Star team for the first time.

Cole Hamels and closer Jonathan Papelbon also made the team.

Hamels is 10-4 with a 3.08 ERA. He is tied for fourth in the Majors in wins. It is his third All-Star appearance. He also made the team in 2007 and 2011. Papelbon is 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA and 18 saves in 19 opportunities. He is tied for eighth in the Majors in saves. It is Papelbon’s fifth All-Star Game, and first with the Phillies. He made the American League All-Star team with the Boston Red Sox from 2006-09.

But Ruiz is the player Phillies fans wanted to see in Kansas City on July 10. He has been one of the very few bright spots for the Phillies this season, giving them a reason to cheer as the Phillies sit in last place in the National League East.

Fake Tough

Photo courtesy of @JSalisburyCSN

Have fun.

The Phillies have tried to beat that mantra into their brains during their recent struggles. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. On Tuesday they showed they still know how to laugh a little bit when several teammates sported red t-shirts with the Liberty Bell and “Fake Tough” printed on the front.

“Fake tough” should sound familiar to Phillies fans because Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called Cole Hamels “fake tough” after Hamels said he intentionally hit Bryce Harper with a pitch last month in Washington. Hunter Pence apparently purchased/spearheaded/organized/fronted the t-shirts efforts and Hamels donned one, although he had no plans to talk about it today.

“I’m not commenting on that,” Hamels said with a smile. “I’m just wearing it because I’m trying to be a good teammate. That’s it.”

For what it’s worth, I like ‘em.

Bad News from St. Louis

Cross your fingers.

Roy Halladay left today’s start in St. Louis after the second inning with what the Phillies call “shoulder soreness.” They said he left for precautionary reasons, but the fact Halladay feels anything in his shoulder is not encouraging. He told reporters in St. Louis he started to feel something in the back of his shoulder in his last start last week against Washington, but Rich Dubee said the issue has been lingering a bit longer than that. Of course, it is possible Halladay has been feeling something since spring training. Everybody remembers Ken Rosenthal‘s report from a couple scouts that Halladay lacked velocity and sharpness. Halladay denied any talk he might be injured, although he did not deny he lacked the velocity he had in the past.

“Yeah, I’m 34 and 2,500 innings, it does take a while to get going,” he said in March. “I don’t pay attention to that. The older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes you to get yourself going. When I came up I threw 98. Last year I was throwing 92-93. It’s not unusual. When you get older it takes you longer. The more innings you throw the more it takes to get yourself going again.”

Halladay was 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts in May, easing those concerns. But the discussion about his drop in velocity continued. Pitch f/x figures are not always accurate (they weren’t with Halladay early this season), but looking at those pitch f/x numbers anyway, Halladay’s sinker averaged 93.29 mph in 2010, 92.71 mph in 2011 and 91.6 mph this season. His cutter averaged 92.03 mph in 2012, 91.47 mph in 2011 and 89.58 mph this season. Dubee dismissed concerns about Halladay’s velocity, saying last month in San Francisco, “He’s got four pitches. He throws to both sides of the plate at any time. And overall he doesn’t use the meat of the plate. That’s what pitching is about. It isn’t about velocity. Velocity allows you one thing. It might allow you to get away with some mistakes. But straight velocity without location, and velocity without an option of being able to go soft or go backwards as far as pure speed, those guys get waffled.”

But another indication Halladay hasn’t been right is the fact he has thrown fewer two-seam fastballs. During his starts in 2010, 33 percent of his pitches were sinkers. In 2011 it dropped to 20 percent and this season it dropped to 16 percent. If pitchers don’t feel good about their fastball they often resort to their offspeed pitches, which could be the case here. (I recall Brett Myers relying a lot on his cutter a few years ago when he lost velocity on his fastball.)

Halladay blew a six-run lead in Atlanta on May 2, and looked bad again last week against Washington when he allowed five runs in six innings. He is 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six starts this month. Opponents are hitting .312 against him. Asked after his start against the Nationals if he was healthy, Halladay offered a don’t-be-ridiculous smile and said, “Yeah. Yeah.”

It turns out, wasn’t.

He will get reevaluated Tuesday. I would be shocked if he made his next start, although they could skip a turn with an off day Thursday. But I would be more surprised if Halladay did not end up on the DL. He’s a $20 million pitcher and means too much to the organization to risk throwing him back out there too soon. If it really is nothing serious like Halladay believes — he said it’s different than the shoulder problem that put him on the DL twice in 2004 — there’s no harm in shutting him down for a couple weeks and making sure the shoulder gets as healthy as possible.

But serious or not, this injury certainly has several potential implications:

  • The Rotation. If Halladay misses any amount of time, Kyle Kendrick will remain in the rotation. (He has a 1.64 ERA in his last five starts.) If Vance Worley can get back in a reasonable amount of time, the rotation will include Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Worley and Kendrick. That’s not bad. But if Worley (right elbow inflammation) isn’t ready soon, the Phillies will have to look to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a short-term replacement. Options include Dave Bush (4-3, 2.73 ERA in 9 starts), Tyler Cloyd (4-1, 2.15 ERA in six starts) and Scott Elarton (5-1, 2.98 ERA in nine starts).
  • Roy Oswalt. The Phillies watched Oswalt throw a bullpen session a couple weeks ago. It has been written Oswalt prefers to stay close to home in Mississippi, but don’t read too much into that. There were similar reports before he accepted a trade to the Phillies in 2010. If Halladay’s injury is serious and he misses a significant amount of time, Oswalt would make a lot of sense if the Phillies were willing to meet his asking price. The Phillies are still trying to stay below the $178 million luxury tax threshold, but Oswalt would put them over the top.
  • Cole Hamels. If Hamels is intent on taking the biggest offer on the open market this winter, the Phillies could make the argument they would be better served spending that money elsewhere (offense!) because they are the rare team with two other aces already in the rotation (Halladay and Lee). But if the news Tuesday is bad, the Phillies might not feel so comfortable about their pitching moving forward. Maybe it increases their urgency to sign Hamels.

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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, Wilmington, Del, 2 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

The Hamels Decision

As we waited in the Phillies clubhouse for Cole Hamels following last night’s 4-1 victory over Washington, a reporter sidled up to me and asked a relevant question:

“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.

Cha-ching!

(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.

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