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Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Phillies Trade Cole Hamels

A few funny things happened on the way to trading Cole Hamels. . .

1.  He threw a no-hitter in his last start for the team.
2.  The Phillies haven't been winners exactly in development talent or in getting it for star pitchers.
3.  It remains to be seen whether they'll have broken their jinx of making bad trades by getting a few future stars in this one.  History is not on their side.

We go back to when they traded Fergie Jenkins in the 1960's to the Cubs for a bunch of players, only to see Jenkins become a Hall of Famer.  True, the swap of Rick Wise for Steve Carlton in the early 1970's proved to be a stroke of genius.  It's hard to argue with that one, as it is that despite a trove of promising starters in the late 1970's/early 1980's (Jim Wright, Tony Ghelfi, Scott Munninghoff, Marty Bystrom), none of them panned out.  It's also hard to argue that despite the touting in the mid-to-late 2000's the team had one of the best farm systems in baseball, almost none of those prospects turned into much (example:  none of the four vaunted prospects sent to Cleveland in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade materialized into an everyday starter let alone a star, and for all the trades made to other teams in the 2007-2012 time frame you could argue that only Gio Gonzalez has had a career worthy of mention).  Atop that, the team is saddled with the wreckage (at least in memory) of getting four suspects for Curt Schilling (who went on to have a close to if not Hall of Fame career) and the poor prospects it received when it traded Cliff Lee to Seattle (the season before they then re-signed him as a free agent -- just witness the struggles of Philippe Aumont).  Put simply, the Cole Hamels trade is a triumph of hope over experience.

Yes, they're getting arguably the third, fourth, fifth, thirteenth and twenty-ninth best prospects from a team that is five games below .500 and a starter who won 18 games four years ago and then had two very major surgeries and hasn't been the same, are eating the $34 million remaining on his contract, sent close to $10 million in cash to the Rangers and still somewhat promising lefty reliever Jake Diekman, along with Hamels.  Huge trade, reminiscent of around 1983 when the Phillies sent five players, including Julio Franco, to the Indians for then phenom Von Hayes (who would have drawn great praise today for all of his good numbers, especially his on-base percentage).  Hayes never materialized into a Hall of Famer, and Franco actually had a better career. 

Oh, we'll talk about the stud pitching prospect, the catcher who can throw and hit the ball out of the stadium, the outfielder with the strong and quick wrists and the two other pitchers until we're blue in the face.  But the pitcher must not blow out his arm and has to project to be at least the #2 in the rotation.  The catcher has to be close to an all-star and at least in the conversation.  And the outfielder must be an everyday player who can have an on-base percentage that hopefully is at least ten basis points above the Major League average.  If they get anything out of the other two pitchers, fine, but they need regulars, and they need a few who have the potential to be stars.  Why?  Because the Rangers are getting a big-game pitcher like Schilling was who can help lead them to the ever-elusive World Series title (and they missed their window over the past couple of years).

It's hard to gauge this trade right now.  Initially, I was horrified, as early reports did not include the #3 prospect in the organization, the star pitching prospect.  Still, in a way, it's sad to note that a star pitcher coming off a no-hitter with a team-friendly contract (why -- because it lasts for 3-4 more years as opposed to the 7 or so that the star free agents are likely to get in the off-season) cannot draw a #1 or #2 organizational prospect from a contender.  Perhaps this is the best the Phillies can do, but the pressure is on.  The view here is that if this trade fails along the lines of the Schilling deal (or, even along the lines of the Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt debacles, where Pence turned out to be a mainstay and the key minor-leaguer cannot shake injuries and where they gave up value for Oswalt, including a throw-in minor-league outfielder who is very good) then ownership has to sell the team.  It will have zero credibility save among its wealthy buddies on the Main Line, and it will have proven that it cannot regain the culture that it had created on the foundation of the Ed Wade era (as it was Wade who found us Hamels, Rollins, Howard and Utley -- or at least that happened around his watch) about eight years ago.  Sadly, you cannot fire the owners, but this trade will say a lot whether this ownership group can rebuild the team and recapture the magic that made Citizens Bank Park a very special place even five years ago.


Blogger Rammy Jones said...

I've been to events at other places, but this was my first time in here. Great place. Food was good and seating was very comfortable. Also, very good view from where I sat. This is such a cool Chicago event space and the atmosphere was equally amazing.

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