Over the past few seasons, I have grown increasingly tired with the excuses that have been made for Cole Hamels. I watch all the games, and it isn’t like I don’t see the lack of run support that Hamels has seemingly gotten since 2010. But I also see that he signed on for six years and $144 million, and for the most part, he has never performed at that level in his career. He did in the 2008 playoffs and had a very good season in 2011, but 2012’s 3.60 ERA was simply not good enough. At $22.5 million per year, neither was Hamels 3.05 ERA in 2011. It was very good, but not $22.5 million good. I think for the most part, Hamels’ career legacy thus far is one of a very good pitcher, who has been vastly overrated by this fanbase. Obviously the 2008 playoffs and the 2011 season were exceptions, and June 2014 has been as well.
Over the course of the five starts that Hamels has made in June, he has posted an 0.73 ERA. Unfortunately, his lack of run-support has continued, and landed him with just a 1-1 record to show for what has undoubtedly been the best regular season month of his career.
Hamels’ frustration reportedly boiled over Saturday, after he took home a loss despite seven and a third innings of one run ball against the Cardinals. After the loss, he refused to speak to the press.
Today, Hamels apologized for being upset in an interview with CSN’s Jim Salisbury. More importantly, Hamels was asked about the state of the organization, and whether he would be open to a trade.
“I think they’re trying to (win),” Hamels said. “I don’t think they’re giving up. And I know we have great guys on the team. I don’t think it’s really an organizational type thing; it’s the individual players. We all need to step up.”
So, the company line. And then, Hamels managed to pull off his best Jimmy Rollins impression when asked if he would accept a trade during a rebuild.
“Then it’s a different situation,” he said of a potential rebuilding effort. “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.
“I want to make them count here because I love winning in Philly and I want to be able to do it again. That was kind of the whole initiative when we signed back, that we were going to be able to do it again, so I have faith in guys like Chase (Utley) and Jimmy (Rollins), the guys that are playing. I know Cliff (Lee), every time he goes out he plays to win, so we still have guys that believe and want to go and win, but this next month is huge.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the organization to make those decisions.”
So if everything gets blown up, then Hamels would be interested in a trade. But as we seem to be reminded nearly every day, the Phillies are hampered with far too many bad contracts to blow things up. That doesn’t mean in the right situation Hamels wouldn’t accept a deal-I think he is more likely to than Rollins at this point-but more likely than not, he would prefer to stay put in year two of a six year deal.
And like all of the other Phillies’ trade candidates, Hamels trade candidacy comes with baggage. He’s only 30, and he’s dealing right now, so both of those things work in his favor. He also isn’t the type of pitcher who relies on a high-90’s fastball, so he should have relative longevity.
The issues surrounding Hamels, who only has a limited no-trade clause, would be the he is still owed at least $96 million after this season and the Phillies would want teams to not only take on a majority or all of that, but they would want numerous top prospects in return.
Over the weekend, a baseball executive told the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover that the Phillies would be able to turn things around the quickest by moving Hamels.
“If I were in their boat, I’d really hate to move him,” the executive said. “But if you go back to question about which player is going to bring you the most value, you’re going to get the most for that guy. You have to get the most you can for a guy like that. If you don’t, you keep him. But you’re only going to get 11/2 pieces for someone else when you could get a lot more than that for him. It’s a tough boat to be in.”
That sounds great, but how much more are you going to get for Hamels than one a half blue-chip prospects, if you are also forking over a four-year/$90 million deal (with fifth-year option that includes a $6 million buyout)? To really move Hamels for a return that would make it worth it, the Phillies would have to eat a decent amount of money, at which point, the case could be made that you are better of keeping Hamels. Or they could have just moved him during the summer of 2012, when he would have brought home a huge return, and you wouldn’t have had to eat money. But that would have taken some ability to project the future from Ruben and Co., which we know is one of their many deficiencies.