Leeeeeeeeeeet’s make a deal, is a phrase familiar to anyone who has ever been to a Phillies spring training game. That’s the memorable slogan the PA guy uses during a between-innings promotion. And now, it’s the GM who wants to get two parties to agree on something mutually beneficial. Ruben wants to make a deal.
Amaro yesterday spoke to Bob Nightengale – who, with a name like that, really should’ve been a crime novel hero – of USA Today about the Phillies’ willingness to move Cole Hamels now that the Cardinals, Dodgers and Red Sox all need a pitcher. If this article isn’t Amaro rolling out his marketing campaign for his stellar ace, I don’t know what is:
And here is Amaro, with the most valuable trade chip in baseball, calmly standing by, waiting to take your call.
Amaro, ridiculed all winter for not trading Hamels, is suddenly, well, in the driver’s seat.
“I understand that teams go through the first month of the season trying to access what their needs are and what they have internally,” Amaro says. “Some clubs will be all hellbent on contending. Other teams will be trying to decide whether they’re contenders or not.
“We understand that takes time.”
“We are very open-minded,” Amaro said. “We’re not afraid to subsidize contracts. We never told a club that we would not absolutely subsidize his contract. That is not a realistic way to do business.
“If there’s a deal to be made, and we have to subsidize part of it, we’ll do it.”
And yes, that includes packaging $13 million closer Jonathan Papelbon with Hamels.
*That driver’s seat line was a callback to Nightengale’s lede about Amaro being nervous… because his daughter is taking her driver’s test today.
Nightengale, more than happy to be Rube’s messenger here, is essentially telling other GMs: You didn’t want to offer top prospects this winter? That’s cool. Now you need a pitcher, and Rube has your marbles in a vise. To his credit, Amaro may have played his cards right here. There is a need – not just a want – for Hamels, so teams will have to pony up now. Amaro said he’d be willing to eat some of Hamels’ salary and include Jonathan Papelbon in a deal.
But, there’s always the risk of Amaro overplaying his hand and overvaluing Hamels:
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, particularly left-handed, better than him,” Amaro says. “Debate it all you want, from the sabermetrics to scout evaluations, but he is as good as there is going to be out there.
“No respect to the guy out there in Los Angeles (Clayton Kershaw) or to Felix (Hernandez), but he was as good as any pitcher in baseball the second half of last season. If you match up his numbers from late May to the end of the season, he’s as good as it gets. And he tends to be a better pitcher late in the season.”
There’s no doubt that Hamels had a tremendous second half, but was he as good as Kershaw? Not quite:
Hamels: 1.94 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.5 SO9, 6 HR, 0 complete games, 0 shutouts
Kershaw: 1.76 ERA, 0.88, 10 SO9, 4 HR, 3 complete games, 1 shutout
Hernandez: 2.16 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.2 SO9, 11 HR, 0 complete games, 0 shutouts
And if we were to add in June, the numbers go even more in Kershaw’s favor. That’s to take nothing away from Hamels, but Ruben, even using the most favorable split, is still wrong when claiming that Hamels is “as good as it gets.” It gets better. Kershaw is also four years younger. And Hamels is still a pitcher with a 3.27 career ERA who’s never finished better than fifth in Cy Young voting. Is he great? Yes. But Ruben also can’t value him as a top-3 pitcher. He’s just not quite that dominant. Never has been.
Anyway, Rube’s ready to make a deal. Buy a shirt: