The bow tie man himself, little baby Ken Rosenthal, WHO HAS A BIG BIRTHDAY COMING UP IN SEPTEMBER, last week wrote about how the Phillies need to get realistic about trading Cole Hamels to the Red Sox and stop asking for their most valuable trade chips, Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
As anyone in baseball can attest, many prospects fail to reach their potential. If the Phillies trade Hamels — a genuine ace who is guaranteed a relatively reasonable $96 million over the next four years — they want to be as certain as possible that their return will be strong.
The Red Sox cannot offer that degree of certainty without including Betts or even the less proven Swihart. Frankly, no team can make the Phillies such a guarantee, which is why, if Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is indeed serious about trading Hamels, he eventually will need to stop dithering and take his best shot.
Never mind that Hamels, 31, has struggled in two of his first three starts this season; his track record suggests that he will snap out of it, and he also has been one of baseball’s most durable pitchers, ranking fifth in the majors in innings from 2007 to ’14.
On second thought, it’s easy to understand why Amaro might be reluctant to jump, particularly if the Red Sox will not part with Betts, who looks like he could be a superstar, or Swihart, who also has All-Star ability.
The Red Sox, from 2010 to ’14, had a farm system that ranked an average of eighth in the majors according to Baseball America, including sixth and second the past two years. Yet, when examining the publication’s annual lists of top 10 Red Sox prospects, the risk in developing youngsters becomes rather clear.
This is an understandable and reasonable argument in many cases – like when, say, Amaro needlessly traded Cliff Lee and restocked the farm with a bunch of eventually useless prospects as a way to hedge his bet when the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay in 2009 – but not right now, not with this directionless Phillies team. Could prospects backfire? Absolutely! It’s no surprise that Amaro is gun-shy, since, well, just about every other trade-for-prospects hasn’t worked out (the Pence trades were doubly bad). But that doesn’t mean you stop trying. Sure, the Phils can afford Hamels right now, and he makes them at least somewhat competitive every fifth day. But what does it matter? They are at least 3-4 years away from contending again, and by that time Hamels will be 34 or 35 and an expensive former star at the end of his contract (where have I heard this before?). He is almost literally inconsequential to the Phils’ presumed goal of winning a World Series. He’s just… here. Trading him, at worst, saves the Phillies some money and gives them more flexibility to spend on free agents (and Cubans!) in the coming years. At best, it gets them a future All-Star and saves them money. What would Hinkie do?