The Case Against Trading Cole Hamels

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Today, Kenethal argued Ruben Amaro’s side:

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?

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24 Responses

  1. Two games in and its not looking good for Cole. I’m sure he can course-correct and whatnot, but I really wish they could have figured out a trade in the pre-season. His stock COULD go down over the next few months…

    1. Have you never paid attention to April Phillies baseball?

      This is Cole’s thing. He always sucks to start the year. He’ll right the ship well before Memorial Day.

  2. Good article, Kyle. Hamels’ FIP is 7.54 vs. an xFIP of 3.89. This means he is due for a major regression / has been unlucky thus far (his HR/FB rate is about 3x his career average). I would trade him, but not right now where he’s going to be undevalued. He needs to improve his BB/9 rate, though.

  3. The Phillies have been absolutely awful at talent evaluation for the last decade. From Hardball Times:

    “The Phillies’ total career WAR among all drafted players from 2004 through 2014 is only 27.8 compared to a league average of 100.0. This is not just league-worst, it is less than half of the second-worst Blue Jays at 60.5.”

    The team recently fired longtime scouting director Marti Wolever and replaced him with former Braves’ international scouting director Johnny Almaraz. And of course, they’ve just begun to slowly embrace analytics. It’s encouraging to see these changes finally coming about, but they should have happened years ago. I only hope they’ve got a better idea of what they’re doing as they look to trade our one remaining blue chip.

    1. Yea, we know that. But we got big news on the site write now. We have toilet talk. We have a cute and past story about Call Hamels. AND more morning zoo updates!

      We well get to the Berube story later tonight.

  4. Kyle, weren’t you the one who said just a few months ago (or last season) that the Phils should keep Hamels? I’m fairly certain of this. Let him rot away on the mound of CBP for no reason.

    I know it’s a fact that 2 years ago you bitched and moaned about why they shouldn’t trade Cliff Lee at the deadline.

    Stick to Radio Updates.

  5. The phillies are nowhere near 3-4 years from contention. They have 1 quality prospect in the minors (Crawford) and one solid #3 arm (Nola). They have 1 player (Utley – now average player) on their active roster that could start on another MLB roster. Yes, they need to trade Hamels but not for trash. Only way you can rebuild this team is through draft picks (not signing big free agents) and trading for prospects. They do need to add veteran free agents for the sole purpose of flipping them (i.e. what the cubs did and what atlanta is doing with their bullpen)

  6. Does Rosenthal work for the Sox or what? Fuck him. Either the Sox think Hamels will get them to another title or they don’t. And are the Sox the only team in baseball with any prospects?

  7. Ed Wade built the Phillies championship team and then fleeced Amaro over and over again for what little talent was left in the farm system.

    1. Villar, Singleton, Cosart, Santana….they’re all really tearing it up.

      Wait, sorry. I don’t know anything about the Phillies.


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