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Cole Hamels Still Deals, and He Needs to be Dealt

The Phillies’ ace has been on the block for ages, now GM Ruben Amaro needs to figure out a way to actually move him

cole hamel

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies on the mound on May 13th, 2015.

Rich Schultz/Getty

Fine, so they booed Santa Claus in Philadelphia. But it was just a man in red suit, and he came bearing gifts.

But whenever Ruben Amaro Jr. is involved, a present of a franchise-paralyzing contract to a declining veteran is always a possibility, so perhaps we should forgive the natives for being restless this summer as the Phillies’ general manager stands guard over the family jewels.

The Phils are a depressing glob of a team, in a race for nothing but the game’s worst record. With the next MLB Draft a good 360 days away, and little reason to think their general manager won’t screw that up too, about all Philly fans have to look forward to is Amaro trading Cole Hamels for dreck so they can pile on some more.

Amaro is a man under siege. Less than 90 days after apologizing to Ryan Howard for one slip, he’s had to grovel for forgiveness after a second, been the subject of cartoons accompanied by the line, “Foot, meet mouth” and been tabbed the worst executive in sports by an opinion writer at Philadelphia magazine. Without-a-bone-to-pick Yahoo! columnist Jeff Passan rips Amaro a new one here.

If there is no consensus, there damn well ought to be: Cole Hamels is the prize of the trading season. As ace as ace can possibly be; the man just deals. Hamels gives you both length and strikeouts, limits his baserunners and is a bona fide, effective-as-ever World Series hero. Pick any statistic you like and just look at that consistency. There isn’t a contender on the planet that couldn’t use him.

While we can debate the many fine qualifications of Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto, there is no arguing contracts. Hamels is signed for what may turn out to be a below-market rate of $70.5 million from 2016 to 2018, with an option for 2019; Cueto is a free agent come November.

Amaro is not going to get three top prospects for Cole Hamels. He was never going to get three top prospects for Cole Hamels – certainly not in a two-team trade without more leaving the organization – and he might not even get three good prospects, or three players period.

A fair return including one top or near-top prospect, complemented by some intriguing pieces is within reach, however, if Amaro can only summon the wisdom.

Every year, in either late-July or late-August, at one deadline or the other, there is always a trade which conjures the jaw-dropping question: “They got so-and-so for that guy?!” Amaro simply cannot allow his trade of Hamels to be that deal, because no one in Philadelphia wants to hear that apology. Nor will they even listen.

Canada or the draft? Well, if it’s a choice between sitting through another mind-numbing MLB Draft and being snowbound in a moose lodge north of the border without porn or baseball, I know where I’m headed this time next year.

While the story about ballplayer bloodlines is kind of interesting, it’s easily summed up in a 225-word article that doesn’t warrant a byline. The rest is just a copy of what the NFL and NBA do better – and for better reasons.

Not that the draft isn’t important – it is, actually – and it’s nice that that the young men get a little media training under their belts, but the event just doesn’t make for compelling television. Monday night’s intra-divisional Kansas City at Minnesota contest, with the draft results in a crawl across the bottom of the screen every 15 minutes would’ve made for a better broadcast. Or just give us a nice list when it’s over.

Diamondbacks fleeced. While we’re not exactly in Lou Brock-for-Ernie-Broglio territory here, the Arizona braintrust looks to have pulled quite the boner with their winter trade of Mike Bolsinger to Los Angeles for “cash considerations.”

Drafted in 2010 by then-GM Josh Byrnes (who’s now vice president of operations in L.A.), Bolsinger did little to impress management in his lone opportunity to pitch in a big league rotation last year. But he’s followed up that 1-6, 5.50, 1.586 first effort with a 4-1, 2.08, 1.015 beginning to 2015, seizing the Dodgers’ fourth starter spot in place of injured Hyun-Jin Ryu and looking every bit the keeper in the process.

It must be especially pleasing for Byrnes, deposed in Phoenix and welcomed by Andrew Friedman’s analytically-minded group at Chavez Ravine, to have bested Dave Stewart, new boss of Arizona’s “true baseball team.”

Former GM and current talk-radio host and ESPN.com columnist Jim Bowden tells me that “cash considerations” is an agreed-upon sale price that isn’t made public because “teams don’t like players to feel that they are only worth X.” His guess on Arizona’s haul for Bolsigner? “In the 25-50 K range.”

Really, Missouri? Let’s hope Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers can get together soon, because with the National and American League All-Star Game voting being what is it today, the state of Missouri is oh-so-ripe for sketch comedy.

I mean, really Missouri?! Seven Kansas City Royals starters, plus Omar Infante in the running to start at second base? And a fourth-place outfield ballot stuffing for Alex Rios? He’s got all of 59 at bats and is hitting .220/.258/.305. Really?!

And really, Missouri; four Cardinals starters, with Matt Adams in the hunt at first base, Kolten Wong poised to overtake Dee Gordon at second, with both Jason Heyward and Jon Jay among the top 10 outfielders? Really?!

While SI.com’s Cliff Corcoran has some sound suggestions to fix the AL’s Kansas City problem, I see no reason for reason on this one. Scolding is the better path, I say. A little public shaming goes a long way, and for the city of St. Louis, especially.

The Cardinal Way? Really, St. Louis?! Jon Jay?! How about a thimble full of objectivity with your All-Star ballot?

In This Article: Baseball, MLB, sports

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