Tag Archives: Kyle Kendrick

Why I’m not Buying the Cole Hamels Trade Rumors

Cole Hamels dominated the Mets at Citi Field earlier tonight.

The first three words of that aforementioned sentence are not exactly surprising. Hamels has been absolutely owning opponents since the beginning of June, posting a 1.58 ERA over that span.

The fourth and fifth words are a bit more shocking. Hamels rarely ‘dominates the Mets.’ He entered the contest with a 7-14 record and a career 4.53 ERA against them. One would need to take a time machine back to August 14, 2006 — his first career start against the Mets — to find the last time he tossed a scoreless outing against them.

They normally give him fits, but tonight, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Hamels is completely locked in, and during one of the greatest stretches of his career, there is some speculation that it was his final start in Phillies pinstripes with the trade deadline set for Thursday at 4 p.m.

Nope. I’m not buying it.

I’m not beleiving it because if the Phillies were to trade their 30-year old ace, they literally might not be able to field a rotation next season.

I had this in my head for a few days, but the graphic at the top of the page that appeared on Phillies Pregame Live should tell the story. Out of all the pitchers that currently comprise the team’s rotation, Hamels is the only one who really has a good chance to return.

Cliff Lee is about to turn 36 and coming off an elbow injury that cost him two months of his season. If that never happened, it’s likely that he would be dealt, and it is still widely believed that the Phillies will look to move him in the winter once he reestablishes value.

A.J. Burnett could be traded although a 2015 contract option complicates that. He may also simply retire, something he nearly did last winter.

Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez are both free agents once the season ends.

Now, you could certainly think that the two of them won’t be missed, but a club still needs bodies to take the ball every fifth day. One of the biggest issues is the lack of starting pitching depth in the organization, and this exercise brings that problem to the forefront.

Jesse Biddle’s future is up in the air after a rough patch in the minors led to some time off. Aaron Nola won’t be ready and nor should he be. Jason Marquis and Sean O’Sullivan are two veteran names in the system right now — You start to get the idea of how serious this is.

Aside from a few attractive names at the top, the starting pitching market for free agents is pretty weak.

If Hamels were to be traded, you are essentially looking at an Opening Day rotation of Lee and four number 5 starters (David Buchanan likely being one of them).

The team most linked to Hamels has been the Dodgers with Joc Pedersen, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias the reported players. This would be a haul for the Phillies in theory as all three are currently rated as Top 20 MLB prospects, but only Urias is a pitcher out of that trio.

Due to an unwillingness to waive no-trade clauses among other things, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins figure to be here next season, which means that the Phillies — delusional or not — will enter the year with some intention of trying to win.

As flawed as Ruben Amaro’s stuck in the mud approach might be, it stands a much better chance that the Phillies catch lightning in a bottle with Hamels in the rotation than without him.

David Murphy kinda, sorta argued the opposite yesterday in the Philadelphia Daily News. I’m not buying it when considering the uncertainty that comes with the return in just about any deal here.

While trying to look at this logically, I’ll admit that I’m not completely unbiased when it comes to the issue at hand. I wrote about Hamels and how I hoped he would be here for years to come just three months ago.

Coming up on 39 hours to go though, I am confident that I will get my wish because regardless of the offer, the alternative will not just weaken the Phillies five-man rotation next season, it could essentially leave them without one.

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Cole Hamels is on the Mound Tonight and I am Hella Hella Pumped

One of the longest tenured and most polarizing athletes in Philadelphia sports makes his season debut tonight. If a five-year pattern holds up, it will likely be a complete disaster, and I cannot wait.

I really mean that. I love baseball, but if tonight’s Phillies-Dodgers game featured any other starting pitcher for the away team, it would be well below the NHL playoffs and the NFL schedule release show on my priority list. The return of Cole Hamels has bumped it up.

Watching the Phillie pitcher get lit up during his opening start is a spring ritual for Phillies fans. Unfortunately the annual tradition was delayed just a few weeks this year due to some shoulder tendinitis.

Now, before you close this tab without reading another paragraph, I’m not trying to troll you nor am I a Cole Hamels hater. He just historically has real rough outings in his opening start dating back to 2009. Here’s the pitching lines to prove my point and to make your eyes bleed a little:

Rockies 09: 3.2 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 17.18 ERA, — L, 10-3

Nationals ’10: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 3.60 ERA — W, 8-4

Mets ’11: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 20.25 ERA — L, 7-1

Marlins ’12: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 5.06 ERA — L, 6-2

Braves ’13: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 9.00 ERA — L, 7-5

I’m excited for tonight because Cole Hamels can’t go on to have his typical very good season without some sort of first start. I’m excited for tonight because I remember fondly when this trend wasn’t yet a thing nearly eight years ago.

On May 12, 2006, a 22-year old lefty from San Diego, California with Hollywood looks and a nasty changeup went into Great American Ballpark and shut down a Cincinnati Reds team that entered the contest 11 games over .500. Five shutout innings, only one hit, seven strikeouts in his Major League debut.

I knew watching on that Friday night that he was something special and I would likely still be talking about him 95 months later.

Here’s a list of active MLB starting pitchers who are still with the same team dating back to that memorable night:

Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain

Jered Weaver missed the cut by two weeks, Jon Lester by a month. Adam Wainwright was with the Cardinals but as a reliever.

That’s a pretty impressive trio right there to join. The three of them combine for 13 All-Star games, two Cy Young awards, two perfect games, two no-hitters, and two World Series rings.

Pitchers just don’t last nine seasons in the majors on the same club without doing something incredibly right, and with his current contract, Hamels has a chance to be in the same place for at least 14 years.

On that memorable May night, you knew that if the Phillies ever caught the Mets and Braves in the NL East, Hamels would be a part of it. Seventeen months later, that happened, and it was a Hamels gem that gave the Phillies their first lead all season in the division after 160 games.

A year later, he put the city on a parade float. The fact that someone seven months younger than the city’s championship drought was the driving force behind a World Series title is almost unfathomable.

The landscape began to change as 2008 turned to 2009. Hamels initially didn’t handle success well and showed up to spring training behind schedule and unprepared for the title defense season. While he didn’t miss a start, it was the worst year of his career.

If we break things down with sabermetrics, it honestly wasn’t that bad. His .317 BABIP was 22 points higher than any other professional season. Still, a hanging curveball to Andy Pettite essentially handed the Yankees the 2009 World Series.

The Phillies were two-wins away from back-to–back titles, and if Cole Hamels was Cole Hamels, they get it. A lot of fans — myself included — held this against him.

In 2007 and 2008, Hamels days were something to look forward to because he was so much better than Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, and anyone else who made a start. If you had tickets to a game and anyone else was scheduled to pitch, you were a little upset.

I was lucky enough to see him work in person a few times during those two years including June 2, 2007 when he made Barry Bonds flail at a ninth-inning changeup on the way to a complete game. If I ever have kids and they like baseball, I will tell them about that early summer night when 45,000 fans of a team two games below. 500 stood and went wild as a budding ace struck out one of the game’s greatest hitters ever.

Hamels represented hope that gone were the days of Andy Ashby, Robert Person, Omar Daal, Jon Lieber, or some other in-over-their-head pitcher trying to play ace and anchor a rotation. Things were about to be very different.

After delivering on that hope though, things got way, way different. Cliff Lee arrived, then Roy Halladay, then both of them. Hamels stabilized into a very good, consistent pitcher but sort of faded into the background, occasionally hearing boos at Citizens Bank Park after a rough start.

I knew some people who were big 2008 apologists. They believed anyone on that World Series winning team was immune to criticism. I hated that thought process. It was so lazy and complacent, but I also knew forever holding that 2009 debacle against someone who brought you a championship wasn’t exactly fair.

I don’t even love Roy Halladay as much as most Phillies fans love Roy Halladay, but I loved Roy Halladay because he’s Roy Halladay. I love Cliff Lee because he told the Yankees to take 150 million and shove it, instead choosing to come back to Philadelphia.

While the same amount of love might not exist, there’s something Hamels has on them. He’s ours. Lee and Halladay were hired guns from Cleveland and Toronto brought in to keep a good thing going. Hamels was here before they arrived and will be here long after they’re both gone.

There was a brief time though where that wasn’t a slam dunk. Slated to become a free agent at the end of 2012, the Phillies had to either work out a long-term deal or trade him for prospects before the deadline. They couldn’t risk losing him that winter and getting nothing back. The ball was more or less in his court, but the desire to be courted by multiple MLB teams as the prize of a free agent class is tempting. No one was certain how it would play out.

On July 21, 2012, it suddenly dawned on me that I might be watching his final start as a Phillie. I choose the word “suddenly” because my Phillies watching had slacked a bit that summer.

If you’ve ever met me, you know that there’s a 5-6 year stretch where if you name a date, I can tell you what happened in that particular game right away, but they were having a pretty pedestrian season and Penn State football was two days away from being hit with unprecedented sanctions.

It was going to be a long week, and the Phillies had been far from the top of my priority list, but I made sure to watch every pitch of that Saturday afternoon start.

Don’t go Cole, I said to my TV as he walked off the mound to a standing ovation after 7.2 innings. Normally 10 hits and five runs allowed doesn’t earn you that, but despite the occasional rocky relationship, fans knew it could be their final chance to a World Series hero in red pinstripes at home.

Less than a week later, he and the Phillies agreed on the richest contract in team history. Phew. Whether that deal was a good baseball move still needs to play out over time, but when it was inked, I celebrated because that’s what you do when your homegrown ace decides this is the place he wants to be.

He was here before things started to get good and saw things get bad again after five straight NL East championships. While this all happened, off the field he grew from a laid-back kid to a husband with children including an adopted Ethiopian baby. His wife runs a successful charity foundation with a global impact.

If the Phillies can snap out of this downward spiral and right the ship over the next few seasons, he’ll be a huge reason why, just like back in 2007.

This city has taken too many good athletes for granted over the years only to become aware of it long after they had either left town or left the game entirely. While it’s not always perfect, I don’t want to realize in 2024 that I did that with this one.

That’s why I’m excited as all hell for Cole Hamels to be back on the mound tonight, and you should be too.