Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bring Cole Back

If the Phillies are at all serious about winning this season, they better get serious with the rotation. Right now, it's semi-good and semi-bad and way too right-handed.

Take a look.
Jake Arrieta, 3-0, 1.82, right-handed
Aaron Nola, 3-1, 2.58, right-hander
Nick Pivetta, 1-0, 2.57, right-hander

So far, so good. Not just good but good-good.

But then it goes downhill, fast
Vince Velasquez, 1-3, 4.50, right-handed
Ben Lively, 0-2, 6.85, right-handed, on the DL
Jake Thompson, 0-0, right-handed, just brought up to replace Lively
Jerald Eickhoff, on the DL, right-handed
Zach Eflin, right-handed, 0-0

What is it the Phillies don't see here that you and I do? Where are the left-handers? Granted, if an all right-handed rotation is pitching the lights out, who's complaining? But the Phillies rotation is far from lights out. It needs a left-hander.

It needs Cole Hamels.

It's not that Mr. Hamels is setting the world on fire this season in Texas. He's 1-4, 4.41, in the six games. But he hasn't pitched badly. Typical of Hamels — like a shadow that follows him — he's had little run support.

The 34-year-old Hamels is in the final year of a six-year contract at $22.5 million, with a club buyout option of $6 million next season. Compare that to Jake Arrieta's contract: First-year of a three-year $75 million deal; $30 million this season, $25 million next, and $20 million in 2020. All these millions are getting me tired. I think I need a nap.

Lookit. If the Phillies organization is so big on analytics, why have a completely right-handed rotation? Doesn't that go against the grain of analytics? You think there are line-ups around the league that don't do well against left-handers? Duh! So if we're so big on analytics, make the rotation analytical, too. It's not rocket science.

The Phillies could certainly afford Mr. Hamels, a homegrown, hometown favorite, and MVP of the 2008 World Series. Texas is not going anywhere this season and might want to unload Mr. Hamels' salary for a couple of low-level prospects. The Rangers are 10-17 and mired in last place in the American League West.

But here's the thing. Mr. Hamels has a limited no-trade clause with the Rangers, which means there may be a list of teams Texas can't trade Mr. Hamels too.

And here's another thing. Texas would be better off holding Mr. Hamels until the trade deadline, figuring a number of teams will be in the division and wild-card races. The Yankees, for example, might give more than low-level prospects to acquire Mr. Hamels in mid-July.

But this is what they pay GM's for — to sweeten the pot. Go get Hamels now, Mr. Klentak.

Velasquez, Thompson, Eickhoff, and Eflin


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