Ron Costello

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My naivete on trading Cole Hamels was astounding.

A year ago I was a proponent of trading Hamels for either Boston's Mookie Betts or can't miss Boston catcher Blake Swihart.

Or both.

As a result, I've conducted my own investigation on the Cole Hamels trade.

Either a change up master who throws a pretty good Uncle Charlie isn't as valued as a cannon arm, four seamer or split finger Roy Halladay. Or it was a baseball conspiracy against Junior and the Phillies to not give up anything for Hamels.

Or, just maybe it was a stupid trade that  Junior rushed prior to the deadline and just before he was canned.

In my investigation I am representing the Faithful — the innocents who follow the Phillies even through 99 loss seasons. The innocents who pay up to $200-plus for tickets, dogs, and brewskis while the parent club threw away millions in the Hamels' trade.


Meet Texas lefthander — now Phillies lefthander — Matt Harrison. In order to complete the Hamels deal, the Phillies had to take Harrison — and his salary — to help the Rangers dump  salary and get better for 2016.

Not, mind you, the Phillies to get better, which usually is the purpose of a trade. But a trade that helped Texas get better. Dispectable as it may seem.

Desperate, the Phillies not only shipped $9.5 million with Hamels — to cover his remaining salary for 2015 — but they sucked up another $28 million in the form of Harrison's remaining contract. Total ring-up of $37.5 million.

The Rangers got Hamels and $37.5 million.

The Phillies got two Triple A pitching prospects — Asher and Eickhoff — and three Double A prospects, Alfaro, Thompson, and Williams. A total of five prospects — who may or may not stick with the Show.

And Harrison. He's the one in the big photo.

Now comes the heart of my investigation.

Harrison, because of chronic back problems, hasn't had more  than nine starts in the last three years. He's had two back surgeries in 2013, and underwent spinal disc fusion surgery in 2014. I saved you the time and looked that up.

Trust me it's not good. Harrison's doctors gave him a 20 percent chance of being able to retake the mound after the disc fusion surgery, according to Sports Illustrated.

Twenty percent.

Oh, he may take the mound, it's the throwing part that may have him stumped.

Sports Illustrated reported  that Harrison was making his way back to the Rangers rotation just before the trade, but his velocity was shot. It's likely that in five months he may not  make it out of spring training.

Asher and Eickhoff were up for a look-see at the end of the 99 loss season.  Asher was 0-6, 9.31 ERA; and Eickhoff 3-3, 2.65.

A pedigree homegrown lefthander ace for marginal prospects and a starting pitcher who's career is likely over.

What the hell kind of trade was that? Even Congress would blush at that one.

The Phillies already have $56.5 million committed to Howard, Ruiz and Lee for 2016 and 2017. Why add $28 million (Harrison) to that? That's $84 million for four unproductive players (Howard's 2015 stats are arguably nonproductive,  considering his salary.)

Do  you know what a Bud Lite costs at the park? Or seats behind the dugouts?

Former Phillies President Pat Gillick told CSN sports last week that the Phillies "are still two or three years away" from contending.

He's likely right, and the Cole Hamels trade is a big reason why.

My committee stands down.

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