Ron Costello

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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