Why Are the Phillies Keeping Cole Hamels?

As Jeff noted the other day, there stands to be a very good chance that Jeff Samardzija is the only real impact pitcher traded this month. The Rays keep winning, which reduces their incentive to move David Price. The Red Sox still say they want to re-sign Jon Lester, so trading him mid-season would be counterproductive to that goal. The Royals still think they’re contenders, so they aren’t going to move James Shields. The Padres want to keep Ian Kennedy. Right now, the best pitcher who is actually available is probably Bartolo Colon, who remains an average pitcher by FIP and xFIP but has apparently lost his runner-stranding fairy dust, and so he’s running a 114 ERA- at age-41 and is under contract for another $11 million next year, when he’ll be 42.

If ever there was a time to sell high on a starting pitcher, this would be it. This is maybe the most obvious seller’s market for arms we’ve seen in some time. And yet, in the middle of a golden opportunity, the Phillies have apparently taken this stance:

I get that the Phillies have their own way of doing things, and they see themselves as a franchise that should reload and not rebuild, but at some point, they have to accept reality.

By winning percentage to date, the Phillies .431 mark ranks 26th in baseball. Their pythag expected record of .434 ranks 27th. Their BaseRuns expected record of .432 ranks 28th. Their projected rest of season winning percentage of .451 ranks 29th, one one-thousandth of a point ahead of the Astros. No matter how you evaluate performance, this team is terrible, and they have no real chance to be not terrible any time soon. The Phillies are currently in the same position as the Astros, White Sox, and Cubs, only without the whole stockpiling young talent and planning for the future part.

No team in recent history has been more in need of a total fire sale than the 2014 Phillies. This roster cost $180 million to build, but is no better than an Astros roster that cost 25 percent of that total and is openly not trying to win. And yet, when staring a gift horse of a huge seller’s market in the face, the Phillies are apparently going to hold on to their most valuable trade chip; a high quality starting pitcher, and one of the few players on their team that isn’t ridiculously overpaid.

Of course, rebuilding teams have to keep some players around, and it makes sense to keep guys who have real long-term value in the fold. But Cole Hamels isn’t really young and he should only be expected to decline in value as the days tick by. Is there really any scenario in which Hamels is going to have more value to the Phillies in the future than he does as a trade chip right now?

After all, his contract isn’t that cheap. Over the next four seasons, he’s due $22.5 million per year in salary, and there’s a $6 million buyout on a fifth year, which means that any team acquiring Hamels would be signing up for either 4/$96M or 5/$109M in future commitments. Is Hamels really worth significantly more than that? For his career, he’s been worth roughly +4 WAR per 200 innings pitched, with his recent performances all in that same range.

Even if we don’t age him forward much for 2015 and assume he’ll begin next year as a +4 WAR pitcher, that means he’d project for about +15 WAR over the next five seasons. Even if we assume that wins will cost about $7 million apiece this winter and account for future inflation, a fair market estimate of Hamels’ value is about $114 million over five years, or $97 million over four if the buyout is exercised. Basically, Hamels is being paid almost exactly the expected market rate for wins. Why on earth should one of the five worst teams in baseball be unwilling to move a market rate contract for a pitcher headed for his decline years? Especially when the trade market would make Hamels far more valuable now than he will be this winter, or likely even next year?

Apparently, the Phillies learned nothing from their actions with Cliff Lee. By not trading Lee last summer, when there was real interest in his services, the Phillies are now in a position where they are going to have to either pay him to pitch for another team or accept very little talent in return, and if he doesn’t pitch well the next few weeks, maybe even both. A year ago, the Phillies had a very attractive trade chip in an excellent but expensive starting pitcher, and now they have something very close to a negative value asset who can’t help them win and won’t bring back any significant players to rebuild around.

There’s no reason to make the same mistake with Hamels. The 2015 Phillies are going to be terrible with or without him, and the 2016-2019 Phillies are almost certainly going to be better if the Phillies move him for some young talent and reallocate that $22 million per year in salary to other, younger players. Hamels is a depreciating asset, with the entirety of his $5 million in total contract surplus value tied to his 2015 performance. Hamels has about 18 months left of trade value, and then the decline in skills should erode most of the interest in other teams’ desires to take that contract off the Phillies hands.

There is almost no foreseeable scenario under which the Phillies should not trade Hamels at some point in the next 18 months. The only question is when they should trade him to maximize their return. And it’s very difficult to imagine any market setting up better to sell a pitcher like Hamels than one in which a bunch of teams had talked themselves into trading the farm for David Price, only to find out that David Price is no longer available. The Phillies could easily market Hamels as Price-with-more-future-control, as they’ve been very similar pitchers over the last three years. They probably wouldn’t get as much in return for Hamels as the Rays would for Price — teams would likely rather not have the extra guaranteed years, which tells you something about the future value of those years — but they’d be able to command a pretty decent haul, and free up all of the remaining money owed for reallocation.

There’s a lot of should-be sellers who are refusing to enter the market, but the Phillies aren’t even being indignant about their place in the standings. They’re going to make a bunch of trades over the next week, as they acknowledge that their current roster is just not good enough to keep together. But during a time when they’re going to be selling off multiple players and admitting that it might finally be time to start to rebuild, they’re going to keep their most valuable trade chip at a time when the demand for his services will never be higher?

It’s fine to be committed to winning. Part of that commitment is understanding what to do when Plan A didn’t work, however. Going stubbornly in the direction of a brick wall isn’t being committed to winning. It’s setting yourself up for a disaster.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Ruben Amaro
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Ruben Amaro
1 year 10 months ago

But he already has five wins so far and he might get to 11

Sleight of Hand Pro
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Sleight of Hand Pro
1 year 10 months ago

I can only downvote this once :(

Daniel
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Daniel
1 year 10 months ago

You must not be very good at slight of hand.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
1 year 9 months ago

I don’t get it…

JUK
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JUK
1 year 10 months ago

And I can only down vote you once. Please learn about sarcasm before posting

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 10 months ago

I think he knows about sarcasm, but also knows that people post as a GM (or player, etc) way too often to the point where it’s no longer clever.

On the other hand, someone posted as Roger Rabbit on a ‘framed’ article a couple days ago, and I thought it was brilliant.

Sleight of Hand Pro
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Sleight of Hand Pro
1 year 9 months ago

its not funny anymore. the kevin towers screenname isn’t funny anymore. neither have been funny in weeks, if not months.

pitnick
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pitnick
1 year 9 months ago

It was never funny.

Jay Stevens
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Jay Stevens
1 year 9 months ago

Like a cartoon character splatting its face into a glass pane, this joke always has been, and always will be, funny.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 9 months ago

then move along, don’t comment, downvote, whatever. I’m sure its funny to some people. Don’t forget some people may be reading fangraphs for the first time and find this hilarious

Moses
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Moses
1 year 9 months ago

I will not live in a world where mockery of Ruben Amaro becomes trite.

#KeepNotGraphs

Alby
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Alby
1 year 9 months ago

It’s the lamest joke on the internets. If you think it’s funny, just wait until you reach 6th grade.

joser
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joser
1 year 9 months ago

I wasn’t a fan of this schtick even before it became repetitive, but if you think this is “the lamest joke on the internet” you don’t get out on the internet much. It’s arguably not even the lamest joke just on this site.

channelclemente
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channelclemente
1 year 10 months ago

Because Amaro would be lynched on sight for 40?

Amarometrics
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Amarometrics
1 year 9 months ago

His replacement would only get like, two wins or something. So clearly Cole Hamels is going to be worth like nine Wins Above Replacement this year.

Dayton Moore
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Dayton Moore
1 year 9 months ago

I’ve been saying this for years. Wait, what’s Wins Above Replacement?

Matt
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Matt
1 year 9 months ago

make it stop

Caveman Jones
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Caveman Jones
1 year 10 months ago

Couldn’t agree more, but haven’t we been saying this about the Phillies for a few years now? They’ve had plenty of good trade chips peak in value the last few years and every time they hold too long.

If the Rays aren’t serious about trading Price and the Phillies aren’t serious about trading Hamels, perhaps the Red Sox should field offers for John Lackey. His value is never going to be higher, the Red Sox should clearly be sellers, and if they aren’t going to trade Jon Lester they should try and sell other pieces. Lackey has been excellent since his return from Tommy John surgery and could be a big help to any contender with pitching needs this year and next.

Oliver
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Oliver
1 year 10 months ago

Can we just take a minute to recognize how insane parity has gotten when a 431 mark ranks 26th in baseball.

BRH
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BRH
1 year 10 months ago

I am not sure what you mean by insane. Forty years ago a .431 mark would have ranked 20th out of 24 teams in MLB. Thirty years ago a .431 mark would have ranked 22nd out of 26. Twenty years ago (strike year), a .431 mark would have ranked 26th out of 28 teams, and that was when two teams were in the second year after expansion.

Bill
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Bill
1 year 10 months ago

What would be a reasonable return from, let’s say, the Red Sox?

tz
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tz
1 year 9 months ago

A simple “no thank you” would be reasonable.

Ivan Grushenko
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Ivan Grushenko
1 year 9 months ago

Or they could trade prospects for Hamels and get prospects for Lester, thereby keeping Hamels on a 4 year deal whereas Lester might command 7 years or something. They’d probably lose about 30% in value or something like that on the prospects.

tz
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tz
1 year 9 months ago

If they could somehow swing both, that’s actually a nice exchange.

But like Dave said, Hamels’ contract doesn’t exactly ooze surplus value. If the Phillies got offered Cecchini, Vazquez and a low-minor, high-upside pitcher, they should jump on it. Assuming, of course, that someone else doesn’t give them the king’s ransom that they are trying to get for Hamels.

tz
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tz
1 year 9 months ago

And you’re right Ivan, the Red Sox would get back a lower return for Lester at this point than they would need to get Hamels. Maybe a near-ready, low-upside arm plus a low-minor, high-upside arm, but nothing too far from “Fringe-Five” caliber.

I’m betting Lester leaves as a free agent and Boston just accepts the compensation pick.

tyke
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tyke
1 year 10 months ago

personally, i love it because it just means the phillies will be worse for longer.

companion cube
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companion cube
1 year 9 months ago

As a Braves fan, this article tickles me pink

Mcneildon
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Mcneildon
1 year 9 months ago

As a Phillies fan, this article and my envy of other teams’ fanbases, tickles me some color found only within dark matter in the deepest recesses of space.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
1 year 9 months ago

The Colour Out of Space?

HP Lovecraft wrote a story about that. Which is fitting, because the future we Phillies fans face at the moment is truly Lovecraftian.

Johnston
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1 year 9 months ago

Phillies Fthagn!

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 9 months ago

Well, at least you still have the “We’ve won a World Series in the last 20 years” card.

Antonio Bananas
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1 year 9 months ago

If you read companion cube’s comment with a pirate accent, it becomes full of innuendo.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
1 year 10 months ago

Hostage situation. We keep NotGraphs, they trade Hamels.

joser
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joser
1 year 9 months ago

Fangraphs doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Which is why they don’t talk to Selig.

Eric Feczko
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Eric Feczko
1 year 10 months ago

Jayson Stark’s column from yesterday expands upon Olney’s tweet:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/tradedeadline/factors-tampa-bay-rays-weigh-david-price-trade

“Is he out there or not? Well, it isn’t quite accurate to say he’s ‘not available,’ because the Phillies have told several teams what it would take to get him. But they’ve all come away believing the Phillies asked for a package no one would possibly give up. ‘They’re not trying to trade him,’ said one exec. ‘They’re trying to see if they can get overwhelmed to trade him.’ And there’s no indication that’s going to happen.”

It sounds more like the Phillies are overvaluing Hamels, as opposed to an outright refusal to trade him. Or that buyers on the market under-value starters, making the market rather weak relative to a QO and supplemental draft pick. Given Ruben Amaro’s history, I think the former is more likely.

BRH
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BRH
1 year 10 months ago

That sounds like a disctinction without a difference.

If the Phillies are offering Hamels in exchange for the entire St. Louis Cardinals farm system, or in exchange for Mike Trout, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and $60 million in cash to make Ryan Howard go away, then they aren’t exactly negotiating in good faith.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 10 months ago

To be fair (not that Amaro necessarily deserves it), let’s wait for the trade deadline to come and go before we judge. It seems like every year, you read articles with anonymous sources indicating that a GM is asking too much for a player. I lived in SF until last year, and I remember reading that the Mets were asking for the moon for Beltran, but realistically they wouldn’t get more than a mid-level contract. This was the day before the trade deadline. The next day, they got the Giants’ best pitching prospect.

There’s still about a week to go before the deadline. He should be asking for too much.

Theo Epstein
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Theo Epstein
1 year 10 months ago

EXACTLY!!

Eric Feczko
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Eric Feczko
1 year 9 months ago

@vivalajeter:

I disagree. Not passing judgement would be fair to an average GM. RAJ, whether because of the ownership/fan base, or because he really isn’t that good, already held on to Cliff Lee too long in an analogous scenario.
The Phillies overvaluing Hamels seems a lot more likely than the market undervaluing Hamels.

jcxy
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jcxy
1 year 9 months ago

A player’s value isn’t handed down from God or an algorithm. If the Phillies aren’t asking for a lot, they’re doing their job wrong.

We see countless examples (Youkilis in Moneyball, for starters…but read the Luhnow communiques for recent examples) of GMs trying (often successfully) to extract massive value from GMs at the deadline.

And as for the Lee rumors, wasn’t it Texas that was laughing at the Lee-Olt swap?

No no, viva has this right–plenty of time to lampoon the Phillies later. Let’s let it play out first.

Mike
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Mike
1 year 9 months ago

No, a player’s value isn’t dictated by God or an algorithm (yet). It’s determined by the market. So yeah, when you can find inefficiencies in the market and exploit them before other teams catch on you have a Kevin Youkilis situation. Cole Hamels is not a Kevin Youkilis situation. The market is pretty set on the value that a Pitcher of Hamel’s caliber adds to a team and has collectively valued him accordingly. If RAJ and the Phillies front office disagrees with that valuation, that is on them, not the market.

Mcneildon
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Mcneildon
1 year 9 months ago

I agree with your thinking, especially given what we know after those leaked internal memos from the Astros appeared shedding light on teams’ initial trade offers to other teams. However, it is very hard to be fair when thinking about Ruben Amaro and the Phillies front office.

Eric Feczko
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Eric Feczko
1 year 9 months ago

@BRH:

The distinction is in the intent of the Phillies. The Phillies may intend to trade Cole Hamels (a good overall strategic strategy), but they are terrible evaluators of a good trade. Under such a hypothesis, to them, the farm system for Hamels may be good faith. The fact that other teams do not agree is consistent with the Phillies FO grossly unaware of other teams’ valuations.

If they truly didn’t intend to trade Hamels, then its a bad global strategy, but the valuation of the players may be accurate.

Bartholomew
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Bartholomew
1 year 10 months ago

Great article Dave, I’d be curious to know if Ruben reads fangraphs and understands his management team has zero grip on reality

No one has a fake name on the internet
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No one has a fake name on the internet
1 year 10 months ago

He appears to read and comment on just about every article published on the site.

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 9 months ago

Well, he comments. I’ve seen no indication that he reads fangraphs.

Dayton Moore
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Dayton Moore
1 year 9 months ago

Well, I guess that’s no “Moore” a secret.

Matthew
Member
Member
1 year 10 months ago

I disagree agree with you on the Lester front. It has been clearly stated the Red Sox have tabled negotiations with Lester until the off-season. If they are smart, they should trade him now and get something incredibly nice rather than get nothing and have him walk.

bmarkham
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bmarkham
1 year 9 months ago

qualifying offer

bill
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bill
1 year 10 months ago

Does anyone trust Amaro to trade Hamels? Would it shock anyone to see him reel in Miguel Gonzales and change for Hamels?

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 9 months ago

Considering Miguel Gonzalez is already in the Phillies system, this would be par for the course for RAJ.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
1 year 10 months ago

What component of general management is Ruben Amaro so good at that he has managed to keep his job? Maybe it’s office morale or balancing payroll or hiring or something.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
1 year 9 months ago

Perhaps Ruben Amaro is good at satisfying the Phillies’ fan base and owner expectations.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 9 months ago

My longstanding theory (which I’m stealing from my dad) is that RAJ has some compromising pictures that involve Phillies ownership and several species of goats.

King Buzzo's Fro
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King Buzzo's Fro
1 year 9 months ago

He was tutored by Pat Gillick. Gillick was good, therefore…

Ivan Grushenko
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Ivan Grushenko
1 year 9 months ago

Sucking up to his boss and appearing smart in meetings?

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

He’s mastered the art of looking annoyed therefore giving off a vibe of being extremely busy apparently.

Summer Plums
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Summer Plums
1 year 9 months ago

So, kidding aside, there actually is one thing Ruben Amaro is particularly cromulent at–and that’s convincing GMs to give them their best player (Halladay, Lee) in exchange for very little. That’s a lot of WAR he has acquired for very little outlay.

Ruben Amaro Jr
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Ruben Amaro Jr
1 year 9 months ago

Ring.

Antonio Bananas
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1 year 9 months ago

RAJ wasn’t the GM when they won the World Series. He took over right after and has had a very smooth downward performance. Lost in WS, lost in NLCS, lost in Div series, .500, sub .500, terrible.

He took the best possible situation you could inherit as a GM (huge payroll, WS caliber ML roster, good farm, excited fans, ownership trust) and turned it into the worst (bloated payroll of old players, pissed fans, no farm).

RAJ is the George Bush of baseball GMs basically.

Dovif
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Dovif
1 year 9 months ago

He found the new baseball inefficiency. Replacement level players on really bad contracts. He thinks other gm are undervAluing them. So he stockpiles them

tz
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tz
1 year 10 months ago

Bip brought up a great point in a comment on the “Trade Value Top 10”.

For a team that currently has a player, you don’t necessarily value them based upon the free-agent $/win, but really in terms of what your overall $/win should be. So for Mike Trout, the Angels might really look at his contract in terms of their desired payroll divided by 30 (average WAR per team). You would use the free-agent $/win to evaluate any possible player upgrade on the roster, since the alternative is to upgrade via free agency.

So if the Phillies ever become realistic about rebuilding, they should evaluate Hamels at about $4-5 per win instead of $7/win, and realize that he would have a lot more value to a contending team who would be willing to pay the going free-agent market rate in salary.

#KeepNotGraphs

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2014-trade-value-the-top-10/#comment-4637104

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 9 months ago

I think the point of using the free agent $/WAR rate in this case is that if Hamels is making exactly the free agent $/WAR amount, another team has no reason to trade for him, because they could just use the money they would pay Hamels on a free agent, and they wouldn’t have to give up any talent for Hamels.

The reason to trade him now is the additional markup that comes from the fact that there are no free agents available to teams at this point in the season. Also, a pitcher of Hamels’ quality would want more than 4 years if you sign him as a FA, so in a sense the advantage of Hamels is that you only get him for 4 years.

tz
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tz
1 year 9 months ago

Great points on the last paragraph. If we could take a guess at what TB would want for Price, Hamels would be a very good 2nd-best option for a mid-season pickup, given that the pickings are much slimmer now than in the offseason FA market.

And I’m totally on-board with the value of just getting Hamels’ next 4 years. Gruschenko responded to one of my comments above that the Red Sox might do well to trade Lester for whatever prospects he would fetch while trading some of their own prospects to get Hamels, with the key benefit being 4 years of high salary vs. ~ 7 years.

Timber
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Timber
1 year 9 months ago

Why would no one want his contract? Pitchers of Hamels’ caliber are getting six and seven year contracts in the free agent market, and will likely be getting more money per year. Hamels at $22.5 million and four years would be a great contract to have moving forward.

I think a lot of people are underestimating how valuable his contract actually is. I hear a lot of people arguing that it’s fair market value, so why would you trade assets (prospects) for something you can purchase in free agency? That argument makes sense for a 2 WAR pitcher, because they’re a dime a dozen on the free agent market (easy to purchase). It’s doesn’t make sense when you’re talking about a 4 WAR pitcher.

A 4 WAR pitcher is a rarer commodity. Who’s available this free agency at a 4 WAR level? Jon Lester, who will likely get in the range 6 or 7 years at $20-25 million per. And there’s no guarantee you will be able to sign that player in the free agent market because there are other teams competing for his services. It’s not like you can make a run at Lester and then move on to the next pitcher in line, because there aren’t any at that level, especially those with the track record of Hamels or Lester.

With Hamels, you get cost certainty for a rare commodity at good value and for a good number of years. Right now, the Phillies have possession of that valuable asset. To pry that away from them, a team should have to give up some form of their valuable assets (which in the case of the Red Sox or Dodgers, would be their prospects).

Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
Guest
Cole Hamels' High Pitched Voice
1 year 10 months ago

Guys don’t worry fellas I just adopted another kid from Africa.

novaether
Member
novaether
1 year 9 months ago

“The 2015 Phillies are going to be terrible with or without him, and the 2016-2019 Phillies are almost certainly going to be better if the Phillies move him for some young talent and reallocate that $22 million per year in salary to other, younger players”

This seems to be the crux of the argument, but I’m don’t agree with it. For one, cultivating an entire roster of cheap 2-win players in 2016-2019 isn’t what the Phillies need to do. They would need major prospects, but how can you be so confident that major prospects are getting thrown at the feet of the Phillies for Hamels? What could the Phillies get for Hamels that they couldn’t get for Lee if they pay his contract? If your argument is that they sell both then sure, go for it. They’re going to have to get two plus-talent prospects to fill the Hamels void, though.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 9 months ago

Honestly, my objection with that statement is that we don’t know shit about shit. I think we in the analytics community have this idea that the solution to being an old team with a bad farm is to tear down and rebuild. Every currently major league asset over the age of 30 is superfluous to the path to success and might as well be traded. A beloved, home-grown star is a waste of money and space. I don’t think it’s realistic.

This goes back to the Troy Tulowitzki example. Does trading him make sense on paper? Sure, it might. But would the fallout of trading him be worth anything but an unbelievable return? I suspect not. This same logic applies to performing a tear down in general. The fans don’t like it and the media doesn’t like it, and that stuff matters, both in terms of attracting players and in attracting fans (read: money.)

When you look at the Phillies right now, there is no discernable path to success in 2015-2018, but how much can we really anticipate about what they will look like 2017? The team at that point could be basically unrecognizable. There is so much variability in the roster, the performance of it’s players, the division, that saying that the Phillies will be bad in 2017 based on what they look like right now can look extremely silly.

All I’m saying is that even the best methods of prediction often completely miss on teams that are suddenly good. Not long ago, the site labeled the Orioles dead last in its organizational rankings. I think it was the next year that they made a serious run at the AL East title, and they’ve been pretty good since that time too.

So yeah, we don’t know shit about shit. I’m not convinced selling a franchise player like Hamels is ever a good idea except in the most extreme circumstances.

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
1 year 9 months ago

Is Hamels really a franchise player like Tulowitzki? I’m not seeing it. Utley might be. Hamels, no. He’s not anywhere close to a HOF candidate unless he pitches another 10 years like the past 10 or something.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 9 months ago

I think in this context “franchise player” might refer also to prominence, popularity etc. David Ortiz was mentioned in the recent column about farewell tours, and his popularity in Boston is huge even though he’s not really HOF-worthy or ever even the best player on the Red Sox.

And to Bip’s point about the tear-down and the impact on the fans – I’ve gotta think that RAJ and the Phils’ ownership have to notice what’s going on with the Sixers right now, and what has happened in Houston under their reconstruction. He’s right about the Orioles turnaround, and I remember the Angels being in the same boat about a decade earlier.

I used to fantasize about being a GM when I was younger. But the more I think about it, it’s gotta be a royal headache.

Famous Mortimer
Member
Member
1 year 9 months ago

That makes a lot of sense. Huge trades are great for sites like this, as they drive up page views with people rushing to see who got the better of the deal, etc., but they can often be damaging for the teams, and their fanbase.

I’m probably as guilty of this as anyone else, though, so I should probably shut up. But there are more reasons to keep a player than their numbers.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

trading a franchise player may cost some dollars to the team, but so does extended periods of not winning. I understand your point about roster variability, but the Orioles had young players come up and provide a lot of value (Machado).

Fans and the media are smarter to rebuilds. They aren’t as adverse as they were before. When I read around the internets (not just here), most Phillies fans wanted to deal their old guys for what could have became a top 10 farm last year.

It’s also not like they can’t spend money and rebuild at the same time. Trade for a bunch of prospects and make several smart FA signings. Gotten back into contention.

companion cube
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companion cube
1 year 9 months ago

Amaro: “Sounds like time to give Hammels an extension. How much did they give Kershaw?”

Stan Gable
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Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

Multiple Jason Hammels? I know one is in Oakland, but who’s this oher guy?

cass
Guest
cass
1 year 9 months ago

With apologies to Carson:

Let us remember that according to the moral and ethical theory of utilitarianism, one should strive to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Let us also remember that there are far more people who hate than Phillies than who love the Phillies. When viewed in this light, Rubén Amaro can be seen as something of a visionary and moral hero.

He is sacrificing his own reputation and future job prospects – rejecting the ego – in order to make the greatest number of people happy in their lives. Perhaps he thinks of the Nats fan struggling with an addiction or the Braves fan stuck in a loveless marriage and realizes that the state of the Phillies franchise, being as bleak as it is, might be the one glimmer of happiness in their lives. We should applaud Rubén Amaro for his selfless sacrifice and devotion to the principles of utilitarianism.

On a personal note, as a Nats fan myself, I wish to thank him profusely and encourage him to keep living the good and moral life and manage the Phillies exactly as he has been. Stay strong in the face of criticism, Mr. Amaro. You are doing the right thing.

Jeremy Bentham
Guest
Jeremy Bentham
1 year 9 months ago

Eh, I don’t think there are a lot of Phillies-haters out there. They’re not the Yankees or Notre Dame.

srpst23
Member
srpst23
1 year 9 months ago

Maybe not the Phillies specifically, but there are a ton of people who hate Philadelphians (i.e. the rest of Pennsylvania and most of the northeast).

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 9 months ago

I don’t think anyone hates Philadelphians quite as much as they hate themselves. They didn’t have jails in the stadiums for out-of-towners.

JS Mills
Guest
JS Mills
1 year 9 months ago

You’re an asshole.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

No, I hate the Phillies. No, they’re not the Yankees or Hawk Harrelson or Notre Dame, but they’re in the same bucket as Cardinal fans and local radio sports talk show hosts.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 9 months ago

Why waste hatred on Notre Dame? Bama are the Patriots of college football, not ND.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 9 months ago

Bama may be the Patriots (though that’s a bit off because the Patriots haven’t actually won in a while), but Notre Dame is the Dallas Cowboys of college football.

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

Or Duke. F#$% those guys.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 9 months ago

This article, coupled with the Ryan Howard article that got posted both here and on JABO, continue to depress me regarding this team. The Phillies have always historically been behind the 8-ball when it comes to adopting league-wide changes and reforms (example: last NL team to integrate), and sabermetrics/stat analysis is no different. They are an incredibly stubborn bunch, they that run the Phillies, and until their mentality changes, you can expect the Phillies to be stuck in the hole that they’ve dug for themselves.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 9 months ago

You’d think the team with the most losses in baseball history would be a little less eager to maintain their status quo.

Paulie
Guest
Paulie
1 year 9 months ago

As a Phillies fan, the whole fan base agrees that the organization needs an overhaul top to bottom. RAJ ran the team into the ground so fast. It’s a sad thing and they are painful to watch anymore. RAJ needs to be fired asap before the end of the year and before he makes any more stupid trades.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
1 year 9 months ago

I agree with the logic of the article, but since we have no idea what teams are offering for Hamels (or would offer), we have no justification for assuming the Phillies are the ones mismanaging the situation.

Sam
Guest
Sam
1 year 9 months ago

The justification is Ruben Amaro

Doug Lampert
Guest
Doug Lampert
1 year 9 months ago

That and the fact that it’s a lot more likely that one GM is screwing up than that 8 or so different organizations are all screwing up the same way (just guessing that there are 8 or so organizations that should rationally want Hamels’ contract right now).

Norwun
Guest
Norwun
1 year 9 months ago

Ruben Amaro might be like many fantasy managers. Over value their own players and is bad at evaluating trades so out of fear they rather do nothing.

Cave Dameron
Guest
Cave Dameron
1 year 9 months ago

They’d most likely have to eat a bunch of salary to get any decent prospects in return, so they’re probably trying to figure out if they’re better off keeping Hamels and using the money they’d have to eat on other talent.

Also, with the core of the team being 34 years old +, how long is the window for guys like Utley going to be open? Maybe keep Hamels another year and see what you can do in 2015. Sure they may be awful again, but you might as well unload Hamels the same time as Utley, Rollins, Howard, Ruiz, Lee, Byrd, Papelbon etc.

Pauly Shore
Guest
Pauly Shore
1 year 9 months ago

The window hasn’t been open for a few years now. Time to face reality.

Cave Dameron
Guest
Cave Dameron
1 year 9 months ago

Then go ahead and unload all the veterans, no sense in just dealing Hamels.

Pauly Shore
Guest
Pauly Shore
1 year 9 months ago

Yes, they should.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 9 months ago

Yep…except Rollins, Howard, and Papelbon have no trade value whatsoever.

Jorge Fabregas
Guest
Jorge Fabregas
1 year 9 months ago

If they keep Hamels, they can’t use money that would be “eaten” on other talent. It just goes to Hamels.

Cave Dameron
Guest
Cave Dameron
1 year 9 months ago

True good catch. Guess they’d have to look at it as: is it better to pay him 20 mil or whatever per year to keep him, or pay 10 mil a year to trade him and get prospects. Of course if they decide to rebuild then trading him is the easy answer.

Ari G
Guest
Ari G
1 year 9 months ago

Why doesn’t a team like the Red Sox trade Lester for prospects and then make him a big (possibly above market) offer in the offseason to make up for the “disloyalty” inherent in being traded? They can claim to the FA they strengthened their team for the future, and that it wasn’t meant as any disrespect.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
1 year 9 months ago

Okay, I’ll bite – and am almost certain that other players have done this, though none come to mind.

I’m guessing reason number one is that they feel that if some other team has the chance to negotiate an extension with the traded player in question, there is a good chance that the player will take the deal rather than test free agency.

Reason two: player’s aren’t rational actors. There are many “good old boy” players who feel there is some sort of code inherently violated by rational business dealings. Hence the current animosity towards the Astros. I’m sure that the pool of players I’m referencing is balanced out by another pool of players who really liked where they were traded from and look to go back after their contract is up with a new team.

Nobody on the outside would know Lester’s feelings better the Red Sox do, so we should probably trust their judgment in this case.

Tim
Guest
Tim
1 year 9 months ago

This happened to Rickey Henderson in 1993 and Rick Aguilera in 1995, but obviously that was a long time ago.

Mcneildon
Guest
Mcneildon
1 year 9 months ago

It sort of Happened with Cliff Lee a few years ago when the Phillies traded him before the 2010 season and then resigned him after that season. The problem with that, of course, was that they received a pathetic package in that trade. And, they also had to give up more prospects to acquire Roy Oswalt during the 2010 season, which would have been unnecessary had they just kept Lee. But, poor planning and decision-making like that are how a team goes from having the best record in baseball in 2010 and 2011 and then having one of the worst records in baseball in 2013 and 2014.

TerryMc
Guest
TerryMc
1 year 9 months ago

I immediately thought of Brook Jacoby, but that was even before your two examples (1991).

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Lester said if the Red Sox traded him that he would be open to signing with the as a FA. That’s what he said to the media as a member of the BoSox though, so who really knows.

fastatlast
Guest
fastatlast
1 year 9 months ago

Amaro is probably reluctant to trade Hamels because doing so would be admitting his own incompetence, and thus likely get him fired. With the acknowledgment that Howards deal is a bust, dealing Hamels would officially signify that the Phillies are out of the winning business for a while. Some GMs would be safe doing that if other markets but in Philly someone would have to take the blame, and it would probably come down on Amaro.

Basically Amaro is taking the whole damn ship down with him instead of sacrificing himself to safe everyone else.

Walt Jocketty
Guest
Walt Jocketty
1 year 9 months ago

::Blink, blink:: ::Yawn!!:: Hunh? What? ::Snore::

santorumforpresident
Guest
santorumforpresident
1 year 9 months ago

Shouldn’t the Phillies fire Amaro before they start the fire sale? Is there any reason to trust him with the task of turning this roster over?

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
1 year 9 months ago

This will probably happen just because Amaro won’t do a fire sale.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
1 year 9 months ago

To boil 1200 words down to four:

Because Ruben gonna Ruben.

Beimel53
Guest
Beimel53
1 year 9 months ago

You could probably just replace not graphs with a “Why are the Phillies ______” section

Jay Stevens
Guest
Jay Stevens
1 year 9 months ago

Someday, I’d love to see the explanation of why the Phils are keeping Hamels, or other similarly bad (non)moves, from the first-person, inner monologue view of RAJ. This needs to happen.

That said, as a non-Phils fan, I just love this guy and this franchise! It’s a car wreck without the bodies! It’s a flash mob at the mall! I wish there were YouTube videos of RAJ GMing!

Non-Phils Fan
Guest
Non-Phils Fan
1 year 9 months ago

Agreed. Nothing against the Phils, but I hope they give RAJ a lifetime extension.

Johnston
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Hey. Wait! Somebody has to make Dayton Moore look competent.

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

I know it’s a meme run amok & all but KC’s probably had their most relevant multiple seaosn run since the late 1980s the past two campiagns. I didn’t hate the James Shields trade then & I still don’t.

Pumpsie Green
Guest
Pumpsie Green
1 year 9 months ago

The Phillies want to be the Yankees of the NL, as Dave referenced with ‘reload’. I think they still believe in their heart of hearts they’re a good outfielder and some luck away from contending in 2015. Maybe a shortstop farewell tour will work like it is for the Yankees!

Djanyreason
Guest
Djanyreason
1 year 9 months ago

Amaro’s gotta maro

\_(?)_/¯

Preston
Guest
Preston
1 year 9 months ago

Hamels is signed through 2018 with a reasonable team/vesting option. Is his value going to be seriously diminished by waiting until the off-season? At that point more teams might be in the mix, the Red Sox might lose John Lester. The Yankees might officially know that Tanaka needs TJ. The Mets or Cubs might decide now is the time to start adding pieces. It doesn’t seem like they need to be in a hurry to trade one of their lone valuable assets. And honestly if they keep him, there is a minute chance that he could still be around contributing to a rebuilt club in 2018.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

I like the point about Hamels probably having more teams wanting him in the off season. However, the offseason is also when RAJ thinks “this is going to be our year” again.

Also, I doubt Hamels will be part of a rebuild in 2018. For 1), a team with no farm, no ML depth, no nothing is going to probably take longer than 2018, especially if they don’t trade their best trade piece to kickstart it for 2), Hamels will be 34 by then. I don’t think I want that.

As a Braves fan, I want RAJ to keep steady with whatever his plan is.

D
Guest
D
1 year 9 months ago

The phillies arent trying to win. They are trying to sell tickets.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 9 months ago

And they’re failing badly at both.

Cole Hamels
Guest
Cole Hamels
1 year 9 months ago
Peter 2
Guest
Peter 2
1 year 9 months ago

If I click that link, #10 on the Google results is now your post on this very Fangraphs article. Weird wild stuff.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 9 months ago

Is that the new/old SAT that goes to 2400? Or the new (or very old) one that just goes to 1600?

Ian R.
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Hamels was born in 1983, so he probably took the SAT around 2000 (give or take a year). The current, 2400-scale SAT was introduced in 2005. So, yeah, his 1510 would’ve been on the 1600 scale, which is very very good.

Maybe he should be running the team instead of Amaro.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

If he were running the team, he’d trade himself (the player) but keep himself as GM of the Phillies. I like that.

Don Bandera
Guest
Don Bandera
1 year 9 months ago

I have to think the Phillies will at least hear the offers made for Hamels.
The question is – what would be a good offer??? What kind of offers will they get for Hamels, and what would you be willing to give up.. play GM for YOUR team, and make me an offer, I’ll be the Phillies GM.

And here’s a hint – I’ll even tell you what I’m looking for in return.
I’ll expect an offer of at least 1 league-ready starter, someone that will replace Utley, and someone to replace Byrd or Revere.

So yes.. looking for 4 players in return, with 2 being top 10/50.
No single A players. I’m rebuilding for tomorrow, not in 5 years.

Since inner-division trades are hardly ever made, I’ll give you an example of what I’d be seeking back if the Marlins wanted Hamels.
Cole Hamels to Marlins for (of) Ozuna / (2b) Dietrich /(p) any 2 of Alvarez, Eovaldi, Koehler, Turner and Heaney

Okay – Let the offers begin!

Paul
Guest
Paul
1 year 9 months ago

Although that Marlins trade may fit the Phillies’ current “need,” I think the talent is not enough. Ozuna looks like a 2.5 WAR player going forward as the highlight of the package; Dietrich isn’t good; Koehler isn’t good; and Turner isn’t good.

That said, Hamels is unlikely to provide a ton of extra value on his mega contract, so the haul might not be overwhelming. If he was traded to the Cardinals, for example, I would look more for a package consisting of Stephen Piscotty, Rob Kaminsky, and Breyvic Valera.

Johnston
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

No wonder the Phillies aren’t trading.

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

No, it’s a pretty light deal but I’d opine that Marcell Ozuna could be demonstrably more valuable than that and soon. Obviously Miami wouldn’t want anything to do with Cole Hamels’ contract almost certainly but Ozuna is only 23, plays a strong CF & is in the midst of something of a breakout season (albeit a quiet one).

Ken Bland
Guest
Ken Bland
1 year 9 months ago

Phillies fan here, which I’m sure provides a good start with some of those commenting, even though I’m not a big fan of Phillies fans myself.

While I understand and largely agree with Dave’s position, I will say this for the Phillies as they go through a decision process.

Not that you use this as a major criteria, but with this club’s image problem, they figure to have multiplied the difficulty of selling themselves for a minimum of 2015. This is a tough guy to trade and ask people to pay what I’m guessing will be raised ticket prices to offset the anticipated cost of eating a lot of Howard money. Utley’s older, so even though he might be more popular, at least you could sell that rom an age standpoint.

The argument is largely right, but it’s still a tough call.

RetireNutting
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

How’s about an intrastate deal with Pittsburgh here? Alen Hansen + Austin Meadows + Adrian Sampson + Casey Sadler for Hamels?

Hansen has a shot to stick at SS or he’ll move to 2B. Meadows reminds me a lot of something between Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen. Sampson’s a starter putting up decent numbers in his age 22 season, Sadler’s ready to pitch in MLB now, albeit as a 5th starter. That’s two potential impact guys, a middle tier guy, and MLB pitching depth and a heck of a lot of cost savings as the Phils look to rebuild.

Preston
Guest
Preston
1 year 9 months ago

Can the Pirates afford Hamels? They didn’t want to give AJ Burnett a QO because they couldn’t afford it if he accepted, how are they going to commit to a contract for 4 times the length at 7.5 million more per season.

RetireNutting
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Well, Hamels isn’t 36 (or 37) and he’s a bit better than Burnett… *and* he’s a LHP, right?

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

‘(Austin) Meadows reminds me a lot of something between Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen.’

Rock on, brother.

bob
Guest
bob
1 year 9 months ago

That seems like way too much for Hamels.

Ken Rosenthal
Guest
Ken Rosenthal
1 year 9 months ago

And yet you get on me for wanting to trade King Felix? What gives?

How’s that Cano trade suggestion going, by the way?

Alby
Guest
Alby
1 year 9 months ago

Grow up and post under your own name. It’s tiresome.

You first. Alby is a dog's name.
Guest
You first. Alby is a dog's name.
1 year 9 months ago

If Fangraphs cared about comment quality they would require a login, and ban by IP address.

Cole Hamels
Guest
Cole Hamels
1 year 9 months ago

I just that many Fangraphs readers sometimes find it amusing to see comments voted down.

RetireNutting
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

comment[s] and quality don’t belong in the same sentence.

Alby
Guest
Alby
1 year 9 months ago

How’s about we acknowledge that lots of teams that decide to dismantle take a decade or more to re-mantle? How’s about we acknowledge that the Phillies main problems, besides being horribly run, are mainly that they are getting no production out of 1B and LF, the two positions that should be easiest to fill with productive batters? How’s about Dave Cameron figures out that, unlike him, real GMs are responsible for putting people in the stands, not playing APBA baseball with real players?

Justin
Guest
Justin
1 year 9 months ago

Kind of udertates the case for their failings, their best players are over 35, and they have no depth, and little future prospects to take their place. Sure, you can find serviceable 1B/LF, but when Utley, Rollins, Ruiz are gone, which they will be soon enough, there is just nothing there.

Fred
Guest
Fred
1 year 9 months ago

Your last sentence is a childish ad hominem attack that has nothing to do with anything.

And if 1b and LF were “so easy to fill with productive batters”, more teams would have good ones there. Look up the median wRC+ for those positions in each league, it’s not pretty.

Stank Asten
Guest
Stank Asten
1 year 9 months ago

Why didn’t the Mariners trade Felix 10 years ago or whenever it was the year after they last contended?

Steven
Guest
Steven
1 year 9 months ago

Because he was in his early to mid 20s which is different than being 30 and a half. Hopefully you can understand that difference is significant.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 9 months ago

And “the year after they last contended” was 2003, which was a couple of years before Felix was even on the team. (No, finishing second in the AL West and 3rd in the Wild Card in 2007 does not constitute “contending.”)

Stank Asten
Guest
Stank Asten
1 year 9 months ago

The Ms won’t contend when Felix is in his 30s.

Stan Gable
Guest
Stan Gable
1 year 9 months ago

Well, we’ll see where it all lands but they are right in the wild card mix this year so that’s something.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Stank, much like RAJ, doesn’t seem to understand player aging curves.

Justin
Guest
Justin
1 year 9 months ago

IMO, there isn’t a ton of reason to sell Hamels now. Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Papelbon, yeah they should all be flipped for something if possible.

The Phils path to rebuilding isn’t through re-allocating Hamels money to another over-priced free agent, so getting his money off the books shouldn’t even be a concern. Their path to rebuilding is restocking the farm system, through the draft. Start with the easy guys who absolutely have no future and acquire some depth, they have a few deadlines and offseasons to deal Hamels when we have more information.

The point about Lee vs Hamels diminishing values might make a nice narrative but there are enough differences, age, contract length, and general performance/injury history that make the comparison not that relevant.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 9 months ago

The “easy guys who have no future” also have no value so they won’t enable the Phils to acquire any depth. Their path to rebuilding is through restocking their farm system which is why they should trade one of the few valuable pieces they have — Hamels — and eat a ton of money in order to get some decent prospects in return. They won’t be able to do that by trading Howard, Byrd, Rollins, or Papelbon.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan
1 year 9 months ago

If you’re the Phillies in this given situation, having a valuable trade asset in Hamels and wanting to unload the $60 million dollars of Howard, wouldn’t it make sense to find a trade partner for Hamels that gets at least one league ready prospect from a team that’s willing to take on the entirety of Hamels contract, wiping $96 million dollars off the books, that can be reallocated to pay off Howard’s remaining money, thus clearing $156 million dollars off of player payroll, but netting a positive $36 million dollars. That could get a regular starter for something like 2-3 years for $12-$15 million dollars a year (2WAR a season), and then have all that money, assuming Phillies payroll stays at its current price, to start a rebuilding or retooling process in 2017?

element1286
Member
element1286
1 year 9 months ago

Isn’t one of the advantages of the Phillies market is they have the financial resources to pay Howard either way?

Trading your best player for the next 4 years so you can pay a mistake is really bad management, especially when you can pay both guys.

ASK
Guest
ASK
1 year 9 months ago

It seems to me that Ruben Amaro Jr.’s inability to trade any of his pieces so far has less to do with the present day and more to do with when he signed each of the players. The no-trade protection and/or seemingly unnecessary vesting options in the deals signed by Hamels, Lee, Burnett and Byrd are what’s made / making each of them hard to deal. Despite what Olney or any of the other throw clay at a wall and hope some of it sticks rumor spewers says, writes or tweets, it seems more likely that the Phils haven’t traded Hamels because the best offer they’ve received is the type of deal that sites like this would kill them for making. Hamels can block trades to every team but the two LA teams, St. Louis, Washington, Atlanta, the Yankees, Boston, Texas and San Diego as possible buyers. Most of those nine don’t have the prospects to acquire Hamels and/or are out of contention. It seems that only the Dodgers and the Red Sox (and maybe the Nationals) have both enough prospects to offer a sufficient return and the ability to fit Hamels in their budget for the remainder of his deal.

element1286
Member
element1286
1 year 9 months ago

Yeah, those vesting options and no trade lists are just terrible. He’d probably be able to move Papelbon without that vesting option right now.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
1 year 9 months ago

Salary is not a problem for Philly, so they are not concerned about getting rid of Hamels just to save money. RAJ’s problem is that he has no idea how to turn Hamels into prospects who will actually be worth something. He already has a decent pitcher in Hamels, and he does not need to reduce payroll, so why should RAJ trade him?

RAJ is risk-averse. He is afraid of the fan base’s reaction to a fire sale. He is not confident he would know which prospects to seek in trades. In his view as long as he keeps throwing money around it is not his fault if the Phillies lose. If a team with a $180 million payroll loses, it is not the GM’s fault. (That is not my theory… just my theory about RAJ’s theory.)

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 9 months ago

Fans aren’t that dumb. Fans are probably more pissed that they’re obviously digging themselves into a deeper hole and losing for even longer. I have no idea where people get this idea that big name players put butts in the seats. They don’t. Wins do. Wins put people in the stands and fans can see what they have now is an old, expensive roster. Fans (the ones I’ve seen) want RAJ to flip them for prospects.

With Philly’s money, it wouldn’t be hard to contend again soon. Rebuild the farm fast and sign quality FA in the next two off seasons.

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