Why the Los Angeles Dodgers Are the Best Team for Cole Hamels

July 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

It’s only fitting that a player whom his teammates call “Hollywood” will wind up in Los Angeles. 

Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ ace pitcher and one of the biggest names on the trade market, is a near-lock to be moved by MLB‘s July 31 trade deadline. The only question is where the former World Series MVP will finish his season. 

The Dodgers represent the best possible marriage: Hamels, a Southern California native, and a first-place club. 

Already armed with a rotation featuring two former Cy Young Award winners in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Los Angeles is reportedly seeking starting pitching depth for the latter part of this season. 

Hamels’ 3.02 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 113.1 innings pitched this year look mighty attractive compared to what the Dodgers have dealt with. 

Outside of Kershaw and Greinke, the the team’s starting rotation has been a trainwreck. Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy both suffered season-ending injuries and their replacements haven’t been much better. Second-year man Mike Bolsinger owns a 4.79 ERA over his last five starts, and Carlos Frias had a 5.40 ERA in his eight previous outings before hitting the disabled list himself. 

ESPN.com’s Anthony Witrado offered some insight into the Dodgers’ rotation woes: 

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are presumably active on the pitching trade market, but until they pull the trigger on their first in-season blockbuster move, the Dodgers have to solve their back-end rotation problems.

That could mean Brandon Beachy, coming off two Tommy John surgeries, is brought into the fold. 

When your answer is a guy who hasn’t pitched in an MLB game since 2013, you might have a problem. 

Enter Hamels, a quick-fix solution for Los Angeles—a franchise five games up on the defending champion San Francisco Giants and looking to win the tough National League West for a third-straight year. 

Coincidentally, Hamels, who’s played the entirety of his 10-year career in Philadelphia, openly wants to pitch for a contender in the future, via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:

“I just want to win,” Hamels told USA TODAY Sports in his first interview since the end of the 2014 season. “That’s all. That’s all any competitor wants.

“And I know it’s not going to happen here.

“This isn’t what I expected. It’s not what the Phillies expected, either.

“But it’s reality.”

Hamels’ 5-6 record through 17 starts is evidence to that. The Phillies’ offense has failed to score in eight of those outings. 

In fact, Philadelphia gives its best starting pitcher the worst run support—2.39 runs per start—among all 96 qualified starters in the entire MLB this season. 

It’s no wonder Hamels wants out, especially after team president Pat Gillick recently admitted the franchise will be in rebuilding mode until at least 2018. 

Los Angeles, meanwhile, provides more than enough run support for its starters. In 2015, its offense ranks fourth in the NL in runs scored (355), first in home runs (106) and first in wins above replacement (16.7). 

The expensive value of Hamels’ current contract, though, remains one of the biggest issues for Philadelphia in moving the three-time All-Star. 

Earning $23.5 million this season, the left-hander is owed $67.5 million more over the following three years with a club option of an additional $20 million in 2019.

Although the Phillies are open to eating most of Hamels’ remaining salary, according to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, the Dodgers can easily cover the balance when compared to other franchises. 

The team entered this season with the league’s highest payroll at over $272 million, making them no stranger to spending in order to improve their roster. 

After dishing out expensive contracts in the past to Kershaw, Greinke, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, it’s reasonable to suggest the Dodgers are more than willing to pay the price for another star.  

Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies’ franchise hit-leader who was traded to the Dodgers in December, recently spoke about a possible reunion with Hamels in Los Angeles, via CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury

“That would be nice,” he said. “That would be nice. Cole would be close to home. We know what type of pitcher he is, especially in big games. He wants those games. You have two big-game pitchers that are already here, so that would be three, and that’s one heck of a combination.”

Of course there are other possible destinations for Hamels, including Texas, Chicago, Houston, Toronto and New York among others. 

However, these clubs—all contenders in their own right—aren’t as good a fit as Los Angeles for a pitcher desperate to leave town. 

Either way, Hamels Watch 2015 is in full effect this month as the baseball world waits for Philadelphia’s impending deal. 



Dan is a featured writer for B/R’s Advanced Program in Sports Media. You can follow him @dan_servodidio. He also thinks Hamels should have been traded years ago. 

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Andy MacPhail Should Make the Philadelphia Phillies Contenders Again

July 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

When Andy MacPhail was introduced Monday as the Philadelphia Phillies‘ next president of baseball operations, the 62-year-old executive knew what he was getting into. A former general manager of the Minnesota Twins and president of the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles, MacPhail is no stranger to rebuilding efforts. 

At the beginning of next season, the veteran executive will be tasked with just that as he inherits a Phillies team with the worst record in Major League Baseball (27-53) in the midst of its fourth straight year missing the postseason. 

Although he will serve as a “special assistant” to current team president Pat Gillick for the next three months, MacPhail will assume control of the organization at the season’s end. 

If the Phillies want to get back to their winning ways that saw five consecutive National League East crowns from 2007 to 2011 and a franchise-record 102 wins in the latter year, there might not be a better man for the job than MacPhail, whose resume includes three decades’ worth of rebuilding experience. 

MacPhail took over as the Twins’ GM in 1985 and promptly built a national contender that would win World Series titles in 1987, their first in 63 years, and 1991. 

Next it was on to Chicago where, in 1994 as president and CEO of the Cubs, he took over a historically cursed franchise—one run so poorly that Greg Maddux left in free agency and Ryne Sandberg retired midseason before MacPhail could do anything about it. 

In 2003, his construction was rewarded when the Cubs won their first postseason series since the infamous 1908 World Series and came a Steve Bartman interference away from reaching the Fall Classic. 

MacPhail then went to Baltimore, serving as team president from 2007 to 2011, where he helped plant the seeds to national contention though smart trades and a specific attention to sabermetrics. In 2012, the Orioles reached the playoffs after 14 straight losing seasons in the vaunted AL East. 

In each of his three previous stints in the league, MacPhail had to take over franchises that had become baseball’s bottom-feeders and turn them into title contenders. When it comes to the Phillies’ situation, he’s been there and done that. 

Monday’s introductory press conference saw Phillies co-owner John Middleton stress the importance of MacPhail’s embrace to analytics and sabermetrics in rebuilding an MLB team, something that the organization, led by current Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr., has notoriously ignored

MacPhail was vehement about his approach to the new age of baseball scouting and development, via CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman:

I can assure you, as you probably already know, sabermetrics is something of intense interest to ownership. When it comes to that sort of thing, I believe you look at everything, absolutely everything. Why would you exclude any information? You’re gonna try to do every piece of homework you can to push the odds of being successful in your favor — every stat, every formula.

This is a tactic the Phillies haven’t warmed up to yet. In an ESPN feature this past February, the franchise was 122nd, dead last, in a ranking of every team in the four major sports based on strength and commitment to analytics. 

MacPhail believes it’s important to combine the scouting and league experience he has with the revolutionary analytics-driven statistics of the MLB today, via Seidman: 

I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry [sabermetrics] with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change, weaknesses get exposed and then they get exploited. People make adjustments. Maybe they can hit a curveball that they couldn’t a year ago. You need to look at every single facet when you’re making player evaluations. No stone goes unturned.

Many Philadelphia-area fans and media members know all too well what MacPhail is talking about. A little less than a decade ago, first baseman Ryan Howard slugged a league-leading 58 home runs and 149 RBI en route to NL MVP honors in just his second full season in the majors. 

Last season, a 34-year-old Howard hit just .223 with 23 homers and an MLB-high 190 strikeouts. Talk about bodies changing and weaknesses getting exposed. 

MacPhail has a lot to address and evaluate in these next three months in all facets of team personnel. With Amaro’s contract expiring at the season’s end and following Sandberg’s recent resignation, the Phillies’ new president could bring in a new GM and manager to lead the 2016 Phillies. 

The players are a whole other issue. 

The combination of aging veterans (Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and catcher Carlos Ruiz) and potential trade bait (starting pitcher Cole Hamels and closer Jonathan Papelbon) pose MacPhail with the challenge of rebuilding a core of a team that wants to desperately contend again. 

As we saw in Minnesota, Chicago and Baltimore, though, this is no large task for one Andy MacPhail. He’s done it with three other franchises in three separate decades, and Philadelphia is just his latest project. 


Dan is a featured writer in B/R’s Advanced Program in Sports Media. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_servodidio. He also thinks the Phillies are desperate for help. 

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