“I mean, it’s not what I envisioned,” Hamels said, asked if he thought about this being his final start with the Phillies. “It’s not what I thought. It’s not in my thought process. I think all I’ve been thinking about the past couple days was just to kind of correct my pitching, just being able to be out there and enjoy the moment.”
Hamels had a 19.89 ERA in his past two starts, which had many wondering if he would be traded before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET Deadline. Yes, Hamels has a tremendous track record, but if he threw another clunker, it might have raised too many concerns for teams being asked to part with top prospects.
Of course, the reality is even before Hamels stepped onto the mound, talks about him had heated up.
The Rangers, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Giants are making the hardest pushes for Hamels, according to multiple sources who have spoken to MLB.com over the past couple days. The Phillies and Rangers recently reengaged talks, and a source said the Yankees’ interest is more than just an organization performing its due diligence.
MLB sources confirmed to me this afternoon that the Cubs have been in discussions with the Philadelphia Phillies on a deal for Cole Hamels who has three years left on his current contract plus an option year. While he is an expensive piece he fits the needs of the team to upgrade their rotation while adding a player who would be a part of the team beyond the rest of this season. The Cubs will probably add an additional starter for depth perhaps as a rental type but that is not expected to be a significant acquisition.
Multiple sources said the Phillies are willing to eat money in a Hamels deal depending on the package received, while one noted the asking price in terms of prospects was high, both in quantity and quality of players.
My guess: The stalemate is going to continue, maybe right until the final days leading to the deadline. The buyers need a fuller picture of who exactly is available and how those pitchers are performing. The sellers, meanwhile, need the urgency of the deadline to spur action — and in some cases, more time to polish their goods.
I’m not talking about Hamels, who will return to his old self the moment he escapes the losing, angst-ridden environment in Philadelphia. But Cueto’s six-walk performance on Sunday likely renewed concerns for teams already worried about his elbow; his average fastball velocity of 92.68 mph was his second-lowest of the season, according to Brooksbaseball.net (the only game in which Cueto’s velocity was lower was on May 19, after which he missed a start due to stiffness in his elbow).
If Cole Hamels made his final start for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, it will be a forgettable conclusion to a memorable career.
Hamels allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out one in just three innings in an 8-7 victory over the Marlins, which gave the Phillies their first series sweep since May. Hamels’ poor effort Sunday followed his July 10 start at AT&T Park in San Francisco, where he allowed a career-high nine runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Giants.
“What I’ve done in the last week and a half hasn’t been up to my standards or the expectations of many,” Hamels said afterward.
But he also wasn’t very good at what he did, even with a lack of talent. His in-game decision making lacked creativity. He often appeared unprepared, and multiple players openly bristled at his authority, both veterans and younger players. One of Sandberg’s closest friends, his bench coach Larry Bowa, said as much in an interview with CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
Several pitchers — Hamels, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and David Buchanan — openly disrespected Sandberg during visits to the mound last season.
Bowa said Sandberg addressed that with the pitchers in spring training.
“That was one issue that bothered him,” Bowa said.
And while some of those issues were behind the scenes, there were others that were more public, like his dugout spat with reliever Ken Giles, after Giles was visibly upset on the mound after being ordered to intentionally walk a batter a few weeks back.
“It shocked me,” Bowa said. “I’d never seen [Sandberg] that mad. I was like, ‘Whoa, who’s this? Who just came out of his body right here?’ ”
A half-season of frustration?
“I’m sure it was,” Bowa said. “I’m sure it was.
Bowa added, “Giles is a great kid; he got caught up in the moment and he was concentrating on the hitter.”
But for Sandberg, “That was sort of the straw that broken the camel’s back,” Bowa said. “He went over and said, ‘I’m running this team. If I want to put that guy on, I’m putting him on. I’m the manager, you’re the pitcher.’ ”
Was that one of the moments that led to Sandberg’s decision?
No. No. No. No. No. Aaron Nola is the kind of player the Phillies should be holding onto right now. While I don’t think he’ll be an ace, he can be a nice starter in the middle of a rotation when the team is ready to contend again.
How much is Aaron Nola worth as a trade chip? Is there an Anthony Rizzo out there to be acquired in exchange for a team that desires an Andrew Cashner?
The reaction to this seems a little overblown. In 249 PA, Utley has hit .179/.257/.275. In 212 PA, Cesar Hernandez is hitting .301/.386/.383.
Here is what the Phillies’ general manager should have said Tuesday when asked if second baseman Chase Utley would reclaim his position after coming off the disabled list:
“It’s too soon to answer that. Chase has meant a lot to this franchise. Cesar Hernandez is playing well. We’ll see where we are when Chase comes off the DL. So much can happen between now and then.”
Every other GM would have offered some variation of that answer. But Amaro, when asked if Utley still would be the primary second baseman once healthy, told reporters, “Not for me, he’s not. Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman. I would assume that Cesar would be our second baseman. I think that’s fair.”
“I don’t know if it has to be,” Amaro said. “Chase’s situation will kind of dictate itself, how he feels. There’ll be time for him to play, I think. He could play some first base. He could play some second.
“But as far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, and that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future.”
After hitting just .179/.257/.275 in 249 at-bats, Utley was sent to the disabled list with a right ankle injury. When he returns, he may find that his run with the Phillies has come to an end.
Is Utley still team’s everyday 2B upon return? “Not for me he’s not,” Amaro said. “Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman.”
Those are pretty strong words from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Hernandez has performed well over the first few months of the season, hitting .302/.385/.385 over 207 plate appearances.
Hernandez may be the future at second base for Philadelphia, but he’s earned that role mostly by default. Given the state of the franchise, the 36-year-old Utley isn’t going to be on the next winning Phillies club. Hernandez was never really considered a strong prospect, and was viewed more as a backup/utility infielder coming up, so expecting him to be great moving forward might be foolish.
It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. The Phillies stink. Although it’s a handy excuse to explain their current predicament, other teams and GMs have proven it’s possible to be successful over a longer period than the Phillies timeline.
The criticism of this franchise I think has been that maybe they tried to keep the party going too long,” the Phillies president-in-waiting said in an interview with the MLB Network.
MacPhail opined that “this game is designed to punish the successful” by way of reverse-order-of-finish drafting and salaries that increase with performance and service time.
He’d just broken the record for cheesesteak consumption in the visitor’s clubhouse at the Phillies’ 11-year-old yard, downing 20 of the massive sandwiches as of Thursday afternoon—and counting. On Wednesday, Hanel broke the previous three-game mark held by Mets bullpen catcher Eric Langill when he took the first bite of cheesesteak No. 18. On Thursday, Hanel blew past Marlins right-hander Mat Latos’ four-game record (18), and had already finished No. 20 when it was time to head out to catch Wily Peralta’s pregame bullpen session.
Careful! The Phils don’t want to see Howard’s trade value go down.
Kyle Lohse went from pitcher to hitter to NFL safety in the time it took him to run to first base.
The Milwaukee Brewers righthander had himself a night against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, picking up the win and racking up three hits in a 9-5 victory over the worst team in baseball. One of those hits did not come easy, however, as Lohse wound up running right into the backside of mammoth first baseman Ryan Howard while trying to leg out an infield single.
Lohse is listed as 6’2”, 215 pounds. Ryan Howard is 6’4”, 250 pounds (if you believe that).
Andy brings an uncommon blend of old school experience and new age thinking. … In 1986, Andy was the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when he served in that role for the Twins. The following year, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series title. When the Orioles hired him eight years ago, Andy became the first president of baseball operations in Major League Baseball. During his tenure in Baltimore, he greatly expanded the use of statistical analysis in player evaluations. That’s the new age thinking.”
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and club president Pat Gillick have been listening to offers on Hamels for months. They have made it clear that they are ready to pull the trigger when they get one they like. By contract, Hamels has already conceded to accept a trade to nine clubs. He can veto 20 other destinations -– but that doesn’t mean he necessarily would do that.
“I have not been approached,” he said. “When I’m approached, then I can make a decision and provide an answer about a team.
“But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”
Even Toronto and Houston?
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve always been open-minded. I will think about everything.”
The result was a remarkable press conference that featured a stunned general manager, a silent president, and a gigantic elephant invited by the outgoing manager and ignored by the other two men. The Phillies might be the worst team in the major leagues, but man, do they make it interesting. How strange are these times? When asked one of the most basic questions regarding situations like these - who will be in charge of hiring Sandberg’s replacement - the president of the organization could not answer.
“I can’t really comment on that,” Pat Gillick said.
According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies are expected to name former Twins, Cubs, and Orioles executive Andy MacPhail as the new leader of the club. While current President Pat Gillick will remain with Philadelphia in a consultation role, MacPhail will take over the lion’s share of responsibility when it comes to the Phillies’ future. He’s set to be installed soon, as it will give him ample time to “evaluate the team’s general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg”.
“It’s sort of like what they do at private schools,” Gillick told the Inquirer. “They hire a headmaster a year ahead of time. I’m working with ownership and we’ve got some people under consideration. I think probably it’s going to happen somewhere in the not-too-distant future.”
Gillick said the intent is to give his eventual replacement time to observe the remainder of the season and then make decisions concerning general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., manager Ryne Sandberg and player personnel.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Gillick said. “We have some important decisions to make and you don’t want to make those decisions on the fly. This way you can get the feel in which direction you want to go because it is an important decision to make.”
What currency Sandberg still held in the clubhouse and within the organization was spent in those moments, not necessarily because Utley was right, but because his crime against the most hallowed tenet of the game, not showing up the manager, went entirely unpunished and ignored. Outside the walls, it might have been just another blip on a downward arc. Within them, it was a sea change that not a player, coach, nor management official failed to recognize. Fair or not, Sandberg lost his job right then.
And the zinger:
The tragicomic scene of a phone ajar from the hook, causing McClure to resort to sending a towel-waving signal to the bullpen, was a metaphor for an organizational failure that extends far beyond the field. Forget analytics and advanced baseball strategy. This team can’t master a land line. If the Cardinals wanted to hack into the deepest secrets of the Phillies, they would have to research the intricacies of the Commodore 64.
The Orioles set a new franchise record by hitting eight home runs in Tuesday night’s 19-3 victory over the Phillies. Six different Baltimore players clubbed homers as the Orioles became the first team to hit eight or more home runs in a game since the Red Sox did so against Detroit on Sept. 4, 2013.