I haven’t posted very many baseball thoughts in a while… actually I guess not since before the season when I was posting up my predictions. As you can see how my prediction for the Phillies differs quite a bit from how things actually look for the team right now, it’s not too big of a surprise baseball hasn’t been as pleasant to talk about this season. Actually, even though I expected much more from them, I still anticipated this to be a challenging season with their key players all aging. I just expected them to handle the challenge a little bit better.
Anyways, Ruben Amaro, Jr. has stated that the Phillies pretty much need to win this weekend’s series against Atlanta in order to convince him not to start getting rid of some players in order to help the team get younger, invest more in its future so it doesn’t completely implode when Utley, Howard, Lee, and Halladay are long past their primes, and to clear out salary space. Having lost the first two, things should start moving pretty soon.
Fortunately he’s already signed Cole Hamels, easing my biggest fear.
A lot of big names have been in rumors. Shane Victorino… Cliff Lee… Jimmy Rollins… Hunter Pence… that’s not fun. It hasn’t been too long, but I miss when this team was a buyer. Gotta go through both seasons, though, right?
Here’s a few thoughts on some players whose names have been all over the place.
Cole Hamels: So glad we locked him up. To the Phillies fan, he seems a lot older than he really is. It’s probably because he’s established himself as an all-star pitcher, an ace, and the World Series MVP long before Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, or heck, Pedro Martinez entered the picture. He’s actually the pitcher I’d build that rotation around, though. Lee is capable of brilliance, but he goes through frustrating stretches. Halladay needs no explanation, but he is on the older side of things. He and Cole make a great tandem because his mastery and work ethic is something that can take a lot of pitchers’ natural talents into the next level, and I think we’ve seen that out of Hamels over the past few years.
I also think there’s a huge tendency to underestimate Cole Hamels. Maybe it’s because he’s always projected as the #3 guy behind Halladay and Lee, although his numbers have been comparable in the past (and are far better this year.) Maybe he just doesn’t fit the Philly mode too well with his chill California pretty-boy persona, although I’d think his awkward-sauce moment with Bryce Harper this year changes the look of that a bit. Still, that reason made me concerned that he’d be more likely to leave Philly for the Dodgers or Angels, but fortunately, that didn’t happen. He’s here for a while, and I’m glad to have him. He and Chooch have been my faves for a while.
Shane Victorino: It would be so hard to see the Flyin’ Hawaiian go. His style of play, his grit, his borderline obnoxious presence bouncing off the walls in the clubhouse, and his mix of skills have made him one of the most fun players to watch in Philly for a long time. Yet, unfortunately, he’s a good bat in a lineup that has a few of them, he’s a bit older- though not that old, and he can command a pretty high asking price. I see him as the most likely player to go, which is kind of a bummer. I don’t know who’s really looking for him, though, or who’d be willing to take him. I could potentially see him in Pittsburgh or Arizona, but it’s still hard to imagine them bidding big for him. Maybe San Francisco? I wouldn’t be so happy with that, though.
Jimmy Rollins: Most of the talk surrounding J-Roll involves him going back to his roots in the Bay and shortstopping for Oakland during their playoff run this year. This scenario makes sense, it’s just hard to imagine in light of the Phils resigning him over the offseason. It seemed to me like a commitment to make J-Roll the guy the Phillies plan to see retire in uniform. While Howard, Utley, Hamels, Chooch and Rollins are all career Phils, it’s hard to picture the team letting them all age together for the sake of team loyalty whilst taking up five roster spots. If they have to let one go, Rollins, the longest tenured Phil makes the most logistic sense, with the opportunity in Oakland.
Cliff Lee: That’d be an interesting departure. First, it’s hard to imagine the rotation’s arsenal breaking up, but if it did, Lee would be the guy to go. I guess he is aging, and doesn’t have Halladay’s X-factor, but still. Lee’s been frustrating to watch this season. At first he was the victim of weak run support, but soon he kept being unable to hold leads, and it seemed like he was playing with a lot less heart. While Lee will always have a special place for his ’09 run, and for returning the following offseason after stints in Texas and Seattle, it’s hard to keep tolerating the Lee of 2012. On the flip side, you can get quite a good package for Lee, but I’d wait until he’s resurfaced some of that trade value. Under contract, there’s less urgency to deal him.
Hunter Pence: That’s another name I keep hearing a lot, and it’s one deal I really hope doesn’t happen. Hunter adds so much to the Phils’ lineup, being able to have the skill of a heart-of-the-order hitter but the strategy of someone who hits in the five-spot or lower. He’s not the best fielder, but it’s worth it for his bat and hustle. He and Victorino do have similarities in styles of play, and it might come down to picking one over the other. Pence is younger than most of the Phillie position players, and when you try to get younger, the goal isn’t to deal one of the youngest guys in the lineup. Here’s hoping he stays.
Ultimately, I’m not fond of fire sales. Not only does that mean your team isn’t doing so hot, but they are tough to pull off well. That’s a hard part about rebuilding. The need to go young and to speculate a lot. It’s why I’m not so into prospects. Even Kyle Drabek isn’t quite on par with initial expectations, and we had a hard time dealing him for Halladay. They’re too uncertain of a gamble to spend some of your best players on. Things like the original Cliff Lee deal, acquiring Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla for Curt Schilling, or the random package we got for Scott Rolen back in the day are all not going to cut it. Even good prospects I’m very wary on.
I suppose we’ll wait and see what happens.