Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cole Hamels is NOT a Yankee

Cole Hamels will be a Philadelphia Phillie for the next 6 years, and that makes me happy.

I think the Phillies are better than what we've seen so far this season. Not that I think they're better than the Nationals or Braves, but I think this is a team that will challenge for at least a Wild Card berth more often than not. The thing about this deal is that it doesn't make them better. It just keeps Philadelphia from getting worse.

Seeing as how Cole Hamels has been with the Phillies the past two seasons, I don't think they got tougher at all. What this move did was keep them from getting worse. And since this is a team that couldn't get past the NLCS the past two seasons, and is in a division with one of the best up-and-coming teams in MLB... the Washington Nationals, as a Yankee fans I'm happy with the way it worked out.

See?The Nationals aren't so bad.

And that's not all...

Philadelphia will need to trade away one of their other $20 million pitchers. As of right now, for 2013, the Phillies have $69 million locked up in 3 pitchers, and a payroll of just above $172 million (that's about 40%). For comparison, this season... when healthy, the Yankees have a little under $40 million tied up into their starting five (Sabathia - $23m, Kuroda - $10m, Pettitte - $2.5m, Nova - $527,200, Hughes - $3.2m) with a payroll of about $210 million (about 19%). So unless the Phillies are going to try and win while scoring 2-3 runs a game, they'll have to make a move.

Cole will make $24 million under his new contract, Roy Halladay is slated to earn $20 million, and Cliff Lee has $25 million coming his way. There has been talk of the Phillies trading away Cliff Lee, but with upwards of 4 years and $102.5 million remaining on the contract he signed about a year and a half ago (that 4th year is an option, but it won't be hard to make it guaranteed), that's going to be easier said than done. Especially when you look at the fact that Cliff's ERA+ has gone from 167, 131, 133, and 160 the past four years, to just 100 so far this year.

The Phillies could find a buyer that would be willing to give up more for Roy Halladay, as his average ERA+ the past three seasons has been 163, and he's under contract for 2 more years at $40 million (the option for year 2 is not hard to guarantee either). Then again, Roy's ERA+ so far this season sits at 92, so an acquiring team may be looking at a bit of a discount.

"Regardless of any stat, you know you still want me."

The point I'm trying to make is that the Phillies are not a team that Yankees fans need to worry about... at all. The Dodgers, on the other hand, look like a team to think about as they'll be looking to spend quite a bit this offseason (they were one team that looked to be ready to offer Hamels a big contract). Although offense has been their real problem recently, with the addition of Hanley Ramirez and others on the horizon, that could change soon.

And while the Texas Rangers are already a big threat in the American League (they've won the ALCS the past two seasons), they are looking to add a big piece or two. So if they'd gotten Cole Hamels I would have been worried, as they already have one of the best pitching staffs, to go along with one of the best offenses, in baseball.

The final reason why I'm happy the Phillies shelled out the money to retain Cole Hamels for the next 6 years is that he won't be a Yankee.

I'm one of the few Yankee fans out there that believes Michael Pineda can return next year and be a big contributor to the Yankees starting rotation. I don't think he'll be a second ace like we'd hoped when the trade for him first happened, but I believe he'll make a really good #2 pitcher. Even if the Yankees trade away a young pitcher like Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes, they'll have Manny Banuelos or other youngsters to fill out what should be a formidable pitching staff. After that I see the Yankees adding a "Hiroki Kuroda" or other veteran pitcher to shore things up. So spending $20+ million for another starter is silly to me.

No, Robbie, I'm not forgetting you.

What the Yankees should do with that money is retain Robinson Cano, and possibly Curtis Granderson. They don't have any middle infielders that could come close to filling Robbie's spot on the team. As for Curtis Granderson's contract being up after next year, the Yanks top outfield prospect is still a few years away (Mason Williams). On that note Tyler Austin is looking good, but he's just as far away from MLB as Williams is. With Nick Swisher's impending free agency this offseason, opening a spot in the outfield for a guy that can hit around 25 home runs a season, to go along with Granderson's last year coming up, a move or two needs to be made.

Oh yeah... I forgot about the catching situation too.

So there was no way I'd be okay with the Yankees spending big on Cole Hamels. Then again, I also believe the Yankees are serious about getting down to a payroll of $189 million by 2014. So perhaps I'm one of those delusional Yankee fans you hear so much about.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)