The Phillies made a big offseason move this year by signing of Cliff Lee. With Lee, Halladay, and Oswalt in the rotation, the four and five spots have become somewhat of a lesser importance to the team. There have been rumors for a few seasons now that the Phillies want to trade Cole Hamels. Here are 10 reasons why they just may do that by 2012.
Should Hamels return to his "2008" form again in 2011, he will definitely be looking for a big contract similar to Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. The team will already be looking into their future with Roy Oswalt along with other free agents after the season and most likely will not be willing to give Hamels a huge contract.
There's no secret with the Phillies right now. They are a team focused on winning a World Series in the next few seasons. However, once Halladay, Lee, Ruiz, and others become older and begin looking into retirement, they are going to need talented young guns to come in and take their place. The Phillies have a few good prospects in the farm system, but could definitely use more to develop into major league talent in five years or so.
Since the 2008 season Hamels has been viewed as a disappointment with his pitching. He has had a few bright spots where he has dazzled, but has been very streaky as of late. If this does not improve the Phillies cannot afford to have a big contract that is a gamble every time he steps on the mound.
The Phillies have a few pitchers in the farm system right now who could be ready to make the jump to the big leagues by 2012. Pitchers such as Scott Mathieson and Vance Worley have both been with Philadelphia before and have shown that they can handle the big stage. Other prospects could be ready in a few years as well. With Cliff Lee's long term deal and Oswalt and Halladay likely to sign an extension, Hamels may not be needed in the rotation and moving him can make way for younger guys to move in.
Cliff Lee is here to stay for a few seasons and will likely stay with the team for the duration of his contract as he has made it clear that Philadelphia is where he wants to play. Halladay also has said that he wants to stay with Philadelphia and after last season he is here to stay as well.
The Phillies will most likely keep Oswalt for 2012 with the club option on his contract. The Phillies have also made it clear that they are interested in other free agent starting pitchers. Hamels is being pushed farther and farther down the pitching rotation and has seemingly lost his place with Philadelphia.
In 2008 he was the World Series MVP and the number one pitcher in the rotation and has now become the fourth starter in arguably the best rotation in baseball. Even if Hamels leaves, the Phillies will still have one of the top rotations in all of baseball.
Hamels' contract is soon up with the Phillies and there have not been any contract negotiations with the team thus far. This could be a sign that the team is planning their future without Hamels. Halladay and Lee both have huge contracts and Oswalt could likely earn himself a contract extension if he has a strong season in 2011.
With these three pitchers staying, Hamels will not be able to get a big contract like he might be expecting. If he is not willing to take a smaller paycheck the Phillies could easily look to trade him to free up money for other players that Ruben Amaro Jr. could target near the trade deadline as he always does.
The Phillies have one of the most potent offenses in the National League. Rollins is healthy again and will provide a spark in the leadoff spot and everything trickles down from there. Even though Werth was let go during the offseason, there is still plenty of power in the lineup and many players who can drive in runs when needed. The Phillies can win games without superstar pitching. Even when they allow 6,7,8 runs a game they still have the potential to win the game.
The Phillies only real competition for the division right now is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves made some strong moves this offseason to improve their lineup and could make another run at the playoffs this season.
Outside of Atlanta however, there is no other team that could make any real run at the division title in the near future. The Mets have nearly dropped off the radar when it comes to playoff baseball. The Marlins lost their big offensive threat in Dan Uggla and the Nationals are still in the building process with their team. Even without Cole Hamels the Phillies should still be able to take the division if the rest of their rotation stays healthy.
When it comes to playoffs, the Phillies could theoretically go to a three man rotation with Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt and leave Hamels out of the picture even if he is on the team depending on his performance. Even if they would trade Hamels they can still make a run deep in the playoffs without him.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is well known for making last minute deals at the trade deadline to improve the team's chances in the playoffs. I would not be surprised to see Hamels in trade talks come late July as Amaro looks to add a key piece to the puzzle to try to bring a World Series back to Philly again.
The Phillies have been reported as being interested in some players such as Manny Ramirez, Scott Podsednik, and Jerry Hairston Jr. to fill in the outfield to compliment Ibanez, Victorino, and Francisco. The Phillies could look to trade Hamels at the deadline for a strong outfielder if Ibanez and Francisco do not perform well during the season. Amaro Jr. will do whatever it takes to win and trading Hamels for more offense for the postseason may not be a crazy idea.
Hamels has been known to be a very emotional pitcher on the mound. When calls do not go his way he has shown that it affects his mental makeup. This is dangerous for Philadelphia because they cannot rely solely on the top three to carry them to the World Series.
They need a reliable fourth man in the rotation to win them 12-15 games during the season. Hamels has the potential to do this if he fixes his mental makeup. During the 2008 World Series run Hamels looked calm and confident on the mound and did not let many little things bother him. However, the past two seasons he has and his pitching has struggled somewhat. If Hamels does not become mentally tough this season it would be no surprise if the team looks to trade him.