December has arrived, which means the heating up of offseason maneuvers in major league baseball. The cold-hard-truth is that the Yankees have not joined the party so far.
They are not notorious for making early moves. Alex Rodriguez, the biggest offseason move in baseball history, was not done until the heart of winter on Feb. 15, 2004. A more recent trend may have been set, however, with the signing of Curtis Granderson on Dec. 9, 2009.
With the MLB Winter Meetings (a meeting of baseball executives and owners, discussing rules and inevitably trades) approaching, the Bombers have fallen behind in signing big players. As of yesterday, their arch-rival Boston Red Sox signed not a player, but a blockbuster manager in Bobby Valentine, a disciplinarian and bright personality that will certainly enhance their chances of winning down the road.
The Marlins signed Heath Bell, a solid closer from the Padres that will help them finish games behind good start pitching. Granted, signing Bell would not have been a very productive move for the Yankees, but it is still one less player of possibility.
What New York needs more than anything is starting pitching, and it may take either a huge free agent deal or an even bigger trade to bring one in. Before finding the best pitcher on the market, they should consider what kind of pitcher they’re looking for. It should be someone who mixes consistency, experience, and a bit of youth as well.
That combination could be in Philadelphia Phillies’ lefty Cole Hamels. Not long ago, it was Hamels that led the Phillies to their only World Series title, winning every game he started in the postseason. Now, as Philly attempts to assemble “dream teams” in multiple sports, he has been relegated to the shadows of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.
Both have considerable talent, probably more than he has, but have not accomplished the same.
Hamels has been consistently solid since coming into the league in 2006. Except for an enigma in 2009, he has recorded a winning season every year. Last season he seemed to get back into form, going 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA. His postseason record is 7-4 with a cool 3.09 ERA, one of the best in baseball.
Ironically, his worst postseason start was against the Yankees in 2009 World Series, where he only made it into the 5th inning, giving up five earned runs.
Getting the 27-year-old lefty from Philly may be difficult, depending on his mindset and the ideals of the team. He is arbitration-eligible in 2012, but becomes a free agent in 2013. If Hamels expresses any interest in departing, the Phillies may be inclined to look for a deal.
If they plan to sign him to a big contract, however, it will end any chance of him leaving for another team.
If the opportunity does arise, the Yankees must pursue him. If they need to offer up catcher and promising prospect Jesus Montero to get him, it’s an easy trigger to pull. The Yankees do not need offense, and do not have trouble attracting big hitters to play for them.
When a young-stud pitcher knocks on the front door, however, they must make it happen, especially one with credentials like Hamels. Between the youth and postseason experience, he would be a perfect fit, bringing stability to a rotation that has been filled with question marks since winning the World Series in 2009.