Note to my many followers in Leb Nation:
Please stop sending me your Cole Hamels trade proposals.
I get it. You want him here, doing the Cliff Lee 2010 thing. You don’t care if it costs two Jurickson Profars and a half-dozen Chi Chis.
You want him pitching for the Texas Rangers, preferably by July 1.
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Hamels, of course, is the real deal. Tall and left-handed, age 31, and fully controllable through 2019 for a mere $23.5 million per year.
But suppose you send the Philadelphia Phillies four of your best prospects, and Hamels joins the Rangers’ rotation?
Who pitches the seventh and eighth on the 95-degree nights when he’s gassed after six innings? Who, come July, is in the Rangers’ bullpen?
Does it matter? Or are the 2015 Rangers really just chasing their own tails?
As a wise man — let’s call him “Gil” — wrote back in March, the home team needed some time to assess its injury-muddled situation. Rarely in 2014 had Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo been on the field together. Never were Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez all healthy enough to pitch at the same time.
The suggestion here was to wait this season until, oh, the end of June, and then reassess. The club could either bolster its depth from a rapidly maturing farm system, or it could plug holes by making the trades that it avoided over the winter.
The former option has already been exercised. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Joey Gallo and the rejuvenated Rougned Odor have made impacts. The Rangers’ latter option, though, is about to stare them in the mirror.
Warts and all, the Rangers are one modest win streak away from being in the thick of the American League postseason race — and probably one untimely losing streak away from making themselves also-rans.
Do they trade the farm for Hamels? For anyone?
Don’t let your fantasy league strategy fool you. Other than the aforementioned Lee, the trade-deadline, rent-a-player deal has not worked out well for general manager Jon Daniels and his think tank.
Ryan Dempster, acquired in August 2012, posted a 5.09 ERA in his 12 Rangers starts. Matt Garza was 4-5 in his 13 starts after coming over in a trade with the Cubs in July 2013.
Neither pitcher is Hamels, of course. But what if you trade multiple prospects for him and the Rangers end up as one of the two AL wild-card teams?
Hamels would have to pitch the one-game playoff. Would it be worth the price if you lose that one game?
The answer is forthcoming. The reassessment period is in its final games.
If the Rangers decide that they are still all in on this, they need to fix their bullpen, not add a starter.
Help from within is on its way. But recovering Matt Harrison can’t be expected to help the bullpen. A relief pitcher’s night is frequently marked by getting up and down to warm up. It’s hard to imagine Harrison’s back cooperating with that.
Perez, meanwhile, could be activated before the All-Star break. But he can best help the team by upgrading the starting rotation.
Lefty Holland is another story. A temporary move to the bullpen would both help the relief depth and allow him to get back on the mound sooner.
If there’s a trade to be made, Daniels should be dialing the Cincinnati Reds daily, inquiring about Aroldis Chapman, who’s only on a one-year deal.
I get it. You want Cole Hamels.
But the Rangers have more pressing questions to answer, once they decide if they’re chasing their own tails.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697