Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels reportedly turned down a trade to a first-place team opting instead to be dealt to a team that is four games under .500 and eight games behind first place.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Hamels killed a trade to the Houston Astros but OK’d a deal to the Texas Rangers. This is simply more evidence that no one actually wants to live in Houston.
Score one for Jon Daniels in the on going war with former Rangers owner Nolan Ryan. The Houston Astros are in first place, but the Rangers got Hamels, which is similar to being in first place only that it’s not.
I like the player, provided the expectations are for 2016 rather than 2015. This team still needs help - start with relievers, and right-handed bat.
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The Rangers are not “in it”, but they somehow landed the top available pitcher at the MLB trade deadline - the Rangers acquired Hamels and left-handed reliever Jake Diekman in return for prospects Jorge Alfaro, left-handed starting pitcher Matt Harrison, outfielder Nick Williams, minor leaguer pitchers Alec Asher, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff.
Alfaro is the prize of this haul for the Phillies.
This will be the deal that either solidifies JD’s tenure with the Rangers, or kills him. The Rangers clearly have no interest in tearing down the team and going through a fire sale. JD continues to double down on the philosophy that adding high-priced older players is the way to go. It certainly makes them more relevant, but it has not yielded the desired results.
Whatever you want to say about Rangers’ co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson - “Bob Ray” - they are not afraid to spend money in the face of results that say salary dumps would be an acceptable alternative. How this money is spent is a different matter.
Hamels is due more than $23 million each season through 2018. That type of money is a continuation of the type of cash that is flying at the Ballpark. The Rangers’ payroll now ranks seventh in MLB, past the LA Angels.
This may be a total coincidence, but since Nolan Ryan walked out the door the Rangers are 115-147. If my math is right, that’s awful.
In June of 2011, the JD handed Adrian Beltre a six-year, $96 million deal.
In 2012, JD signed Yu Darvish a six-year, $60 million contract. That did not include the $51 million posting fee the Rangers paid to Yu’s Japanese league team.
In 2013, JD signed Elvis Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million extension.
In 2013, JD traded second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in return for Prince Fielder. The Rangers committed to $138 million of Fielder’s remaining contract.
In 2013, JD signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million deal.
Now the Rangers are on the hook for another massive contract.
This deal has to work for JD. What these prospects do in Philly is not as important as Hamels’ impact with the Rangers. They acquired him to make the team a contender in 2016, and at a minimum he needs to be a No. 1 caliber starter. Keep in mind this is just one guy; he was one of the best lefties in the National League, yet the Phillies are arguably the worst team in baseball.
As average as the American League is, at best adding Hamels may make the Rangers a .500 team in 2015. There are too many holes. Next season, however, a rotation of Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Chi Chi Gonzalez and eventually Darvish would be as good as any in the AL.
The Rangers are married to the big-ticket, big-money plan. It certainly has made things interesting; it would be nice if it made them winners.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760