By Sam Bush
For almost a decade Cole Hamels has been the Phillies Golden Boy:
A southern California native with great command of three pitches who won the MVP in the 2008 World Series and is the last man standing from the team’s Four Aces of 2011.
But for many MLB teams who are kicking his tires as they contemplate trading for him before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, the question is:
What have you done for the Phillies lately?
Hamels will make his final start before the trade deadline this afternoon against the Cubs in Wrigley Field, unless somebody skips a turn in the rotation and he pitches Thursday.
He needs a good one, too.
Hamels has posted a 19.89 ERA in his past two starts, and he has allowed five or more runs in six of 19 starts this season. Only four pitchers have had more five-plus-run starts this season (Shane Greene, Kyle Lohse, Kyle Kendrick and John Danks).
“I expect to see him pitch like himself every time he goes out,” Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said Friday. “The last two outings were hopefully an anomaly. The stuff was there. The command wasn’t. You know what he’s capable of doing.”
But if Hamels produces another clunker, it is hard to imagine a contending team giving up a couple top prospects for him, regardless of his career numbers.”If I were with another team, I would just be looking at the stuff,” Mackanin said.
The Phils could wait until the offseason to deal Hamels, who has been linked to the Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox and others. Keep an eye on Texas.
Disgruntled closer Jonathan Papelbon also could stick around, which would be fascinating to watch if it happens. He has made it incredibly clear he wants out of Philadelphia.
Papelbon chatted up Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer before Friday’s game. Chicago had expressed some interest in Papelbon, and both front-office members know him from their time with Boston, but it does not mean anything is cooking.
“One thing about Pap, he’s a bit peculiar, as we all know,” Mackanin told MLB.com. “But when he goes on the mound, he does his job. He’s a fierce competitor. We don’t worry about him when he’s on the mound.”
Of course, one wonders if Papelbon’s public criticisms of the Phillies over the years could make some general managers and owners tentative about acquiring him. Papelbon generally has been fine in Philadelphia’s clubhouse, but perception may become reality.Could Papelbon become a disruption if he remains with the team on Aug. 1?
“It’s a consideration. Apparently, he would like to be traded. He’s come out and said it,” Mackanin said. “If not, we’ll just have to wait and see.”