General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s job may depend on how much he can get in return for Cole Hamels.
By Mary Cunningham
Cole Hamels beat the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, but his first victory of the season was more important to the Philles’ ace than the possibility that he might be traded to the Cards.
“I don’t think I’m going to address that, sorry,” said Hamels, when asked his thoughts about the possibility of pitching in St. Louis.
On the same night the Cardinals revealed injured Adam Wainwright would miss the rest of the season, the same night team general manager John Mozeliak speculated on who might take Wainwright’s place, Hamels was dealing from the Busch Stadium mound.
Whether that is nothing more than a coincidence remains to be seen. The Cardinals were said to have interest in Hamels over the winter, as they sought to complete their starting rotation for 2015. And that was before they lost Wainwright.
The Phillies are going nowhere this season, and Hamels represents their best chance to restock their farm system in a trade.
Stories appeared indicating Hamels was receptive to such a deal.
His win on Monday was only the second of his career at Busch. But he made it clear he enjoys the experience, a St. Louis environment in which the Cardinals have made the postseason in 11 of the past 15 seasons.
“Yeah, this is a great stadium,” Hamels said. “It’s pure enjoyment to go out … you know you’re playing a great team every year. Every year I’ve pitched against them they’ve been near the top of the division. It shows with the World Series (wins) they have and, obviously, with all the postseason appearances.
“You know you’re going to get a good game and the crowd comes. It’s something fun.”
The Phillies were 73-89 last season, 23 games removed from first place in the National League East Division.
On Monday, with the 31-year-old Hamels getting his first win of the season, they beat the Cardinals 4-1 to improve to 8-12 this season.
Hamels worked seven innings, throwing 114 pitches. He allowed only four hits — three of them with two outs in the third — and struck out nine. Hamels is 109-85 over his 10-year career, with his best season being 17-6 in 2012.
That said, Hamels is not cheap labor. He has $96 million remaining on his contract through 2018, part of a $144 million deal he signed with the Phillies. There is a club option in 2019 that vests for $24 million.
He also has trade-protection in his deal, with a list of 20 teams in the no-trade category.
The Cardinals are not one of them, which helps feed speculation. Hamels’ wife, Heidi, grew up in Jefferson City, went to Drury College in Springfield, Mo., and has family in the St. Louis area.
Hamels knows what happened to Wainwright and he’s sympathetic.
“You don’t want it for anybody,” Hamels said. “I’ve been throwing against these guys my whole career. You kind of get to know them a little bit. It’s the tough part about baseball … sometimes the unexpected does happen, but it’s just a testament to the guys who can stay healthy.”