In a typically fine article today, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculated that things could get pretty awkward down in Clearwater when Phillies spring training opens next week.
His theory: that the failure of Ruben Amaro to deal players such as Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, and others during the off-season will create a distraction for those players, as well as for the entire organization.
“The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.” ~ Ken Rosenthal
I completely understand his point of view. Rosenthal reminded us of manager Ryne Sandberg commenting negatively on last year’s clubhouse environment, and wrote that the “environment will not improve this season, given the uncertainty surrounding so many prominent veterans.“
I don’t have any problem with most of the basics in the piece. Yes, the Phillies need to deal as many of the aging, high-salaried veterans as possible. Yes, players like Howard and Papelbon are not likely to yield much, and will require eating big chunks of salary.
Yes, those deals should happen anyway, for the sake of changing that environment. But I do have a problem with a couple of directions that the Rosenthal article seems to take.
On the one hand, he writes: “The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.”
On the other hand, two paragraphs later he begins: “No one is suggesting that the Phillies make a poor trade.“
Though he mentions names of prospects in other organizations, nowhere in the article do I see specific trade suggestions.
What package does Rosenthal himself think would be acceptable for Cole Hamels, either from the Padres or the Red Sox, the two teams he highlights in discussing the ace lefty?
He quotes the old “sources” as saying that the Phillies “are adamant about getting one blue-chip prospect in any trade for Hamels” – and hangs that idea out as if it’s outrageous.
For a pitcher of Hamels age, experience, proven health and results, and cost certainty, they had best get at least one such prospect in a deal.
I’m not going to go off half-cocked in defense of the current Phillies front office regime. As I have previously written, the biggest part of the problem right now is management, specifically Amaro and Pat Gillick.
But it’s too easy to simply say that the Phillies should have done this, or the Phillies should have done that, without any specifics as to what they actually did or should try to accomplish.
Maybe the Phillies did try to do all they could, and maybe the teams on the other end of the phone were trying to rob them blind.
Rosenthal implied that the Phillies should not make a bad trade. I completely agree. Right now, any trade of Howard, Papelbon, Lee, or even Carlos Ruiz or Domonic Brown would not be a bad trade.
But the same cannot be said about Cole Hamels. Just any trade of Hamels will not suffice. That trade has to be the right trade, and that trade should not happen unless it is such.