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July 31, 2015

What they're saying: Grading the Cole Hamels trade

Phillies MLB
071015_Hamels_AP Kathy Willens/AP

Phillies starter Cole Hamels

Even though it's fruitless, because none of us really know just what the of players the prospects involved will grow into, there's no shortage of opinions about whether or not the Phillies won the Cole Hamels trade.

We all rush to to declare one side the winner and the other the loser, but for two teams in very different places talent-wise, perhaps there's a chance the trade worked out best for everyone involved. Sure, the Phillies didn't get the Rangers top prospects, but they get a boatload of them. And when dealing for prospects, isn't it quantity -- assuming they are somewhat respectable -- better than quality?

It's the way to play the odds when dealing in unproven entities. After all, remember when Domonic Brown was the Phillies can't-miss prospect? The one that was untouchable in any deal? 

I bet there are some Phillies fans that would have preferred the team dealt him back when they were still the market's buyers.

In Friday's Daily News, columnist David Murphy wrote about just this idea. Here's a snippet, but you should check out the whole thing:

So before anybody lambastes the front office for failing to land any of this year's supposed blue-chippers in their long-awaited trade of Hamels, consider the possibility that it wasn't a failure at all, but, rather, a prudent decision to limit their exposure to risk by agreeing to a diversified package of talent that contained a solid mix of predictability and projectability.
Falling in love with a prospect is a dangerous thing to do, because it can make you forget that all prospects are a guessing game to some degree. Your job is to know as much about them as you can, to formulate as accurate a projection about their future as you can, but also to remember that there is a significant amount that nobody can ever know or project, and to build the variability of that unknown into whatever formula you use to place a value on them. The value of each prospect in a package diminishes the value a team can expect out of the subsequent pieces.  []

And while no one actually knows how the deal will work out for the Phillies, it's worth noting how people react to this deal, not only because it's an important one for the future of the franchise, but also because people actually seem to like what Ruben Amaro pulled off.

Here's a look at what they're saying about the trade...


Grant Brisbee, SB Nation
There isn't someone who's going to join the team tomorrow, and there might not be someone who makes a difference next year. Raw.

And that's what I love about it. Because if the Phillies can't make anything from this bunch, if they can't turn one or two or four of these players into solid contributors, they probably don't have the organizational sculptors in place to build a contending team, anyway. If they can't realize value from this quantity-quality hybrid, they probably weren't going to realize value from enough of their existing prospects to build a contender around Hamels. If they can't handle a pile of well-regarded raw prospects, they were probably going to screw this all up for the next five years anyway.  []


Craig Calcaterra,
It’s a lot of fun to mock Ruben Amaro. To say that he should’ve started rebuilding two years ago, etc. etc. And there’s a lot of truth in such criticisms. But credit where it is due: Amaro did well in trading Cole Hamels to the Rangers yesterday.
As for the Rangers, Hamels will slot alongside a healthy Yu Darvish and Martin Perez which should make the Rangers competitive in 2016 and 2017. They also didn’t have to give up Joey Gallo for him Hamels, which many might have assumed they’d do in such a big deal. Texas has been mildly competitive this year despite the Darvish injury. With Hamels in the fold, they should be considered playoff contenders going forward.  []


Jonah Keri, Grantland
If you’re a Phillies fan wondering if that haul is enough for a pitcher of Hamels’s caliber, keep in mind that teams have become zealots about protecting their top prospects; a Kris Bryant type on the cusp of the majors simply isn’t going to change teams, unless a general manager suddenly decides to trade a star in his mid-twenties who’s locked up for many years to come. Getting this array of prospects with different pedigrees and different positions thus offers the Phillies a combination of upside and organizational depth that’s a reasonable return for today’s trade environment.  []


Scott Miller, Bleacher Report


Ted Berg, USA Today's For The Win
Essentially, it seems, the Rangers didn’t necessarily trade for Hamels as a typical trade-deadline addition so much as because Cole Hamels is an excellent pitcher and if you feel you can add him to your team at a reasonable cost you should always do so, no matter the month. Though it had long been reported that the Rangers were in on Hamels, it’s a bold and weird and good move by late-July standards.
And you know what else is bold and weird and good? You guessed it, Cole Hamels:


Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer
It is Williams, Thompson, and Alfaro who will dictate the success or failure of this trade, which could be the last one of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s tenure with the Phillies. It would be nice to know exactly how much input and influence Amaro had on the trade. It is known that the general manager ran all the meetings with the scouting staff in the weeks and days leading up to the trade deadline. It is also known that team president Pat Gillick and his future replacement Andy MacPhail remained mostly quiet in those meetings.
That, however, does not mean that Gillick and MacPhail remained silent once it was time to make the deal. Always underestimated in these decisions are the roles played by a team's professional scouting staff. In the Phillies' case, the strongest voice in that department belongs to Charley Kerfeld.  []


Jake Kaplan, Philadelphia Inquirer
Diekman spent most of the game watching from the bullpen, briefly exiting in the second inning but returning a couple of frames later. The 28-year-old said after the game that he had yet to be told that he was officially traded. He arrived at the ballpark expecting clarity and hours later was told he would pitch only in an emergency situation.
"I mean it sucked," he said in front of his locker. "This could be the last time I walk in here. I mean, I have no idea."
Diekman said he didn't sleep "one bit" Wednesday night.
"I don't know if I feel anything right now," he added. "Until something happens, I'm still here. I'm still a Phillie. I was a Phillie when I woke up. I was a Phillie during the entire game."  []


Adam J. Morris, SB Nation
Which brings us to Jorge Alfaro, a guy the Phillies have been asking for Texas for for over a year, a guy the Rangers have been grooming and developing and looking to as their catcher of the future, a guy the Rangers, I have to think, did not want to give up.  If there's a player in this deal who has the potential to make us look back and really, deeply regret this trade, it is Alfaro.  If he puts it all together, he can be a perennial All Star catcher.  He has a big time arm and big time power, and could turn into the next Lance Parrish, a cornerstone player on a great team.  But he also has a long way to go to get to that point.  He has some evaluators comparing him to Miguel Olivo.  He has questions about his receiving skills and his approach.  He is a high-risk, high-reward guy, someone with huge bust potential as well as huge upside.  He's the one guy in this trade who, I think, had to be in the deal to get it done.  If the Rangers wanted Hamels, and didn't want to part with Mazara or Gallo, they had to give up Alfaro.  []


Matt Lombardo,
One baseball insider says that he has heard Alfaro's name mentioned in the same breath as a potential future hall of famer at the position. 
"Jorge Alfero," Jayson Stark said Wednesday afternoon during a radio appearance with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 FM The Fanatic hours before the deal went down. "I had a scout tell me this week he is the closest thing he's seen to Pudge Rodriguez, only bigger. He has a great arm and can really hit."  []


Mark Townsend, Big League Stew
Amaro said he had to be blown away in order to trade Hamels this season. This certainly qualifies. But now is when his stubbornness might come back to bite him. With Hamels gone, the well could quickly run dry in terms of tradeable assets. They have outfielders Ben Revere and Jeff Francouer on the table, but they aren't likely to fetch much. There's Ryan Howard, but where would the demand to take on his contract come from?  

There's not another impact deal to be made unless he moves a young asset like Maikel Franco, and that will certainly factor into the length of the process. []


Greg Joyce, The Express-Times
 Harrison is a 29-year-old lefty, a 2012 All-Star, who has made just nine major league starts since 2013 due to injuries.
The rest of the return, however, are prospects that will immediately fuel the Phillies' farm system. Thompson, Alfaro and Williams were ranked the No. 2, 3 and 5 prospects in the Rangers' system in Baseball America's preseason rankings.
The other two players in the deal are closer to the big leagues and could join the IronPigs as soon as this weekend.  []

And of course...

"I think it's the best thing for the team moving forward. While he did a great job while he was here, the team needs young prospects and it's the best thing for the team," said Andrew Montroy of Wyncote.
"It's kind of a bummer, but at the same time we need to see the Phillies get better, so this is a good opportunity for them to get better," said Aaron Brown of Northern Liberties.  []