Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kevin Goldstein Ponders Cole Hamels

Yesterday, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus posted an endlessly intriguing and entirely speculative article on both BP and ESPN Insider - what would it take to pry Cole Hamels away from the Phillies?

Working with an unnamed MLB executive, Mr. Goldstein determined that the Phillies would, or perhaps should, look for a replacement in the rotation, bullpen help, insurance for the middle infield, and athletes with high upside. Mr. Goldstein then breaks down several potential offers from eight teams ... one of which is, of course, the New York Yankees. The content is insider-only, but the Yankees package is comprised of Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi, Austin Romine, and Mason Williams.

First, allow me to say that I would accept that deal in a heartbeat were I in Cashman's shoes. I would help the players pack and drive them to the airport myself, then pat myself on the back for a job well-done.

That being said, however, I do feel that this deal is a bit ... light. Banuelos and Noesi could provide some immediate help in the rotation or bullpen, to be sure, but things get shaky beyond the two. Romine is fairly close to the Majors, but Ruiz is signed to a very team-friendly deal through the end of next season, and I'm just not too sure that the Phillies would jump on Romine as a key to a deal for Cole Hamels with that in mind, regardless of Romine's up and down 2011. Mason Williams is a stud prospect, and I think he'll make a few appearances on top-hundred lists - but he's several years away, and so much can go wrong in such a long period of time. Banuelos, Noesi, and Romine could help the team immediately, and Williams would be one of their top prospects ... but it seems too paltry, to me.

What, then, would I give up for Hamels? Or, perhaps more realistically, what do I think the Phillies would ask for? Considering Mr. Goldstein's very sensible criteria, I would think something like this could make such a deal happen - Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Romine, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph, and Williams. Betances injects more upside into the deal, and he could likely step into the bullpen and dominate immediately. Nunez and Joseph provide insurance at SS and 2B, respectively. Nunez's shaky defense is certainly a hindrance, but the tools for success remain there.

Would I do that deal? It would be hard not to, in my mind. It's certainly a shot to the system, but Hamels is a legitimate ace - and he won't turn 28 until December. He's lefthanded, he induces a nice amount of ground balls, he strikes out nearly a batter an inning, and his walk rates are consistently above-average. If such a package could bring Hamels to New York with a long-term deal ... I don't think anyone in their right mind could say no.

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