Hamels is getting better

Posted by mattsmith on 10th May 2010

Cole Hamels labored through five innings against the Braves Sunday… another inconsistent start from the 26-year-old.

While Hamels breezed through the first three, he through a combined 64 pitches in the next two innings. In the fifth, he clearly lost his command, but managed to allow only three runs despite facing eight hitters.

It’s a disturbing trend that Hamels  is starting. He’s followed excellent starts with so-so outings in each of last four starts. It’s worrisome, but it’s a vast improvement from last year, in which he looked terrible in all but maybe five regular-season appearances.

Fans are likely pulling their hair out over Hamels’ inconsistency. However, I’d prefer to take a more positive viewpoint.

Hamels is a vastly improved pitcher in 2010. He resembles the guy who won a pair of MVPs in the postseason. The only difference in 2010 compared to 2008 is the face that he is maturing and still working on things.

Hamels still has the filthy change up, but he no longer can be a two-pitch pitcher. He’s working in a sweeping curve ball, which is below average at best, and a cutter, which I believe has looked pretty OK. He used it quite often to tail away against left-handed hitters and to jam right-handed batters against Braves.

Cole Hamels is on the right track. He might take his lumps some more this year, but he’s a guy who is still figuring out how good he can be.

Tags: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Posted in Phillies commentary | No Comments »

Recap: First home win comes with a price

Posted by mattsmith on 13th April 2010

Phillies 7, Nationals 4

Monday, April 12th

Stud.

Stud.

Cole Hamels allowed four earned runs over 5 2/3 laboring innings, but his offense picked him up (what else is new), rallying from a four-run deficit to down the Nats on opening day at The Bank.

The Phils scored five runs in the fifth inning off Jason Marquis, who for the second time in a week, couldn’t get through five against the Phils’ vaunted lineup.

Placido Polanco hit the go-ahead two-run single and Chase Utley smacked a homer that hit off the foul pole in right field to extend the lead to three.

The win came at a cost as both Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth were removed due to injury. Rollins suffered a right calf strain during pre-game warm ups and did not start. He is day-to-day and an MRI is scheduled on Tuesday.

Jayson Werth was removed after the fifth inning with hip soreness. Werth said afterward that the injury isn’t a big deal.

The Phils (6-1) are off to their best start since 1993.

Tags: Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jason Marquis, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals
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Gameday: Can Hamels follow Doc in home opener?

Posted by mattsmith on 12th April 2010

Phillies vs. Nationals

3:05 PM EST at Citizens Bank Park

Mr. Four Days Rest

Mr. Four Days Rest

Let this be an early test for Cole Hamels.

Basically, whenever Roy Halladay throws a complete game, he should take it upon himself to outdo Halladay the very next day. So, for Hamels to be successful today in the Phillies’ home opener against Washington, he has to throw a no-hitter… at least.

OK, that isn’t fair to the at times fragile-minded left-hander, who is coming off a so-so season-opening outing last week. Hamels (1-0) allowed two earned runs over five laboring inning.

The red-hot Phillies’ lineup, which has a plus-25 run differential (*thanks ESPN.com), faces Jason “drives more like a Hyundai, not a” Marquis., who couldn’t even make it out of the fifth inning in his Nats debut against the Phils.

The Nats (3-3)  took two of three against the Mets over the weekend.

Fun Phact – Former Phillie Matt Stairs is now playing for his 12th different team, the San Diego Padres. Stairs is the first position player since Deacon McGuire (1888-1914) to play for 12 different teams.

Tags: Cole Hamels, Jason Marquis, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals
Posted in Phillies recaps | No Comments »

Hamels reinvented

Posted by mattsmith on 26th February 2010

Cole Hamels continues to garner high praise from respected sports writers  covering the Phillies and, most importantly, the coaching staff.

Earlier this week, Rich Dubee said that Hamels is way ahead of last year’s schedule. This time last spring, Hamels was bouncing fastballs in the dirt during bullpen sessions.

The former ace, 26, is looking very crisp thanks in large part to a steady offseason regimen.

Hamels threw live batting practice for the first time Friday.

“Cole was very good,” Dubee told the throng of local reporters, including Phillies.com. “His command was very good, and his arm worked a lot better than it has in any spring. All positives. Most of his curveballs were very good. They had good rotation. Some of them missed just below the strikezone, but they were well thrown.”

Hamels is developing a fourth pitch — the cutter.

“ The hitters will tell us (how good it is),” Dubee said.

ROMERO WATCH

J.C. Romero is scheduled to throw off the mound Saturday. Romero is attempting to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2009 campaign and is expected to be the team’s No. 1 left-handed option.

Tags: Cole Hamels, J.C. Romero, Philadelphia Phillies, Rich Dubee
Posted in Spring Training 2010 | No Comments »

Hamels prepared for 2010 campaign

Posted by mattsmith on 19th February 2010

This time last year, Cole Hamels was behind schedule.

Coming off a World Series MVP performance, Hamels lived up to his Hollywood nickname, making a bevy of television

Former ace Cole Hamels spent the winter getting ready for the 2010 season.

Former ace Cole Hamels spent the winter getting ready for the 2010 season.

and public appearances and doing photo shoots. The time-consuming offseason activity prevented Hamels was preparing for 2009 spring training camp.

Hamels wasn’t the same player last year and it was obvious from the outset. He sported a 10-11 record with a 4.32 ERA during the regular season. In the postseason, he went 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA.

“You live and learn,” Hamels said in a press conference Thursday. “You sometimes need to have games go the way you don’t like, because it lets you know that this game is hard. It’s not going to be easy. Even though you might have games where everything goes well, you’ll have games where times are tough. You really have to learn a little more about yourself. You have to bear down. I think that’s where you have to … simplify the game instead of making it out to be something that’s even harder. I think that’s what I did. I made it a lot harder than the game should be.”

Hamels struggled with the physical aspect of pitching last season. But his biggest problem, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee, was the mental aspect.

There were far too many times when Hamels displayed negative emotion. Whether it was expressing frustration over an umpire’s call, or showing up his teammates on the field, Hamels’ body language contributed to his struggles a year ago.

“Being the perfectionist that he is, he took it to heart, and he did the work that he had to do. So he’s in a much better position right now. He could have gone home and sulked again and said, ‘Oh, what do they know?’ He didn’t do that. He went home and did what he had to do.”

Charlie Manuel believes Hamels is where he should be at this point in camp. During the offseason, Hamels spent virtually every day working out his arm — throwing a tennis ball against a wall or playing catch with a friend.

Hamels has also worked on refining his curveball. Since his May 2006 debut, Hamels has had a tough time developing a solid third pitch to accompany his fastball and devastating change up.

In addition to the curve, Hamels is also working on a fourth pitch — the cutter.

Unlike last February, Hamels appears ready for the long grind.

“If Cole just gets back to being the guy with the same presence, the same mound demeanor he had (in 2007-08), Cole Hamels will be fine,” Dubee said.

Tags: Charlie Manuel, Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, Rich Dubee
Posted in Spring Training 2010 | No Comments »

Why Halladay-for-Lee trade is a great move

Posted by mattsmith on 15th December 2009

I  understand why some (most?) Phillies fans are baffled by the Roy Halladay-for-Cliff Lee trade. So, I’ll try to break it all down by arguing some basic points coming out of this deal …

Contention

 Cliff Lee was awesome last season. It’s stupid that we are trading our best pitcher.

Rebuttal

Yes, Lee carried the pitching staff and without him, a return trip to the World Series might not have happened. However, fans have to realize two things: A) Lee is a free agent after 2010 and he will not re-sign with the Phillies, and B) Halladay is better. Period.

Fact is, had we not traded Lee right now, we would get nothing in return of equal or greater value once he bailed for more money.According to reports, the Phillies approached Lee about a contract extension recently, and he declined. Simply put, he wants to test free agency.

In addition, from what I understand, Lee isn’t  thrilled to be in Philadelphia. In other words, I’m not so sure he’s ever been very comfortable here, which is yet another reason why the Phillies have zero chance to sign him.

Roy Halladay is better and he wants to be here. Look at the career numbers and compare. Some fans of the Phillies do not know Halladay, thus they are reluctant to trade Lee. Well, all I have to say is… just wait.  There’s a reason why Halladay is considered the best pitcher of this decade.

One more thing to consider: Lee wasn’t necessarily dominant during the regular season. After a strong start, he was awful from late-August to the end of September. I don’t think you’ll get a more consistently good-to-great pitcher than Halladay.

Contention

We could have kept Cliff Lee and traded Cole Hamels instead.

Rebuttal

Uh, no, we couldn’t.

Fact is, Lee was sexy trade bait because he’s earning an affordable salary and he’s in the last year of his contract. Hamels, on the other hand, is locked up for the next three seasons and is coming off a terrible year. Hamels’ trade value is at an all-time low.

Fact the facts: Cliff Lee was a one-year rental at best. On the other hand, we’re getting Halladay for at least four seasons.

Contention

The Phillies gave up a lot of prospects to get Lee. Now, we traded Lee and even more of our best prospects for Halladay. That’s dumb!

Rebuttal

On paper, yes, it appears the Phillies emptied their farm system for, essentially, one player.

But I’ll tell you to take another look. A harder look.

The Phillies, by most accounts, traded an average package of prospects to get Lee. I’m sure catcher Lou Marson will be a starter at some point, but what about pitcher Carlos Carrasco and infielder Jason Donald? Carrasco was horrendous in his September call-up, while Donald projects to be a career back up. The young flame-thrower, Jason Knapp, is coming off major surgery and is still four or five years away from the bigs.

Now, on to the Halladay deal…

I was initially disappointed to learn that Kyle Drabek, arguably the Phillies’ best pitching prospect, would be dealt to Toronto. I think everyone in the Philadelphia area  hyped up this kid to be The Next Big Thing … but, upon further review, the Phillies are getting two of the Mariners’ best prospects, INCLUDING THEIR VERY BEST, right-hander Phillippe Aumont, who is basically Seattle’s version of Drabek.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies is supposed to be the Phillies’ version of Michael Taylor, who is headed to Oakland.

So, all in all, it looks like a pretty fair trade.

Look at it this way: The Phillies are getting the best pitcher in baseball, one of the best pitching prospects in baseball (Aumont), two more quality prospects (Gillies and RHP Juan Ramirez) and $6 million cash!

In conclusion, this trade works well in the Phillies’ favor. Embrace the fact that Halladay is coming to town and will dominant the National League over the next several years.

Sounds good, right?

Tags: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillippe Aumont, Roy Halladay
Posted in Phillies commentary | No Comments »

Is Pedro coming back to Philly?

Posted by mattsmith on 6th December 2009

Pedro Martinez remains interested in a return to the Phillies.

The three-time Cy Young award winner told the Associated Press Saturday, “(The Phillies) treated me very well and they were very professional. They will always have the door open.”

While the Phillies will passively attempt to upgrade their starting rotation, the focus during the offseason is the bullpen. As it stands now, the Phillies’ rotation consists of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton next year. It’s very possible that Jamie Moyer returns, if deemed healthy, or top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek wins a job out of spring training.

Chances Pedro is a Phillie next year are slim and none.

Also, I absolutely do not expect them to empty the farm system for Roy Halladay or sign second-tier starting pitchers, such as Jason Marquis or Randy Wolf …

Tags: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies
Posted in Phillies news | No Comments »

Report: Phillies are pursuing Halladay

Posted by mattsmith on 10th November 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Roy Halladay could be coming to Philadelphia.

The Phillies are “very much in the picture” because ”Philadelphia is into winning now, and Halladay fits that,” said one rival team executive, according to the report.

Here we go again...

Here we go again...

It is believed that the Blue Jays would not demand such a premium package considering Halladay is on the last year of his contract. A trade for Halladay would likely require stud  prospects Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown. Kyle Drabek remains untouchable, according to The Inquirer.

In addition to a top prospect (or two), J.A. Happ, Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels could also be discussed in trade talks.

Tags: Cole Hamels, Dominic Brown, J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Shane Victorino
Posted in Phillies news | No Comments »

What went wrong for the Phillies

Posted by mattsmith on 6th November 2009

It has been  24 hours since the Phillies relinquished their World Series championship to the New York Yankees. Hell, the Yanks were the better team. ROUGH SERIES: Ryan Howard strikes out in the eighth inning of the Yankees' 7-3 World-Series clinching victory in Game 6 last night in The Bronx.

But… they weren’t a FAR superior team.

In fact, you could argue the Phillies could have repeat had Brad Lidge not blown up in the ninth inning of Game 4. If Lidge gets out of the inning unscathed, and the Phillies scratch out a game-winning, the Series is tied.

Oh well. No sense in playing the coulda/shoulda/woulda game.

So, what went wrong? Hmm, I can think of three things…

Ryan Howard was terrible

The Big Piece was having a tremendous postseason. He had won the NLCS MVP and came into the World Series with 14 RBIs in the playoffs.

After winning the NLCS in five games, the Phillies had a week layoff and that, I feel, was detrimental to Howard’s groove.  Granted, the Yankees’ left-handed pitchers kept the slugger in check, but when a guy is that hot coming into a series and all of the sudden goes soft, it begs the question about too much rest.

Howard is a streaky hitter. He’ll carry the team for a month or two straight. He was doing that in the playoffs until the lengthy time off.

Howard batted .174 with one homer, three RBIs and a World Series-record 13 strikeouts. That’s not the kind of performance I expected. His MIA status was huge.

Pitching: The Yankees were better

Duh, right?

Lidge was awful, as we know. So, too, was Cole Hamels.

The only reliable pitcher was Cliff Lee. Matter of fact, it was that way for the entire playoffs. Whereas the Yankees had three guys they could count on in Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett… the Phillies’ starting pitching was a big question mark.

Last year, the Phillies had an untouchable bullpen. This year? Argggh.

The year-long instability caught up to the Phillies at the very last moment.

Clutch hitting was nonexistent

The Phillies got back to the World Series behind the strength of clutch hitting. Jimmy Rollins, Howard, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz … those guys all came through in the NLDS and NLCS.

Really, the only guy that was consistent in the World Series was Chase Utley… and even he stranded a lot of guys on base when he wasn’t smashing home runs.

Well, those are just a few reasons why the Phillies aren’t preparing for their second straight parade down Broad St.

As my former middle school baseball coach once told me, “When you don’t play as good as your opponent, you will not be as good as your opponent.”

Yeaaah.

Tags: Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, CC Sabathia A.J. Burnett, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009, Phillies commentary | No Comments »

Hamels clears up remarks, wants to pitch Game 7

Posted by mattsmith on 3rd November 2009

Cole Hamels isn’t looking forward to the offseason, nor is he quitting on his teammates.

Hamels made headlines for his comments after losing Game 3. The left-hander told reporters “I can’t wait for (the season) to end” after he allowed five runs without making it through the fifth inning.

Hamels seemed sincere with his apology after Game 5.Cole Hamels

“The way it came out was not the way I intended,” Hamels told reporters after the Phillies’ 8-6 victory in Game 5. “It hurt the way it came out. I was shocked. I didn’t even know what I said. It’s not what I was thinking.”

Hamels, according to reports, went to Charlie Manuel after Game 5 and told the manager that he is ready to take the ball if the Phillies force a Game 7 Thursday.

Hamels is 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA this postseason. Last year, he went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA en route to a pair of playoff MVP awards.

Tags: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 6 Comments »