Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’
If you aren’t already familiar with Vincent Velasquez, you inevitably will be very soon.
On Tuesday afternoon against the Padres, Velasquez absolutely dominated San Diego’s lineup, allowing just three hits and striking out 16 batters over the course of his complete game shutout, in which Velasquez received 27 swings and misses. This following his first outing of the season, where Velasquez struck out nine over six innings, giving up no runs, it would appear that he’s already in midseason form.
Velasquez has now struck out twenty-five batters in just fifteen innings of work, and subsequently holds the new record for a Phillies pitcher of most combined K’s in their first two starts of the season, previously set at 20 back in 1964.
Originally a product of the Astros, getting drafted by them in the second round of the 2010 draft, Velasquez came to Philadelphia as part of the Ken Giles trade this past offseason. To this point, it would appear to be a great move on the part of Philadelphia (especially with Giles getting off to a slow start with Houston).
But Velasquez’s career hasn’t been a smooth ride to the top.
Back in 2011, Velasquez underwent Tommy John surgery (an all too common procedure at this point), forcing him to miss the entire 2011 season. In addition to the injuries, once Velasquez finally did make it to the major leagues, he didn’t immediately post the type of numbers he has recently, notching a 4.37 ERA over 19 total games pitched and 7 starts in 2015, leaving many to question him moving forward.
However, Velasquez appears ready to take off.
It certainly can’t come soon enough for Philadelphia, who has been fairly pathetic in recent years. While they dominated their opponents for a number of years in a row not too long ago, they have been in the process of rebuilding over the past few seasons But other than Velasquez, the Phillies’ pitching staff merely consists of standouts Aaron Nola and Jeremy Hellickson — nothing close to resembling their rotation of 2011 that included Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay.
Likewise, the Phillies lack a good, intimidating lineup, currently possessing very little power threats within it. With Ryan Howard no longer the slugger he once was, and seemingly on his last stretch with Philly, Maikel Franco is truly the only major power threat available of what was once an efficient offensive machine.
But there is help on the way, with the Phillies holding seven of the top 100 prospects in baseball throughout their farm systems. Pitching-wise, the Phillies have guys such as Jake Thompson and Mark Appel in Triple-A, both of which are ready to help very soon. Hitting-wise, J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams are coming fast, and should be contributing to the run scoring in Philadelphia before too long.
With the win on Thursday afternoon, the Phillies have now won three straight, and five of their last six, keeping their overall record for the season at .500 (5-5). Inevitably, however, the Phillies will taper out of contention as the year goes on, and as other teams begin to figure things out, ultimately finishing at or near the bottom of the National League East division.
Even so, once every fifth day, Phillies fans will be reminded by Velasquez that their club is well on their way to transforming back into a contender once again, as it was for so many years not so long ago. Rebuilding is a process that takes time, as well as patience on both the part of the team and the fans.
But as Vincent Velasquez proved on Tuesday, the rebuild is getting closer to completion.
Over the past week or so, trades and rumors of trades have been taking place right and left. Although things are still bound to happen, with the trade deadline not until Friday afternoon, here’s an overall recap (most of the trades, but not every one) of what has happened so far, with my thoughts on each:
Back on the 23rd, two of the first impactful moves were made. The Brewers’ Aramis Ramirez was sent to the Pirates in return for minor leaguer, Yhonathan Barrios, and the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the Athletics in exchange for Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham. The following day, the Marlins moved Steve Cishek to the Cardinals for the addition of Kyle Barraclough.
For the most part, I felt all of those trades were productive ones. The Brewers are out of it this season, and sending Ramirez to the Pirates will likely benefit them moving forward as they push towards the hope of a postseason spot. The Marlins sending Cishek to another team makes a lot of sense to me as well, as Cishek used to be dominant for Miami, but has struggled somewhat this year. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him out.
Of the three deals, the Scott Kazmir one will undoubtedly be the one that has the most impact this season. With the Astros in first place, Kazmir could really be crucial in helping them hold on to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
But while those few trades were somewhat beneficial, a major move took place Sunday, with Johnny Cueto being shipped to the Royals in exchange for cash and minor league pitchers Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb. After reaching the World Series last year, only to fall short in game seven, there are a lot of people who feel that Cueto can help them win it all this year. While that remains to be seen, Cueto will assuredly be a big impact for them the remainder of the regular season into October.
As far as what the Royals gave up from their farm system, Finnegan is the type of guy who is immediately ready to make an impact, even though he was sent to Triple-A. Finnegan came up big in the postseason for the Royals last year, and he, along with future impact pitchers Cody Reed and John Lamb, should be able to help the Reds turn things around in the years to come.
Tuesday turned out to be a big day as well in the trade market, as several impact trades took place.
On the lesser impactful side of things, Ben Zobrist was sent to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and future star Sean Manaea, with Jonathan Papelbon finally getting moved, sent to the Nationals for Nick Pivetta. The Zobrist move should help the Royals, as will the Cueto move, leading to another deep playoff run this season. In the same way, the acquisition of Papelbon as the Nat’s closer should help them be able to lock down games at the end, despite already having a good closer in Drew Storen, who now becomes their setup man.
However, while those were good moves, the one that had everyone talking on Tuesday was the swap of Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays in return for Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco. Of all of the trades thus far, I feel this is the one that makes the most sense for both sides.
Although the Jays supposedly needed a pitcher at the time, you can never complain when you pick up an impact bat like Tulowitzki and a veteran reliever in Hawkins. Likewise, the Rockies look to be headed in a good direction, as Reyes is a fine replacement for Tulowitzki, and all three prospects, especially the highly hyped Jeff Hoffman, will help them down the road.
But while most trades go through without a hitch, one deal went down on Wednesday that ended up falling through. The Brewers planned to sent Carlos Gomez to the Mets for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but concern with Gomez’s hip (now reported as a financial issue, too) caused the deal to be called off. Obviously an unfortunate set of circumstances, as both teams would have benefited from the deal.
Nonetheless, trades continued to happen. Thursday saw a blockbuster, three-team swap that involved numerous players. The Dodgers picked up Mat Latos and Michael Morse from the Marlins as well as Alex Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Jose Peraza from the Braves. In exchange, the Marlins received Jeff Bringham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman from the Dodgers, with the Braves getting Cuban star Hector Olivera, Zack Bird and Paco Rodriguez. The Braves also received a competitive-balance round draft pick from Miami.
To me, the trade doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone but the Dodgers. For them, they made out with a ton of talent. But Miami merely picked up a few decent players, with the Braves receiving the same. Although time is the only thing that can tell whether a trade turns out to be a good or bad one, this trade seems to be one sided.
Another big deal went down on Thursday as well, with Cole Hamels (along with Jake Diekman) finally getting moved after months and months of trade rumors surrounding him. Hamels was sent to the Rangers in exchange for Matt Harrison and prospects Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff.
In the short term, the Rangers should see an instant boost in their rotation, as Hamels has been one of the top pitchers around baseball for the past numerous years. In the long term, however, the Phillies could see the prospect they picked up helping to turn their current subpar squad into a postseason potential team once again. All five prospect are expected to be big time impact players in the majors, and they should all be able to help within the next few years.
Finally, one of the biggest trades of the day on Thursday saw David Price getting moved once again. This time, Price was sent to the Blue Jays in exchange for prospects Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. With Price being one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past several years, he will inevitably help out the Blue Jays, who are currently sitting at .500, seven games back of first place.
With around 24 hours remaining until the trade deadline arrives, things should continue to stay exciting, with a big deal having the chance of taking place at any given time.
Another day, another injury. It seems that’s been the common theme as of late, with Michael Bourn, Yu Darvish, Aroldis Chapman and Jurickson Profar being the most recent players to fall victim to what’s become somewhat of an injury epidemic around Major League Baseball.
While every year brings injuries throughout both the offseason and the regular season, this year seems to be above average in that department, and the season hasn’t even begun yet. Including names such as Patrick Corbin, Manny Machado, Matt Kemp, and Jarrod Parker, among many others, the list of players set to miss Opening Day — the entire season for some players — due to injury continues to grow larger. Although some players aren’t that big of a loss overall, some will have a drastic impact on their team’s success.
None more so than the loss of Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen for the Braves. Both are set to miss the entire season due to the second Tommy John surgeries of their careers, and losing these key pieces to the Braves’ starting rotation will likely have a profound impact on how they perform as a whole. I had the Braves winning the National League East division in 2014, as they did last season, however, the subtraction of these players from the roster could cause them to fall down in the rankings a bit.
But the Braves aren’t the only team that could fall down a bit due to an injured player.
Patrick Corbin being out for what could be the entire season will have an effect on the Diamondback’s performance this season. Corbin really broke out last year, and was set to lead their starting rotation throughout the coming season. But without him, while the D-backs should still be a good team, they won’t be able to give the Dodgers a run for the division title like they previously would’ve possibly been able to do.
However, the team that will likely see the second biggest drop, behind the Braves, from their predicted finish will be the Athletics, who will be without A.J. Griffin for a good bit of time, but more importantly won’t have Jarrod Parker for the entire season. He, like many pitchers I’ve discussed, is undergoing Tommy John surgery that will keep him out until 2015. With Parker out, the A’s will have a difficult time overtaking the Rangers in the American League West division as they’ve done the past two seasons.
Not all of these injuries have occurred recently, though. A few players that won’t be ready for Opening Day had their injuries happen much earlier than this offseason or Spring Training.
Manny Machado, Jose Iglesias, Matt Kemp, and Matt Harvey are all missing a good deal of time due to nagging injuries from 2013, with Matt Harvey (and possibly Jose Iglesias as well) out for the full length of the season. When healthy, all have extreme impacts on their respective teams, so, obviously, not having them being their productive selves is a big loss.
But despite all of the injuries that seem to grow in number everyday, these are the types of things teams just have to play through. You have to compete with what you have. And therefore, it’s sure to be an interesting and exciting 2014 season, with there now being just six days until Opening Day.
I feel I’ve misjudged Bryce Harper. As many of you may know, I haven’t been a fan of his since I first heard of him. I felt he was an arrogant guy who saw himself as better than everyone else just because he happened to be ‘The Chosen One’. Now, seeing how he’s handled himself through his first week in the Major Leagues, I’m not so sure I gave him a fair chance.
My opinion was formed just like most other people, using the limited facts given to me by the media, who tend to spin stories around to make bigger stories more often than not. Just because the media was telling me Harper was a jerk, I figured “well I guess he is”; and that was that.
Now, I feel Harper’s not as bad of a guy as the media made him seem. Yes, he’s arrogant, but as long as that arrogance stops when Harper’s not between the chalked lines, I have no problem with that. There’s a difference between arrogance, and an immense passion for the game of baseball. Harper has shown that he obviously has incredible baseball passion, as he gives ever play his all; playing like every game is his last.
Harper is too good of an athlete for me to not root for. The guy is extremely fun to watch, and while he hasn’t shown off the power yet, he’s impressed me a great deal. His speed is insane; as is his arm. Both are aspects of his game that I was aware were good, but I had no idea they were THAT good. It was truly a shock to me the first time I saw him show off the gun.
With the injury to Nationals’ right fielder Jayson Werth, Harper will be moved to fill Werth’s spot. He certainly has the arm for right field, and is sure to impress the first chance he gets.
Moving onto Sunday night’s game versus the Phillies.
Just when I thought Harper had done all he can do to impress me, he took it another step further in Sunday’s game against the Phillies. In Harper’s first at bat of the game he was hit in the side by a pitch from Cole Hamels. I was fully expecting a few words to be exchanged to say the least, but Harper proceeded to trot down to first base after taking a second to recover.
I feel that Harper has matured in that sense. Instead of making a scene, Harper was able to retaliate against Hamels by stealing home. (The first teenager to do so since 1964.)
It appeared as if Harper glared in the direction of Hamel’s as he headed into the dugout, but I have no problem with that.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. Cole Hamels came out on Monday and made the following statement, regarding his plunking of Harper:
I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want.
Sure, you can say Hamels was just trying to be honest, but it would appear that Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, would agree with me. His response being:
I wish [Hamels had] been a little bit more, what do you call it, not so honest, or dishonest, or discreet, that might be the right word. What I saw was the next time Hamels came up to bat, they definitely retaliated, he got hit on the calf and he could have got hurt. If the guy would have hit him hard on the bone part of his leg, that could have hurt. … I like to think it was dropped right there and the rest of it will be done baseball-wise.
Major League Baseball made the decision to suspend Cole Hamles for five games (or one start) for intentionally hitting Harper. A lot of people feel that’s not long enough. I’m sure one of those people would be Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, who stated:
I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless [expletive] act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.
I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying “he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with”, but I too don’t agree with the intentional plunking of Harper. It’s a sloppy situation all the way around.
No matter which side you’re on, or who you root for, this is an interesting story. This is how rivalries form. This is how you sell tickets, and thus fill ballparks. And to the suspected delight of Harper (who is known to love the spotlight) it can all be traced back to him.