“That’s Amore!” National League East: Are the Phillies the New Pirates of Old?
Ruben Amaro needs to start updating his résumé as it won’t be long before he is the ex-General Manger of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are an embarrassment, and there are no signs of light at the end of the tunnel. They are currently 13.5 games behind the division leading Washington Nationals, and 23 games below .500. Their lineup consists of has-beens and guys that wouldn’t start on other Major League rosters. Don’t get me wrong, they have bright spots in Cole Hamels, Maikel Franco, and Ben Revere. They also have a closer in Jonathan Papelbon who is nearly immovable, being owed $13mil in 2015 with a $13mil vesting option for 2016. After Cole Hamels, their starting rotation is atrocious. I understand that Amaro knows he needs to get the perfect deal done for Cole Hamels, but the clock is ticking. He will be asking for the world and I’m not too sure how many organizations are going to want to part with not two, but three top-of-the-line prospects. The main suitors have to be the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Hamels is owed $23.5mil through 2018, and I’m sure that has some general managers feeling uneasy. Let me set the record straight, Cole Hamels is worth every penny, and is only 31 years-old. He’s a top-10 starter and can easily take an organization to the next level. The Red Sox are in a bind with their horrific starting rotation, and I don’t know what Ben Cherington was thinking trying to build a starting rotation that features all back-end starters. It hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work. The starting staff is so bad that even John Farrell doesn’t know what to do. I would even suggest calling up Henry Owens to see what he can do. Even if he’s not ready, I’d still give him a spot start as he can’t do any worse than who they currently send to the mound. It could be an audition to see if the Phillies would be interested in acquiring Owens in a package for Hamels. I know Amaro wants Blake Swihart, and I would part with the catcher in a heartbeat. Let’s face it, the Red Sox are nine games out of first and need to right their sinking ship.
The other option would be the St. Louis Cardinals. They managed to acquire Matt Holliday a few years back and could work the same magic for Hamels. Can you imagine a 2016 starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Cole Hamels, Michael Wacha, and whomever they want to stick at four and five? They would have arguably the best starting three pitchers in baseball. Of course, they would probably have to part ways with Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, and Steven Piscotty. I know it’s a lot to part ways with, but it would help both ball clubs. It may even save Ruben Amaro’s job. The Yankees and Cubs have been in the mix for the services of Cole Hamels, but I don’t think the Cubs are willing to part ways with their loads of hitting talent in the minors, in return for Hamels’ contract. The Yankees spend money like it grows on trees and the trade could easily set them straight moving forward, as they are currently one game behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. I’m not sure if they have the quality of talent that Amaro would want in return. However, I guarantee Luis Severino would be part of the deal.
What needs to happen come July 31? Four players need to be traded. I’ll leave Cole Hamels last, as he will bring back the best prospects. Let’s start with Ryan Howard. He’s aged badly and is owed $25mil through next season. If they can find a team to eat a chunk of his salary, he needs to go. The Cardinals could use a left-handed bat as well as a platoon with Mark Reynolds at first. They could ultimately land Howard and Hamels, if they don’t mind parting ways with potential for a World Series. After the Cardinals, I’d look to move Howard to any team that is willing to give me a mid-range prospect if I agree to pay a decent portion of his salary.
Ben Revere is a player that could be useful on many teams. He may not give you any power, but he’s a left-handed bat that can get on base, score runs, and steal bases. He’s young at 27, and has the potential to bring back a decent prospect or two. No one will throw out a top prospect for Revere, but the Phillies need all the help they can get. He would be an upgrade over Jarrod Dyson of the Royals. Another option could be the Toronto Blue Jays. If Chris Colabello or Justin Smoak aren’t the answer, Revere could be placed in left field, and Colabello and Smoak could have a timeshare at first. Believe me, the Blue Jays have talent in the minor leagues that could be intriguing to Amaro. I’d even take a shot at landing Dalton Pompey and a pitching prospect.
I’d like to see Chase Utley moved for something, but no team wants any part of his .182 average. The third player to be traded is Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies will have to eat a decent chunk of $13mil. Yet, he does come cheaper as the halfway point approaches. The Toronto Blue Jays could be a player, as Brett Cecil isn’t my ideal closer as the season progresses. The other team that comes to mind is the Rangers. Shawn Tolleson is holding his own, and Neftali Feliz won’t be closing anymore games in 2015. If they want a proven closer, Papelbon could be the missing piece. Another team that could be looking for insurance is the Nationals. Drew Storen has been solid, but if things start to get murky as the deadline approaches they could be a sleeper team in the Papelbon sweepstakes. I’ve learned that nothing should surprise you when it comes to trades.
Amaro’s golden ticket is Cole Hamels. There’s no question that he will be the most sought after pitcher as the deadline draws near. He is owed a pretty penny, but a pitcher of Hamels’ caliber is worth it. I see four potential suitors for Hamels. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Cubs. The Cubs are my dark horse. All four teams are still in playoff contention, and the Red Sox cannot afford to fall any further behind. Amaro will sit until the last minute of the trade deadline to make sure he gets exactly what he wants. I believe we will see one team open the flood gates and trade a big-time prospect for Hamels. Billy Beane dealt Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, so the possibility is there. Hamels is easily worth more than those two pitchers.
It’s Bryce Harper’s World, We’re Just Living In It
Harper has shown the world why he’s the best player not named Mike Trout. He doesn’t turn 23 until October, and he’s having a monster year. He’s easily the front runner for NL MVP. On the season, the right fielder is hitting .345 with 24 HR and 57 RBI. He’s leading MLB with an OPS of 1.208. Only three other players have an OPS over 1.000 and all three (Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rizzo) are first baseman. It’s amazing what a player can do when he’s healthy. He’s already set career highs in home runs, and is two RBI away from matching his career high. We aren’t even halfway through the season. Not only is he leading MLB in hitting categories, but is the second leading fantasy position player in MLFS leagues. If you own Harper, be thankful. If you don’t, good luck trying to acquire him. There are no players I’d be willing to acquire for Harper. Within the last month Harper has a stat line of .360/8/18. End of the Season Projection: .331/38/115
The Slugger Formerly Known as Mike Stanton
It’s alright, P. Diddy was once known as Puff Daddy. How often do we see Major League Baseball’s home run leaders play in the same division? It’s happened up to this point. Giancarlo Stanton is one home run ahead of Bryce Harper with 25. In the past 25 games, Stanton has raised his average from .237 to .260. In that time frame, Stanton has 12 HR, 21 RBI, and 18 runs scored. He’s carried the Marlins up to this point and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon. The Marlins are 7.5 games behind the division leading Nationals, and if they can solidify their pitching staff they will compete for a Wild Card spot. Through Week 11 Stanton has 25 home runs to go along with a league leading 64 RBI. His .937 OPS is tenth in MLB. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d put my bet on Stanton to lead Major League Baseball in home runs. He’s been close to 40 in the past, and this is the season he will hit 40+. Maybe his secret is Kit Kats?
Week 11 Fantasy Studs
Bryce Harper, RF, WAS – Harper has been on a tear all season. He’s my early vote getter for NL MVP. Last week he posted a .364 average with 3 HR and 6 RBI. He’s leading the league in OPS and is second in home runs. He will push the 40 HR barrier as the season comes to a close. We are looking at the premier power hitter of the next generation.
Ben Revere, LF, PHI – Revere is a player that will be moved at the deadline. He has mass amounts of speed, and can help a lineup that is in need of stolen bases and runs scored. In Week 11, Revere hit .333 with a triple, three runs scored, and two stolen bases. He’s putting together a fine season with a stat line of .282/0/17 with 34 runs scored and 17 SB in 21 attempts.
Derek Dietrich, INF, MIA – Dietrich is hot and available in all leagues. He’s starting at third with Martin Prado on the disabled list. Last week, Dietrich hit .364 with three home runs and five RBI in 22 at-bats. If you’re looking for a little boost off the waiver wire, Dietrich could do the trick if he keeps producing. He’ll be getting all the playing time while Prado battles a shoulder injury.
Jace Peterson, 2B, ATL – Peterson has been a solid pickup from the waiver wire. There have been many busts at the second base position, but Peterson has been able to relieve some of the stress. On the season, Peterson has hit .284 with 2 HR, 31 RBI, and 28 R. His eight stolen bases are good enough for seventh at his position. In the past seven days, Peterson hit .273 with four runs batted in and one stolen base.
Matt Harvey, SP, NYM – He started off hot, but hit a bump in the road as the season progressed. He’s managed to battle back and had a great Week 11. Harvey was 1-1 with an ERA of 0.66 and 11:1 K:BB. Sunday he lost 1-0 to the Braves, but pitched 6.2 innings with five strikeouts. Of his five losses on the season, four have been by three runs or less. If given more run support, Harvey’s record could easily be 11-1.
Max Scherzer, SP, WAS – The teams that didn’t sign him have to be kicking themselves right about now. He’s leading the league in strikeouts (123), ERA (1.76), WHIP (0.80), and is third in IP (102.1). In his only start last week, Scherzer went the distance striking out 10 earning his first no-hitter. The blemish on a perfect game came from hitting a batter with two outs in the ninth inning.
Favorite Matchups Week 12
Alex Wood: [@ WAS & @ PIT] Wood has had a solid season and is the only pitcher I trust, other than Shelby Miller, while Julio Teheran has had his fair share of struggles. In his last six starts, Wood has given up more than one run only twice. The fact remains to be seen how he’ll handle two hot lineups, but he could be in line for two quality starts. He’s a must start in your fantasy lineup.
Cole Hamels: [@ NYY] I’m not saying he will get the win or the loss, but he could be auditioning for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. These two teams are front-runners to land Hamels, and I think this is perfect to see how he’d handle the bats in the AL East. Either way, he’s as good as it gets, even on a horrible Phillies team.
Max Scherzer: [@ PHI] He’s been so good in his last two starts and now he gets Philadelphia. For Scherzer, it’ll be like facing minor league hitting. He’s guaranteed to get the win and I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the first player to pitch back-to-back no-hitters since Johnny Vander Meer in 1938. It’s a pipe dream, but anything is possible against these Phillies, right?
Matt Harvey: [vs. CIN] In his two starts against the Reds he’s fared well. He’s 1-0 with 14 strikeouts to only four walks. Opposing hitters have only hit .236 against the righty, and I look for Harvey to go for double-digit strikeouts.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday June 28th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in to ask questions at 646-915-8596. This week’s topics will be the A.L. Central, N.L. West, and everything fantasy related within.
Our guests this week include Kyle Amore, Lou Landers, and Hernan Batista. Kyle is a writer with MLFS in which he focuses on the N.L. East, N.L. Central, and the MLB Draft. Catch his articles every Tuesday morning. Lou Landers is the host of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly which is our live YouTube show which runs every Saturday from 2-3:30pm EST. Hernan Batista is an excellent owner in (Team name “Powerslave) MLFB2, and a long time veteran of fantasy baseball. Come join us for a lively debate.
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