It has been rumored that the Tigers may be inquiring into the asking price on Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels.
Hamels is currently 10-4 with a 3.08 ERA and 111 K’s in as many innings for the fightin’ Phils. He is a bona fide ace and would bring a dominant left-handed starter to the Tigers for the first time since, well, since when? Mickey Lolich? That may not be as far off as you think.
The Tigers would then boast a rotation of Justin Verlander, Hamels, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello. Not bad. But at what price?
The Phillies are going to want a truckload of prospects and at least 2 highly touted ones at that. In Tiger Town we all know what that means: wonder boy Nick Castellanos.
Hamels is on the last year of his deal and will get a mega-contract on the free agent market this winter. That mega-deal would be one the Tigers simply cannot hand out as they are already paying 3 players over $20M/season.
Is a 3-month rent-a-arm worth unloading a feeble minor league system’s few valuable chips?
Castellanos is a rare find in the Tigers’ organization: an offensive player who is ear-marked as a can’t-miss guy and is now actually backing it up with his play on the field. This doesn’t come around these parts too often. He was the Tigers’ 2011 minor league hitter of the year and will be again in 2012.
At age 20, he has already tasted 3 levels of the minor leagues and has most recently been smashing AA pitching in the Eastern League, a noted pitcher’s league.
The argument for such a trade would be that Castellanos has nowhere to play in Detroit, what with Miguel Cabrera at 3rd base and all. Temporary problems don’t require permanent mistakes be risked. Victor Martinez’s contract expires after 2013, freeing up the DH slot in 2014. That’s the same year as Castellanos’ due date to the Majors. Prince Fielder can then shift to DH, Cabrera back to 1st, and the hot shot rookie at 3rd. Done. Why all the confusion?
Another question to be asked by Tigers faithful is this: would adding Hamels cure what ails the Tigers and guarantee a postseason berth and run?
He certainly wouldn’t hurt. Replacing the scuffling Drew Smyly with Hamels is an immeasurable upgrade that would surely net the Tigers some more wins in the season’s 2nd half. But what really ails the Tigers is the fact that from 5 through 9 in the batting order it’s a complete guessing game as to who might produce on any given night.
Last time I checked Cole Hamels doesn’t project as a DH on his off days. If Brennan Boesch, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, and the lame duck DH Delmon Young could start hitting with authority a trade of this magnitude wouldn’t need to be considered.
But for now it is.
Remember Miguel Cabrera as a 20-year old minor leaguer (same as Castellanos) in the Florida Marlins system? At age 20 the hot shot 3rd baseman (sound familiar) hit .365 with 10 homers and 59 RBI’s in about half a season before getting the call and helping the Marlins to a World Series title.
Had the Marlins wanted to add a stud veteran lefty via trade in 2003 it would have been somebody like Mark Mulder. Mulder was 15-9 with a 3.13 ERA for the A’s that year, or very similar to the level of production Cole Hamels offers. But who would trade Miguel Cabrera?
So far in Castellanos’ age 20 season he has hit .373 with 6 homers and 44 RBI’s. Awfully Cabrera-like doesn’t it seem? Would you trade that for Mark Mulder? Cole Hamels?
Me neither. Tread lightly Dave Dombrowski. Your reputation sways in the balance.