I don't live in Boston and don't listen to talk radio so I can't say how Jonathan Papelbon's defection south is playing among the screamers, amateur GMs, and perpetual critics, but at least here in the warm and embracing tubes of the internets there is a sense of sorrow. Or maybe that's just me.
I admit it. I'll miss Crazy Paps. I'll miss the dancing, the ridiculous attempts at logic, and the little fist pump following a strikeout to end a game. Don't misunderstand, I would never have offered him the deal that
Omar Minaya Ruben Amaro, Jr. did. I'd sooner the Sox offered John Lackey a contract extension. No, sadly, the Red Sox absolutely made the right decision. Not paying that money for a reliever, even one as good as Paps, was best for the long term health of the franchise. Of that I have no question. But it didn't make the team on the field any better, and it didn't make them better in the clubhouse. Financial intelligence and a long term plan are vital to success, but they don't ease the loss of one of the notable faces of the team.
What do we do about it? As you might have gathered, I have a proposal. It isn't modest so it doesn't involve cooking and eating children, though that is a good one. Since I don't begrudge Paps his money and I'm glad the Sox aren't saddled with that contract, there's only one entity to be upset with: The Phillies.
How do we get back at the Phillies? Easy. Do what they did to us. [lightning crash] Sign Cole Hamels.Sure, I admit, there are a few flaws in the plan. For one, Hamels isn't yet a free agent. He has one more year in Philadelphia before he can hit the market. For another, when Hamels does reach free agency, he'll have many suitors so signing him could be difficult.
If it is difficult it will be because Hamels will be one of the best pitchers to hit free agency in a while. Background run-on sentence time!: Hamels will be 29 years old, strikes hitters out (career 8.5 K/9), doesn't walk many (career 2.2 BB/9), and despite playing in the Citizen's Bandbox Park in Philly, he doesn't give up a ton of homers because he expertly keeps the ball on the ground. Pause for breath. His ground ball percentage has increased each of the last four seasons, starting at 39.5% and arriving at 52.3%. Oh, and he's left handed which is like saying, "Oh, and she's blonde," or "Oh, and he's 6'5 and rich" or "Oh, and stereotypes make you sound like an cornhole*."
*Did you know that "Cornhole" is a game? People actually play "Cornhole." People actually say to each other, "Hey, let's play Cornhole!" You can't see it but milk is coming out of my nose and I haven't had milk to drink for months.
Hamels would be able to find room in any rotation in baseball, and that includes a certain team which, to protect their anonymity, we'll call Schmoo Schmork. (But after the
Yankees Schmankees get C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish they'll have less need.) The Sox aren't playing in that end of the pool, as new GM and old friend Ben Cherington has made clear. What's more, the team doesn't have young major league ready talent to step into the rotation long term. What I'm saying: there's gonna be some rooms available at this here motel.
2013 is the last year on Jon Lester's deal. The contracts of Josh Beckett and John Lackey end the following year, while Clay Buchholz's contract ends the year after that (2015). What I'm saying: the Sox are going to need some starters. Meanwhile, back in Philly, the Phillies have $93 million committed to five guys in 2013. They could probably afford Hamels, but at that point two ply toilet paper becomes extravagant.
Hamels is gonna be expensive, and competing against the big money teams will drive his price up further. But (this is the technical portion of today's post) he's really good. The Red Sox will need starters in the following seasons and Hamels will be among the very best available to them for just money. But, most importantly of all, and I can't stress this enough, signing Hamels would screw Philly. Where they live. With their pants on.
If Hamels hits the market, he's going to be wanted because, as the kids say, he's hella good. The Sox won't have to search high and low for good reasons to sign Cole Hamels. There are many. Perhaps my favorite of the bunch though is this: it would stick it to Philly for stealing our Paps.