When the media refers to an athlete’s “refreshing honesty,” it generally means that the athlete said something he or she shouldn’t have said. Such is the case with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today the following: he would like to be traded (without demanding that it come to pass); he wants to win; and he knows it’s not going to happen with the Phillies.
The first two statements are acceptable in an honest competitor sort of way, but the last one? No.
The media might have been refreshed. The fans might have been amused. I doubt the Phillies felt either refreshment or amusement.
On one level, Hamels is absolutely, 100 percent correct. This Phillies team isn’t bad. It’s terrible. In a best case scenario, if they keep Hamels and Cliff Lee and both have ace-like, 200+ inning seasons with 15-18 wins apiece; if Chase Utley is fully healthy; if they get an identical year from Aaron Harang in 2015 that the Atlanta Braves received in 2014; if Chad Billingsley comes back strong; if their relatively strong bullpen – keeping Jonathan Papelbon – performs, their pitching is solid enough to compete. That’s a lot of “ifs.”
It must also be remembered that they: are planning on an everyday role for oft-injured Grady Sizemore; are basically sentenced to giving Ryan Howard significant at-bats to try and establish some value so another team will take him and his contract; are starting Freddy Galvis at shortstop. In that context, you see the accuracy of Hamels’s statement, proper or not. They’re might lose 100 games.
The Phillies have experienced baseball men permeating their organization. They know the situation. Manager Ryne Sandberg spent almost his entire big league with the Chicago Cubs. Do you really believe there weren’t seasons in which he walked into spring training knowing the team was going to lose 90 games? But as a respected veteran leader, he put up the front of, “You never know”; “We still have to play the games”; “Let’s see what happens,” etc.
Team president Pat Gillick was the GM of the one-year-old Toronto Blue Jays beginning in 1978. Of course he knew that the team was going to be atrocious until they acquired some legitimate talent. Did he openly say it prior to spring training? Or did he hope for the best knowing it would likely be the worst.
We know they’re a terrible team. They know they’re a terrible team. That’s why Hamels is even on the market to begin with. But it’s not a wise thing for the players to be saying it especially if it’s a post-season hero and someone who’s supposed to be a leader and linchpin on and off the field.
Several years ago, Hamels’s former Phillies teammate Roy Halladay found himself in a situation with the Toronto Blue Jays similar to what Hamels currently faces. He knew the team wasn’t going to win and also realized that both he and the club would be better off if they maximized his value and traded him for a large package of prospects. He, however, handled it far differently and in a classy, professional way by quietly saying he wanted out. They accommodated him after the season.
The Phillies are under no obligation to trade Hamels and this doesn’t hurt his marketability all that much. Even if he outright demands a trade, they don’t have to trade him. No team does. When a player asks to be dealt, most teams will try to accommodate him as a matter of courtesy. Often there’s mutual benefit to it. But it’s not a contractual requirement and most players won’t pull the Manny Ramirez trick of acting hurt or jogging around on the field making it an absolute necessity to get rid of him. Hamels hasn’t gone that far, but his words still look terrible.
The behavior illustrates how different they are and how little Hamels learned from Halladay. Halladay is defined by his nickname: Doc. Hamels’s nickname – Hollywood – also fits as he’s behaving like a spoiled, entitled brat who acts as if he cares about the team and winning and is only interested in himself.