If you are a baseball scout, you were in Colorado yesterday. And lucky you, you got to witness Cole Hamels pitch 8 very strong innings, shutting down the Rockies' offense on their home turf. So what does that mean for Hamels and the Phillies? Well, nothing yet. He's resting today and will then prepare for his next start against the Giants on Saturday.
But what does it mean for the internet? Lots of fun with Cole Hamels trade speculation and rumors!
Now, you may think that trade rumors are based on inside information. The hard-scrabble journalist hanging out at bars with baseball scouts, badgering assistants to the associate vice-general-manager for tidbits of information, or bugging phone calls with the tenacity of Lester Freamon.
You'd be wrong though. What there is, this time of year, is a simple system that we at The Good Phight got our hands on. Each and every trade rumor that you hear in the next few weeks is based on this system, and this system alone. And, since you're such loyal readers here, we've decided to let you in on this system, using the Phillies and Cole Hamels as an example.
1) First, find a team that has playoff hopes. In today's world, with two wild cards, that means quite a few teams have legitimate playoff hopes. One of the best places to find out whether a team has playoff hopes is Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds report. Looking at it today, we find that only 12 teams have single-digit playoff odds. (The Phillies are generously listed as having a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs.)
2) Second, determine what needs the team with the trade target has. For the Phillies, the most glaring needs are third base, outfield, and the bullpen. This part of the trade rumor creation process takes a bit more time because you need to look into contract situations. Cot's will get you that info.
3) Once you've done steps 1 and 2, now comes the fun part - mix and match! Take the playoff hopeful you found in part 1 and then look through that team's major and minor league rosters for players who fill the positions identified in part 2 and voila - you have yourself a trade rumor! Major league rosters are available at the ever trusted Baseball Reference. Top minor league prospects can be found at the MLB site, John Sickels' site, or any number of other sites.
Let's give it a whirl.
For instance, the Dodgers are in contention. They have just under a 40% chance of making it to the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus. The Phillies need someone at third base, outfield, or the bullpen. So, how about Cole Hamels to the Dodgers for outfielder Alfredo Silverio and two of their seemingly endless supply of pitching prospects.
Ok, another try. The Rangers are also in contention, with a 99% chance of being in the playoffs. That might make it seem irrelevant to try to trade for Hamels, but the Rangers are thinking World Series victory, which Hamels would help. Now that we have our team, let's find some prospects! The Rangers have a bunch who would fit the Phillies needs, so how about a package of third baseman Mike Olt, pitcher Martin Perez, and outfielder Leonys Martin? That's a great haul for the Phillies.
Special Bonus Step! If you really want to set the internet ablaze, include one of the top prospects in baseball in your rumor. You can find a great list here, but others of course exist. So, instead of the Rangers package above, include short stop (and possible future third baseman) Jurickson Profar in your rumor. You'll surely get people talking then! Or look at the Tigers (35% chance of making the playoffs) and include third baseman Nick Castellanos. Or the Orioles (12% chance) and short stop Manny Machado (move him to third base, of course).