Ever since Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright went down with an achilles injury that will keep him out for the season, many have speculated that the Cardinals could get involved in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes that is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.Mike Matheny was quoted in St. Louis papers this morning saying that the Cardinals starters need to go deeper in games, and that the bullpen is pitching too much, in so many words. This came after starter Tyler Lyons lasted just 3.2 innings yesterday, with the Cardinals pen tossing 6.1 innings. On Friday, Carlos Martinez lasted just five innings, and that was after Michael Wacha lasted just five innings on Thursday and John Lackey lasted 5.1 innings on Wednesday. All needed 100+ pitched to get 15-16 outs recently, and that is not a good trend. You see where this is going, right? The Cardinals bullpen is throwing far too many innings because their starters can't pitch into the sixth inning in recent games. Lance Lynn is the only Cardinals starter to toss six innings in the last week.Carlos Martinez hasn't gotten two outs in the sixth inning in any of his last three starts. Is this the league catching up to him, or just a bad month for CMart?
Could the Cardinals reach out to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and make an offer for ace Cole Hamels?
I am sure the Cardinals will sit tight into the first few weeks of June, possibly bringing up some AAA arms like Tim Cooney who has pitched really well of late, or they could use veteran Carlos Villaneuva for a few spot starts as well. Or, maybe things turn around for their current rotation and Wacha and Lynn turn into aces, which is quite possible.
But, another reason to go after Hamels is the two teams that are behind them in the standings. THe Pirates have struggled to score runs of late, but Andrew McCutchen seems to be rounding into form at the plate, so they could get hot. The Cubs are one of the more improved teams in baseballl and are only three games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central standing after winning six in a row, and seven of their last ten games, while the Cardinals have lost six of their last ten games.
The Cardinals rotation as it stands today looks like this:
The rotation is very good, but lacks a true ace in my opinion. The Cubs have two aces or near-aces in Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. After a rough April, Lester has an ERA under 2.00 in 27 May innings, so he appears to be back on track.
What would a trade offer for Hamels look like?
The Phillies would probably want one of Alex Reyes or Marco Gonzales, and one of Randall Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty with a low A pitcher added in the package for Hamels. The Phillies are in a rebuild and want ready or near-ready prospects in return for their ace.Reyes is the only prospect in this list that isn't ready or near ready but I imagine the Phillies could wait for him to develop if they can land him in a deal. Gonzales is in his second stint in AAA, and has struggled in his first five starts this season.
Adding Grichuk or Piscotty in the deal gives the Phillies a controllable outfield bat for the next 5-6 years and both are big league ready. Piscotty is off to a slow start in AAA this season, but he is repeating AAA and is ready for a role on a big league team, but is blocked by Jason Heyward, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, Grichuk and Matt Holliday in the Cardinals outfield.
Adding Hamels to the top of the Cardinals rotation would make the Cardinals the favorites to make the World Series in the National League, and solidify their rotation for the remaining 4.5 months of the season. Waiting into late June or July brings other teams into the mix for Hamels services, including the Red Sox who need an ace more than any team in baseball, the Dodgers who are dealing with injuries to Hyun-Jim Ryui and Brandon McCarthy, and the Padres who are all in on the 2015 season.
It seems like we hear about the Phillies scouting Red Sox prospects at least once a week since the beginning of the season, and with the Red Sox starters struggling, the Red Sox could be talking trade with Amaro Jr.. The Dodgers have a 4.5 game lead over the Giants at the moment, but if their fourth and fifth starters begin to struggle, and Ryu continues to have setbacks with his shoulder injury, the Dodgers could enter the talks as well.
The Cole Hamels trade talks should begin to heat up in the coming weeks, and the Cardinals could act quickly to solidify their rotation by striking a deal for Hamels. They have the prospects that would entice the Phillies and have depth in their upper minors to make a deal happen quickly.
Should the Cardinals trade for Cole Hamels?