Why Am I Writing About Cole Hamels?

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Why am I writing about Cole Hamels?

It’s not so you get your hopes up here. In fact, my advice is that you be better off not bothering wanting him at all. But according to Jayson Stark’s lengthy analysis at ESPN.com of what the Phillies might choose to do with pitcher Cole Hamels this winter, the Jays and the Red Sox are “two clubs with strong interest.”

So… I guess that’s why? Maybe?

Thing is, we’ve been down this road before. It’s usually blocked by a player’s no-trade clause — and, lo and behold, there’s one here, too. “USA Today reported this month that the eight teams Hamels can’t block are the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Nationals, Padres, Yankees and Rangers,” Stark explains. “But sources say that was a previous incarnation of his list, and that at least one of those teams has changed since the end of the season.”

The Jays and the Red Sox, though, remain “among the teams he can veto.” So… why am I writing about Cole Hamels?

I really have no goddamned idea, to be honest. Except that despite the existence of the no-trade — something we’ve know at least since Bob Elliot pointed out Hamels’ 2014 list in the Toronto Sun two weeks ago, but surely for much longer — Stark twice in his piece lists the Jays among suitors. Up there with Boston and the Cubs and the Dodgers, though I have absolutely no idea why they would be.

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Presented Without Comment…

(OK, one comment: Jenn definitely has sources in the know — she had Danny Valencia coming to the Jays before anybody else, among other things. That doesn’t mean it’s true, it just means don’t be an asshole and assume it’s nothing just because you may not happen to know who she is.)

More Trade Reaction: Devo Is Divisive

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“Why is Devon Travis a non-prospect?” asks Jake in yesterday’s Keith Law chat at ESPN.com. “The better question is why you think he’s a prospect,” Law replies.

“What I’m told by independent scouts, like from other organizations — they say, ‘well, he’s average defensively, but the bat is really something special. He’s a guy that could win a batting title some year,'” said Bob Elliott on Thursday’s edition of Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590.

“His bat doesn’t profile anywhere else he might play. He has leaky hips and starts his swing from a dead stop with his hands loaded low, making up for it a bit with strength, something that won’t work as well against major league pitching,” says Law in his analysis of the transaction.

“In the case of Travis, he can defend very well at second base and he can flat out hit the baseball. The hitting mechanics are a little unorthodox—namely hitting off his front foot most of the time—but he consistently barrels the ball and drives it to all fields with very good strength for his size,” writes Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus.

“He taunts believers with the potential for a .280 average, 8-12 home runs and 10-12 steals but still has to answer questions as to whether he can adjust to advanced pitching,” writes Craig Goldstein in another piece at BP.

“He might be average in the field,” says an NL scout in an Elliott piece from Friday’s Toronto Sun. “But the bat. He’ll take Goins’ job for sure. He will hit a lot of doubles.”

“While Travis has put up very solid minor-league numbers so far, the tools don’t necessarily match the statistical profile. He has the potential to be a solid average hitter with limited power, and his limited athleticism and quickness limits his value defensively,” writes Jordan Gorosh in the same BP article as Goldstein.

“‘He makes solid contact and doesn’t strike out a lot. I’ve heard some people throw a Howie Kendrick on him. He might be a second base version of Bill Madlock.’ Third baseman Madlock was a career .305 hitter who won four batting titles with the Pittsburgh Pirates,” writes Elliott, quoting the same scout.

“That’s so inanely hyperbolic,” tweets Ewan Ross in response to Elliott’s radio quotes. ” I talked to 3 or 4 people, and ranged from .270 hitter, to not a big leaguer.”

“Glove works very well at keystone even with fringe arm,” writes BP’s Anderson. “Reads angles well and makes more plays than he should; good footwork when he gets to the ball; exceptionally soft hands; lightning quick on the pivot; turns an excellent double play.” He adds that, defensively, it’s an “above-average total package.”

“He’s a below-average defender at second base,” says Law. “The defense is fringy, as his range is limited and the arm is not a strength either,” adds Gorosh.

“An Altuve-type player that ultimately will be a two-hole hitter,” says Jays scout Dave May Jr., according to Alex Anthopoulos, via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

So… yeah.

The Jays, apparently, just dealt for a below-average/average/above-average defensive second baseman who will win batting titles/hit like Altuve/be a .280 hitter with 10-12 HR power/be unable to adjust to big league pitching with his unorthodox swing mechanics.

WELL THAT SURE AS FUCK CLEARS IT UP.*

 

*Yes, yes, I know there’s not every going to be unanimity of analysis on a prospect, but this is pretty damn divergent! Also I really wanted to do the Photoshop and it’s Friday. Sue me.

Second Base Problem? Jays Whip It Good In Nabbing Devo From The Tigers

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So long, one third of Roy Halladay, we hardly knew ye.

The Jays, of course, traded their homegrown member of the Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science back in December of 2009 for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Taylor. Taylor was immediately flipped to the Oakland A’s for Brett Wallace. A little over half a season later Wallace begat Anthony Gose from Houston (by way of Philadelphia). And now, as we learned last night, Gose has been dealt to the Detroit Tigers for second base prospect Devon Travis.

Not exactly the kind of diminishing returns you’d like to see from a trade of a Hall Of Fame pitcher in the prime of his career at the time. But it’s actually a nifty trick that Alex Anthopoulos has turned, now for the second time — first by moving Wallace — having backed away from a player whose value seems likely to have already peaked.

That’s not exactly a fair assessment of Gose — he’s still young, toolsy, and as GROF tweeted last night, “As much as I rag on Gose, if Billy Hamilton can play everyday, a centerfield that good — in a ballpark that needs one — probably can too” — but his value to the Jays was certainly diminished by the emergence of Dalton Pompey (and, to a lesser extent, Kevin Pillar). More crucially his value in the overall would, in all likelihood, have taken a massive hit at some point in 2015, as he is currently one demotion away from being out of options.

At that point the Jays almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to get someone that some are calling a potential future everyday player at second base — or any other position, frankly — in return for him.

Of course, not everybody is that high on Devon Travis — Keith Law tweeted last night, tongue firmly in cheek, “Failed prospect traded for non-prospect. GM Meetings Fever – catch it!” Fortunately, most opinions on Travis seem to diverge from that.

So who is Devon Travis, anyway?

We’ll start with the basics: He’s a second baseman heading into his age-24 season who spent the entirety of 2014 in Double-A after tearing up the Midwest League and the Florida State League the year prior (though it should be noted that he was old at the time for the first, and not terrible young for the second). Baseball America just yesterday damned him with faint praise, naming him the top prospect in the Tigers system, though they did rank him the 84th best prospect in baseball back in February. MLB.com, on the other hand, has updated their top Jays prospect list since the deal, ranking Travis ninth. He was a 12th round pick back in 2012 out of Florida State University, and apart from some struggles in last year’s Arizona Fall League, he’s hit everywhere that he’s played in his brief pro career.

A superstar-in-the-making he is not. But there’s definitely something there, too.

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