Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels

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Mets, elements get best of 'embarrassed' Hamels

BOX SCORE

While the Flyers were electrifying their fans with a do-or-die playoff victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, there was no joy across the street in Mudville.

Mighty Cole could not grip the baseball.

“Sometimes you have to battle the elements and the elements definitely got the best of me,” Cole Hamels said after he and the Phillies suffered a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets on a cold, rainy, miserable night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

Hamels walked five batters and hit another in 4 2/3 innings. After the loss, he said he was embarrassed by the performance -- three times.

“Just the fact of not being able to locate pitches and not being able to throw strikes or apply a plan of attack to hitters,” Hamels said. “When you’re not able to execute it creates a serious issue and it did -- it led to a very poor performance and from my standpoint I’m truly embarrassed that I didn’t give anybody a chance. Balls weren’t even being put into play because I didn’t allow them to be put in play. That’s an embarrassment because I’m not allowing my teammates to get in the game.

“When you’re walking that many guys and you’re allowing runs to score, you don’t give your team a chance to win. And even for the fans that stayed, it’s pretty embarrassing for the type of game that I went out and pitched. It’s not the type of game I like to credit myself on when I go out there and work so diligently in between starts and to start a season.

“I threw 50-something balls; I don’t do that. I guess I can say I have now.”

The first pitch of the game was delayed one hour, 28 minutes. It was 48 degrees when Hamels threw the first pitch. It was 45 degrees by the middle innings. It rained most of the game. The announced crowd was 28,189. The actual in-house attendance was probably half that.

Hamels was able to navigate the first three innings and allow just one run. He lost it in the fourth and fifth innings. He walked four batters in an inning for the first time in his career in the fourth. One of the walks was to the opposing pitcher, Jonathon Niese, with the bases loaded.

The next inning, Hamels walked a fifth batter and hit another. He failed to get the third out in the inning even after manager Ryne Sandberg left him out there to try to retire the bottom third of the order.

Hamels couldn’t to it. He threw a whopping 68 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. He finished the game with 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings; 51 of them were balls.

Hamels didn’t complain about the Phillies choosing to play the game in such bad weather. The team seemed hellbent on getting the game in because Wednesday's forecast is even worse and the club already had one day off this week (Monday) with another coming Thursday.

“It’s baseball," Hamels said. "You have to get your games in. There are going to be games that are wet and cold, 110-degree temperatures. You have to be able to play and master what you have out there and be able to execute. I wasn’t able to do so.”

The cold more than the rain was the root of Hamels’ problem.

“I wasn’t able to grip any of my pitches, not even a fastball,” he said. “To be able to grip a four-seam fastball and locate it, that’s first and foremost and I wasn’t able to do that, let alone try to move to another pitch. I wasn’t able to throw any of them.

“Not being able to build up enough sweat so I could get certain grips on the ball hurt. The ball definitely felt like a cue ball. Today might have been the day to use pine tar, but fortunately I don’t do that. It might have been the day to learn.

“It was just difficult to grip the baseball, but you have to be able to battle and I wasn’t able to do that.”

Niese pitched in identical conditions and was able to succeed. He logged seven innings and scattered four hits, one of which was a homer by Marlon Byrd. Niese walked just one and struck out five.

“Niese was able to deal with it and he got through it just fine," Hamels said. "A lot of credit goes to him for being able to do that. And there is embarrassment on my side for not being able to compete.”

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The difference was striking.
 
When Mickey Moniak arrived in Philadelphia to sign his first professional contract six months ago, he was rail-thin and 170 pounds.
 
On Tuesday night, Moniak made a quick visit to the winter meetings to be honored as Baseball America’s high school player of the year for 2016. 
 
He’d added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
 
“It’s all muscle,” Moniak said proudly.
 
The Phillies selected Moniak with the first pick in the June draft and signed him for $6.1 million. Just a few months of professional baseball convinced the 18-year-old centerfielder that he needed to get stronger. He recently capped off his first year of pro ball with a three-week stint at the Phillies’ strength and conditioning camp in Clearwater.
 
“It’s something the Phillies wanted me to do and I knew I definitely needed it, too,” Moniak said. “I really enjoyed my first year. I got a taste of what it was like to play baseball for a job and it was a good time.
 
“There were a lot of positives that came out of the first year. I felt like I jumped in there and really competed. I hit well in July. In August, I started to fatigue and I wasn’t prepared for that, being my first season. But it was a good learning experience. I needed to get stronger.”
 
Moniak hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies’ prospect-stacked Gulf Coast League team. That club, loaded with young Latin players and first-year talent from the 2016 draft, went 41-17 and advanced to the finals of the league playoffs before losing to the Cardinals.
 
After the playoffs, many of the players from that club participated in the Florida instructional league. Moniak played sparingly, however, after dealing with some soreness in his right hip. He was checked out by doctors in Philadelphia and there are no more concerns.
 
“It was just tightness,” Moniak said. “Everything is good. I’m 100 percent. They said it was either a growing pain or just tightness. I just have to stretch more.”
 
Moniak is an athletic centerfielder with speed and a good left-side bat. He has been compared favorably to former All-Star Steve Finley.
 
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting, said on draft night in June. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."

Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, during his senior season. He impressed a rival scout who saw him play five times during the season.

“The bat is good,” the scout said. “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.”
 
Now, Moniak is stronger. He looked sturdy in a dress shirt and tie at the winter meetings Tuesday night. He is eager to see how it all translates on the field in 2017.
 
“I’m excited for the season,” he said. “I’m just going to go to spring training and compete and hopefully end up in (Single A) Lakewood, stay healthy and hopefully have a winning season and win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal and if personal stats come with that, too, that’s great.”