The young left-hander did a much better job of staying healthy last season, but still spent a bit of time as an observer and not working out of the rotation. The Phillies gave in to Hamels and other players during the off-season and are hiring a chiropractor to work with players helping to both heal injuries and, hopefully, prevent them. Hamels was the main force behind the Phillies making the move and when your young, oft-injured phenom in waiting wants a chiropractor, you go get him one. In all honesty though, it may be a big move that could help Hamels and others.
With over 300 innings in the majors, Hamels doesn't catch anybody off guard anymore and it will be interesting to see how hitters adjust to him and how he adjusts to them. It's a dance that young players, whether they're hitters or pitchers, go through as they establish themselves in the majors. There is no doubting that Hamels has the talent to go well into the land of super star and could become one of the dominating pitchers in baseball.
Will it happen this year, or will there be a little more of a learning curve?
It's likely that Hamels has had all the learning curve that he'll need. There were some that thought the Phillies waited too long to bring him to the majors, but the Phillies were very cautious with him, especially considering all the injuries that he battled through both in high school and the minors. It was constantly one thing after another with Hamels, but not only has he learned how to be a better pitcher, he's learned how to be a healthier pitcher. For one thing, he knows that if he's ever in a fight, don't lead with your left. And he's also learned how to condition himself to better take care of a balky back that will likely nag him throughout his career to one degree or another.
Philly Baseball News projections for Cole Hamels
The biggest question is whether the Phillies will be able to keep Myers in the rotation all season or will he make another emergency trip to the bullpen to take over for a struggling Brad Lidge. While it's not likely that Lidge will return to his dominating form, it is likely that the Phillies will do everything in their power to keep Myers from spending any time in the bullpen. In fact, the Phillies never even considered keeping Myers in the bullpen when they acquired Lidge last fall. "No," said Pat Gillick tersely when asked if the thought of having Lidge set up Myers ever crossed his mind. "With the starting pitching that was available out there, we felt this was our way of gaining another quality starter. We believe Lidge can handle closing and we're a stronger club this way [with Myers in the rotation]," explained Gillick.
So, with Myers, who also struggled with some health issues last season, in the rotation for the foreseeable future, just how much can he give the Phillies? The first question is likely to be whether he or Cole Hamels gets the nod on opening day. There is always something to be said about ego, especially when you're dealing with a player like Brett Myers. While Hamels should probably be the starter, the honor will likely go to Myers, who has more seniority and is more the veteran pitcher. It's likely that this time next year, the discussion won't be based on seniority, since Hamels is likely to outshine Myers this season. It's also possible that if Lidge falters, the Phillies will see moving Myers back to the closer's role, which is the one he prefers, as the best way to strengthen their bullpen. It would especially make sense if they see good things out of youngsters like Carlos Carrasco, Josh Outman and J.A. Happ this season.
Philly Baseball News projections for Brett Myers
Yes, he's aging and you have to wonder just how much he has in the tank, but Jamie Moyer always finds a way to get the job done. He's not the type of pitcher that generally dominates hitters, but he's certainly aging gracefully and has a lot to offer to a team that figures to be in the running all season long. Moyer has generally been healthy over the years and can still show much younger pitchers a thing or two about conditioning. So while the concerns over whether or not Moyer has anything left and just how much he may or may not have left are legitimate, you tend to give him the benefit of the doubt when you try to figure what you're going to get from him. One more pennant race could be enough to truly bring out everything that's left in Moyer for one more season in Philadelphia.
Philly Baseball News projections for Jamie Moyer
Like Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick won't sneak up on anyone this season. Teams have had a chance to see him and he's not a secret weapon anymore. What he is, is a good young pitcher who knows how to get hitters out. It's always interesting to see how a young player does in their second season. The baseball history books are littered with players who had great first seasons - some even won Rookie of the Year honors - and then went on to have a mediocre career, or worse. Where is Joe Charboneau, anyway? The Phillies are hoping that won't happen to Kendrick, who won ten games for the Phillies and was arguably the key pitching savior of the club. Admit it, if someone told you that Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia would be out with injuries and Adam Eaton would be downright bad, would you have figured on the Phillies pitching staff being good enough to get them to the postseason?
One of the great things about Kendrick is his willingness to admit what he doesn't know and look for new lessons to learn, everyday. Why just the other day he learned that a player can't be traded to a Japanese League team. You can often see Kendrick talking with Moyer and soaking up all he has to offer and then putting those lessons to use. No, he's not Cole Hamels, but in Kyle Kendrick, it's likely that the Phillies found a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for years to come.
Philly Baseball News projections for Kyle Kendrick
There is no guarantee on who will be the Phillies fifth starter. Adam Eaton, Kris Benson and others are all in the mix. First, the Phillies have to figure out if Eaton is healthy and if he is, the next question is why was he so bad last season? If they can get him straightened out, then he gets first shot at being the team's fifth starter and in a perfect world, he'll pitch well at the Major League level while Benson gets himself healthy and regains some semblance of form in the minors. That would open up a potential deal to send either Eaton or Benson elsewhere, depending on how the Phillies want it to play out.
With that in mind, we've created a composite projection for the Phillies fifth starter; a guy we'll call Adamis Benaton.
Philly Baseball News projections for the fifth starter (Adamis Benaton)
If all this plays out, how would the 2008 rotation stack up to the 2007 version? We'll run the numbers using these projections and the numbers that were posted last season by Hamels, Moyer, Kendrick, Kyle Lohse & Eaton, the top five in games started. Keep in mind that Myers started just three games last season, so we won't throw his numbers into the mix.
2008 Projection vs. 2007 Fact