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San Francisco Giants: Keep on tryin’ Brian: Go after Cole Hamels

By Mark ONeill
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In an obvious case of “Keep on tryin’, Brian,” the San Francisco Giants have tossed their helmet into the ring amongst a trio of clubs, all attempting to sweet-talk Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. into swapping veteran southpaw Cole Hamels for baseball’s latest in platinum bling: prospects.

Senior ESPN writer Jayson Stark tweeted Wednesday, “…add the San Francisco Giants to the list of teams interested in Cole Hamels, sources say. So all three teams that lost out on Lester-San Francisco, Boston and LA-are in.” Simply put, this means that when the Giants were informed of Jon Lester’s decision Tuesday night, Brian Sabean immediately picked up the phone and texted the Giants’ interest in Hamels.

Many feel that the acquisition of Hamels over Lester is a clear case of asking for a bicycle for Christmas, and receiving a dirt bike instead. Yes, it’s risky because of the need to surrender prospects, the latest in carefully guarded MLB treasure, but when you have the opportunity to ride a dirt bike when the rest of the pack is still on bicycles, you have to do what is required to remain ahead of the game.

In this modern age, however, prospects have become less apt to be included in clubs’ efforts to improve their teams, most preferring to go the route of free agency to shore up a sagging lineup. But you pay to play in this business and that means being willing to give up bling instead of cha-ching, even if the bling includes Kyle Crick and Andrew Susac.

Sep 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (34) celebrates with third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Crick is a promising pitcher, and Susac has all the trappings of being a first-rate, clutch performer, well worth investing in. But Cole Hamels is a proven commodity and because Sabean has made it clear that Buster Posey will remain behind the plate, it sets the table for discussion of moving Susac.

As a prospect, Andrew Susac has more value than a back-up catcher. Sabean must do what has to be done, even if it hurts.

What if he turns out to be everything Giants fans believe he will be? If the “What-if” game is to be played, then what if Cole Hamels leads the Giants to a fourth title in in six years? Two can play the same game.

Both LA (Corey Seager) and Boston (Mookie Betts) are said to be unwilling to let go of their best prospects, which leaves the Giants in the position of finally being able to cajole a quality pitcher into joining their team. Why is Cole Hamels an upgrade over Jon Lester, if both are savvy southpaws and both have extensive playoff experience?

First, because he is already signed to an existing contract (Hamels will earn 23.5 mil in 2015), he is less expensive than Lester would have been. Second, Hamels would be returning to his home state of California and as anyone who was born and raised in Cali knows, there is a huge difference between calling Philadelphia home and calling California home. This is not a dis on the East Coast at all; I’ve been there and it’s grand. But if Philly is grand, then California is vastly surpassing excellent. Home is home.

Finally, Hamels is coming off of a season in which he posted a career-best 2.46 ERA for a last-place team. He would never state publicly that he would like a change of venue because he is a team player and a class act, but having tasted the postseason, including a World Series Championship in 2009, Hamels would like a return ticket.

It does not take a  Bil James  mentality to see that signing with the Giants gives Cole Hamels an excellent chance to punch that ticket home.

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