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Tom Byrne: Did the Phillies Get the Cole Hamels and Ken Giles Trades Right?

Tom Byrne is a Philly Influencer contributor and national sports radio host on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and NBA Radio. He started at SiriusXM in 2013 after hosting “The Tom Byrne Show” on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Hope springs eternal in a warm, seemingly empty ballpark that will not see a meaningful baseball game for quite some time. That was the feeling of 16,056 announced fans who watched as the Phillies fell 4-0 to the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

Jake Thompson, who came to the Phils in the Cole Hamels trade, showed you the skillset so many of us have been hearing and reading about for the last 12 months, but have yet to see. Thompson lasted seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out three.

I imagine no one was happier than Phillies pitching coach, Bob McClure. McClure, having watched Thompson struggle mightily in his first four outings with the big club1, implored his 22-year-old right-hander to tweak his delivery.

As a result of eliminating some moving parts and slowing down his delivery, Thompson threw with confidence. He repeatedly got ahead in the count, which was not the case in his first four trips to the mound.

Frankly, after he struck out Trea Turner with two men on base with a slider to end the sixth inning, I lost interest. After all, this is about the future not the amount of wins in 2016.

The Phils made two huge trades in the last 13 months, dealing Hamels and closer Ken Giles. If they did not win both deals, the Phillies would not win in the near future.

On that note, let’s check the current scorecards:


Aside from Thompson, the Phillies received catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, right-handed pitchers, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff, and veteran lefty Matt Harrison.

Alfaro will have to eventually fill the shoes of a fan-favorite in Carlos Ruiz2. He’s ranked as baseball’s top catching prospect by now that Gary Sanchez got called up by the Yankees.

Alfaro has hit .279/.321/.442 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs at Double-A Reading. He’s thrown out 31 of 70 would-be base stealers.

Williams has certainly had his ups and downs at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has 46 extra-base hits, including 12 home runs, in 440 at-bats, showcasing the bat speed and power that made him a second-round pick 4 years ago. So what’s the problem? His manager, Dave Brundage, benched him three times – twice for not running hard out of the batter’s box3, once for sliding into home plate after hitting a walk-off home run.

Asher had been great since being called up to the IronPigs. The 24-year-old was 3-0 with a 1.53 in Lehigh Valley. Of course that was before he was suspended 80 games in late May for PEDs. He’ll begin a rehab assignment Tuesday in the Gulf Coast League.

Eickhoff’s development is seemingly more advanced than the others. The 6’4″, 245-pounder is 9-12 with a 3.57 ERA with the big club.

Hamels, meanwhile, is the American League’s ERA leader at 2.67. His Rangers look like the favorite to make the World Series in the land of the DH.

I would argue both sides win this trade. The Phillies weren’t good enough to compete, therefore, there was no reason to keep Hamels around. The return still looks impressive. Thompson, Alfaro and Williams are three of the top five prospects currently in the Phils system.


It’s hard to tell who is winning this trade at the moment, but I’d lean Philly. Giles, only 25, has not been the guy for the Astros that we had seen with the Phillies. The right-hander has already allowed one more earned run in 51 1/3 innings with the Astros then he did in 115 2/3 here in the City of Brotherly Love. His ERA is 3.68 for a team that has not lived up to expectations in 20164.

In the other clubhouse, the Phillies seem happy with 24-year Vince Velasquez. Despite a 4.21 ERA, Velasquez has struck out 144 and shown enough to inspire confidence in him.

Mark Appel, a former No. 1 overall pick, still has a lot of work to do. He went 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Thomas Eshelman began the 2016 season in Single-A with the Clearwater Threshers. The Phillies promoted him to the Reading Fightin Phils of the Class AA Eastern League during the season where he went 4-5 with a 5.37 ERA.

Certainly shortstop JJ Crawford, who ranks fourth, fifth and sixth on ESPN, Baseball America and’s respective Top 100 charts, will play a huge role in the future. As will Mickey Moniak, who the Phillies selected with the first overall pick in Major League Baseball’s draft back in June, their reward for a 99-loss season in 2015.

The Phillies are in position to be big-time players on the free agent market this winter, if they feel they’re close to contention. It took too long to do the teardown5, but now that they have, with the help of both Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Matt Klentak, it’s important that the young ballplayers procured in the Hamels and Giles deals reach their potential.

1Struggle is an understatement! Thompson had allowed 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings! I must have read his Lehigh Valley stats a million times reminding myself what he could/should be. He was 8-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 11 starts.

2Chooooch! For the record, if he returns and hits two home runs for the Dodgers, I would hope he too gets a standing ovation. It was a crime to cheer Chase Utley? What a joke.

3Jimmy Rollins didn’t exactly bust it to first base all the time either. Ask Charlie Manuel.

4The Astros have come on strong of late winning 8 of 10. There are some parallels to be made between the Astros rebuild and what Sam Hinkie attempted in Philly. We’ll go over that another time.

5I just wanted to remind you there was one local radio host who didn’t like the Ryan Howard extension when it was signed.

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