Jeff Francoeur rose in the minor league ranks at the same time as Cole Hamels a decade ago.
“I remember battling against Cole when I was a kid in the Braves organization,” Francoeur recalled. “I knew he would go far.”
Francoeur was right. Hamels has gone far with the Phillies. King Cole is one of the best hurlers in the game. The big question is how far will Hamels go in about a week and a half.
The same can be asked of Francoeur. The one-time gold glover has risen from oblivion with the Phillies. The veteran outfielder with the perpetual smile belted a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning off Marlins closer A.J. Ramos for a 8-7 win. The victory gave the Phillies their first sweep since mid-May and the club is 3-0 since the second half commenced.
“We probably have the best record in baseball in the second half,” Francoeur cracked.
Yes, but the Phillies are still the worst team in baseball. It could get worse in the short term if the Phillies trade Francoeur and Hamels.
The latter was roughed up for the second consecutive game. Hamels was chased after only three innings. Hamels gave up an uncharacteristic five earned runs on eight hits.
“He’s allowed to have a couple of bad starts,” Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said.
It’s true. Hamels has pitched well prior to July and subpar starts happen. As the trade deadline approaches, teams are well aware of what Hamels can do on the rubber. Hamels has had a rough June but he’s had a great career in red pinstripes.
“I think my track record speaks for itself,” Hamels said. “Sometimes you get yourself into a rut and sometimes you have to get yourself out a rut.”
There’s no bigger rut for Hamels than the team he pitches for.
“It’ll be fascinating to see what happens since Hamels is going to interest teams,” a NL scout said. "The big question is what will given up to get Hamels. Regarding Francoeur, I didn’t see this coming in March but he has proved he can still hit some and he is still a good defensive outfielder.”