Phillies

Cole Hamels honors David Montgomery and says finishing career in Philly has always been a thought of his

Cole Hamels honors David Montgomery and says finishing career in Philly has always been a thought of his

CHICAGO — Cole Hamels received a special delivery Thursday morning.

He is now in possession of one of the memorial patches that the Phillies are wearing on their game jerseys to honor David Montgomery.

The beloved former club president died earlier this month after a five-year battle with cancer. His initials — DPM — are on the patch that the Phillies wear on their right sleeves.

Hamels requested one and Chris Ware of the Phillies' communications office delivered it before Thursday's game at Wrigley Field.

Hamels said he would love to have worn the patch when he faced the Phillies on Wednesday night. But he now wears a Chicago Cubs uniform and major league baseball rules prevent that.

“David wouldn’t have wanted that anyway,” the pitcher said with a laugh. “He would have said, ‘Don’t get fined for me.’ "

Hamels said he would display the patch in a special place.

“It’s going to be in my locker and I’m going to be staring at it every day,” he said. “It’s important. I’m thankful that I get to play the game of baseball, but what David taught me has made me a better person and man. I got to grow up [in Philadelphia]. The lessons that I learned and the maturity I gained had a lot to do with David.”

Montgomery led the Phillies from 1997 to 2014. Hamels was drafted by the Phillies in 2002 and was World Series MVP in 2008. He was traded as part of a rebuild in the summer of 2015.

During his time in Philadelphia, Hamels did more than pitch. He and his wife started a foundation dedicated to charitable causes in the community, particularly those that benefit children and education. Though Hamels now works elsewhere, he continues to do charitable works in the area.

“David kind of introduced me to the power of a platform,” Hamels said. “He helped Jimmy (Rollins), Chase (Utley) and Ryan (Howard) and I to understand what charity is and how to do it, and the Phillies were all about the hands-on in helping us do it throughout a season and providing us with opportunities to make an impact. That’s something that will always go further than baseball.”

When the City of Philadelphia honored Montgomery by naming a Roxborough ball field after him in November, Hamels was there. He actually threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Hamels is 35 now but still has bullets in his left arm. He will be a free agent after this season. He still owns a home in the Philadelphia area.

Hmmm.

“I want to play a couple more years,” he said.

What about finishing his career right back where it started?

“Yeah, but they don’t give multi-year deals anymore to old guys,” he said with a laugh.

Growing serious, he said, “It’s always a thought of mine. I’ll never try to alienate or write somebody off. The team wants to win and I want to win and that’s why I was really lucky that (the Cubs) picked up my option because I know that we have a team that can win and I want to be a part of that.

"I know Philly is finally getting into that where they can make a five-, six-, seven-year run like we did and taking back that division. To be a part of something that special, I would consider it, but I know that I have to play well and everything has to fit. As long as I take care of business on the field, I think that allows the options to be there.”

Philadelphia might be a good one.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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