Who’ll Be Phillies 2013 Opening Day Starter?
Reports that Matt Cain has been named Opening Day starter for the Giants means two things pertaining to the Phillies: (1) it's not too early to talk about it, and (2) it's not too sacrilege to consider giving Cole Hamels the ball on April 1 over Roy Halladay.
Though, you have to wonder whether that's even a question at this point.
Even if it wound up being for solely cosmetic reasons, it has to be Hamels. Right?
A year ago, Halladay posted his worst ERA (4.49) in over a decade.
Lee has only once in his career been an ODS, for the Indians in 2008.
Hamels last summer signed a six-year, $144 million contract.
Seems simple enough.
Now, even if it seems a totally petty consideration -- it's all, and only, about status -- it's one worth having. Rightly or wrongly, the team's leadership has been questioned throughout their skid the past few years, and management helps establish that hierarchy with little things like this (and, among others, the lead-off spot).
Hamels should be a prime candidate. If not, you'd have to wonder why.
Crazy as it sounds, Lee could actually be a possibility, seeing as he, Hamels, Ryan Howard and Ben Revere are the only players under team control through 2016. Though it would seem a little odd to anoint a 34-year-old in his twilight over a home-grown 29-year-old entering his prime.
As for Halladay, who has started the last three for the Phillies and 10 overall, his (likely) impending free agency doesn't necessitate a change, and could even be seen as symbolic of the prevailing theme this season: one last push with this core. You could also argue that there's no need to change, even it it'd be understood.
Of course, much of this depends on Halladay's health, and whether changes to his off- and in-season training will help him with lower back problems that he said were caused by age and overtraining and, he said, contributed to his shoulder issues.
My guess, then, is the Phillies hope to file this under: "good problems to have."