By this point in time we all know that our beloved Cole Hamels has left the City of Brotherly Love as he has pitched his first game in Arlington.
There is no doubt that it was a strange sight, seeing Cole in a uniform other than the red and white pinstripes that we have all grown accustom to seeing the ace-southpaw in for the past nine years. But, it is time for us to reach the point of acceptance as we look to the future.
While everyone has been informed of the fact that the players included in the Hamels deal who were shipped to the streets of Philadelphia will be names that will only be recognizable in the years to come, there is one player who has the potential to make a more immediate impact: Matt Harrison.
There seem to be only three things that Phillies’ fans know about the newly acquired Matt Harrison.
One, that he is a starting pitcher.
Two, that he is an injury ridden pitcher who has suffered back injuries which many thought would end his career, he was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and he now sits on the Phillies’ 15-day DL.
Three, that he was more or less a player thrown into the Cole Hamel’s deal to offset Hamel’s $82.1 million contract with his own $33 million contract.
Unfortunately, two of the three presumptions and tidbits of knowledge that the majority of Phillies’ fans have of Matt Harrison are all a bit negative. While there might not be too many big expectations for Harrison, there is still a lot that he brings to the table.
While Harrison might bring with him another large contract and more bills to pay, he also brings with him a great personality which many are already missing in Arlington. Harrison even has an award to show for his character after receiving the “2014 Marold McKinney Good Guy Award” last year which was awarded by the Texas organization, the local media, and the fans. With his stellar character, Harrison has also served as an inspiration to ball players after returning to the mound after an injury which was supposed to be career-ending. At a time of rebuilding, a good and positive personality in the clubhouse is definitely a valuable tool.
In addition to the character that Harrison brings to the table, he can also bring much-needed leadership to the clubhouse as well. Harrison has been in the Show since 2008. While his career truly has been injury-ridden, he had two very strong seasons in his 2011 and 2012 seasons – in 2012 he made an All-Star Game appearance. During his time with the Rangers, he has also accumulated postseason experience. In 2011, Harrison appeared in five postseason games, two being in the World Series. Albeit, he did not have the best outings in 2011, but postseason experience is postseason experience. From Harrison’s years of experience we can only hope that it leads to a leadership role in the Phillies’ clubhouse.
Finally, many seem to believe the addition of Harrison poses as a high risk with little reward situation. However, I beg to differ. The addition of Harrison in the Hamels deal poses low risk with the possibility of high reward.
Why is the addition of Harrison low risk?
The Phillies’ had two options: either throw the Rangers more money to pay for Hamel’s massive contract or pick up a Ranger’s player with a big contract as well. So, instead of dishing over more money to an opposing organization, we instead received Matt Harrison. As a result of choosing the preferred option number two, we lose nothing if Harrison does not perform on the mound.
The high reward comes from the possibility that Harrison actually could pan out on the mound. Harrison has shown potential in the past and that could absolutely translate into success in the future. Past potential aside, there is arguably a better chance that he can get past his injuries which have caused him problems in the past as a result of his recent diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Harrison can now be treated accordingly which will hopefully lead to results on the mound.
The acquisition of Matt Harrison was not a risk at all, it was only an addition which could yield great benefits. While the on field performance of Harrison can only be speculated on right now, there is no doubt that he will create a good environment in the clubhouse with his strong personality paired with his ability to become a leader.
Welcome to Philadelphia, Matt Harrison!