On the same day that concerns about Cole Hamels' left shoulder surprisingly were revealed, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. announced that the Philadelphia Phillies inked free agent starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $16 million deal. Thus, one pitching question was sharply answered today.
As long as Hamels is able to get it going early in the new season, the addition of this veteran right-hander should give the Phillies their best starting rotation since 2011. If 'Hollywood' isn't able to stay healthy, Burnett basically fills his spot and Ryne Sandberg's potential playoff push will likely be put on hold for at least one season.
Amaro stated as late as yesterday that he didn't see the Phillies making any more major moves. So, those comments were either typical 'general manager speak' diversions, the Hamels' news caused a somewhat forced and quick payroll decision to be made or some combination of both factors were in play.
Hamels, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick could create a strong 1-2-3-4 starting pitcher punch.
Miguel Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez and Jonathan Pettibone will be more fittingly slotted in lesser-tiered roles for the upcoming season as long as the aforementioned one through four are in place. At least one of those number 5 arms could also be used in the bullpen, which would also further strengthen what should be an improved relief corps.