Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 5/23/12

If you would’ve asked this question in January, I probably would have laughed in your face. On a staff with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, Hamels has often been the most overlooked “franchise player” in all of baseball. However, a rocky start for the rotation is causing a drastic rise in Cole’s stock.

Hamels is 6-1 in 8 starts this season, averaging over a strikeout an inning and an ERA of 2.48, the best of the rotation. He has shown poise, grit and a little bit of fire, as seen in the Bryce Harper bean ball fiasco. But the most important stat in Cole’s 2012 campaign doesn’t even belong to him; it’s the performance of his colleagues that has the world of baseball buzzing about the upcoming free agency period.

Cliff Lee has yet to earn a win in 6 starts, with a record of 0-2. While this hasn’t been strictly his fault and mostly on the shoulders of offensive anemia, numbers don’t lie. Roy Halladay is 4-4 over 10 starts with an ERA of 3.58, which is definitely not what we would have expected from a Cy Young contender just a year ago. Most alarming is his velocity drop off, with a 3-4 MPH decline in his fastball since the playoffs.

But what does this mean for Cole Hamels? It means money. It is already widely speculated that Hamels will be the most sought after free agent on the market this off-season, probably garnishing a yearly contract worth 25-30 million. Markets like LA, New York, Boston and San Francisco are salivating at their chance to scoop up this budding superstar. He has made it clear that he’s looking for a seven year deal, which is steep for a pitcher but definitely reasonable, given his skill set.
I can’t think of a bigger tragedy than letting Cole Hamels slip away after the conclusion of this season. While it’s been obvious for a long time that a seven year deal won’t be offered to starting pitchers in this city, Cole is definitely worthy of being the exception to the rule. Signing him to a contract of this length would make him 35 years old upon expiration of the deal. Cliff Lee is 34 today. Roy Halladay is 35. How do you think the Phillies would’ve fared if we had these guys on our roster for the past decade?

Cole has been the face of this pitching staff through some of the most important years in the history of this franchise. He has won a NLCS MVP. He has won a World Series MVP. Most importantly, I watched him parade down Broad Street in celebration of a World Series Championship, something I was unsure that I would ever see. Say what you will about Howard, Utley, J-Roll and Lidge’s stellar performances, but Cole Hamels won that World Series.

He will forever be a legend in this city.

The crazy part is HE’S STILL GETTING BETTER. Besides a poor 2009 campaign, which he openly admits was due to a lack of focus and a championship hangover, Hollywood’s numbers have been on a steady incline. He was in the running for a Cy Young last year, and it’s becoming clear that he will be a front runner this year as well. He hasn’t even reached his prime yet.

Doc and Cliff are headed for Cooperstown, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately, that day is rapidly approaching. You can already start to see the slight dip in their numbers. These guy aren’t getting any younger, and losing Hamels would only show us that in two or three years, our rotation will be completely turned over. Having a concrete ace locked up for the future is important for psyche of a team. Cole Hamels can guarantee us, barring injury, at least another five years of top tier performance.

I know the price is steep, but Ruben Amaro has shown us multiple times that he understands the cost of doing business and staying competitive in this league. Not only would letting Hamels go be a poor move for your ball club, it would be a slap in the face to the fans. Remember how angry this city was when Brian Dawkins left for Denver? That was guy in the twilight of his career. Imagine if that would’ve been six years early, when Dawk was a Pro Bowl player and one of the most high impact players in the NFL, along with being an emblem of our city. That’s where we stand today. Letting your World Series hero move on because of a couple million would leave me, and most other fans I’m sure, feeling betrayed. He’s earned the payday he’s about to receive. He belongs in Philadelphia for his whole career and should go into the Hall of Fame wearing red pinstripes. Don’t let him slip away, Rube. It might just be a huge black eye on an otherwise impressive body of work. And you know Philadelphia… Which do you think we’ll remember you for?Similar Posts:

  • Why the Phillies Need to Pay Cole Hamels
  • Could Cole Hamels Bolt to the Dodgers at the End of the Year?
  • Phillies Trade Options Are Limited
  • With Expectations Lowered, the Phillies Start Quest for 6th Straight NL East Title
  • Is There More to Hamels’ Beaning of Harper?

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