Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 5/17/12

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. Photo Courtesy of Renee Cendrowski.

There was a time when I had a different opinion of Cole Hamels. After his amazing postseason run in 2008, culminating with his World Series MVP and a championship, he seemed to display some diva-esque behaviors. Philly is not the town for that, and consequently, Cole Hamels got the cold shoulder for a while.

Of course everyone remembers his comments after game 3 of the 2009 World Series, when he said he couldn’t wait for the season to end while his teammates were still busy battling for a championship. For me, though, it started before those comments. It started with pounding his glove when Chase Utley booted a ball, and when Hamels would brood on the mound when things weren’t going his way. The poise he had once shown seemed to be vanishing right before our eyes.

Then 2010 came along and Hamels started pitching the way he had in the past, only with a little more edge. He appeared to have put 2009 behind him and was once again moving forward. It was so easy to forget that he had his greatest success at the age of 24.

Since that trying year in 2009, Hamels has been nothing short of amazing. He seems to get better every year. A lack of run support has left his win-loss record less than it could be, but Hamels his simply gone out and pitched his ass off for the past 2+ years. All he has done is win, or at least give his team a chance to win, and that’s all you can ask of a pitcher.

Now Hamels is 28. He is 5-1 with 2.28 ERA this season with 49 strike out in 47 innings this season. The foundation is in place for another amazing year from the lefty, and he’s doing it all with the black cloud of a contract negotiation hanging over his head.

The rumors are that Hamels wants a 7-year deal. The Phillies typically only give 3 years, though an exception was made last year for Cliff Lee, whom the Phillies gave 5 years. Given Hamels age, I don’t think 7 years is an unreasonable request. He would finish the contract at age 36. Roy Halladay is 35 now and Lee isn’t too far behind him. Lee’s contract will expire when he is 37.

For those of you that don’t think Hamels is in the company of pitchers such as Halladay and Lee, I will tell you to go look at the numbers. Cliff Lee was good prior to his 29th birthday, but really began to establish himself as a high sought after and elite pitcher during his 2008 season when he won the Cy Young Award at the age of 29. You know the story since then. Halladay starter establishing his dominance at 25, but has been amazing since turning 29. My point is simple. No matter how good a pitcher is early on, they usually mature a little later. That would indicate to me that Hamels’ best days are still ahead of him. Hamels is 79-55 in his career to this point with a lifetime ERA of 3.35. With the lone exception of 2009, his ERA has gone down every year.

Photo Courtesy of Renee Cendrowski

If the Philadelphia Phillies are forced into a re-building situation in the next couple of seasons, they could conceivably keep Hamels to anchor a new pitching staff. Hamels was so young when he got his start, that it is entirely possible that he could preside over two entirely different eras of Phillies’ baseball. That’s the upside to keeping your homegrown talent. If the Phillies and Cole Hamels can’t come to an agreement, that would perhaps be the biggest tragedy in all of this. Hamels should be a lifelong Philadelphia Phillie. Watching the team acquire big name pitchers has been great as a fan, but did you ever consider that it might come at the expense of one of your own?

Every minute that the Phillies and Hamels stay deadlocked in these contract talks brings us a minute closer to him testing the open market. At 7 years/$175 million, he may be a bargain (yes, I know how ridiculous that statement is). If Hamels gets to free agency he could sign for upwards of $30 million a year. And teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are not going to scoff at the money or the amount of years. If the Phillies have the money to sign Hamels, then they need to get it done now. Losing a talent like Hamels could actually be the undoing of this franchise. Having that happen would be simply unacceptable.

Similar Posts:

  • Could Cole Hamels Bolt to the Dodgers at the End of the Year?
  • Phillies Trade Options Are Limited
  • Can the Phillies Ride Their Pitching to Success in 2012?
  • Is There More to Hamels’ Beaning of Harper?
  • Cole Hamels Makes Bold Statement in Phillies’ Win

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