Cole Hamels: Legend in Waiting

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2009

As much as I pleaded for the Phillies to finally make a statement and sign Ryan Howard to a mega-deal, I want them to do so only after they pay their best pitcher since Hall-of-Fame left-hander Steve Carlton.

Furthermore, even though Howard has the rookie of the year and the MVP trophies in his back pocket, Hamels has one that might be more outstanding than both of those. Hamels won the Most Valuable Player of the Phillies second World Series victory in their 126-year history.

Hamels almost set a Major League record for victories in the playoffs. Hamels went 4-0 and would have most likely succeeded with the fifth win if it wasn't for the now infamous rain-out in Game Five.

A player with Hamels' type of talent doesn't come around often. However, that isn't the most telling factor on Hamels' case. Hamels is home-grown talent; the Phillies are the only organization he knows.

Now at 24, he is already a top-five starting pitcher, prominent left-hander, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP.  Hamels has a chance to win numerous Cy Young Awards. How wonderful would that be if he could do all this again in Phillies uniform?

In an era where few pitchers can be effective throwing more than 200 innings, and an era where pitch counts are hurting chances of more 20-game winners, Hamels was third in the majors in 2008 in innings pitched (227.1), 10th in strikeouts (196), eighth in ERA (3.06), and second in WHIP (1.08).

Obviously, if people followed the Phillies this season, they would remember that he Phils were not giving Hamels a whole lot of run support during the regular season. But of course, I'm not going to sit and give excuses, the stats are what they are.

Likewise, with the stats as shown, Hamels should not be taken as an arbitration and should be given a long-term contract comparable to Johan Santana's, and definitely more than A.J Burnett.

The Phillies are intelligent enough to understand what they have in this kid. Hamels will continue to rise to levels that will elevate him to absolute dominance. Dominance that should include at least another World Series ring, a couple Cy Young trophies, All-Star games, and 20-win seasons.

Of course all of this "rant" can be seen as my own personal opinion, but if you watch Cole Hamels as I have during the last two seasons including the playoffs and world series, this guy is big time, or as his teammates call him "Hollywood."