MLB Rumors: 10 Reasons Phillies Can’t Risk Playing Hard Ball with Cole Hamels

Ryan WolcottContributor IIJanuary 11, 2011

MLB Rumors: 10 Reasons Phillies Can’t Risk Playing Hard Ball with Cole Hamels

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    With the Philadelphia Phillies picking up Cliff Lee in a deal that shocked all of baseball last month, there has been a lot of talk about the how good the Phillies current rotation is, which ranks probably within the best five rotations in baseball history. The 2011 Phillies rotation compares to the rotations of the Atlanta Braves from the mid-1990s, the 1971 Orioles with Jim Palmer, and the 1966 Dodgers with Sandy Koufax.

    Sadly for the Phillies fans, this rotation has a life of probably no more than two years. After the 2011 season, two of the pitchers of this potentially legendary rotation could be seeking new contracts. Cole Hamels' contract ends after this season, and Roy Oswalt has a $16 million club option for the 2012 season. It is possible that the option might occur for 2012, but he is only 33 and may be seeking a multi-year contract following 2011.

    Assuming that Oswalt will be looking for an opportunity following 2011 to find a multi-year deal to retire with, it is vitally important for the Phillies to sign Hamels to a contract very soon in order to avoid a contract war. Hamels is not eligible to be a free agent until after the season of 2012, but he is due arbitration following this coming season, which would put his value much higher than his current contract. The 2010-2011 offseason has seen a great deal of pitcher changes, and the Phillies need to insure soon that Hamels is not among that list for next season.

10. Hamels Is The Youngest Of The Four Aces

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    Age of the Phillies' Starting Pitchers:

    Roy Halladay: 33

    Cliff Lee: 32

    Roy Oswalt: 33

    Cole Hamels: 27

    Potential Fifth Starters:

    Joe Blanton: 30

    Kyle Kendrick: 26

    Vance Worley: 23

     

    Hamels, being the youngest of the aces in the Phillies rotation, is the future of the team. The team is aging overall, and they need a young player like Hamels to hang the hat of the future on. Although Kendrick and Worley are younger than Hamels, they have yet to prove that they can pitch at the level that Hamels can pitch at. Not only is Hamels the youngest of the four aces, but he is also the lowest paid. Since he has many years yet to play and his value is higher than his pay, there would be nothing stopping a team like the Nationals offering him a huge Werth-like contract if it came down to a contract war.

9. Hamels Is Coming Off of a Season With His Personal Best Numbers

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    Hamels is coming off of a season with his personal best numbers. He had his all-time low ERA (3.06) with his highest number of strikeouts (211). His ERA was 17th best and his strikeouts were sixth best in the MLB.

    In addition, Hamels was 15th best with earned runs and 21st best with WHIP.

8. There Is a Hunger For Young Aces in The Market With Few Options

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    According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, there are 18 potential free agent starting pitchers for the 2011-2012 offseason. Of those pitchers, Hamels is one of the best options. Of those 18 pitchers, only eight, including Hamels, is under the age of 30.

    Of all 18 of the pitchers, only four of them can really toe the line with Hamels and those are Chris Carpenter, Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez and C.J. Wilson. However, Carpenter is currently 35 and Oswalt is 33. Wilson is still only 30 and Rodriguez is 31.

    Overall, of those 18 potential starting pitchers, Hamels has the most strikeouts, the second best ERA, the fourth number of walks allowed, and the second best WHIP, and he did this while taking in the fifth amount of innings pitched. It should also be noted that, as far as the numbers he was not ranked No.1 in, he was just behind Oswalt..

7. Hamels Would Be Hard to Replace

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    The Phillies have a somewhat depleted farm system, but it still has some potential. Among the young players that the Phillies have in their system that desire to be starting pitchers for the Phillies are Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, Trevor May, Austin Hyatt and J.C. Ramirez. I think that it is likely that the Phillies will see Kendrick as their fifth starter for this coming season, but he is not yet at the level of play that Hamels can be. Worley may be a good pitcher, but he still needs to be seasoned somewhat. Either way, Cole Hamels would be hard to replace. A solid, reliable young arm like Hamels are becoming hard to find.

6. The Higher The Price, The Lower The Chances

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    If Hamels' contract went to a contract war, with the demand for a young ace and the limited supply, the price would likely sky-rocket over Hamels. With the Phillies locked in with Halladay and Lee for multi-year deals, the money that the Phillies could spend on Hamels would be limited if it came down to out bidding other teams. Not only would Hamels be a threat to lose, but it would also be possible to fill in other holes that will be present next year. Other Phillies contracts that end after this coming season are Raul Ibanez, Brian Schneider and Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies need to keep the price down to make sure that they can keep Hamels and renew or find replacements for the other players for 2012.

5. Phillies Are Built For Defensive Baseball

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    The Phillies have been building a team that is more built for defense than offense. This is obvious by the major changes the team has made to acquire some top names in pitching. In 2008, the Phillies won the World Series, with Hamels as the MVP. Since then, the Phillies have acquired Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee again. If the Phillies lose Oswalt after 2011, the team could not afford to also lose Hamels since they are built around their starting pitching.

    2009 ERA: 4.16

    2010 ERA: 3.67

    2011 ERA: ??

4. Phillies Are Less Dependent On Scoring Runs

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    The Phillies have also been built to have less offense. The Phillies have always been known for their outstanding offensive game, but last season we saw that dip a little bit. The Phillies won many of their games by a single or a few runs. The Phillies offense has dipped, but their pitching game has been accelerating much more quickly than their offense is decelerating.

    2009 Runs: 820

    2010 Runs: 722

3. Hamels a Quality Player Both On and Off The Mound

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    Not only does Hamels do great things on the mound in Philadelphia, but he also does great things off of the mound in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Hamels has been active with charities and charitable events in the Philadelphia area. Philadelphia needs a quality baseball player on its mound and a quality person in its community.

2. An Extension Would Give Hamels Hope For The Future

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    Not only do the Phillies need Hamels, but Hamels also needs the Phillies. Hamels needs another full year in the majors to be eligible for free agency. As much as Hamels' agent says that they will worry about the contract once this season is over, if Hamels got a contract extension early this season, it would give him some piece of mind. If he got an extension early this season, he would know that he was playing to invest in the future of the team he was going to continue to play for. It would eliminate the stress of a contract renewal for Hamels and would give him hope to know that the numbers he puts up in 2011 were going to contribute to the team he has a future with.

1. Carlos Ruiz and The Rest of The Rotation

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    Cole Hamels is a young ace, which is hard to find in the majors right now. He is also in easily the best rotation in baseball right now. The members of the rotation are bound to rub off on one another. Last year, the members of the rotation had a competition amongst themselves. That will not be any different with adding Lee to the rotation. The players learn from one another and build upon themselves and each other, always growing as players and becoming stronger players.

    Also, Carlos Ruiz is the secret weapon of the Phillies. Ruiz brings magic out of his pitchers. This year alone he helped Halladay pitch a perfect game in Florida and a no-hitter in Halladay's first ever playoff game. Ruiz helped the Phillies pitchers throw a no-hitter and a shutout against the best offensive team in the playoffs this year. Hamels and Ruiz can do magic things together. Between Ruiz and the rest of the rotation, Hamels is bound to get better, and the Phillies need to make sure he stays in Philadelphia.