Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fear Itself is Afraid of Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels is awesome. It's become blatantly obvious now that all those idiots who were giving up on him last season...well...are idiots. (Please note that TheWizWit team called this one back in March. Yes, we're that smart.) After one sub-par year (see very end of this post) fans were ready to give the ole' heave-ho to the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP. People called him soft, immature and made entirely too big a deal out of his comments during the World Series (if you didn't understand what he meant when he made those comments then you probably listen to WIP too much). But thankfully, Cole has gone out there in 2010 and made each and every person who tore into him last year look pretty dumb.

Like Andy Reid time management dumb.

After last night's incredible performance - 6 2/3 innings, 13 K's, only 1 ER allowed - it's time we all sit down and really think about the year that Mr. Hamels is putting together. Here's a quick rundown his 2010 standard pitching stats:

GS: 30
W: 11
L: 10
ERA: 3.01
WHIP: 1.16
SO: 201

In case you were wondering, that's pretty good. Not only has he rebounded* from what some called a bad year last year, but he's come back with arguably his best year yet. He's already set a career high in strikeouts and will likely get at least three more starts in the regular season (he'll get four if the season comes down to the final weekend, which hopefully it doesn't). After those starts, assuming he continues pitching well, you're looking at him finishing with at least 215+ innings and 220+ strikeouts. Those are impressive numbers, numbers which had me thinking...should the Phillies seriously consider extending Hamels this offseason?

In 2011 Hamels will enter the last year of the 3 yr/$20M contract he signed after the 2008 season. It's safe to say that contract has been a good deal for the Phillies. At an average of 4.0 WAR a season since 2007, Hamels is roughly worth about $18M a year on the open market. The Phillies are paying way under that. After 2011, Hamels will be arbitration eligible one last time, and likely will be looking at an award in the 12-15M range. In other words, he's slowly going to inch toward his real value and will cease to be a "bargain" for the Phillies. So, to avoid reaching a point where he hits the open market (which will only further drive up his price) the Phillies should seriously consider offering Cole a contract extention after this season ends.

Using the recent Josh Becket extension as a guide, (he's a little older as he signed his deal at 29, whereas Cole will be 27 this December but they have comparable career statistics and postseason success) I figure it will take about 4 yrs/$65M to re-up Hamels now. I'd offer him that, with a 5th year vesting option for about $18M. With a deal like that you're buying out his final arbitration year and three additional years, plus giving him some incentive with a vesting option at a high price. With Oswalt off the books after 2011, the Phillies should be able to spend $16+ million on their second ace, especially if they are filling the remainder of the rotation out with younger, cheaper options (excluding Heavy B who will earn $8M in 2012). It gives Hamels tremendous security and ensures he stays on a contending team through his prime years. Plus, it would still put him as a free agent at age 32, still plenty young enough to sign another big deal (especially when you consider he's a lefty). It looks very much like a win to win to me.

Ultimately, even if the Phillies offer him a deal there is no way of knowing if Cole would take it. I'm sure the allure of hitting free agency at age 28 will be hard to walk away from, especially if he's confident he can repeat this season two more times. However, Hamels seems like a good guy who would like to stay here, even if he's from the west coast and yearns to head home. All I know is that I'd like to see the Phillies at least give it a try. Having Cole in Philadelphia for the next half decade would go a long way toward ensuring this team is fighting for a World Series title every year.

*A common misconception is that Hamels was a vastly different pitcher last year. Fact of the matter is that he wasn't, there were a variety of factors that contributed to his "average" season. 1) His BABIP was 55 points higher than the year before, and 30 points higher than his career average. That is a fluky deviation from the norm, not a predictive change in pitching ability. 2) His K/9 rate and BB/9 rates were practically identical. Those statistics, however, are very predictive of success. If you strike guys out and limits walks, you're normally a good major league pitcher. 3) His HR/9 rate the last three years? 1.11, 1.12 and 1.11. Seriously. The guys is consistent, the results just weren't. (I'm not even going to get into all the advanced Sabermetric statistics that say Hamels was the same pitcher. But know this, every statistic pointed to this turnaround. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Thank you Cole, for proving us right.

1 comment:

  1. It's widely known that he will win 1 Cy Young...and 11 Cole Hamels