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Is Phillies' Pitching Worth the Price?

The Cole Hamels contract means Phillies pitchers have the lion's share of the team payroll.

To the delight of most Philadelphia Phillies fans, Cole Hamels will be wearing pinstripes for a number of years to come.

With the with a vesting option for a seventh year, the Phillies are telling fans that they haven't thrown in the towel, even if this season might be lost.

Hamels' contract is the richest in team history. (Yes, it tops those of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.)

But is the price for pitching worth it? 

With Hamels locked up, the Phillies have now invested $68 million in three starting pitchers for 2013.

That's a lot of green for Hamels, Halladay and Cliff Lee. Throw in what the team is paying closer Jonathan Papelbon and it doesn't seem like there's much room to pay for anything else.

In reality, the Phillies have the top three starting pitchers in baseball.

Throw in Vance Worley and the rotation is strong for next year, no matter who the No. 5 starter is. (Actually, could that be phenom Tyler Cloyd, who is pitching lights out for the Iron Pigs this year?)

But, unless Hamels keeps hitting home runs, it's hard to win games when your team isn't scoring any runs. We've found that out for the first half of this year as the Phils were barely able to put a run or two on the board.

You would also think that Hamels is now truly the ace on the staff.

Yes, Halladay has a no hitter, perfect game and Cy Young on his resume since becoming a Phil.

But Hamels does have MVP awards for a championship series and World Series.

So maybe Hamels is really our modern-day Steve Carlton. He's definitely homegrown talent and losing him to free agency could have meant a death march for the future of the franchise.

So kudos to General Manager Ruben Amaro for wrapping up Hamels right before the trading deadline. Now we'll see how the rest of the hand plays out.

Amaro has gone on the record to state that he wants the Phillies to remain competitive over the next three years.

Keeping Hamels on staff for six years might give enough time for some of the Baby Phils arms in the Minor Leagues to be ready for the Majors by that time.

This team, though, needs a stronger lineup.

It's nice to know there's a nucleus of Howard, Utley, Rollins and Carlos Ruiz.

Even with those guys, there are questions: Can Howard and Utley fully recover from injury, is Rollins past his prime, and is Chooch a one-hit wonder?

The rest of the lineup looks shaky for the next few years.

Who will be at third base next year? What about left field? Does Hunter Pence remain in right field or is he traded? Who will be the new centerfielder?

At least one issue—a big issue—is resolved.

Cole Hamels stays. And that should give every Philadelphia Phillies fan enough hope that the franchise will get back on track.

Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Well, it looks like those of you who guessed Shane Victorino may have been correct. The Flyin' Hawaiian is rumored to be part of a package to the L.A. Dodgers, who have been busy this month, acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Phightins' NL East rival Florida Marlins...
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Reuben should go and get what he can for the players we have who are on expiring deals (Shane, Blanton) or nearing the end (Jimmy) or making too much (Lee). And his last move, after salvaging what he can from this dismal season, is to take care of the biggest factor in this debacle. By resigning.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Now the rumors are coming in for Pence to the Giants...2/3 of the starting outfield packs its bags?
Gary B July 31, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Just read Pence has been shipped off to SF Hopefully the Phils can ship out some more bad and expiring contracts in Blanton, Rollins and Pierre. I'd like to see Lee stay, he's making a ton of money, but there is no better overall 3 man pitcher rotation, so I believe it's worth it (for now). But if we are going to talk about huge contracts with poor production in return/coming up short, the squatter on 1B is the target. McNabb has pasted the torch.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Deal confirmed. Phils get two righty relievers, Josh Lindblom and AA prospect Evan Martin for Victorino. Dom Brown is on his way to Nationals Park now, according to the club website. http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120730&content_id=35820724&vkey=news_phi&c_id=phi
Our Town July 31, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Why oh why does this club continue to hold on to Utley like he is actually worth something. Dump that error factory, that should be priority number 1.
Sean McCullen July 31, 2012 at 06:07 PM
What pray tell do you expect to get in return for a guy with chronic arthritis in his knees who is due $15M next season? Btw: Love the moves today. See you later Shane "Willie Mays Hayes" Victorino.
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 06:14 PM
He's untrade-able. Same for Howard, and probably even Lee / Halladay given their salary / production / age.
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 06:17 PM
As long as we have Hamels / Halladay / Lee we'll contend. We need some new blood, including some patient hitters. Seriously, we've known this since losing to the Giants in the NLCS but it took until today to act on it. Looks like they are using these chips to bolster the bullpen - much needed - and get some 'plan B's' at aging positions (catcher from SF supposed to be good). And, while we're at it, lack of backups killed us this year. As for Pierre - I'd trade him for you Gary. And I don't even need to see your stats.
@xxLouA July 31, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Pitching worth what???? you need runs to win games....so why the question......as I said before RA should get the ax not the players....the first guy to go is the guy who tried to help out the most even with a sub-par year....Maybe Strike Out (SO) should go next and get his salary back....what a mess?????
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 06:32 PM
His salary is 100% guaranteed. This isn't the NFL.
@xxLouA July 31, 2012 at 07:07 PM
does it make it any better? I know they can't get it back, not bad for a paid vacation ......sort of..... maybe Phil's found there home base for a season or 2... hope not tho...
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Official: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120731&content_id=35873266&vkey=news_phi&c_id=phi Phils get OF Nate Scheirholtz, AA catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and A RHP Seth Rosin.
Paul J. DiBartolo July 31, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Given all that has transpired, one does wonder what Ruben, Jr., has been doing. I believe that he shares a big part of what is wrong with the 2012 Phillies.
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 09:23 PM
He had no backups for the very players most likely to get hurt. And he doubled down on guys like Nix and Wigginton who were unreliable. Valdez wasn't a star, but he was a utility IF on a team that had numerous injury risks in the IF (Chase, Polanco)! Bullpen was woefully shaky, yet he spent a fortune on a luxury item in Papelbon. Signed Rollins and Lee for sentimental reasons. WAITED a week to late to deal these guys. Why is Blanton and Pierre on this team as of 4pm? Seriously? If Ruiz didn't have an amazing first half, where would this team be? Frightening.
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 09:28 PM
What bothers me about RA is this - ANYONE can spend someone else's money and place a mega-offer at a top 5 pitcher. Anyone. That doesn't win titles. It's how you build the rest of the roster. How did we actually win a title? We had Shane and Werth as Rule 5 pickups. That's HUGE. We brought up guys like Cole, Howard, Chase, Ruiz, Happ. That's HUGE. We got Moyer, a guy the rest of the league thought was done. We got Blanton, a diamond in the rough that season. Those things require hard work. Not saying that RA doesn't work hard, but his signature moves have been big-money quick fixes. And it hasn't worked.
@xxLouA July 31, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I agree with you only said it a bit differently. thanks I want to watch a bit tonight
Porterincollingswood July 31, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I am headed to get my Frandsen jersey as we speak!
@xxLouA August 01, 2012 at 12:40 AM
he does look like a winner at 3rd :)
Porterincollingswood August 01, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Bryce Harper stinks. We traded Pence and demoted Dom Brown for being clueless in the outfield, and they're gold gloves compared to that over-hyped clown.
@xxLouA August 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Bryce Harper ????? I don't think Pence was worth a thing but don't have to worry about him now..
@xxLouA August 01, 2012 at 02:12 AM
oops! that Harper got it my error
John August 01, 2012 at 07:32 PM
U guys are amazing, pitching does not do a thing unless U score runs, Lee has only won 2 games and have lost how many, Halladay is a little better, Hamels has a mind problem, he cannot do it all....they need bats to hit the ball....and people who do not make errors, a high school team can beat the phillies....
Steve Victor August 03, 2012 at 12:08 AM
No pitcher is worth that kind of money. It's the always the same stupidity: pitcher does great for a few years, gets insane long-term contract, then goes from great to very good to good to fair to poor. He usually stinks in the last half of his contract. Hamels will be no different; in three years his ERA will be a crappy 4.5 and everyone will moan about the 20 million he doesn't deserve. When will managers/owners wise up?
Gary B August 03, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Steve, baseball has no salary cap, so what a player is paid is usually of no relevance to a fan. The Phillies are in a position to sign large contracts like this because they are winning which allows larger advertising dollars. The advertising dollar is the bread winner for baseball franchises income. So hence, large dollars, large contracts to sign 'big name' talent. Having a 'Cole Hamels' attracts dollars and will also attract free agents as well, it's a cycle and if played well and with some luck brings Championships. Who knows where Hamels be in X years, but there are plenty of pitchers who pitched with excellence who were 'older'...Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Satchel Paige just to name a few....
Porterincollingswood August 03, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Gary - the luxury tax definitely played a part in these deals, so there is sort of a cap. Definitely for teams that go .460 with a top payroll anyway. Agree with everything else you wrote.

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