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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.

@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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