After weeks of speculation – actually, more like months – the Phillies and Cole Hamels came together on an agreement that will keep the left-hander in red pinstripes until at least 2018.
How and why was the move made? Let’s examine some quotes from all parties involved.
–On support of Phillies fans: “Seeing the type of turnouts that the fans have done, I think that’s been one of the best parts of playing the game of baseball. The city of Philadelphia has been absolutely outstanding…the 250 sellouts here is pretty impressive.”
–On being blown away by the fans after his last start: “It really showed me something the other day when I was pitching here. To be able to see the way they (the fans) came out…to see the way that they gave the support, that’s what I’ll ultimately remember every single time I go out there.”
-On the NATION of fans: I never thought I’d be in this position ever. I love this game so much, you just want to go out and play and enjoy it. And you want to play for a reason, and the reason is to win World Series’, to play in front of sellout crowds, to play in front of a Phillie Nation.”
JOHN BOGGS, HAMELS AGENT:
-When they knew it was close with the Phillies: “Probably after the second counter back we knew they were really serious. I think Cole started thinking about more in earnest, and at the same time, last game that he pitched here, I think he felt that this is probably the best place for me.”
-What Cole means to this franchise: “For us, Cole has certainly had an outstanding year. He was proving to us that the commodity that we thought. The reality is that combination of talent, character, competitiveness, and everything, was what we wanted to build around.”
-Why they needed Hamels back: “It was the right thing to do, under the circumstance; with his performance, his age, the importance on our club. Our goal is to continue to try and be a championship caliber team for now and for the future, and so, as I said before, I think we have a much better chance with Cole in our rotation and as a major part of our club.”
Thoughts: We always knew Hamels enjoyed living here, raising a family here. But his comments from Wednesday’s press conference go above and beyond that. You could hear the emotion in his voice when he reminisced about his last start and how the fans gave him a warm ovation, despite him giving up five runs. That seemed to stick with him and played a major part in him staying. The warmth, the love, Hamels felt pushed him over the top and allowed for the decision to be that much easier.
Montgomery also mentioned the fact that the time may very well exceed the luxury tax limit in 2013, if it means fielding a winning club. It’s likely they’ll have to as roughly $155 million will be spent on just 11 players.
With Hamels in tow, it’s easy to envision this team continuing to compete. The necessary move was to keep Hamels around long term, and the Phillies did just that. But beyond that, there appears to be a willingness to win at all costs – money is no longer an object. In the very near future, the Phillies will be rolling in even more money, thanks to an extremely lucrative TV deal, which will help offset any extra costs that might occur when reaching above the luxury tax line.
For now, it seems that all sides are happy and that’s really what matters. Cole is happy to be staying in the place he’s called home since he was a young ballplayer. Ruben is happy that he could keep one of the best pitchers in baseball at a relatively-reasonable price. David Montgomery is happy that one of his prized pieces, one that he saw grow with the team, will be sticking around. The fans seem to be happy that the Phillies are putting their money where their mouth is as they attempt to win for now and the future.