Nutshell: Cole Hamels was given a one-year contract by the Phillies that is approximately $200,000 less than he wanted. Because of his limited time in the major leagues, he does not qualify for free agency and basically has to accept whatever they give him.
Reasons why this is INCREDIBLY STUPID:
1) The Phillies have always overpaid the wrong guys (and still do). Examples include Lance Parrish, Gregg Jefferies and Adam Eaton.
Parrish = All-Star catcher with Detroit, but didn’t perform in Philly. Not sure why.
Jefferies = All-Star who was good for batting average, on-base percentage and even slugging–but not homers or RBI. Not worth $20 million for four years in town.
Eaton = One of the most egregious errors in recent Philliesdom. $24 million for 3 years for a guy who has been an injury risk, not to mention lousy numbers like a 1.56 WHIP and 5.12 ERA the previous year in Texas. Oh yeah, he had given up 13 more hits than innings pitched, too.
Summary: The Phillies screw up often when it comes to big contracts, giving them to guys who are less proven than it seems on paper. Hamels has already proven himself to be an ace. He should be treated like one.
2) The most basic of employee relations tenets: A well-compensated employee is a satisfied employee, and one who will stick around. The Phillies didn’t HAVE to pay Hamels more. But since they have all the power right now, and they should want to keep this excellent young pitcher happy, they should have gone ahead and done what’s right–even if it didn’t gibe with the bottom line. And here’s why:
3) He will (and should) remember this treatment. If Hamels continues to pitch like an ace, when he finally does reach free agency, he will take it and go get a huge contract somewhere else. Somewhere he feels appreciated and liked by management. Somewhere that is not Philadelphia. And that sucks for us, the fans.
4) It’s only a couple hundred thousand dollars, which in the grand scheme of things in professional sports, is a drop in the bucket. To put things in perspective, here are some of the giant wastes of money the Phillies spent on last season (courtesy of baseball-reference.com):
Freddy Garcia = $10 million, 1 win, season-ending injury
Adam Eaton = $7,208,333, 6.29 ERA (highest of any pitcher with 120 IP)
Abraham Nunez = $1,925,000 for a weak-hitting defensive whiz
Russell Branyan = $1,000,000; granted, they didn’t pay him all of that (another team did), but an easily replaceable bench guy
Matt Smith = only made the league minimum $380,000, but he’s on the list because in 9 games, he pitched only 4 innings but walked 11 guys while striking out only 1. His ERA was 11.25. (Editor’s Note: Lord, let any male children I am lucky enough to have be left-handed.)
SO, this offseason has seen the Phillies attempt to pay Ryan Howard less than he wanted (but he won in arbitration), decided to pay Cole Hamels less than he wants, and let a guy (Aaron Rowand) who ran through a wall for them get away via free agency. (Actually, Rowand is probably too old and injury-risky to pay that much money. I’ll give the Phils that one.)
I fear the 2013 Phillies. I smell a return to last place, unless the next general manager fixes some stuff. The pipe dream of new ownership is all we can cling to for now.