What do Bud Selig, Ruben Amaro Jr., this writer, and Phillies nation have in common? They all have an opinion about Cole Hamels contract negations. The latter three make sense, as they all have a vested, if not deeply emotional interest in whether Cole stays or goes. However, it’s a bit unusual to see the Commissioner of baseball put his 2 cents in on a team’s negotiations with it’s players. But this is Bud Selig: expect the unexpected. In a pre-all-star game interview the commish dished about Hamels, and the Phillies budget,“I wouldn’t say ‘tough luck’ because I do sympathize with the Phillies for a lot of reasons,” Selig said. “But those are economic judgments you have to make within this structure. Of course you want to keep your own players if at all possible – and clubs have to make those kinds of decisions. Dave Montgomery and Ruben [Amaro] – they’re smart. I have faith they’ll figure it out.” - (courtesy of CSNphilly.com)
I feel honored as a fan that Bud Selig sympathizes with our plight. Ol’ Bud didn’t really offer up anything wildly in depth, doing his best Andy Reid impression. If you were paying close attention he did provide some humor (hint: the intelligence of upper-management). It’s nice that Selig has faith in the Phillies brass to “figure it out”, but i doubt most fans share his faith. The team has backed themselves into a corner by dragging out Hamels contract negotiations this far, and will probably be forced into trading him and effectively blowing up the season for good. I have about as much confidence in Ruben Amaro getting great value in a trade for Cole as i do that Bud Selig still has all his hair.
We should thank the Commissioner for his always insightful remarks on baseball’s most pressing issues, but the only opinion on the Cole Hamels situation that really matters is from the pitcher himself.
Hamels actually offered up some insightful hints regarding his future with the team when he was interviewed by CSN’s Leslie Gudel. Check out the transcript for the complete interview, but one of the highlights was Cole’s admission to be willing to come back to Philly even if they trade him at the deadline. Wow really?! This is a testament to just how cool a customer Cole Hamels is. The Cali native knows no matter what happens, traded or not, he will be in line for a 9-figure contract.
He won’t take it personal Ruben, so go out and find the best deal and bring him on back Cliff Lee style.
The only hiccup in this fairy tale plan is that by admitting a desire to come back to the Phillies, or even explore free agency Hamels is weakening his value in a trade. Team’s won’t offer of the same quantity of prospects knowing they are only getting a rental. The Phillies could still land a top flight third baseman (Mike Olt?) or young ace in the making (Jacob Turner?), but don’t expect a 4-5 player package full of A+ talent. The moral of the Hamels saga will ultimately be that you can’t have it all. If the Phillies sign him to a huge deal they will be pushing the luxery tax threshold for years to come. If they pull the trigger on a deal, there is no guarantee the prospects will pan out or that Hamels will ultimately come back to town. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Now i suddenly have sympathy for the Phillies too.