By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
April 3 2015, 7:30 PM EST.
The words filtering out of Cole Hamels’ mouth are clear, powerful, and calculated. You can hear it in his voice, he is ready for the next chapter of his career.
As one of the top starting pitchers in the game still in the prime of his career, can you blame him?
“I want to win now,” Hamels said. “Really, that’s all any competitor wants. I’m no different, but unfortunately I know that it’s not going to happen here.”
The Phillies enter the 2015 season as a team in transition, building for the future. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December. Outfielder Marlon Byrd went to Cincinnati. Cliff Lee is likely to miss the season with elbow issues and the club can’t seem to find a suitor for Ryan Howard and his monstrous contract.
Hamels is the only player in his prime with significant trade value on the Phillies’ roster.
“It isn't what I expected and I know it’s not what the club wanted, but this is the reality,” Hamels said. “I think the time for a move is now.”
He’s not demanding, but just realistic.
“I know things don’t just happen overnight and that a deal can take time, so I’m just going out and doing everything I can do and controlling what I can,” Hamels said.
Hamels, 31, signed a six-year deal with Philadelphia in July of 2012 worth $144 million. He purchased a home in Philadelphia and had every intention of replicating his 2008 season when he led the club to a World Series title while winning NLCS and World Series MVP honors.
That won’t happen.
Now, Hamels hears his name attached with trade rumors on a daily basis as the Phillies test the waters and shop him around. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox are favorites, but there appears to be disagreement on the value and number of prospects the Phillies would receive in exchange for Hamels.
“Talks are going on at any moment with any number of teams about Hamels,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “Obviously, we can’t talk specifics but we know any deal has to have fair value in return.”
Coming off back-to-back 89 loss seasons, oddsmakers this year predict the Phillies to be the worst team in baseball. It will be a few more years before the Phillies resemble a team that can contend for the postseason.
Everyone knows the haul in return for Hamels could expedite the rebuilding phase, so it’s quite possible Amaro will retain Hamels until the annual July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At that point, a team may be willing to overpay for a better shot at a postseason berth.
Realistically, the Phillies are at a minimum three years away from truly competing.
“When I signed my contract in 2012 the organization made it clear we would continue to contend, so I don’t think anyone really saw us becoming the worst team in baseball,” Hamels said.
With four more years remaining on his current deal, Hamels admits he’s not too interested in going to a team just for a one-and-done pennant run. Instead, he’s looking to secure his roots with an organization that’s ready to compete for the rest of the decade.
“I’ve got several years left, I don’t want to be a hired gun,” Hamels said. “I want to be a part of something for a few years, like I was here in Philadelphia.”
Hamels wrapped up Spring Training with a 4.15 ERA over six starts, but admitted he was working on mechanics early on. Over his final two starts, he allowed eight hits, one earned run and four walks with seven strikeouts over 11 innings.
He will make his second career opening day start on Monday when the Phillies play host to the Boston Red Sox.
"It takes six starts [during Spring Training] to really feel comfortable and confident," Hamels said. "When it comes to the start of the season, you just want to have that positive feeling and positive feedback from the spring that you're healthy and everything is working. Right now, I definitely feel a lot sharper than two weeks ago."
As for the fact this likely will his last opening day with the Phillies, Hamels seems content.
“Honestly, there’s no better feeling than winning and we did that here in Philadelphia,” he said. “I just want to win again …you just want to be in a position to win.”
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