Is Cole Hamels The New Mike Schmidt?

WASHINGTON: Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Cole Hamels is going to make $15 million this season.

That's a lot for a pitcher who's not yet been eligible for free agency. It's about what his talent suggests, though. While Hamels is perhaps overrated a little -- over the last three seasons, he's been roughly as effective as Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson -- he's really good and he's been really durable. He might not get a lot more money per year in his next deal, but there will be plenty of years on that deal if he wants them.

And that's going to happen fairly soon, as Hamels may become a free agent after this season. Which of course sets all sorts of hearts atwitter with speculation. Via Tyler Kepner, here's the man himself:

"Ever since I’ve been here, they’ve been able to do a really good job of keeping the guys that they draft, especially the guys that they like," Hamels said Monday. "I just hope I’m one of those guys that they like."

Of course they do. In six regular seasons, Hamels is 74-54 with a 3.39 earned run average. In five postseasons, his numbers have been even better. He is part of the reason the Phillies are more popular than ever, with more than 3.1 million tickets sold before the first full-squad workout of spring training.

Hamels said he would not set a deadline for a contract extension, leaving the details to John Boggs, his agent. Boggs represented Tony Gwynn, who stayed in San Diego his whole career. The Phillies know the idea appeals to Hamels.

The Phillies owe Ryan Howard $125 million.

I don't know, but that seems like a lot. Probably not enough, though, to keep them from locking up Hamels for a good long while, because the Phillies seem to have a bottomless bank vault filled with big heavy bags of money.

But you know, if the Phillies do have that big pile of money, they might as well wait a while before shoveling some of it toward Hamels. Considering how consistent he's been in his career, there's little reason to think he'll be worth significantly more a year from now than today. If the Phillies wait, they'll have one more year of evidence about Hamels' ability to stay healthy and make 30-some starts. And they'll still be able to afford him, probably.

If they can't afford him, we'll have a good laugh about the Ryan Howard contract and feel quite smug.

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