Cole Hamels on his future with the Phils
Does Cole Hamels want to remain a Phillie after this season? After spending 20 minutes with the All-Star lefty on Sunday morning, I would say the answer is yes. Of course, it’s not that simple. Arriving at a new contract suitable to both parties will be a challenge.
And then there is the lure of more money or years from another team -- a team like the Dodgers, for example. We got into that and more during our conversation:LG: When we talked in spring training you talked about wanting to play for a team that consistently put a winner on the field and this team isn’t winning right now. Has your mindset changed about your future here and wanting to be here?CH:
There’s always going to be tough times in any organization, even when they’re playing well. You don’t see the Yankees going to the World Series 30 times in a row, let alone eight times in a row. There’s always going be some sort of hiccup and when you lose your 3- and 4-hole hitters and obviously the best pitcher in the game of baseball, you kind of have to expect that things aren’t going to go as smoothly.
But at the same time you have to pick it up and obviously we haven’t done that. So I think it makes it a lot harder to win. It makes it a little difficult to come in and have that extra motivation and confidence that you know you’re going to go out and win, especially because I only play every five days so I gotta to sit and watch for the other four.
At the same time, I know the organization wants to win and I know we have players on the team that want to win bad, so it’s just a matter of finally getting everything clicked together and just taking the hiccups and trying to learn from them. I think that will make us stronger obviously in the long run and that’s what I initially think [about] is the long run. You can’t always think of the short period because sometime you have to learn from certain experiences and this is obviously an experience.LG: You’ve talked often about playing with two of the best pitchers in baseball in Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Do they factor in your decision to stay in Philly? CH:
I know I’m the younger guy so hopefully I’ll last longer [laughs]. When you learn from the best, take whatever you can get, because it doesn’t come around all that much. And if you want to be the best at this game, you have to be able to learn from the best. Then you have to be able to apply it and try to become one of the best and teach it to somebody else.
I think the organization’s got some pretty good young prospects that hopefully will come up and we can filter everything we’ve learned through years and years and I can be in the same position that [Roy and Cliff] are to me.LG: So let’s paint the scenario. Is there a possibility you could be traded and then come back to sign with the Phillies in the off-season?CH:
Of course! That’s something I would never doubt, because of the situation [with the team struggling] and us obviously not being at the front of the pack. I can always leave and come back. When a team gets rid of you, I don’t think anybody looks at it as a slap in the face. I know Cliff didn’t. He pretty much showed the prime example of getting traded off before a [full] season and then coming back. I think that’s always a great possibility.
It’s an organization and I understand the business side and I won’t be offended. I think you need to know your players and because I think I’ve been here long enough, I think [the front office] pretty much understands my personality and they know that if something had to arise, I wouldn’t be offended and I still would give them the benefit of the doubt and come back, because this is one of the best organizations I’ve ever seen. It has the best fan base I’ve ever seen. It’s a great place to play baseball and there are a ton of great guys to play baseball with.LG: So would you entertain the idea of an extension with another team if the Phillies were to trade you, or would you want to explore free agency?CH:
I think if you wait that long, then you kind of have to explore. That wouldn’t be the smartest thing in baseball, to go so far and then all of a sudden, at the last minute, you crumble. It's an experience on it’s own. Not everybody gets to experience free agency and if you have an option to do it, why not do it? Because if you do it, okay, you got to see what sort of hoopla is surrounding it and then you can always go back to the team that you originally wanted to be with to begin with. So, I don’t think it’s anything that’s too harsh.LG: Any chance you could get a deal done before the July 31 trade deadline?CH:
I think there’s always a possibility. My agent, John Boggs, and Ruben have always been able to contact each other whenever they want and it’s always up in the air and it’s nothing I’ve ever shunned and I don’t ever want to.LG: So, now you have two scenarios, there’s signing now and there’s exploring free agency, which way would you rather go?CH:
Ultimately, it would be nice to sign and not have to worry about it. At the same time, we’re human beings. Maybe it’s just the human nature I have, but you always want to know what the unknown is and you’re always searching for the unknown and that’s always going to be in the back of your head. It’s the "what ifs." Human nature is the hardest part. It’s the 'what ifs' and the "woulda, coulda, shouldas."LG: So, given what you’ve said, does that make free agency a financial exploration more than anything? CH:
What human being doesn’t want to know what their true value in life is? And in a job, obviously with baseball, you want to know that all the hard work you put in, day in and day out, what true value do I have? What do people really think I am [worth]? It could be higher than I thought or lower than I thought. People, I think in general, want to know their true value and I don’t think you can shy away or ever disagree with that. Even from any job you ever have, you always want to know what you’re worth. LG: I’m going to ask you about one team specifically, because it’s been talked about much of the season. Is there an appeal to the Dodgers for you?CH:
It’s going home, I mean, that’s pretty much it. I know the West Coast really well. I pitch really well on the west coast. I think it’s appealing to every player when they’re growing up that, one day, hoping they can play in the major leagues, it’s always to play for your home team. Even though the Padres were obviously the home team I grew up with, the Dodgers were kind of there neck and neck, so I think that’s the closest home team I would ever get to. LG: When it comes down to it, if it’s the Phillies and Dodgers and the money is the same, what are you picking?CH:
That’s a tough question, because I have a lot of more positive influences here, and just with everything we have, with our foundation needs and how well we’ve been able to do in the community and how much the community has supported us. I think that’s a huge factor.
We obviously live here, so I think that makes it a lot easier with kids and once they start getting into school, the choices you have to make there… I don’t think you can beat this organization just in the way they treat their players and families. It’s outstanding. So, ultimately that’s probably the highest positive you could ever have is what your value is to a team… what you know versus the unknown. And when things are good, you don’t ever leave when things are good."LG: Do you have a number of years in mind?CH:
As long as the teams winning it doesn’t matter how long you’re there. If you know they’re going to be [winning] for eight years you want to be there for eight years, if you know they’re going to win for two years, you want to be there for two years. So, the years, I think it’s ultimately up to the organization as to how much they want to win, because you don’t want to be with an organization for five, six, seven years and they’re only going to win for two of them."LG: But you can set the next three generations of your family up…CH:
Yeah, but I think even if I didn’t get whatever market value I supposedly am [worth], I could set up my family. I don’t spend a lot of money. I could set up my family right now. That’s kind of where it ultimately is. Money is great and all that, but a lot of money brings a lot of problems. It really is a cliché but it’s ultimately where you’re happy, no matter what type of paycheck you’re making and being here and winning… the years I was making [the league minimum] were some of the most exciting years I’ve ever had. So it’s never up to that, I don’t think."LG: One last question, how hard is it to watch this team struggle?CH:
I think I’ve had to sometimes step back because you want to do more. I’m accustomed to winning, even at the high school level. I’ve always won. Since the first time I came up to the big leagues we were in the playoff hunt until the last two.
You want to do more. I’d like to pitch every day if I could. It is hard just for the fact that you feel helpless. As a starting pitcher, you feel really helpless because you only get that one day and when you don’t have your top game you have to think about it for another four or five days until you get that next shot. It can really drain you. So it definitely teaches you another aspect of the game of baseball. That’s why I have a lot of respect for those guys that put up Cy Young years on losing teams. It’s really impressive.
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