Good news and bad news for the Phillies, on this, the final day of Spring Training… which will be played in high-50s weather at Citizens Bank Park, where the new Bermuda Rivieragrass looks to have a slightly brighter green hue.
Matt Cain signed an extension with the Giants yesterday– five years, $112 million (in total, including this season, he’s under contract for six years, $127 million).
Cole Hamels is better.
Less than a year older, Hamels has fewer career innings pitched and a slightly higher ERA (3.39 for Hamels vs. 3.35 for Cain), but a significantly better strikeout-to-walk ratio (well over 3-to-1 vs. slightly over 2-to-1), more wins, and a better WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched– 1.14 vs. 1.19). He’s also a left-hander who pitches in a smallish ballpark, unlike Cain, a righty, who plays in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Between the deal given to Cain – who, as you can see, is very comparable to Hamels – and the fact that the new Dodgers owners may have just given Magic Johnson a bottomless bucket of play money to spend on players just like the SoCal Hamels, the price for the Phillies’ number three (but perhaps most valuable) starter just went up. Way up.
Last week, Ruben Amaro, wearing his poker face, said that he didn’t think Hamels would earn Cliff Lee money. But, if Cain’s contract is any indication, Hamels is going to get more than Lee. And Cole’s teammates aren’t going to let him forget that the market has been set by Cain. As overheard by CSN producer Casey Feeney:
Meanwhile, on the complete opposite side of the Spectrum, Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract continues to prove to be almost a bargain (current injury notwithstanding).
The Reds signed Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225 million deal yesterday. Votto is younger, better and healthier than Howard, but he’s certainly not five years and $100 million better. And Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, who signed contracts for a combined 19 years and (roughly) $465 million this offseason, are also not “twice as valuable” as The Big Piece. The Phillies' decision to lock up Howard (again, without being able to predict him tearing his Achilles to shreds) before the market for power-hitting first basemen ballooned, is proving to be a wise decision… or, at least not as crazy as we once thought it was.
Of course, not re-signing Hamels early… well, that may cost the Phillies…$140 million.