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Is Cole Hamels a priority over Phillies' other issues?

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As the Major League Baseball trade deadline approaches ever so rapidly, the Phillies are literally on the clock in regards to the future of Cole Hamels. Can they sign him in the next week and change? (Does anybody really know?), Do they let him walk after 2012 (You can’t do that for nothing, can you? The Phillies' minor league system is rather thin), and could/would Hamels return via free agency in 2013 if the Phillies traded him now? (Personally, I think that’s way too risky).
 
With their recent four-game winning streak, the Phillies have shown signs of life. However, the hole they dug themselves into to start the season might be too much to overcome.  Even though (as of Thursday) the Phightins are 11 games under .500, the addition of two Wild Card spots leaves open a slight possibility for a postseason berth.

But let’s just play devil’s advocate here. What if the Phillies come to the table with a deal for Hamels today in the range of six years and $130 million (or higher), which he accepts. The short answer is that you’ve locked up your star pitcher in the prime of his career, and all is well is Phillies land.
Cole Hamels photoL Chuck Solomon
For now

Only problem here are all the other issues you have with this Phillies team.  With Shane Victorino’s days in pinstripes appearing to be winding down (through trade or free agency), who will patrol centerfield in 2013? It’s unlikely it will be anybody from the Phillies’ farm system. Chances are Jiwan James (despite his tremendous catch the other night) needs more seasoning, and Tyson Gillies always seems to be rehabbing from an injury. You’re most likely looking at a stop gap player here, unless the Phillies decide to bring Victorino back on the cheap. His performance in 2012 in addition to his age (31) make a long-term deal unlikely for the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

Checkbook time for Ruben.

Then there’s third base, where Placido Polanco is looking older by the second. There’s a better chance of me suiting up for the Phillies at the hot corner next year than Polanco. Prospect Maikel Franco is still in Class A at Lakewood. So do the Phillies try and pursue David Wright and sign him to a long term deal? With the season he’s having, you know what that would mean.

Checkbook time for Ruben.

What about left field? Do the Phillies let Domonic Brown do his thing and give him one final shot to prove himself? Or is he officially a lost cause? Do you want to take that gamble again?

See a pattern here?

It’s pretty obvious that the Phillies have other serious deficiencies they need to address. Although Victorino and Joe Blanton will most likely be off the books after 2012, they still need to address Hunter Pence in arbitration as well as decide what the future holds for Carlos Ruiz (free agent after 2012) and Chase Utley (also a free agent after 2013).

The question here really shouldn’t be whether the Phillies can retain Cole Hamels. How this affects the overall makeup of the Phillies however, could be a much bigger issue here.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Hamels photo: Chuck Solomon