Sources for ESPN's Jayson Stark say the Phillies are preparing a substantial contract extension for pending free agent left-hander Cole Hamels. [Link]
Beerleaguer: Here's what Stark quoted from an unnamed baseball executive who's spoken with Phillies' officials. "They're trying to sign him. And they think it's going to happen. At least that's what I was told." I won't pretend to know Hamels' priorities, but I know he dismissed the Phils 37-50 record out of hand to Comcast SportsNet when asked whether it would factor in his decision. We have every reason to believe it, too. The Phils punched his ticket to the postseason in five of his his first six seasons in the Majors. He's a World Series MVP. He's still, by and large, surrounded by excellence.
The prevailing wisdom, from those covering this situation on the day-to-day, says the Phils are highly motivated to make something work. The Phils can negotiate exclusively and will angle comfort, stability and the path of least resistance. There's risk in not acting now. Ask Ryan Howard how quickly the body changes. There's a minimum of two and a half months of baseball remaining - approximately 15 starts.
And how would Hamels describe his own performance compared to last season? I'd call it "worse." Not significantly worse, but worse. Since May 28 and spanning eight starts, he's toting a 4.37 ERA, with more longballs, line drives and walks than we're accustomed to seeing. For much of this season, he has not been an ace.
The questions: How far are the Phillies willing to go? Does Hamels believe he can pitch well enough for the next 15 starts to convince another club to go six years? And does he like where he's been hanging his hat for the last seven?