Monday, March 9, 2009

Phillies' Cole Hamels Wants Bigger and Better Things

By Chris DiFrancesco

When a pitcher enters the Majors, he thinks of a few things. He looks at the main goal: A World Series Championship. After that, the normal pitching milestones creeps up in the brain waves: 200 innings, 20 wins, a no-hitter, a Cy Young, and finally, maybe, an MVP award.

Well, when you try to lock up the guys currently pitching in today's Major Leagues, I believe one guy pops into the minds of true baseball analysts: Cole Hamels.

Hamels, 25, already has the most important factor of becoming an all-time great hurler—the World Championship he won this past October.

Oh, he was the MVP of the Fall Classic, too—add that to the resume.

The Philadelphia Phillies realized what this guy meant to their organization and decided to skip arbitration years and sign their left-handed stud to a three-year $21.5 million deal.

As I sit here and write this article, Hamels is only big-game pitcher in the Majors right now that I would want over anybody. I'm not being biased, that's my honest opinion.

Hamels, himself, feels that no matter what situation it is, he can get through it.

"In order to get yourself to the next level, you have to be able to handle yourself in those situations, and I think I learned a lot from being in those situations and having success," Hamels said today after he threw two shutout innings in his first spring start.

"There's going to be a lot of big games throughout the year. Now knowing how to handle it a little better, I think I can be better prepared and have better success. Or even if I don't have success, I can get over it faster and move onto the next start."

When I hear and read through these quotes from Hamels, I know that this guy is stone cold out on that mound no matter what situation arises.

He will go out there and throw a 16-strikeout game, but when it comes to the top of the ninth inning and the Phils are up by a run with a runner on the corners and one out, I can trust that Hamels will throw that dynamite changeup low and away to force a game ending double play.

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said how much of a perfectionist Hamels is when he focuses on his game and how to get better. Dubee goes on and says that he wants to throw a no-hitter every time he's out on the mound.

As we embark on the 2009 baseball season, the season where the Philadelphia Phillies have a legitimate shot to be the first team to repeat since the 2000 Yankees.

Furthermore, when you're the Phillies and you know that every fifth day the guy whose back of the jersey says "HAMELS," number 35, is on the mound, you can sit back with a nice drink and a ballpark dog and enjoy what your watching.

In the end, he could very well be the best you ever will see.

"I think if you're able to pitch 200 innings and hit every start, have a ton of quality starts and keep a low ERA, you're going to be in the running (for a Cy Young). That's all you can really ask for. The pitcher's ultimate goal is to show that they're Cy Young quality."

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