Is Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Cole Hamels Worth More Than San Francisco Giants Pitcher Matt Cain?

By Bryn Swartz

The Cole Hamels talks keep intensifying as the July 31st trade deadline comes closer and closer.

According to a report by ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Philadelphia Phillies are prepared to offer a contract extension to starting pitcher Cole Hamels of six years and $142-$144 million.

This amount is significantly higher than the contract extension talks earlier in the week, which had the Phillies giving Hamels a six year deal worth about $130 million.

It’s still unclear whether the amount would be enough to get the deal done, but it is significantly larger than the six-year, $127.5 million deal that the San Francisco Giants gave to right handed starting pitcher Matt Cain before the start of the 2012 season.

Cain’s contract is the one that Hamels’ deal is so frequently compared to, and it’s true that they have a lot in similar.

Both were selected late in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft. Cain has a career ERA+ of 125 and 1209 strikeouts, while Hamels has a 126 ERA+ and 1216 strikeouts. They’ve both been selected to three All-Star Games and both played a major role on a relatively fluke world champion. Both are in the prime of their career (Cain is 27, Hamels is 28).

However, I think Hamels is a little bit better. Cain pitches in a major pitcher’s ballpark, while Hamels pitches in a hitter’s ballpark. Hamels is also a lefty, which is more valuable than a right handed pitcher.

And that’s why I think Hamels is worth a little bit more than Cain.

He’s also been more consistent. His ERA+ has been higher than 130 in four of the past five seasons (not including this year), and he was the most valuable player on his world champion team. He’s also likely going to be the most valuable pitcher on the Phillies from about 2014 to 2018, as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee continue to get older.

But Cain’s ERA+ has been higher than 130 in just one of his past six full seasons (excluding this year, because we’re talking about the years leading up to his contract extension), and he wasn’t the most valuable player on his world champion team. He’s also probably never going to be the most valuable pitcher on the Giants. Tim Linecum will likely receive a long-term contract extension, and he’ll probably always be better than Cain.

I’m not sure if Hamels is worth $15 million more than Cain, like he’s about to receive. But he is definitely better, and at this point, the only thing that matters for the Phillies is finally finding a way to lock him up long-term.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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