What in the world has happened to once one of the most revered and feared pitchers in baseball? Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels used to be one of the aces of the pitching world and now? Nothing.
I’ll tell you what happened. Money. Money happened to Cole Hamels.
After going 17-6 and posting a 3.05 ERA with two complete game shutouts last season for the Phillies, Cole Hamels has struggled to a 2-11 record with a 4.58 ERA. He is nowhere near his usual strikeout numbers as the pitcher has yet to cross the 100 mark in the category. On top of that, he is currently on pace to walk the most batters in a single season in his career.
There’s one simple place to put the blame for Cole Hamels’ struggle’s this season: his contract.
Last July, Hamels signed a more than lucrative, we’ll say insane, contract extension with the Phillies. The deal was for six years, $144 million over the course of the contract. This season Hamels will make $19.5 million, between 2014-2018 Hamels will make $22.5 million, and then the Phillies will have $20 million club option in 2019. At the rate he’s going, though, I don’t think they’ll be picking up that option in 2019. Plus, that is also assuming he lasts that long with the ball club.
Money is a very tricky thing and can lead to a lot of traps, especially inside the mind of a professional athlete. Often times we see players have a great year, get that dream contract and then fall of the face of the sport as if they were never that good. They still make all that money, but the player that team doled the cash out for just isn’t showing up on game days.
Another example of this happening is this year in Toronto where the Toronto Blue Jays are paying a struggling R.A. Dickey $5 million this season and then $12 million in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the club will have a $12 million option.
Since joining the Blue Jays, Dickey is just 8-8 with a 4.59 ERA. He is hardly the same Cy Young Award winner that he was back in 2012 and is a long way from the pitcher that Blue Jays had hoped they would be getting for the price tag.
It’s weird what happens when a player receives their dream contract. More often than you may think, the player’s productivity drops off dramatically. It may not necessarily be that that player just can’t bring it anymore. Mentally, they may be thinking to themselves that everything will just happen for them and almost forget about all the hard work they put in that earned them that contract.
It’s sad to see a player fall from grace as hard Hamels and Dickey have this season. Hopefully for them and their respective ball clubs, it is just a mental thing and they’ll be able to turn things around and return to form.