At Bat: The Philadelphia Phillies will keep their third ace as Cole Hamels inked a six-year, $144 million contract extension on Wednesday. Yes, you heard correctly. The 28-year-old southpaw is making an average of $24 million a season to throw a ball. It is the second highest pitching contract in MLB history, only behind the New York Yankees deal to CC Sabathia, which was a $161 million contract over seven seasons going into effect in 2009.
The Phillies now have three players that will be making $68 million next year and it doesn’t include one position player. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels will all be making $20 million or more next year. On top of that, they still will owe Ryan Howard at least $20 million next year and $25 million from 2014-2016. Chase Utley is owed $15 million next year along with Jimmy Rollins’ $11 million.
With the Phillies sitting at the bottom of the NL East (45-54) it’s a bit surprising how much money they are willing to commit considering the Washington Nationals are not going anywhere for a while. If the Phillies don’t win at least two more World Series with the rotation they have committed themselves to and with Howard and Utley, you could be looking at some of the worst signings by a franchise in the history of the game.
On Deck: Even if you don’t live under a rock and pay some attention to baseball, you’d still be shocked – as am I – to learn that what seemed a no brainer as to who would come out of the AL West at season’s start would actually turn into a three-team race in the final days of the trade deadline.
The Oakland Athletics were five-games under .500 as we entered the midway point of the season (37-42 entering July 1). They went 6-1 heading into the All-Star break and since the season resumed have won 10 of their last 11, winning seven straight. They are tied with the Los Angeles Angels for second in the AL West and tied with those same Angels for first in the AL Wild Card.
Their winning streak includes a four-game series sweep of the New York Yankees and they look to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon after a 16-0 rout last night at the Rogers Centre. While it’s doubtful they’ll catch and overtake the Texas Rangers for the division lead, the Athletics absolutely need a bat or two if they are going to stay with the Angels’ Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. However, pending a Chicago White Sox or Detroit Tigers collapse, we could have three of the four AL West teams in the post-season.
Also to note Phillies fans, there is not one individual player on the Athletics’ roster who is making eight figures.
In The Hole: The former Miami Marlin Hanely Ramirez made his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night as the trade was finalized earlier that morning between the two sides. He went 2-for-4 with a triple and RBI in his first game in Dodger blue.
The trade for Ramirez significantly increases the Dodgers aspirations and chances of reaching the post-season. Even though his numbers have dropped greatly since the 2009 season, a new atmosphere with a team in contention may bring back the formerly feared shortstop.
If he is able to hit anywhere near what he did in the past, he will boost the Dodgers offense by taking some of offensive load off Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. If the Dodgers are able get one more bat or even starting pitcher Ryan Dempster – who ideally wants to go to Los Angeles – the Dodgers look like real contenders for not only the NL West crown, but also a deep run for a championship.
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