Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cole Hamels May, May Not Be Next Steve Carlton

Before upstart lefty Cole Hamels is annointed as the next Steve Carlton, some sobering facts must be contemplated. Hamels, 23, who replaces Ryan Madsen in the Phillies starting rotation, has been dogged by serious injuries since high school, when he broke his throwing arm. Though it has not troubled him since, it was not for nothing that 16 major league clubs, including his hometown Padres, recognized his brilliance yet passed on him anyway, allowing him to fall to Philadelphia in the first round of the 2002 draft. He fell to No. 17 because many correctly foresaw that Hamels could not stay healthy. After the broken arm, Hamels pulled a muscle behind his shoulder in 2003, pulled his tricep during spring camp of 2004, broke his hand at the beginning of 2005, then broke his back when he returned three months later. All told, he's been limited to an average of 10 appearances a year for the last three years. Yes, Hamels has a dancing fastball he throws in the 90s, a changeup that bites like a badger and an 0.39 ERA with 36 Ks in 23 innings at triple A. For awhile at least, perhaps longer, Hamels will make even the best major league hitters look like old women trying to hang out the wash in a high wind. But before he is annointed as the next Steve Carlton, make sure he's not the next Kerry Wood.