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Strictly speaking, the Phillies have a lot of "million dollar arms". But the concept is so much more than the actual monetary value of arms, which on the black market will ruin you several thousand of dollars, more if you want the shoulder still attached. It's the golden arm. The most talented arm. The Arm To End All Arms. Who is that arm for the Phillies?
Let's look at the candidates.
Cole Hamels -- The obvious choice. He's been a Phillie his entire career, and since his debut in 2006 he hasn't failed to impress, or continue grow as a pitcher. And I'm including his 2009 oopsie season, which only made him stronger. Cole Hamels put up some career best stats this season, and he almost single-handedly made the Phillies watchable in 2014. The Phillies could have fielded 24 Delmon Young clones and one Cole Hamels and I still would have watched that team play baseball. That's how good Cole Hamels is. Plus, he has a large contract that literally makes his arm worth millions of dollars. I love him the mostest.
Cliff Lee -- Despite his injury-shortened 2014 campaign, Cliff Lee is a very good pitcher. The man has had single months that make him a legend. Remember June 2011? Five starts, 42 (!!) innings pitched, 0.21 ERA (!!?!?!), eight walks, and 29 strikeouts. September 2013 was also pretty great. And remember that game against the Giants in April 2012 where he pitched 10 (TEN) shutout innings on just 102 pitches and still somehow lost that game, DAMN YOU 2012 PHILLIES. He's a give-no-fucks pitching badass who likes to throw strikes and challenge every hitter he faces. He did this!
He is also the recipient of a very large contract, making his arm (and the table he left all that additional money on) worth millions of dollars.
Jonathan Papelbon -- We'll get this out of the way early: he has a giant contract for a reliever and is on this list because he's good and highly paid. Let's not confuse that with me, or anyone else, liking him. But hot damn did he have a great season. He showed signs of coming apart in 2013 with some downward velocity hiccups, but in 2014 it was like none of that ever happened. He found his feel for the ball again even with slightly diminished velocity and pitched insanely well. I'm always torn between wanting him to suck so the Phillies front office feels embarrassment and shame for that contract, and wanting him to do well because I love the Phillies and want them to win games. Jonathan Papelbon's existence on the Phillies tests the strength of the very fabric of my being.
Ken Giles -- He is on this list because oh my god have you seen him pitch?
That's just one example out of so very many. He's so, so good. I'm putting him on this list because even though he's been in the majors for less than one season and is absolutely not paid $1m, his arm is a thing of beauty and should be exalted by all who witness it. Ken Giles could lead us back to the promised land, folks. All we have to do is believe.
So out of those four, who is the Phillies' million dollar arm? The answer may surprise you!
Actually, it probably won't. It's Cole Hamels. Like there could be another choice, right? He's still young (he'll be 31 in December), he's locked up for ages, and he keeps getting better. This is The Arm. This is the guy they can't move forward without. With the organization's pitching depth still at or near "oh holy crap can that guy in the stands pitch!?" levels, they need him. I want him to be the wise veteran who leads the young 2019 Phillies pitching staff to World Series victory.
To Cole Hamels, the Phillies' million dollar arm: TGP yearns for your return, and we tip our collective hat.