The recent signings of Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Greg Dobbs are cause for celebration. Not only have three key players signed multi-year deals - Hamels and Madson for three years each and Dobbs for two - but each announced his pleasure in remaining with the Phillies. Hamels went so far as to say he'd like to play his entire career here. At this time last season Hamels was publicly expressing his displeasure with the Phillies' management for signing him to a one year deal at what he believed was below market value. A fine regular season capped by a briliant post-season changed everyone's mind. No one seemed to enjoy the post-season parade and atmosphere of euphoria more than Hamels. And no one was more publicly vocal about his appreciation of the fan support here.
Madson already lives year-round in the area, a rare sign of committment to our climate and community in this era of warm-weather migration. Madson, who would have been eligibile for free agency at the end of next season, is a client of Scott Boras and based on his agent's MO would have been expected to opt out. Apparently, he told Boras he wanted to stay put.
Dobbs resurrected his career in Philadelphia after being released by Seatte two seasons ago. Not only was Dobbs the premier pinch hitter in the Majors last season, he also can fill in nicely as an infielder or outfielder when needed.
The Phillies still face some difficult arbitrations, especially with Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard. Don't expect Howard to agree to a long-term deal. Not only can he be expected to sign another one-year contract of historic size, he has never given any sign of being interested in staying in Philadelphia once he is eligible to move on. Indeed, his family-driven and stoked hostility to a commitment like those of his teammates mentioned above has never been a reality. Howard will be out of here when the free agency clock strikes midnight.