Cole Hamels understands just how much of a disappointment last season was for the Phillies. For a team that used to feed off of positive energy, the Phillies couldn't cultivate the same clubhouse culture in 2013.
“The energy in the clubhouse changed,” Hamels told Philadelphia magazine. “It used to be all high fives. This season, there weren’t as many high fives. There was a lot of bitterness, pointing fingers — ‘You haven’t played well in a week, why weren’t you in here early?’”
Hamels made the offhand comments back in September, when the magazine was doing a feature on his wife, Heidi, and the Hamels Foundation.
Going forward, Hamels said he hopes that the front office makes the starting rotation a priority, providing arms to support himself and Cliff Lee at the front of the rotation. In a sheer coincidence, the stacked Nationals bolstered their starting five Monday by trading for Detroit's Doug Fister.
But Hamels knows it's not just about the pitching.
“Our hitting sucked,” he said.
And he's right. The Phillies finished 21st overall in batting average (.248), 24th in OBP (.306) and 21st in slugging (.384).
Each troubled cog from last year -- the bullpen arms failing to hold on in close contests, the bats staying cold and the clubhouse culture changing -- all come back to a simple truth that Hamels is far too aware of: The Phillies have put off rebuilding for far too long.
“You have to know when to start over,” he said.
That process should finally begin in 2014, but it doesn't have to be a painful one, an optimistic Hamels offered.
“Will our fans be happy with that? Probably not," Hamels said. "We won’t win 100 games next season. But with another wild card, we can definitely get into the playoffs.”