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Cole Hamels is likely available. But should the Cardinals bid?

It appears that the Phillies are willing to at least entertain offers for starting pitcher Cole Hamels as their efforts to sign him to a contract extension have fallen flat.

But Philadelphia is said to be asking four "four or five" top prospects in return for the lefty. And, if the only team he has ever played for can't sign him, what are the odds that the Redbirds could ink Hamels to a long-term deal and make giving up such a bounty worthwhile?

Hamels is 84-38 with a 3.37 ERA for his career. But the Cardinals are certainly much better off to keep walking past this potential deal. He's from southern California and his nickname is "Hollywood," so it's widely expected that no matter where he finishes the 2012 season, Hamels is likely to sign with the Dodgers for 2013 and beyond.

The Los Angeles National Leaguers are flush with cash after a new ownership group was installed and a new mega television rights contract was signed. So there will be no out-bidding the Dodgers if they're interested. And the thought is that the new LA ownership group is eager to put its own stamp on the team after two years of negative publicity surrounding the former owners.

I still believe if the Cardinals plan to make a blockbuster move like last season that they may be better off dealing with Houston. The Astros are in complete rebuild mode and their GM Jeff Luhnow is familiar with the St. Louis farm system after formerly being in charge of the draft for the Redbirds. So he knows where the hidden gems -- the guys beyond Shelby Miller and Oscar Tavares -- are located.

If the Birds could add a starter and a reliever or two, they'd likely have a much more formidable team down the stretch.

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