When your first season in the majors is so impressive, it's hard to believe a player can fall so hard.
How can a player come apart so fast?
If you're down on Cole Hamels, you might ask Roy Halladay that.
In 2000 Halladay posted a 10+ ERA and soon after was sent to the minors to get his act together again.
Hamels rocketed to fame and adoration after helping- leading, really - the Phillies to a world championship in 2008. He was the MVP of the World Series and what followed was a whirlwind with an appearance on David Letterman (the gold standard of cool in my book) and big endorsements.
Fans called him an ace and expected 2009 to be more of the same.
They were wrong of course, but that's not so surprising. It's difficult to maintain that kind of excellence (consider his age) and every master of the game has had their darkest hour, their lowest point. The season they wish to forget or at least learn from in order to move on.
Hamels didn't get demoted to the farm, but Halladay did and who knew how it would end?
No one could've predicted the furious storm that would surround him in both 2008 and 2009, with teams trying to put together a sparkling enough package for the Blue Jays to win his services.
The Phillies were part of that storm in 2008 and now they've sealed the deal with a keen eye on the farm and the near future. They could not have it all.
While Hamels is not a seasoned vet, he's also not as young and inexperienced as pitcher Kyle Drabek who was part of the trade that made getting Halladay possible.
Drabek, a spirited and warm guy, spent most of 2009 with Double-A Reading, finishing the season 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA.
But Drabek didn't practically guarantee wins in 2010. The deal gives the Phillies assurance for the next three years that, if Halladay stays healthy, they could very well continue to securely hold onto the National League crown. And go deep in the playoffs.
The loss of Cliff Lee (he goes to the Mariners) in that equation means that Hamels will have to bounce back and the bullpen, though bolstered by Halladay's presence, needs to see a Brad Lidge revival. It also leaves questions open about the rest of the rotation.
Don't be mistaken, the Phillies didn't give up low-level prospects. There's no downplaying how tough Drabek's departure from the Phillies system is. The premiere prospect appeared primed to join the rotation in 2010, possibly as a number three or four. The Phillies were even careful enough in his development to end his season early in 2009. There were no physical problems reported. It was simple caution. He was that valuable.
And it's quite clear how valuable the Toronto Blue Jays think the 22 year old is as well.
The part that seems difficult to envision is: what might Kyle Drabek become?
Lee might not have returned after next year and so, the Phillies and their fans benefit for a few years to come as the Roy Halladay era begins.
The possibilities for Drabek are endless.
So are the possibilities for a Phillies team that just dusted off their Fall Classic cleats.