Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies---Hot Stove Preview

  • Winter Preview----Philadelphia Phillies:

Amid all the heady self-adoration, the Phillies have some issues.

What they need: A third baseman; a veteran starting pitcher; a utility infielder/outfielder; bullpen help; a closer(?).

Free agents: 3B Pedro Feliz; RHP Pedro Martinez; RHP Brett Myers; LHP Scott Eyre; RHP Chan Ho Park; C Paul Bako; INF Miguel Cairo; OF/1B Matt Stairs

The Phillies surprisingly declined Feliz's reasonable contract option of $5 million. They're looking in other directions for a third baseman who would presumably have better on base numbers than Feliz. There's a chance Feliz returns at a cheaper rate, but I think they'll find an alternative and Feliz will move on.

Who knows what Pedro's going to do? After his performances in the post-season, it's obvious he can still pitch; but he can't be counted on to stay healthy. There's a chance he returns to Philadelphia, but I wouldn't count on it.

Myers's time in Philadelphia is over. He'll be in surprisingly heavy demand because of his ability to start and relieve. Myers's personality belongs in the bullpen and he'll get an offer to close somewhere (Detroit?) on a mutually advantageous contract.

Eyre's body is breaking down with arm issues and he spoke of retiring to be with his family. That said, he can still pitch and the Phillies want him back. Expect him to return for another year.

Park has rejuvenated his career as a reliever, but the still harbors fantasies of being a starter. Unless a team mistakenly decides that that's a good idea, he'll get offers as a reliever in many, many places. He could return to Philly.

Bako's a journeyman and the Phillies signing of Brian Schneider to a 2-year contract effectively ends Bako's brief Phillies career. He'll get a job somewhere as a backup/Triple A insurance.

Cairo's a useful utility guy who's a better hitter than Eric Bruntlett. (At this point, I'm a better hitter than Eric Bruntlett.) Cairo might be back.

Stairs looks like he'd be just as happy playing beer-league softball and waiting for his turn to come up to the plate and crush a fastball then get back to his station next to the cooler. He'll be able to bash fastballs until he's 60. He might be back.

Players available via trade: RHP Joe Blanton; 3B/OF Greg Dobbs; LHP Cole Hamels; RHP Kyle Kendrick; RHP Brad Lidge; LHP Jamie Moyer; SS Jimmy Rollins

Blanton is arbitration-eligible, is due a big raise from his $5.5 million salary from 2009 and is a free agent after next season. He has value in that you know with him. You know you'll get gutty efforts; you know he'll throw strikes; you know he'll give you innings, etc. That said, if a team called and asked GM Ruben Amaro Jr about Blanton, he'd be more than willing to chat about him and maybe move him. I don't expect it, but it's possible.

Dobbs had a shaky year as a lefty bat off the bench and is making $1.35 million next year. He can't play defense and there are better options available on the free agent market (Ross Gload?); Dobbs could be dealt if someone's willing to take his contract. He can hit.

Surprised to see Hamels's name here? Well, I think the Phillies are concerned about his up-and-down performance and were more than annoyed about his frustrated comments during the World Series that he couldn't wait for the season to be over while he still was in line to pitch Game 7. He's a guy who's not "on the block", but they'll listen to calls.

Kendrick's numbers aren't very good aside from his ability to hang around in games long enough to collect wins. There's nothing wrong with that and he's good insurance as a spot-starter for someone. He's probably staying because he's cheap.

You want Brad Lidge?

Do you know which Brad Lidge you'll be getting?

Is it the unstoppable force and the key to the Phillies 2008 World Series win? "Light Out" Lidge as he was with the Astros earlier in the decade? Or the mental/emotional quadriplegic who would quiver at the sight of Eddie Gaedel coming up to the plate when he's in the midst of an unraveling?

Who knows?

Unless the Phillies took a Barry Zito/Vernon Wells contract in return, Lidge's contract is unmovable with $24.5 million guaranteed through 2011. The only thing they can do is hope his issues (physical and mental) are straightened out by next season; and given his history, there's every chance for that to happen. He'll be the Phillies closer next year for better or worse. You can venture a guess as to which it'll be.

Giving Moyer a 2-year contract after the World Series win in 2008 wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do. He's a guy who's not going to leave the field voluntarily no matter how badly his body breaks down and now he's been hospitalized with an infection after groin surgery. He might simply be released with the Phillies eating his $6.5 million salary in 2010.

Surprised to see Rollins's name here? Don't be.

Rollins's game is declining and once he begins to slow down physically in earnest, what is he bringing to the table aside from a big, flapping mouth?

Rollins's bluster and arrogance were charming while he was winning the MVP in 2007, but it's becoming a case of diminishing returns for the loquacious Rollins. He's got $9.5 million guaranteed through next year with the potential for being a free agent if the Phillies decline his 2011 option.

I can tell you now that he's going to start squawking about his contract as early as spring training and could cause some serious problems in the clubhouse. I doubt many of the Phillies are thrilled about his constant yapping. He probably won't be moved, but if someone calls and asks, the Phillies would be stupid not to listen.

Non-tender candidates: INF/OF Eric Bruntlett; RHP Clay Condrey; LHP Jack Taschner

I'm not quite sure what it is that Bruntlett does that keeps him in the big leagues.

Condrey has some use as a reliever for someone, but he's arbitration-eligible and will top the $1 million mark (maybe $1.5 million) in his award or via agreement with the club and that's too much money for a guy like him.

Taschner's main attributes are that he's lefty and is breathing. He's got rotten control and got rocked equally by lefty and right bats. Gone.

Players to pursue:

Via free agency: LHP Mike Gonzalez (Braves); RHP Rafael Soriano (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); 3B Melvin Mora (Orioles); RHP Octavio Dotel (White Sox); 1B Jason Giambi (Rockies); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); RHP Kiko Calero (Marlins); 3B Adrian Beltre (Mariners); 3B/1B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); 1B/OF Ross Gload (Marlins); SS/3B Miguel Tejada (Astros); 3B Chone Figgins (Angels); LHP Randy Wolf (Dodgers); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics): RHP Miguel Batista (Mariners); INF/OF Mark DeRosa (Cardinals); RHP Russ Springer (Rays); INF Marco Scutaro (Blue Jays); RHP John Smoltz

The bullpen help is out there and available with Gonzalez, Soriano and Dotel----guys who can close if absolutely necessary in the event of the need to send Lidge to a mental institution.

There are a load of third basemen available for various prices. Mora's a good fielder and a good guy who might see his bat reignite in the Phillies lineup and at their bandbox ballpark. Figgins was supposedly on the Phillies radar; I think committing a load of money to Figgins is a mistake. Tejada won't have much choice but to move to third base for any team interested in him and he can still hit. DeRosa is in heavy demand from numerous contending teams. Scutaro wouldn't be a bad idea for third base at the right price.

Giambi could fill the Dobbs/Stairs role as a power lefty bat off the bench and he still walks a lot.

Davis, Wolf, Marquis and Duchscherer are risky/relatively inexpensive/mid-to-back of the rotation starters who'd fill the hole left by Moyer if the Phillies drop him.

Smoltz can still pitch as a starter or reliever.

Via trade: RHP Roy Halladay (Blue Jays); RHP Edwin Jackson (Tigers); 3B Jhonny Peralta (Indians); RHP Kevin Millwood (Rangers); 2B Dan Uggla (Marlins); 3B Garrett Atkins (Rockies); 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (Padres); RHP Chris Young (Padres); RHP Heath Bell (Padres); 3B Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks)

The Phillies are still keeping tabs on Halladay and still have the prospects to get it done if they're willing to totally gut the farm system and pay the cash it'll cost to keep the big righty. The Phillies have to sign Cliff Lee to an extension at some point, so a Halladay move is a big leap in the financial department for a team with a budget. Maybe Hamels would be a chip to get it done.

Jackson's out there for the taking. Millwood's available and pitched pretty well for the Phillies in 2003-2004.

Peralta would be a low-cost option at third base. Could Uggla move to third? The Marlins have no qualms about trading within the division.

Anyone and everyone is up for discussion with the Padres and Bell would be a good set-up man/replacement closer.

Reynolds hit 44 homers, but is a rotten fielder and strikes out 200 times a year. Would the Diamondbacks listen to offers for him? It doesn't hurt to ask.

  • Teams are using draft pick compensation as an excuse to shun free agents:

Do you know the likelihood of even a first round draft pick making it to the big leagues to not just be a star, but to be moderately productive?

It's hit or miss.

But teams are using the newly terrifying implication of draft....pick....compensation.....OOOOOH!!! to justify their reluctance to go after needed pieces at the big league level when there are players who they need to drastically improve their clubs.

Mike Francesa was talking about the Brian Cashman discussion yesterday morning as Cashman said he wasn't going to go after a reliever like Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano because of their status in costing a first round pick to sign. To me, Gonzalez is a perfect fit for the Yankees. This isn't a situation like Kyle Farnsworth or Steve Karsay----Gonzalez would be an ideal bridge to Mariano Rivera and even an occasional closer, but Cashman is hoarding his draft picks as if he's Jimmy Johnson coaching the Cowboys.

It's nonsense.

First of all, there's no guarantee that any first round pick----no matter who he is----is going to even make it to the big leagues. The Yankees got a sliding Joba Chamberlain with the 41st pick because of his arm issues and overwork at the University of Nebraska. Smart teams make their best picks later in the draft or via undrafted free agents. That's where the real talent evaluation shows itself. Every team knows who the obvious top tier picks are; it's finding the unpolished gems where organizations are built.

Picking a year at random (and I'm really picking a year at random, not finding a conveniently poor year to suit my purposes), let's see how the first rounders from 2003 have done. Six years is an ample amount of time to judge, so here we go:

2003 First Round Picks:

  1. Rays-OF Delmon Young
  2. Brewers-INF Rickie Weeks
  3. Tigers-RHP Kyle Sleeth
  4. Padres-RHP Tim Stauffer
  5. Royals-OF Christopher Lubanski
  6. Cubs-OF Ryan Harvey
  7. Orioles-OF Nick Markakis
  8. Pirates-LHP Paul Maholm
  9. Rangers-LHP John Danks
  10. Rockies-3B Ian Stewart
  11. Indians-1B Michael Aubrey
  12. Mets-OF Lastings Milledge
  13. Blue Jays-INF Aaron Hill
  14. Reds-RHP Ryan Wagner
  15. White Sox-OF Brian N. Anderson
  16. Marlins-RHP Jeffrey Allison
  17. Red Sox-OF David Murphy
  18. Indians-OF Bradley Snyder
  19. Diamondbacks-1B/OF Conor Jackson
  20. Nationals-RHP Chad Cordero
  21. Twins-3B Matthew Moses
  22. Giants-RHP David Aardsma
  23. Angels-SS Brandon Wood
  24. Dodgers-RHP Chad Billingsley
  25. Athletics-RHP Bradley Sullivan
  26. Athletics-3B Brian Snyder
  27. Yankees-3B Eric Duncan
  28. Cardinals-C Daric Barton
  29. Diamondbacks-OF Carlos Quentin
  30. Royals-C Mitch Maier
  31. Indians-RHP Adam Miller
  32. Red Sox-OF Matt Murton
  33. Athletics-SS Omar Quintanilla
  34. Giants-RHP Roger Whitaker
  35. Braves-RHP Luis Atilano
  36. Braves-C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  37. Mariners-SS Adam Jones

Now, far be it from me to rip teams and their strategies for no reason, but do you see one name above, aside from Chad Billingsley and Nick Markakis, that would cause any great consternation to a team to miss out on had they signed a coveted and necessary free agent?

The majority of them won't even make it to the big leagues at all and would've been released from their clubs outright had they not been drafted so highly to begin with.

For all the Moneyball nonsense of the playoffs being a "crapshoot", the real crapshoot is the draft. And the first rounders, while being shots in the dark and based on luck many, many times, are also expensive in their own right with massive signing bonuses and guaranteed big league contracts.

This is not the NFL or NBA where the players go straight to the big time either. So when you hear about teams hoarding their draft picks, look at them slightly askew and ask the question, "hoarding them for what? You're telling me we're not signing a Matt Holliday; a Jason Bay; a Mark DeRosa because of some draft pick who won't be here for 3-5 years?"

The failure in the draft is prevalent. Check for yourself----Baseball Reference Draft----and rightfully question what the agenda is exactly. Are the building an organization or finding excuses to be cheap?

You tell me.

  • Viewer Mail 12.2.2009:

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Roy Halladay:

If you really want to make the potential Halladay deal turn out to be a somethin' for nothin' type of deal a la Johan, I'm sure the Brewers would field a straight up offer for Carlos Gomez.

One would think that the Blue Jays wouldn't be as greedy as the Twins were and self-sabotage, but who knows? I can't imagine the anger of the Blue Jays fans----who've had to deal with the whole J.P. Ricciardi sideshow for so long----if they wound up getting pennies on the dollar for Halladay; but that's where it's heading if they don't strike fast.

John Seal writes RE the Athletics:

The day I've been waiting for finally arrived: Prince Paul's Hot Stove Heater for the 2010 Athletics. Job well done, Prince. I don't see the A's trading Davis, but now's the time to do it. And as the world's biggest Jack Cust fan (hey, I don't always have to think logically, do I?), I'm excited to see what his twin on the infield, Dallas McPherson, may be able to do. Thoughts?

I spend my entire life thinking illogically. It seems to work in my never-ending quest to create anarchy.

Here's something funny John, after you're entirely justified lashing at my continually mentioning Bobby Crosby as a useful player for certain teams, it turns out the Red Sox really are interested in him as I suggested earlier. Why, I dunno.

As for Beane, he's been remarkably indecisive with some of his reclamation projects like Davis and Cust. Both have use, but Cust is about to become really pricey for what he does and they could get similar production from a better hitter like Jim Thome on a short term deal as long as he's exclusively a DH. I don't think Cust is movable at this point; they could get something for Davis.

With McPherson, he's 29; he's washed out with the Angels and Marlins----two teams known for spotting talent and giving unappreciated players a chance to play; and he's never ever done anything in the big leagues when given a shot; he didn't play at all in 2009 after the Marlins dumped him and he signed with the Giants; and he's had major back problems.

Put it this way: if the A's get anything from McPherson, Beane should head to Vegas and straight for the roulette wheel. Or buy some Powerball lottery tickets.


Mike F said...

I agree that in the past cashman has been quite the prospect hugger--but let me ask you a question. I was shocked that he didn't offer damon arbitration. I just can't see Boras letting him accept so now Cash is losing those prospects. any thoughts on this?

Jeff said...

I CANNOT WAIT for the rips to begin on Lidge again in 2010. I got so used to dipping into the neverending pile of Lidge jokes that I don't think I could handle him being good again.

Your take on the odd new angle by executives during the offseason is something to certainly think about. Most analysts are blaming the economy for the non-action and it seems that the front offices are going to ride this excuse -- and all its tentacles -- to the very end.

She-Fan said...

I like the idea of Giambi taking the place of Stairs on the Phillies. He probably takes a lot more walks and he can still belt HRs off the bench. Besides, I miss the 'stache.