Friday, October 07, 2005

Not Sure Where This Leads Us

I am a big complainer. I complain about just everything. I complain about school, politics, work, sports, everything. I'm sure this makes me a heck of a lot of fun to be around, but it's just the way I am. But in my defense, I do make it a point to complain with a purpose. If I'm going to whine and complain about something, you'd better believe I'm one step ahead with a decent (at least in my mind) opinion on how to fix whatever I deem unacceptable. I'm sure a very good percent of the time my solution is hardly an upgrade at all over the problem, but at least I'm trying to think outside the box and not just complaining for the sake of complaining.

Having said all of that, I'll admit the connections to my upcoming argument are a bit shaky. Oh well. The argument may not correlate exactly with my complainer argument, but something about this baseball season frustrated me and I figured a nifty intro was the way to go about it. After the Home Run Derby during the All Star Break, an idea struck many Phils fans - with his trade value and national profile as high as it will ever be, the time is nigh to trade Bobby Abreu. Interesting enough, but there has to be more to it than that, right? Would we get anything in return for our best hitter? Any specific name out there to make the deal work? Prospects? Pitching? Another rightfielder? It seems to me that a lot of times, people come up with the idea of trading somebody, but have no idea what they can get in return. So, what's the point?

The Phillies need to get better. Pretty obvious, right? The real question is how do they go about getting better? What needs to change? I like the lineup as is. Minor tweaks are needed here and there, but it wouldn't be a shock to see 7 of the 8 starting position players return (CF still being somewhat of a mystery - Michaels/Victorino, maybe even Michaels/Lofton again?). The starting 8 is clearly a strength of this team. Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Chase Utley are all legitimate stars at their respective positions. Ryan Howard should be the reigning NL Rookie of the Year. Jimmy Rollins will begin the '06 season with a 36 game hitting streak. The CF platoon did a unexpectedly fantastic job in the 2-hole this season and should hopefully either remain as productive (Michaels improving, Lofton continuing to hit up the fountain of youth) or produce at a higher clip (Victorino carrying over some of his AAA success). The somewhat longwinded point that I'm trying to make is the hitting will be good enough in 2006 for this team to contend for a postseason spot. However, the money spent on this lineup makes any move for a starting pitcher extremely difficult. 11 players at $77.75 million really restricts what a team can do. Especially when only 3 starting pitchers are included in that (Lieber, Myers, and Lidle).

Utley will not be traded. Rollins will not be traded. As good a job Michaels did this year, how much can the Phils expect to get for a 4th OF (albeit a very good one). Howard should not be traded, but the Phillies would be foolish to declare him untouchable considering there is still much to be decided concerning the Jim Thome Situation. For the sake of this discussion, let's say Howard will not be traded. Thome is still too big of a question mark to figure the Phils can get any sort of reasonable return on him in a deal. All this buildup for something that could easily been stated in one sentence. The Phillies best shot to land that coveted number one starting pitcher every team in baseball desires revolves around a blockbuster trade including either Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu.

Burrell is due $9.5 million in 2006, $13 million in 2007, and $14 million in 2008. Abreu is owed $12.5 in 2006, $15 in 2007, $16 in 2008 (or a $2 million buyout). Pat Burrell hit .281/.389/.504 and the '06 season will be his year 29 season (he'll turn 30 in October '06). Bobby Abreu hit .286/.405/.474 and will be 32 years old in March of '06. The numbers show Burrell being paid $6 million less than Abreu over the remaining years of their contracts, a 3-year gap in age, and the superiority of Burrell's '05 season to Abreu's. My question to Phillies fans - whom do you trade? Bobby or Pat? Neither? What do you look to get for either?


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