Friday, October 14, 2005

Three More Ballplayers

Just a couple of names to consider as more and more players are cut loose each day...

D'Angelo Jimenez was let go by the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. Right off the bat, it should be noted that there appears to be something off about his 2005 season. Rumors persist that he clashed with Reds management and, no doubt because of this lack of understanding, was left to spend all but six weeks out of the year in Chattanooga. Whatever problems he had with the Reds must have been significant considering (A.) Jimenez was coming off a .270/.364/.394 season and (B.) he was owed $2,870,000 in 2005. Paying a guy almost three million dollars to bolster your AA squad is not good business especially when he represents your eighth highest paid player. So we have a bit of a mystery on our hands here - solid defensive middle infielder, good track record through his minor league career, back to back impressive seasons in 2003 and 2004, and he is M.I.A. in 2005. Not that it matters really, but Jimenez killed AA pitching this year. He posted a .823 OPS in 327 at bats. Jimenez has played the majority of his career at second base, but can also play third and is said to have improved his defense at shortstop during his stint in the minors. He has even pitched 1 1/3 innings - scoreless baseball by the way.

Should the Phillies even concern themselves with a guy like Jimenez? This is where a leap of faith is required. We have to trust a major league baseball team to be able to utilize their resources and connections within the game properly in order to do a thorough background check on this guy. If the guy is a jerk, then forget him. He would just be a utility guy anyway. However if the situation with the Reds was more complicated than Jimenez being a moody guy, he represents an upgrade of any of the current utility type guys (Tomas Perez, Matt Kata, FA Ramon Martinez) that could potentially be Phils in '06. 2006 will be the year 28 season for Jimenez - a one-year, make good deal as a backup infielder with a contender might make sense for all parties involved. Phillies would get a good bench player and D'Angelo would get an opportunity for redemption and a chance to parlay his opportunity to a starting job somewhere else in '07.

On Monday the Astros made a couple very interesting decisions concerning two pitchers that should interest the Phils for different reasons. Houston released both Scott Strickland and Brandon Duckworth. Strickland was coming off Tommy John surgery in 2005 - he only pitched 4 innings with the Astros. He pitched 32.1 innings in the minors this year rehabbing the injury, but reports claim his velocity improved with each outing. If his velocity keeps on improving, he would be a very interesting name for the Phillies to consider come spring as a non-roster invitee. Put Strickland in the increasingly crowded "Low risk, high reward" bin and we'll check back on him as the offseason progresses.

One last thing of note concerning Strickland - check out the deal he was involved in a few years back (thanks to www.baseballreference.com once again):

April 5, 2002: Traded by the Montreal Expos with Phil Seibel and Matt Watson to the New York Mets for a player to be named later, Bruce Chen, Dicky Gonzalez, and Luis Figueroa. The New York Mets sent Saul Rivera (minors) (July 16, 2002) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

I count 7 players involved in that trade. Has there ever been such a large trade with so little substance to it? Looks like a case of quantity over quality on both sides. Bruce Chen had a nice year this season, but when he is the best out of seven guys involved in a deal then the deal had little overall value to begin with. I just can't think of any other trade with so many non-descript ballplayers involved. A seven man trade isn't something you see every day either. Just a weird, weird trade any way you look at it.

Last man to discuss today - Brandon Duckworth. I don't advocate bringing Duckworth back to the Phils. However this won't stop me from rambling on about him.

Brandon Duckworth's legacy in Philly will always be as one of the three guys (Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio being the others) dealt to Houston in the Billy Wagner deal. He started 58 games for the Phillies between 2001-2003 and was seen by some as a potentially solid middle of the rotation starting pitcher developed by the farm system. He didn't pan out and his inclusion in the Wagner trade was one of Ed Wade's finest moves as GM of the Phils. It's funny, I probably saw nearly every single of those 58 starts Duckworth made while in Philadelphia, but I am having trouble with coming up with anything even remotely interesting to say about the guy.

I remember always rooting for Duckworth as he came up through the system. He was the ultimate baseball underdog. A 30th round pick that didn't sign, then a 61st round pick that didn't sign, then an undrafted free agent who latched on with the Phils organization in 1997. Duckworth's big league career can be called a disappointment and in many pure baseball respects it has. Maybe sometimes we forget to realize how impressive it is to even be in the position to make a major league club, let alone start 58 games in the Show. Duckworth is another ballplayer that really makes me feel old - he'll be 30 in January. I'll never get used to seeing the players I've seen develop right in front of my very eyes turn into grizzled veterans and eventually fade into retirement. Duckworth was a good guy during his time in Philly and hopefully he gets a shot with another major league club this offseason.

At the very least, I'll always remember the Duck Pond fondly.

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