Friday, December 02, 2005

Bobby Abreu and the Aces

It’s time to stop messing around. The Phillies have been way too busy far too early this offseason to delay delving into the moves they have made any further. There have been major trades, free agent additions, and one very loud, highly publicized, and big mouthed defection. These things will be addressed, but for now we'll start with a current Phillies All-Star on the block.The hottest rumor going around (and around and around and around…) puts the bulls eye right on Bobby Abreu’s 53. How about a quick look at the many Abreu rumors of the past few days?

1. Abreu to the Orioles for OF Jay Gibbons and LHP Eric Bedard
2. Abreu to the Red Sox for OF Trot Nixon and RHP Matt Clement
3. Abreu to the Yankees with C Mike Lieberthal for RHP Carl Pavano, C Jorge Posada and 3B Eric Duncan
4. Abreu to the Cardinals for RHP Anthony Reyes and RHP Jason Marquis
5. Abreu to the Blue Jays for CF Vernon Wells
6. Abreu to the Giants for RHP Jason Schmidt

That’s a whole lot of speculation around one guy. What does this all tell us? I think it is fairly accurate to say that Abreu is indeed being shopped. One rumor means little, but a half dozen rumors centered on one player often reveal a little something. It is no coincidence that Abreu’s name keeps coming up. He is being shopped. Will he be dealt? Do I look like Pat Gillick to you?

These deals are all just rumors of course, but it doesn’t hurt to take a closer look at them. I’ll assume the Wells deal is dead considering CF is no longer a position of need for the Phils. That 5-player deal with the Yankees appears flimsy at best; that is a big shakeup for both teams and it just doesn’t seem based in fact whatsoever. I think the Boston deal is unrealistic as well (basing this off a total lack of media speculation on the proposed deal) and I still wouldn’t do it. Abreu should be able to fetch more than Nixon and Clement. It is as simple as that for me. The Schmidt rumor is an interesting one. He could potentially be the ace the Phillies have been looking for and it is being reported that the Phillies are telling teams now they’ll only trade Abreu for a frontline starter in return. The downside to Schmidt is big. He’ll be 33 this season, is coming off an average season, and has had his fair share of injury/weight concerns in the past. Schmidt’s contract also only runs through 2006 – this can be looked at as a good thing (payroll flexibility plus the first crack to retain him beyond ’06) or a bad thing (the fear he’ll bolt after one season and leave the club with nothing). It would be a risky move, but I think it could be well received by Phillies fans as a chance the club needs to take to really go somewhere in 2006. I’m more against it than for it, but I’m not ready to completely cross it off my list yet.

The two most realistic rumors appear to be the deals involving the Orioles and the Cardinals. The deal with St. Louis would bring in two starting pitchers ready for the rotation right now. Reyes debuted for the Cards this season and pitched 13.1 innings down the stretch. He should be a good one and getting a pitcher as he is ready to break in to the majors is always a huge plus (obviously). Marquis is a less exciting name, but he has been solid in his career and makes a pretty good middle of the rotation guy. The key with him is the money. He’ll be arbitration eligible and should probably get a deal worth anywhere from $4 million to $5.5 million. That’s a pretty reasonable salary for an above average starting pitcher like Marquis. Plus Marquis could play RF on days he doesn’t pitch – he hit .310 last year with a .460 slugging percentage. He had almost as many RBIs (10) as strikeouts (11)! You must love a pitcher who hit 8 doubles in a season – it’s a rule. A trade like this would fill out the rotation (Myers, Lieber, Marquis, Lidle, Reyes) and put Madson and Tejeda in the bullpen for sure. There are benefits. And yet I still don’t think its enough. Abreu is just that good a ballplayer. It takes a lot to trade away a future Hall of Famer, you know.

The Baltimore deal stinks. Gibbons is a good ballplayer, but he’ll be 29 next year so he is what he is going to be. He would be a significant step down from Abreu in right. Some can argue a Michaels/Victorino platoon would be more beneficial to the club than playing Gibbons everyday – when you factor in cash, it is a slam dunk in favor of the Michaels/Victorino platoon. I have always liked Bedard a lot, but time is beginning to run out on him – he’ll be 27 next season and only has 12 big league wins to his name. This deal has disaster written all over – stand pat Mr. Gillick.

The latest trade rumor is Abreu for Manny Ramirez. Jayson Stark has already shot this down, so there isn’t much more to say about it for the time being. I know that’s weak and I apologize, but really what is there to add?

I’ve basically shot down all 6 of the viable trade rumors (I’m not counting you Manny sorry bud) so what is there left to do? I’ll pose a question that I’ve been personally pondering for a good long while. The Phillies reportedly would only deal Abreu for a “number one” starting pitcher. Call it what you want – number one, ace, frontline stopper, whatever. That’s what they are after. The question is simple. Who out there, in all of baseball, fits this description? Since I don’t actually expect anybody to answer this question (but feel free in the Comments section), I’ll go ahead and give a rundown of the way I see things. I’m factoring in pure baseball reasons, age, and economics so if a favorite player has been left off I’d be glad to go into more detail why. Without further delay (which ironically enough delays it even further – funny how that works)

Florida: Dontrelle Willis
Chicago Cubs: Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano
Houston: Roy Oswalt
Milwaukee: Ben Sheets
Pittsburgh: Oliver Perez
Colorado: Jeff Francis
San Diego: Jake Peavy
San Francisco: Matt Cain
Boston: Josh Beckett
Toronto: Roy Halladay
Tampa Bay: Scott Kazmir
Detroit: Jeremy Bonderman
Minnesota: Johan Santana
Seattle: Felix Hernandez
Oakland: Rich Harden and Danny Haren

There are plenty of guys that can be argued onto the list, but I think it would be difficult to argue anybody off (my last two additions might be exceptions to this rule - Perez and Francis are both highly debatable choices that I’m still not 100% sure on). Some younger prospects close to the big leagues intrigue me (Francisco Liriano, Jon Lester, Brandon McCarthy, Chad Billingsley) as do some older, established guys with big deals (could adding Pedro to this team put them over the hump in ’06?), but this was my final list. Final in that here it is and not like final meaning unwilling to compromise final – if you really want to get right down to it, my list is not entirely unlike the U.S. Constitution. Both documents are living, breathing, malleable works of literary art fully open to interpretation by anybody willing to think critically. I’m not comparing myself to the great American Founding Fathers per se, but the similarities are rather striking – don’t you think?

More to come on Abreu very shortly. Hang tight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You give a list of pitchers which you would consider "ace" pitchers or at least pitchers that you would trade Bobby Abreu for straight up for. My question for you is are there any other players that you would trade for? Say for instance a top of the line starter that isn't quite an ace along with some prospects. Say a Matt Clement like starter and some pitching prospects. Also my second possibility involves Toronto, a team that has expressed interest in Abreu already this offseason, although this is diferent from what they were initially thinking. Bobby Abreu for Gustavo Chacin, Chad Gaudin and possibly Eric Hinske. Hinske has had good numbers against right handed pitchers and could be an even better option than Nunez to rotate with David Bell at third base. Possibly even Shea Hillenbrand. I just wanted to see if you would do any of those trades even though you aren't getting that "ace" that everyone would want ideally, you are still getting valuable players in return that could possibly complete the team better. I'm not sure the players I mentioned would give you equilalent value for Abreu but you get the general idea. Keep in mind that the players I mentioned were just for the sake of arguement and hopefully you get the idea from the players.

1:36 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

All of the pitchers mentioned on that list aren't going anywhere this offseason. So you are very right in figuring that if Abreu is dealt, it'll be for a package of lesser guys rather than any straight up swap of two guys. If Boston included the right mix of young guys (maybe either Lester or Papelbon) in addition to Clement, that deal would be tempting - an interesting comparison could be made between an offer like that an the current St. Louis rumors.

Chacin doesn't do much for me personally, I'm not sold on him quite yet. He did have a very good rookie year and I take nothing away from him. Gaudin was actually dropped from the Toronto 40 man roster the other day. This could be the precursor to a trade by the Jays involving him or it could just be they felt the need to drop him. If things stand the way they currently are, Gaudin could be available in the Rule 5 draft. He'd be a shrewd pickup there. Hinske is a puzzling guy. His performance has really tampered off since winning the ROY in 2002. He'll be 28 in August and is coming off a year where he didn't play a single game at third. There were reasons for this, of course, but it makes his defense there a question mark at best heading into '06. He also has a bad contract compared to his recent levels of performance. Hillenbrand - I'll pass on him.

Like you said though, the exact players don't matter so much as the general ideas. I think the ideas are good ones. Hopefully my next post will address more of what you want to know. If not, give me a yell and we'll get even deeper into it. Discussion is always encouraged.

4:25 PM  

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