Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

The holiday season is a great time to find ways to post information that takes as little effort as possible. In the spirit of the season, I present this little nugget from Baseball Prospectus that sums up new Phil Ricardo Rodriguez pretty nicely.

First came Vicente Padilla, acquired from the Phillies for Ricardo Rodriguez. It doesn’t take a “player to be named” sticker to know that dealing Rodriguez isn’t much of a fee: he’ll be 28 next year, can’t seem to stay healthy, and after four years of starting sporadically for Cleveland and Texas he’s combined to strike out 104 batters in 206.7 innings while yielding 75 walks, 224 hits and 33 home runs. Of course, Padilla hasn’t exactly been a model green light himself, but at least he’s had success.

New Year's Resolution: Finish posting the damn Free Agent Tournament. Expect it in the coming days. Probably...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Third Base Again

The Phillies have already added IF Abraham Nunez to give some depth to the bench and provide an alternative to David Bell at third base. The Phillies have also reportedly been deep into trade discussions with the Dodgers about sending David Bell to Los Angeles - any deal to LA is now dead of course because the Dodgers have filled their hole at third with Bill Mueller. This doesn't change the fact the Phillies were shopping Bell in the first place. What does it all mean then? Looks like the Phillies are serious about upgrading at third base. After Mueller signed, all Phillies trade rumors seemed to die down soon after. That lull could be over. The Toronto Blue Jays have added another 3B/1B/DH type to their roster and are now in a position to deal. The Jays currently have Troy Glaus (new addition who is expected to play 3B), Shea Hillenbrand (the Jays have said he won’t be moved), Corey Koskie, and Eric Hinske. Glaus will be a Blue Jay in 2006 and all published reports seem to believe Hillenbrand will be back as well. That leaves Koskie and Hinske as prime candidates to be moved.

Cordel Leonard Koskie is currently the better baseball player. He is both the superior hitter and fielder. There is a catch of course. Koskie will be 33 in June and has a contract that will pay out $5.25 million in 2006 and $5.75 million in 2007. There is also a vesting option for 2008 worth $6.5 million. That could be a very cumbersome deal for the Phils to take on especially considering the potential long term effects of the nagging injuries that limited Koskie to only 354 at bats last season. Eric Hinske is owed $4.325 million in 2006 and $5.625 in 2007. That is a ton of money for a guy who struck out 121 times in 2005 without the power production (only 15 homers) to make it forgivable.

Both players are lefties, both players are big strapping lads (Koskie is 6’3’’ and Hinske is 6’2’’), and both players are from cold weather, northern areas (Koskie is from Manitoba and Hinske is from Wisconsin). Neither player would be an especially good fit for the Philadelphia Phillies due to salaries not in line with expected future production. The Phillies would be wise to at least talk to Toronto because a deal for a third baseman like Koskie would help in 2006, but in the end I hope Pat Gillick considers the long-term ramifications that come with any move he makes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Greetings from Puerto Rico

It may be late December, but we should remember that they do play baseball year round. In the Puerto Rican League, Gavin Floyd is 1-1 with a 3.89 ERA, 32 H and 21/17 K/BB in 34 2/3 IP for Arecibo. Apparently those numbers have been put up in eight starts - which just so happens to be the Phillies limit on the number of games Floyd can throw in. So...what do Gavin Floyd's PR Winter League stats mean and are they important? There are no easy answers to that. The numbers aren't pretty - the K/BB ratio (control has been a big issue for Floyd in his various big league appearances) is still bad. Looking at the numbers alone, Floyd has had a below average winter. Luckily, the numbers do not tell the whole story. The quality of play of the league is unknown (to me anyway), the sample size available is very small, and for all we know Floyd could be down there working on a new pitch or ironing out some kinks in his mechanics.

When Floyd struggles next year, we can look back at this and claim we knew it all along and that the numbers were a good indication that he would struggle in 2006. When Floyd excels next year and surpasses all expectations, well then he was clearly working on specific things that have bothered him on the mound in the winter league to correct problems that have plagued him in '04 and '05. I think we've covered our bases pretty nicely here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

From the Desk of Pat Gillick

Dear Robert,

On behalf of myself and the entire Phillies organization, I'd like to wish you and your family happy holidays and a healthy new year.
The holiday season is a time for giving thanks for what we have and reflecting on the year gone by. I started 2005 with one team - the Mariners - and ended it with another. As I recently told the Phillies' front office employees, I'm very thankful to have been given the opportunity here in Philadelphia and feel very much at home.
A lot of things have changed in my 25 years as a general manager, but the one thing that has remained the same is the fans. The heart of every organization is a loyal fan base and we thank you for your continued support.
On a personal note, Christmas came early for me and my wife Doris as our
daughter Kimberley gave birth to our first grandchild. I was fortunate enough to be in Tampa shortly after my grandson Cooper was born on December 15.
In closing, have a safe and happy holiday season and I look forward to meeting some of you at various Winter Tour stops in January.

Sincerely, Pat

Pat Gillick
General Manager
The Phillies

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

This amuses me and that will have to be good enough for now (no real news to report, but Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all)... How many of Santa's reindeer can you name?

Lidle: Rudolph, Prancer, Dancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen. How many is that? Eight, but you named Blitzen twice and left out Dasher and Vixen.

Lidle: That's good enough.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stocking Stuffers

Not much in the way of real baseball news, but there is still a tiny bit of free agent news to catch up on and another significant story concerning a Phillies minor league affiliate worth mentioning. First off, there are 50 new free agents available now that the deadline for teams to offer arbitration has passed. Some of the "name" players now available include SP Ryan Franklin, SP Wade Miller, SP Ramon Ortiz, SP Josh Fogg, RP Chad Bradford, RP Trever Miller, RP Lance Carter, C Jason Phillips, OF Timo Perez, and OF Eric Byrnes. Nobody to get too excited about at first glance although the Phillies could have interest in Franklin and Fogg - based completely on reasons I made up (Franklin is a former Mariner like GM Pat Gillick and it seems the Phillies have always had some kind of interest in Fogg). I would not endorse either move.

The big minor league news is really quite big. The Phillies AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will only be around one more season as the Phils plan to put a new AAA team in the new ballpark being built in Allentown. The Orioles could fill the void in Scranton/WB by moving their AAA team (Ottawa) there in 2007. While it is a shame that the Red Barons will be moving from a town they've been associated with 1989, it is exciting that a new market will get to experience professional baseball in a shiny new stadium for the first time.

OF Endy Chavez is a Met... first Wagner, now Chavez, we can only hope that the Phils can somehow pawn Tomas Perez on Omar Minaya.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Getting to Know…Aaron Rowand

"I hate to watch guys come out here and not play hard. I wouldn't want to buy a ticket for a ballgame and see somebody giving 50 percent. My dad told me a long time ago that I shouldn't bother playing unless I leave everything out on the field." – Aaron Rowand

The one constant theme in all of the newspaper stories and internet articles after Aaron Rowand arrived in Philadelphia was how sad Chicago fans were to see him go. This wasn’t based on any quantitative assessment of Rowand’s worth to the club; it was based on a legion of fans upset to see a player they loved to watch at the ballpark every day depart. How Rowand performs on the field and little else will determine the success or failure of the Jim Thome trade as it pertains to the Phillies in the short-term (long-term success or failure will also be impacted on the development and performance of the two young pitchers in the deal). Being a good guy in the clubhouse and a favorite amongst fans are great bonuses to the total Rowand package, but if he has an OPS just a shade over .700 come July, who cares? I’m not saying character doesn’t matter when it comes to baseball, I’m just saying that performance is about 100 times more important. A great guy that can’t hit? No thanks. A real jerk who can? I’ll take him more often than not. Anyway, that is really more of a random tangent than anything that specifically relates directly back to Rowand (he has hit before and he is by all accounts a nice fellow).

Since that was a bit of a rambling mess, I’ll sum up real fast: Even though it is adorable that White Sox fans and members of the Chicago sports media loved Rowand as a person and player, he’ll needs to perform on the field for this to be a worthwhile investment. I’m not trying to understate the importance of the gritty, hard-nosed, run through a wall mentality that Philadelphians love. That’s all well and good. Only a fool will think those things will be enough for Phillies fans if Rowand isn’t hitting. Simple as that.

My first thought after hearing the Phillies acquired Rowand was, based on the high demand for centerfielders around the league this offseason, he wouldn’t be a Phillie for long. I even went as far as to say he’d never don the red pinstripes and he’d be dealt within days. I was wrong. Rowand will almost certainly head into 2006 as the Philadelphia Phillies starting CF. What do we know about Aaron Rowand? He has a very favorable contract. Rowand signed a two-year deal back in January of 2005 that paid him $2 million this year and will pay him $3.25 million in 2006. In today’s market, that’s a verifiable steal. Rowand has one of the unique player/team options for 2007; the team has first crack at exercising the option and, if the team declines, the player can exercise a separate option. So, about eleven months from now, the Phillies must decide if they’ll pay Rowand $5 million in 2007. If the Phils decline, Rowand must decide if he wants to return to Philadelphia in 2007 for a salary of $3.25 million or test the open market by rejecting the option. Many assume Rowand will be good enough for the Phillies in 2006 that the team will feel compelled to pick up his option for 2007. That amounts to an $8.25 million investment for two years of Aaron Rowand. This would still be a very good contract for the Phillies especially when you consider Michael Tucker earning $2 million in 2005 to be a fourth outfielder for the majority of the season.

We’ve talked about Rowand’s makeup, we’ve talked about Rowand’s contract, how about getting to his actual abilities as a ballplayer? Rowand was drafted by Chicago in 1998 in the first round (35th overall) out of Cal State Fullerton. Rowand crossed paths with many a big leaguer while at Cal State Fullerton. Included on this list are Brandon Duckworth, Jeremy Giambi, Mark Kotsay, Kirk Saarloos, and Matt Wise. That’s one interesting collection of guys. After getting drafted, Rowand was sent to Hickory in the South Atlantic League where he put up huge numbers (.342 batting average with a .905 OPS). Going immediately to Low A after being drafted is quite the compliment for a young player. Oftentimes, advanced college players will be the ones to make that jump; Rowand is a perfect example of this. Rowand was ready for Low A after leaving school and he made sure the White Sox took notice through his fine performance. After his impressive debut, the Sox moved him up one level each season over the next two years (High A in 1999, AA in 2000). Rowand tapered off a bit by the time he hit AA (.258 average, .758 OPS), but the White Sox liked his power potential enough (44 combined homers in 1999 and 2000) to give him a job on the major league bench in 2001. Let me get this straight. After a down year in AA (117 strikeouts to 38 walks was just one of the problems), the Sox decided to have Rowand skip AAA and head right to bench duty and the irregular number of at bats that come with it. Questionable decision at the time, but it paid off – in 2001 anyway.

Rowand began 2001 as the White Sox fourth outfielder. He was used primarily off the bench as a late inning defensive substitute for Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee, but still managed to snag 29 starts in CF. Rowand’s reputation as a premier defensive outfielder, not fully developed in the minors, was beginning to grow. He also managed to hit a very impressive .293/.385/.431 in 123 at bats (beware the small sample size!). This was the same guy who only managed 38 walks in 592 plate appearances in AA. Now he was getting 15 walks in just 148 plate appearances? Small sample sizes reveal little, more time would be needed to judge Rowand. Even still, the Sox had to have been encouraged by Rowand’s fine performance. 2002 began with much of the same for Rowand – 4th outfielder work from the start. Rowand couldn’t unseat Kenny Lofton for a job in CF, but as the Sox floundered, veterans (including Lofton) were dealt off. This freed up a spot in the starting lineup for Rowand. He didn’t exactly take the job and run with it. Rowand’s .258/.298/.394 line was a huge disappointment to the Sox who expected more power at the very least. Rowand’s defense continued to get good reviews and his name began popping up on all of those “best defensive players you’ve never heard of” kind of lists. Even with the disappointment of 2002, the Sox expected Rowand to come in ready to work in 2003 as the starting CF from opening day on. A motorcross accident derailed any plans of this happening. Rowand rushed back from the injury, but was clearly not ready for extended playing time. After one month, Rowand’s numbers were dreadful (.140/.210/.175). Those are some impossibly bad stats. The Sox recognized Rowand rushed back from injury too soon (numbers that bad how could they not?) and sent him down to AAA for the first time to rehab. Rowand hit .242 while in Charlotte, but after just 120 at bats Rowand was deemed physically fit and ready to return to Chicago. Since baseball really is a funny game, he then went on a tear for the rest of the season. He hit .381/.408/.629 for the remainder of the season. Go figure, right? These numbers were in a very limited number of at bats, however, as Chicago had imported Jurassic Carl Everett to play centerfield everyday in Rowand’s absence.

Everything changed for Rowand and the White Sox in 2004. Finally, the centerfield job was all Aaron’s from the start. Ozzie Guillen, the new Sox manager, pledged his full support to Rowand and Rowand was finally completely healthy. Even with all of these factors going in his favor, nobody could have predicted the year Rowand had. He hit .310/.361/.544 with 94 runs scored, 24 homeruns, 38 doubles, and 17 steals in 487 at bats. Rowand was rewarded after that season with the two-year contract discussed earlier. With these impressive numbers coming in Rowand’s Age-26 season, many believed he was a player just reaching his peak years.

Aaron Rowand’s career never followed a traditional path, so why should his development at the major league level be any different? Many expected Rowand to build on his 2004 season with an even better 2005, but it wasn’t the case. The White Sox experienced great success as a team (something about a World Series title I think) and Rowand was a part of that through his total package of skills as a ballplayer. In more direct terms, Rowand’s offensive output was below average in ’05 (.270/.329/.407, OPS+ 93), but his defense was so darn good that he remained a valuable contributor on a championship ballclub.

Defense is an extremely difficult facet of the game to judge properly and it makes for very difficult player evaluations. There are two schools of thought when it comes to appraising a player’s defensive worth. One is easy – the old eyeball test. If you watch a guy play every day, you tend to believe you get a pretty good field of what he can and can not do defensively. Baseball’s statistical evolution has led us to the point where defense can be viewed in a new light. Newer defensive metrics are rapidly being introduced in an attempt to quantify how good players really are defensively. The use of more detailed statistics (many with an emphasis on determining the defensive range of a player) is changing the way many think of the relevancy of errors and fielding percentage. I am a big advocate for the use of statistics whenever possible, but am forced with a dilemma when a player like Jimmy Rollins comes along. Watching him play everyday, he seems like a significantly above average major league shortstop. However, some of his defensive metrics aren’t so hot. It is tough to just ignore the stats and risk being a typical homer fan that picks and chooses when to use stats only to help the cause of an argument (something about how to lie with statistics comes to mind there…). In my defense, defensive metrics are still in their infancy (at least as far as the mainstream baseball community goes) compared to some of the more tried and true offensive stats that have shown a direct correlation to player value and success (OPS is a biggie there). Luckily we human beings were created with the ability to think rationally and come to conclusions based off of many pieces of evidence if we so choose. Combining what we see with what the stats tell us makes for a pretty accurate picture of what defense is really all about – until some more definitive measure of defensive worth comes along anyway.

Weren’t we talking about Aaron Rowand at one point? The great debate on the accuracy of defensive metrics versus the more traditional approach to evaluating good defense luckily does not really apply when it comes to Rowand. Rowand just so happens to be a guy who will pass every fan’s naked eye test (watching him play in the field will be a real pleasure this season) while also being a guy who also scores very highly on any defensive metric known to man. His defense is top notch and makes up a large percentage of his value as a baseball player.

That sums up Aaron Rowand prior to 2006 pretty well, but the real questions about the guy concern his future with the Phillies and his role in making the Jim Thome trade a success or failure. Those are the most interesting things, I think. But, alas, we have to get an understanding of where Mr. Rowand came from to fully grasp what to expect in the future. Talking about Rowand’s entire back story for so long means we have run out of time for the fun future stuff – but don’t worry, it’s coming. I say that a lot, but this time I do mean it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Slight Delay in the Action

Thoughts on newest Phillie Ricardo Rodriguez to come along with a whole bunch of other things, but it looks like there could be a slight delay due to some unmitigating circumstances. So, in the meantime, how about a little help? Before I lay out my thoughts on RicRod, do any of the loyal readers out there have an opinion on the new Phil, the Padilla trade in general, the Phillies offseason thus far, or anything else in the world baseball related or not? Here is your chance to speak your mind.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's About Time

Phillies acquire P Ricardo Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers to finally complete the Vicente Padilla trade. Rodriguez was once a top prospect, but has been limited by injuries since reaching the big leagues. The Phillies picked Rodriguez over 17-year old infielder Julio Gonzalez. I like the choice. More in-depth coverage to come soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No Big News, But All Kinds of Smaller Things...and Cop Punching!

The title of the post says it all - nothing big is going on, but the Phillies continue to make news one way or another. A few of the more interesting notes from Friday, December 16th...

  1. Jason Michaels finally had his day in court on Thursday and it appears his cop punching days are over. This is truly the end of an era. An era of cop punching. Anyway, Michaels was placed in a program for first time cop punchers and could see all charges dropped (just like the cop he punched) if he complies with all the rules of the program. There is absolutely nothing funny about a story where a ball player punches a cop…except maybe three things - 1) Mug shots are always funny 2) Michaels attorney is clearly straight out of a Charles Dickens novel (quick book plug: read Great Expectations if you haven’t). I can’t believe his attorney is seriously named Barnaby C. Wittels. I refuse to believe it. Amazing that this isn’t even the funniest thing about J-Mike punching a cop because of 3) He actually punched a cop. I don’t advocate it, but it never ceases to be funny to me.
  2. Team president Dave Montgomery said work has begun on moving the fences back in left-center field. They will be moved back five feet and raised 2 1/2 feet. This will result in the removal of 174 seats from the ballpark. Burrell could lose a few cheap ones to left, but none of the lefthanded power on the roster has much to worry about at all.
  3. Pitching update: The Phillies apparently went as high as 2-years, $8 million to RP Braden Looper, but refused to top the Cardinals 3-year deal. Again, this was a smart non-move by the Phillies. It does leave some questions up in the air that need to be answered. The Phillies manager (see number 4) seems to think Ryan Madson would be a very good fit in the starting rotation this year and that SP Cole Hamels has a shot to win himself a job in spring training. It is only December, so talk of Hamels making the club out of ST should not be taken all too seriously but it is good to know Charlie thinks so highly of him and he is at least on the Phils radar. The bullpen situation is just as up in the air as the rotation. There is some speculation that the Phillies have targeted a trade for P Miguel Batista or a signing of free agent RPs Jeff Nelson or Rudy Seanez. Batista is worth looking into at least on an exploratory basis and Seanez would be a good fit at the right price. Nelson is a guy I wouldn't touch at all. Current Phillies RP Aquilino Lopez is also being talked about as a potential late inning relief candidate. He might be the best option of all the names mentioned thus far. We have a long ways until the Phils pitching situation works itself out.
  4. Charlie Manual had a couple of interesting things to say on Daily News Live today. The previously mentioned tidbits on Madson and Hamels were probably the most important things he had to say, but there were others. He apparently mentioned his fondness for two of the Phillies newest additions - INF Abraham Nunez and backup C Sal Fasano. Charlie would like to see each guy get plenty of time and even said it was possible Fasano could play in 80 games this year. Play in 80 games, not start 80 games - important clarification. It doesn't make the news all that better, but hopefully things change on this front between now and April as both Nunez and Fasano are below average major leaguers. One last Charlie note - he somehow managed to break his wrist golfing. I'm no golfer so I don't know exactly how that works, but I can't for the life of me figure it out. Maybe he fell out of the golf cart or got a little dizzy on the 19th hole...
  5. More on pitching: It appears that the bullpen has another definite member as RP Aaron Fultz has avoided arbitration with the club by signing a fresh 1-year, $1.2 million contract. It is a good deal for everybody involved and it is really really nice to see the Phillies not go crazy and give him a 3-year deal or something. Give Fultz another year, see if he can get the job done again, and then decide on his future. I'll give credit when credit is due and this is a shrewd move by the Phillies.
  6. More on pitching and the aforementioned Aquilino Lopez: Lopez was removed from the 40 man roster today after being sent outright to the AAA Red Barons. Don't be alarmed by this move - the Phillies will still invite him to spring training and he is still a legit candidate to earn a big league job. They took him off the 40 man roster because they could. That's all. The obvious question is why take him off at all. There is no easy answer for that, but it is something that is fun to speculate on. It is often the case that a guy is removed from the 40 man roster only when the team has a plan to add someone to take his place. Do the Phillies have somebody in mind? Will it be through a trade? Will it be a new free agent reliever? Are these the same questions that have been repeated over and over everyday now for the past week? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, and yes. Is it just me or is this the first time we are even talking about something like this in a while – the Phillies making a subtle move and then we all anxiously wait for the other shoe to drop. Gillick seems like a far sneakier GM than Ed Wade ever was. Good or bad, it seems like he makes moves with future moves already in mind. I have to imagine this is the way a real GM operates, but it is a method that is only good in theory and can be botched pretty horribly in execution. If Gillick were to drop Lopez from the 40 man to add…another backup catcher or another equally useless player (Jeff Nelson maybe?), it would be a bad move. Nice overall plan, poor execution. For now, I’ll give ole Pat the benefit of the doubt, but I should point out I was against the move from the start (Dayton Moore would have been a nice choice…).
  7. I should point out that there could be a new addition to the 40 man roster any day now as the Phillies are still deciding on whether to accept Texas P Ricardo Rodriguez or minor league (pre-minor league actually considering he has yet to play a pro game in the U.S.) INF Julio Gonzalez as compensation for SP Vicente Padilla. Rodriguez would take up a spot, but Gonzalez would not. Maybe this means they are seriously leaning towards Rodriguez. If they don’t make their decision by tomorrow maybe I’ll have time to put up a post about which player I would choose if I was king of the Phillies.
  8. Vicente Padilla – pretty as ever, don’t you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

St. Looper Moves On Up (and Padilla Picture #3)

Braden Looper is going to "Heaven" after signing a three-year contract worth $13.5 million to play in Scott Rolen's favorite city in the world St. Louis. It was believed by many that Looper was the Phillies number one choice to become new closer Tom Gordon's 8th inning man and that Looper had the Phillies higher than anybody else on his personal list of destinations. Some times these things just don't work out the way you plan - and some times it is for the best. My thoughts on Looper from his first round matchup of my 2005 FA Tournament (still ongoing by the way, I haven't given up/forgotten):

Looper has the classic frame of a big league pitcher (6’5’’, 225 lbs.) and the stuff to back it up. His spotty 2005 season with the Mets will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of teams looking at him as a potential closer. This is fair. Looper had a difficult time closing out games this year for New York. His problems were obvious upon closer inspection. Looper’s K/BB ratio dropped from a career best 3.16 in 2004 to a pathetic 1.08 in 2005. He struck out fewer guys and walked more – never a recipe for success. His K/9 rate went from 6.48 in 2004 down to 4.10 in 2005 while his BB/9 rose from 1.73 in 2004 to 3.34 in 2005. Those are drastic differences and are fairly clear indicators as to why Looper struggled the way he did in 2005. So we’ve established the fact that Looper had a less than great year as a closer in 2005. This doesn’t make him a bad reliever, it only means he had a less than great year. It happens. Comparing his 2004 and 2005 might be a
mistake anyway considering his 2004 season was a career best season and out of line with the rest of his big league numbers. He isn’t as good as he was in 2004 (ERA+ 158, ERA 2.70, 60 Ks in 83.1 innings) and he isn’t as bad as he was in 2005 (ERA+ 106, ERA 3.94, only 27 Ks in 59.1 innings).

Looper is an extreme ground ball pitcher (1.92 GO/AO ration in 2005, 2.74 in 2004) who hasn’t had a season below league average in his entire big league career (beginning in 1999). He has always walked a bit more guys than you’d like and never struck out batters like the elite closers do, but he has done a consistently solid job in many different roles coming out of the pen. Looper should be a very nice “buy low” candidate in this crazy, oversaturated, overvalued relief pitching market.

Prediction: Signs with Baltimore, 3-year deal worth $7.75 million

If the Phillies could have landed him with a three-year deal like the one predicted, it would have been a solid move. Clearly the market for relief help has exploded this offseason (Howry, Eyre, any of the big name closers) so the prediction was out of whack from the start. Can't win 'em all, right? In any event, I'm glad to see the Phillies let Looper move on to the Cardinals without a fight. He is set to earn $3.5 million in 2006, $4.5 million in 2007, and $5.5 million in 2008. That is a ton of money for a relief pitcher. Is Looper worth $3 million more than Geoff Geary in 2006? Geary posted an ERA+ of 122 in 2006; Looper, who has had an underrated career make no mistake about it, only has had as good a year twice in 7 complete big league seasons. The bullpen is a spot where you can afford to go a little cheaper than other positions. Looper could have been a nice fit, but only at the right price. The price wasn’t right and a deal never materialized. The Phillies are better off for it. The only question remaining (and oh boy it is a huge one) is…what next?

All the beautiful people agree - Looper is better off getting overpaid in "Heaven"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Vicente Picture 2 of 1,000

Problems with the computer persist, but the timing of the computer woes works out okay enough considering there is no real news to report. Compensation for Padilla is likely down to two players - P Ricardo Rodriguez or minor league INF Julio Gonzalez. Will either of these players be as beautiful as Vicente? I think not.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A New Vicente Picture Every Day for 1,000 Days

Computer problems will prevent any kind of a real update today (you didn't miss much, it has been another slow day). Hopefully things get straightened out by tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll pass along a little bit of a trick I've learned in my short time of doing this thing. A lot of the time, you can write any old thing and nobody will care too much either way. How can you get away with that? Well, it isn't easy. Or maybe it is very, very easy. Anyway, the secret - a big, bold, colorful picture. This works best when the picture is of someone as amazingly good looking as our favorite former Phil. Enjoy the beauty of Vicente, I know I will.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Padilla Floats On...

Five and a half years after dealing this guy, all the Phillies are left with is a player to be named later

Phillies trade SP Vicente Padilla to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later

Below is just a sampling of the speculation immediately following the Padilla deal. These rumors may seem crazy now (quite frankly those first couple of names were crazy at the time as well, not just in hindsight), but there were Phillies fans who reacted like this after getting word of the deal. Are those fans crazy? Absolutely. Is random speculation based on no actual evidence fun this time of year? I sure think so. The actual timeline of a portion of the Phillies fanbase:

The instant buzz – we’re getting Blalock! If not Blalock, then we’re getting Kevin Mench or Brad Wilkerson so the big Abreu trade can go down later!

Excitement is still in the air – no Blalock or Mench or Wilkerson, but we’re getting either Laird or Barajas! No more Lieby!

Excitement drops, but at least it’s a major leaguer – no new third baseman or outfielder, Lieby is still our catcher, but at least we get a major league arm like Ricardo Rodriguez, Joaquin Benoit, or Erasmo Ramirez! (Okay, I’ll admit I can’t think of anyone who actually got that excited for those three guys, but humor me)

Reality sets in – Jayson Stark goes on Daily News Live and says the Phillies will get prospects (plural…interesting) in return, but none of the players coming to Philly will cause any excitement for the fans. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

A name that I’ve heard pop up repeatedly is P Matt Riley. Riley was much hyped while coming up through the Orioles system, but his performance has never matched his supposed talents. He really is just one of the many minor league names (apparently the prospect(s) involved is/are not currently on the Rangers 40-man roster) being mentioned and it is just too darned early to speculate on what the Phillies could receive. More to come on this, I’m sure.

More on the actual departure of Padilla soon, but for now we’ll take a quick look at the potential repercussions of a deal like this. The first thing to jump out is the growing hole in the starting rotation. The Phillies will now have to fill two spots (after Lieber, Myers, and Lidle) instead of one and currently have a pool of Ryan Madson, Rob Tejeda, Eude Brito, and Gavin Floyd to choose from. Can anybody see the Phillies seriously heading into 2006 with two of those guys in their rotation? This is a problem. The Phillies need pitching. So why did they trade a pitcher with all kinds of untapped potential (very similar career numbers to A.J. Burnett, just saying) who was set to earn a modest $4 million in arbitration (modest by market standards) and get no immediate help in return? Why, when the stated goal is to acquire pitching, did they go out and trade a starting pitcher?

Personality: The Phillies have long been wary of Padilla’s eccentric ways (that’s putting it nicely) and finally decided enough is enough. This would indicate certain members of the old Ed Wade regime was in Pat Gillick’s ear as he contemplated whether to bring Padilla back or not. This is a very troubling thought. The Phils had already decided to not bring Padilla back by way of offering him arbitration so they jumped at the opportunity to deal him to Texas for at least something of value. If they had decided to not offer him arbitration (a move I don’t agree with) then the trade was for the best. The thought of Gillick listening to some of the older, long-time members of the front office for opinions on what to do with Padilla is worrisome to say the least. The older members of the front office would know more about Padilla than Gillick – if the deal came down to not wanting to take a chance on a guy with a spotty personality like Padilla, you’d better believe the new Phillies GM got a lot of help making that decision. Scary.

Other moves yet to be made: The Phillies could have three possible deals in the works as I see it -

  1. Phillies actively shopping 3B David Bell and OF Jason Michaels and a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers involving a relief pitcher or starting pitcher is in works - a David Bell for RP Duaner Sanchez deal has reportedly been discussed (this would add to the bullpen and enable Ryan Madson to join the rotation) and there is a shot the Jason Michaels for a SP (Derek Lowe? Brad Penny? not sure if either was a legit rumor, but it is out there) could be brought back up since the Phillies did save money by dumping Padilla
  2. Phillies are close to a deal with a FA relief pitcher (Braden Looper?), enabling Madson to join the rotation
  3. Phillies are working on a much larger deal involving Bobby Abreu - this is the biggest long shot by far, but I just have this feeling that the Abreu trade rumors aren't quite dead yet
This entire Padilla trade is tough to judge. Since this deal is seen merely as a precursor to another big move, it is really hard to judge it independent of any other acquisition. I just don't know what to make of it quite yet (my site has the most insightful analysis on the web, no?). I have been able to determine one thing based on this trade and it is a very, very important trend that should not be ignored. The Phillies are in the midst of a systematic approach to take out any player with an abnormally sized head. First it was Placido Polanco, next it was Todd Pratt, and now they've jettisoned Vicente Padilla. Hmm come to think of it, don't J-Mike and Bobby have the next two largest heads on the team...?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New News

These are just random rumors, I'm warning you right now. It seems like there is a new rumor everyday surrounding Phillies OF Jason Michaels. Today's latest: Michaels to the Yankees for P Tanyon Sturtze. This had better be just a rumor without any factual backing to it because it would be a terrible deal for the Phils.

There is also new news to report about Phillies OF Bobby Abreu. Today's latest on that focuses on the speculation coming out of Houston around the possibility of Astros closer Brad Lidge being on the market. Abreu is a very logical fit for what the Astros are trying to do (they need a bat and they have money freed up after not going to arbitration with SP Roger Clemens), but any major deal involving Abreu with a relief pitcher as the centerpiece doesn't make too much sense for the Phillies.

Last, but not least: The San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with SP Matt Morris (3-years, $27 million). Morris won't be a Phil and for that price we can all be very thankful. This could all but end the Phillies pursuit of a free agent starting pitcher, but GM Pat Gillick has done a fairly good job so far of not tipping his hand when it comes to future transactions. It is entirely possible that he could have another FA SP targeted that we don't know about. A quick glance at the remaining available pitchers, however, would lead any Phils fan to believe that this isn't the case. I can't imagine there are any other major free agent starters that interest the Phillies in any way. This just means the Phillies will be forced to fill the two remaining spots in the rotation either from within or via a trade acquisition - something that so many Phillies fans thought from the very start of the offseason.

So, what have we learned from all this? The Yanks are lowballing the Phillies with their offer for Michaels, the Astros may covet Bobby Abreu but they will have to be very creative to get him, and the Phillies still have two rotation spots to fill with no FA help on the horizon.

So, what have we really learned from all this? Sundays in the baseball offseason are slooooooow.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Old News

It may be old news, but it is new to me. From the December 4th Inquirer:

Tom Gordon must have been just 9 or 10 at the time, but he remembers the moment vividly.

He and his father were watching the Atlanta Braves play the Phillies. It must have been late in the game and the Phillies must have been winning because Gordon's father turned to him and said, "Son, that's Tug McGraw pitching." To which Gordon responded, "Dad, his name is Tug?"

But Gordon, whose nickname is "Flash" and whom the Phillies introduced as their new closer yesterday at Citizens Bank Park, has an appreciation for McGraw. Gordon will wear No. 45 for the Phillies, the same number McGraw wore when he helped them win their only World Series championship in 1980.

"Jan. 5, 2004, baseball lost a pioneer in Tug McGraw, and this is truly an honor for me to be able to wear his number on the field," Gordon said.

I know it is probably illogical, but this makes me feel even better about having Tom Gordon around as our closer. I wasn't too keen on the Phillies giving out Tug's number so quickly, but Gordon sounds as deserving as anybody to wear the old number 45. I'm a sucker for players that know the history of the game and stories like this make me remember why I started following baseball in the first place.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Day Four of the Winter Meetings - Phillies Rumors

Oh Tom
Such a lovable cherubic face - we'll miss it even though we rarely got to see it

The meetings are over. No real news to report as the last day was also the slowest. The NY Post and Philly Daily News provided the info, I just break it down into nice, neat numbered chunks for you.
  1. Bad news to start the day. The Phillies said that C Sal Fasano could wind up starting about 50 games this year because of Mike Lieberthal's shaky knees. If they knew the backup catcher would have to start a third of the games, how could they have brought in Fasano for the job? I'm sure he is a nice guy, but he is a far below average backup catcher. I had initially hoped that C Carlos Ruiz would beat out Fasano for the backup job in spring training (with Fasano starting for the Red Barons in AAA), but it appears the Phils are committed to Fasano as the backup this season. Hopefully they change their minds on this.
  2. RP Braden Looper is becoming more and more of a target of the Phillies with every passing day. The Pirates were the co-favorites to land him, but today added RP (and believe it or not, potential closer) Roberto Hernandez. This leaves the Phillies as the frontrunners in the chase for Looper. This may or may not be a good thing. Looper's value will be tied closely to the contract he signs. If it is a reasonable deal, I'm okay with it. If they overpay for another mediocre relief pitcher (flashbacks to the Wade era), then Phils fans should be angry.
  3. I said it was a slow day. You should learn to believe me. In arguably the biggest Phillies related story of the day, it is being reported that Jersey City native and Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy is on the verge of signing with WFAN in New York to take a job as the number 2 play-by-play man for the Mets. More proof that the Mets are just going crazy this offseason with buying up all the talent out there. I've always thought McCarthy was underrated as a pre- and post- game guy, but didn't quite have the skills of a true play-by-play man. I'm more excited to see how they'll replace him (bring back Muser!) than sad to see him go.
  4. Todd Pratt signed with the Braves. Not the Royals. I like Todd Pratt. I hate the Braves. Now, I hate Todd Pratt. Sorry, old friend, it's just how it works.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Updated List of Abreu Trade Rumors

Well it looks like a Bobby Abreu trade isn't going to happen this offseason. I'm very happy and more than a little relieved that the Phillies were smart enough to hold on to their best hitter rather than give him away for a number 3 starter and some payroll flexibility. In any event, I thought it would be nice to have an entire list of all the Abreu trade rumors handy, so we can easily check up on the players involved and how a potential Abreu deal could have played out. This is more of a reference thing than anything else - no new, exciting rumors to report. All of these deals have been discredited one way or another, but baseball is a crazy game and there is plenty of offseason to go...
  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
  7. Abreu to the Astros for RHP Chad Qualls and RHP Brandon Backe
  8. Abreu to the Dodgers with 3B David Bell for RHP Brad Penny OR RHP Derek Lowe
  9. Abreu to the Athletics with C Mike Lieberthal and SP Gavin Floyd for LHP Barry Zito and C Jason Kendall

Day Three of the Winter Meetings - Phillies Rumors

What former beloved Phillie just put this house on the market? You gotta read on to find out

Not too thrilling a day in Dallas (so I teased you with that picture and caption - I'm getting good at this), but some newsworthy happenings (lots of info coming from two [1 + 2] separate stories from the Inquirer and one in the Daily News)...
  1. It really was just a formality (rosters were frozen after the deadline for setting the 40 man roster passed), but SP Gio Gonzalez is officially the third member of the White Sox to come to Philly in return for Jim Thome.
  2. In the minor league phase of the Rule Five Draft the Phillies selected INF Peeter Ramos (San Diego), C John Vanden Berg (Brewers) and OF Brian Burgamy (Padres). They lost OF Brad Correll to Pittsburgh and Fernando Quijada to Baltimore.
  3. In the ML phase, the Phillies worked out a deal with Detroit to add RP Chris Booker for cash. Booker is a 29-year old reliever who was a career minor leaguer before pitching 2 innings at the end of last season with Cincinnati. He is a big time strikeout pitcher - 91 Ks in 65 AAA innings last season. He has a bit of a history of wildness to put it mildly (5.62 BB/9 innings), but did a much better job in this regard with Louisville in '05 (only 3.88 BB/9). I think Booker was an excellent gamble and is a real contender to land the final bullpen spot in spring training. I also see him as a guy who the Phillies will be able to sneak through waivers and send to AAA if they so choose. A guy with his K rates should be given a chance to pitch somewhere in 2006 and I'd be happy if the Phillies take a shot and let him finally get his first extended taste of the big leagues in South Philly.
  4. The Phillies want another pitcher. The number one priority seems to be acquiring a starter, but they have seemingly come to their senses and have decided to not pay big bucks (whether in real cash or trade value) on mediocrity. This is a good thing. A better thing is the talk about Ryan Madson getting moved into the rotation. Why pay a marginal FA starter $7, 8, or 9 million a year when you could just add another reliever (Braden Looper and Rudy Seanez are names being mentioned) and use Madson as a starter for a fraction of the cost? I think you have a better team from a baseball standpoint that way, not to mention the economic efficiency behind such a move. As far as the rest of the pitching staff goes, the decision on Vicente Padilla probably won't be made for at least another 10 days or so (they have until the Dec. 20th arbitration deadline to make up their minds), Robinson Tejeda is being considered more of a reliever than a starter, and it is believed that Gavin Floyd would be sent to AAA Scranton to continue starting if he doesn't make the big league rotation this spring.
  5. It wasn't a proposed Abreu for Derek Lowe/Brad Penny swap as reported yesterday, but a Jason Michaels for Lowe/Penny trade. I'm starting to seriously think the Phillies are overvaluing Michaels here. I like the guy and think he could start for a bunch of teams, but he is still the same guy who will be 30 next May without ever getting 300 at bats in any one season. Maybe Lowe's big contract might make that deal somewhat fair for the Dodgers, but otherwise I don't think L.A. is seriously considering either deal.
  6. The Inquirer merely points out that Charlie Manuel shouldn't get too comfortable working in Philly so long as Pat Gillick has two of his former managers (Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella) available and looking for work. If the Phils start out slowly, things could get very interesting on this front.
  7. Charlie Manuel said the Phillies would likely go with a middle of the lineup of Bobby Abreu (3rd), Chase Utley (4th), Pat Burrell (5th), and Ryan Howard (6th) against righties. Against lefties, Manuel said that Burrell would be moved up to 4th in the lineup. It is only December, so we are a long ways away from discussing potential lineup combos.
  8. The Phillies declined arbitration on all of their remaining free agents - Kenny Lofton, Todd Pratt, Ugueth Urbina, Ramon Martinez, and Michael Tucker. They did offer it to Billy Wagner and will receive draft pick compensation for his loss.
  9. C Todd Pratt might not be signing with the Royals after all (forget I said anything about this, ok?). Atlanta could be a possibility if they decide they want a veteran backing up Brian McCann. We'll see.
  10. Finally, a bit of sad news. Goodbye and good luck to a Phillies favorite moving from the area. Happy trails, Dougie (Inquirer).

Former Phillies centerfielder Doug Glanville is outta here, and it appears to be for good.

Glanville, 35, a Penn engineering grad, played for the Phils from 1998 to 2002, and then spent time with the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs before the New York Yankees cut him loose in spring training. In June, the Phils magnanimously gave him a one-day contract so he could retire as a Phillie.

Glanville just put his McMansion in West Conshohocken on the market. He's asking $804,998 for the four-bedroom, about $300,000 more than he paid six years ago. Pitcher Randy Wolf bought across the street nearly three years ago.

Glanville has moved to Chicago, where he and a business partner buy derelict properties and rebuild them as luxury housing. He also got married in October. "I'm bereft," says his real-estate agent, Janice Leis of PruFox in Rosemont. (Bereft even though she has the listing.) "He's one of my favorite people."

The real estate listing does not mention the Glanville connection, but if you look closely at a photo of the den, there's an action shot of ol' No. 6 hanging on the wall near the TV.

Rule Five Draft Update


"Philadelphia is eyeing "four or five" possibilities in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, and hopes one of them will be there when they pick at 21."

Should make for some interesting baseball talk on a cold, December day.

Rule Five Draft Preview

The Rule Five Draft Room

The Rule Five Draft is today and the Phillies have only 38 current players on their 40 man roster. This opens up the slight possibility that the Phillies could take a chance on a young guy with some potential tomorrow. If the Phillies do pick a guy and decide they want to keep him stashed on the 25 man active roster all season, he'll either be riding the pine on the bench or out in the bullpen only used in desperate situations or clean up duty. They probably have enough bullpen depth to hide a pitcher in the back of the bullpen and it isn't impossible to see the last bench spot reserved for a young kid (especially if you buy the rumors that with Abe Nunez on board, Tomas Perez is in danger of getting the boot).

The Baseball America Rule Five Draft Preview written by Chris Kline (not the crazy, wooden, and utterly devoid of talent Chris Klein) gives as good a look at the available talent far better than I could, so I'll leave the complete analysis to them and just try to hit on a few players that intrigue me (some with regards to the Phils, others not so much) and could potentially be selected later today.

  • OF Mitch Maier (turns 24 on June 30th) - Maier was a first round pick (30th overall) of the KC Royals in 2003 after spending three ultra productive years at the University of Toledo. His BB/K ratio during his Mudhen career was an amazing 64/57. The guy walked more than he struck out in 147 games. His BB/K ratio has fallen off big time as a professional, but he still shows signs of being a useful big leaguer. Maier has played just about everywhere since becoming a pro. He began as a catcher, then was shifted to third base, and now is an outfielder capable of playing any of the three positions. That kind of versatility is a big plus for a Rule Five guy. Maier is also versatile as an offensive player. He is a career .297 hitter, hit 15 homeruns in 2005, and is athletic enough to have stolen 43 bases in 2004 (59 over the past two seasons). He is a doubles hitting machine with good gap power (an indicator for increased homerun production perhaps) as evidenced by his 47 doubles in 2005. Sounds good enough, right? So why is he being exposed in the Rule Five Draft? Maier was given the opportunity when promoted to AA this year, but flopped. His .255/.289/.416 line in 322 at bats didn't inspire much confidence in his abilities and the Royals decided to take their chances and leave him unprotected. I know I am guilty of falling into the trap of thinking every young guy has a future in the big leagues, but I've tracked Maier's development pretty closely from when he was drafted and I remain convinced he'll have a role on a big league bench someday. He is versatile enough for a team to take a chance on him now. I'd do it if I were running the Phils.
  • SS Drew Meyer (turns 25 on August 29th) – Meyer is another former first round draft pick (10th overall) who has failed to live up to his draft status. Meyer was highly regarded coming out of the University of South Carolina in 2002 and was thought of as a potential leadoff man with good speed who could play above average defense at SS. The team who selected Meyer, the Texas Rangers, had a fairly impressive shortstop named Alex Rodriguez holding down the position for the foreseeable future. Because of this, Meyer was moved around a lot and has now developed the necessary skills to be able to play anywhere on the field (he has the most non-SS experience at 2B and CF). Versatility is a very important thing to look for in Rule Five guys – if they have to hold down a spot on the active roster all year, they might as well give you options with the other guys on your bench by being flexible enough to come in and play some late game defense anywhere. Meyer is nothing if not versatile. The problem is (and it’s a big problem) he hasn’t exactly hit enough to justify a major league job. Some scouts think he’ll never hit enough to be a major leaguer. Meyer is a .280 career minor league hitter, but can’t seem to hit for any power whatsoever – he has only 11 homers in over 1500 minor league at bats. If you are only a .280 hitter who has no power to speak of and strike out almost three times as much as you walk, you aren’t going to find yourself on a big league roster anytime soon. Meyer had a problem in 2005 much like Maier. Both players had an opportunity to prove they belonged by performing at a higher level (AAA in Meyer’s case) and both players disappointed. Meyer hit only .247/.301/.354 in 178 AAA at bats. That isn’t going to cut it. Even still, Meyer did have a very nice run in AA (.321/.372/.417) before his AAA promotion and does play good defense and run well. Those things might be enough to tempt a team into grabbing him as a defensive sub/pinch runner in ’06. That doesn’t exactly make him a great fit for the Phillies.
  • LHP Bill Murphy (25 on May 9th) – Murphy’s command has really slipped since his college days (Cal State Northridge), but he was once very highly thought of (3rd round pick by Oakland in 2002) and he is a lefty after all. You always hear he has great stuff, so maybe you can bury him in the bullpen for a year and see if you can work on his awful control (87 strikeouts to 78 walks in 2005). On a short list of guys I think might intrigued the Phillies, put Murphy at the bottom.
  • OF Jason Pridie (23 on October 9th) – Pridie is by far the youngest guy on this list and probably has the most upside as well. He was a 2nd round pick out of high school by Tampa in 2002 and was considered a raw athlete more than a ballplayer at the time. That really hasn’t changed much over the past 4 seasons. Pridie has shown glimpses of having good power and plus speed, but striking out 297 times to 97 walks has dimmed his star greatly. He is just too raw to take a chance on in 2006 and even more of a risk when you consider he missed nearly all of 2005 with an injury. A really gutsy team could take him and then let him sit on the bench all season while waiting for 2007 to come so they can send him back down to the minors where he belongs. 2006 is just his Age-22 season, so even with a year lost to sitting on a big league bench Pridie could play two minor league season (a year in both AA and AAA) and be ready for a second chance at the majors at the age of 25. He is too much of a gamble at this point and being an OF only will most certainly limit him in the eyes of the Phillies. Interesting name to consider down the road, but not now.
  • 1B Brandon Sing (25 on March 13th) - Sing was excellent this year at AA where he hit .276/.404/.538 in 127 games. He also had 26 homers, 29 doubles, and 91 walks (110 strikeouts) in 409 at bats. Sing is the most likely candidate of this particular bunch to get a call from the Phillies. He is strictly a 1B (and from what I’ve read not a particularly good one) which limits his usefulness as a bench player a great deal. Isn’t it funny how I’ve stressed versatility this whole article and yet I think Sing is the most likely Phil of the bunch? No? Not even a little? Well, you’re missing out because it cracks me up. Anyway, Sing had such an impressive year in 2005 that he might be ready to get some meaningful big league at bats in 2006. Ryan Howard’s biggest weakness going into 2006 (besides not having a full big league season under his belt) is his poor performance against lefthanders. I know he hasn’t been given a legit shot to hit lefties yet, but what could it hurt to bring in a young, righthanded power hitting first baseman who could potentially get some at bats against tough lefties so Howard doesn’t have to? If Sing is the real deal, he’d also provide the Phillies with their one and only power threat of the bench – a glaring weakness in the ’05 club that is often overlooked by many and has been ignored thus far by Pat Gillick. Sing is no savior. Players do get unprotected for a reason. Just remember that Roberto Clemente was a Rule Five pick. Same goes for Johan Santana. They are absolutely the exceptions to the rule as it is extremely rare to get a even a useful player via the Rule Five Draft let alone a superstar, but that isn’t the point. Quality players are everywhere, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places; it just takes some searching to find them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Day Two of the Winter Meetings - Phillies Rumors Part Two

Day two was even more chock full of rumors than day one. The Daily News and Inquirer were each full of useful information, so let's get right to it...
  1. The big story of the day for the Phillies was the multiple meetings with reps from the Dodgers on Tuesday and the speculation they'd meet again often on Wednesday. The teams have apparently been discussing a trade involving a swap of Bobby Abreu and David Bell in return for either SP Derek Lowe or SP Brad Penny. No thanks on Lowe, it just isn't enough value for Abreu. Penny is intriguing. He is owed a total of $5.5 million in '06, $8 million in '07, $9.5 million in '08, and has an option worth $9.25 in 2009 (or a $2 million buyout). Lowe is owed $9 million, $9.5 million, and $10 million. Is Penny equal value for Abreu? Probably not. Does shedding Bell's salary for 2006 make it worth it? I still don't think so (even less so even) as he is owed money for just one more season, but it is something to discuss nonetheless.
  2. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting former Cards SP Matt Morris is leaning towards accepting a 2-year deal worth over $8 million per season. It isn't a done deal, so the Morris to Philly rumors aren't quite dead yet, but it seems to me that the addition of a FA SP for the Phillies is contingent on the possible trade of Abreu or Michaels. The longer the trade talks go on, the longer they'll have to wait and see if they'll even need to add a FA SP. Point being, if Morris doesn't want to wait for the Phillies, then I think he'll be a Giant for sure. If he is willing to wait it out, things could get interesting on that front.
  3. The Phillies have coveted Pittsburgh SP Kip Wells for as long as I can remember. There were even Kip Wells for Ryan Howard floating around last year at this time. He does always seem to dominate the Phillies, so maybe they think he pitches like that everywhere. I don't know. Jason Michaels for Kip Wells is apparently being discussed. I think that is really a fair deal for everyone involved. Kip Wells is just about a perfect match for what I think Michaels is worth. I firmly believe the Phillies would do this deal in a second, so the ball is in the Pirates court at this point. The only thing slowing it down from the Phillies end could be the ongoing Abreu trade talks. There is no way they trade both Michaels AND Abreu, right? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
  4. SP Scott Mathieson has been one of the most talked about Phillies prospects at the winter meetings. His stock has skyrocketed in the past year and teams around the league are taking notice. Apparently, most teams see his as a nice complentary piece to a larger trade (Abreu and Mathieson for...whomever OR Michaels and Mathieson get the idea), but it is doubtful the Phillies would part with a young arm like his because...
  5. What else is new? Bad, bad news on the Phillies prospect front. From the Daily News...

    Injuries continue to plague Hamels, the team's first-rounder in 2003. Elbow problems in 2004 limited him to four starts, and a broken bone in his left hand suffered outside a bar, combined with chronic back problems, limited him to six starts in 2005.

    A setback last week might delay Hamels' 2006 campaign.

    Hamels, 21, was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his lower back in 2004, which resurfaced in July. Gillick said the condition would be with Hamels his whole career. Hamels has been working to rehabilitate it since, much longer than the normal 2 months such an injury needs to mend.

    Then, last week, inflammation recurred in a slightly different region of his back, according to assistant GM Mike Arbuckle.

    Hamels immediately visited a back specialist in Tampa and underwent testing, including an MRI and a bone scan, and received a cortisone injection Monday, Arbuckle said. It will take about 10 days to see whether the area calms down, after which Hamels could resume getting ready for spring training in mid-February.

    Arbuckle sounded optimistic, since the inflammation was not exactly where it was in July. Still, the Phillies are not counting on Hamels in 2006, when he could start the season as low as Double A and wind up in the majors if he stays healthy.

  6. Back to some less depressing news, don't worry. The Inquirer has a quote from an unnamed agent saying the Phillies have been "trying like crazy" to deal Bell. The Inquirer also mentions San Diego (with SP Adam Eaton) and Toronto (with SPs Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, David Bush, and Gustavo Chacin) as possible trade partners if the Phillies decide to send Abreu away.
  7. A quick rumor that has been making the rounds that I failed to mention in the first Bobby Abreu post - Abreu to Houston for SP Brandon Backe and RP Chad Qualls. Now there are also rumors of Jason Michaels for either Backe or Qualls. Not sure of the validity of the Michaels rumor, but the Abreu to Houston talks seem legit. Well, legit in so much as they do have serious interest and will be a major player if the Phillies decide to trade Abreu. That's all I mean.
  8. A personal sleeper candidate for the Phillies 3B job in 2006 is no longer an option (although I'll admit he almost certainly never was). San Diego dealt underachieving 3B Sean Burroughs to Tampa Bay for underachieving P Dewon Brazelton. It should be fun to watch that Tampa team over the next few years, I really can't wait.
  9. I've been sitting on a rumor that I've known for about a week now and I think its about time to inform the masses. Todd Pratt is close to signing a deal with Kansas City to become the Royals backup catcher in 2006. This is from the dreaded unnamed source, but I think it is the truth and I'm going with it. Believe it or don't, but if it happens remember where you read it first. If not, we're all friends here we can put something like this behind us, right?

Day Two of the Winter Meetings - Phillies Rumors

I'll warn you now that this is just a rumor, but it has picked up steam as the night has moved on. Apparently the Phillies have shown a very strong interest in FA SP Matt Morris, late of the St. Louis Cardinals. This is definitely a suprising development as many thought the only way the Phils would add starting pitching would be via a trade of some sorts. The frontrunner for Morris was thought to be San Francisco (where I had him pegged when I started the FA tournament a month ago), but it is looking more and more like the Phillies could be number one on his list.

By later today, Morris could very well have signed elsewhere. But it has been a slow couple of days for rumors specific to the Phillies and this one is definitely juicy enough to throw out there. This should be a fun situation to watch.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wait Till Next Year

From concerning the finalists announced for the Ford C. Frick Award given to one broadcaster each year -

Three of them -- Dave Niehaus, the late Bill King and Jacques Doucet -- were selected by a fan vote, while seven others were chosen by the Frick Award Committee, comprised of former winners of the profession's highest honor and six others.

Joining Niehaus, King and Doucet on the ballot this year are Tom Cheek, Gene Elston, Ken Coleman, Denny Mathews, Dizzy Dean, Tony Kubek and Graham McNamee. Mathews and Doucet are newcomers to finalists' lineup this year, the third consecutive year fans helped choose the finalists.

All good enough choices (Bill King really has deserved it for a long time), but one glaring omission. No Richie Ashburn. Phillies fans voted for Whitey in large numbers this year, but just fell short. Next year, Ashburn will crack the top 3 and finally get the chance to gain recognition in Cooperstown (again). Next year we'll get it right.

Day One of the Winter Meetings - Philies Rumors

Lots of rumors and news from all around the league after the first day of winter meetings, but I'll limit it to Phillies rumors for the time being. Three big things in the Daily News today:
  1. The Phillies asked the Cubs about a SP Mark Prior for RF Bobby Abreu trade and weren't flat out denied. It is almost certainly just a rumor and nothing will come of it (the Cubs GM has already refuted the claim), but there is one big thing to take away from it. Pat Gillick is clearly asking for a ton in return for Abreu. Thank goodness. The Phillies do not need to trade him. If they are blown away and get that top of the line guy (Prior would qualify, see my list) then they could work something out. Otherwise, you can keep a top-10 OF coming off a string of successful years who is getting paid a lot, but not an unreasonable sum in today's market. There are worst things happening than that. Shoot high, Gillick, and if that doesn't work, don't move him. I like what I'm hearing from that rumor. (Again the odds of Prior coming to Philly in 2006 are about 1-1,000,000, but that is not exactly the point)
  2. The Phillies are considering dealing OF Jason Michaels to the Pirates for SP Mark Redman. It has been no small secret that the Pirates have always coveted Michaels. Is Redman a good option though? I tend to think he isn't. Michaels is at an absolute all-time peak in value. The Phillies could almost certainly squeeze more out of some team if they do decide to deal him. At $4.5 million in 2006, Redman isn't an awful contract to take on for a starting pitcher, but I don't think he represents equal value. Last question: What would a trade of Michaels do to the Abreu situation? Is it possible they trade both? Who then is the starter in right? A Burrell-Rowand-Victorino OF isn't as thrilling as some of the other options out there. Just a thought though.
  3. The Phillies are undecided on what to do with SP Vicente Padilla. Before Gillick came on board, they would have brought him back without thinking of any alternatives. Now you got to believe that Gillick has a few other alternatives in mind and considers Padilla just one of many starting pitcher options. I think it would be crazy to non-tender him and that they should offer him arbitration at the very least. If you don't think Padilla is worth at least something in this crazy pitching market, you are nuts. The Daily News also mentions the possibility of Padilla returning and still being stuck in the bullpen. I'll believe that when I see it. I'd offer him arbitration, shop him around, then more than likely keep him as the 5th starter come April 2006.
It was an eventful day to say the least - let's see what day two brings.

Phillies Top 20 Pre-Season Prospects in Review

I've mentioned and quoted John Sickels from more than a few times around here. I really think he does good work and knows what he is talking about. Whether you agree or not is totally up to you. I'd just suggest for anybody who reads him to remember how difficult it is to project what kinds of career paths minor leaguers will take. There are so many factors that come into play as a young person develops professionally in any walk of life, let alone to do it in front of thousands of people every night. The players are paid well and are doing what they love, but it still is a high pressure job any way you slice it. To make a long story longer, Sickels has just released his list of the top 20 Phillies minor league prospects prior to the 2005 season. New names will be added in 2006 of course, but it is an interesting look back on how players who came into 2005 with such promise fared. More on this to come, but for now I'll put the spotlight on the list created by Mr. Sickels. Enjoy.

Philadelphia Phillies Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Winter Meetings Eve

The Winter Meetings begin tomorrow in Dallas, Texas. All the GMs and team representatives will come together and chitchat about their ballclubs. From Monday to Thursday, the leaders of 30 Major League Baseball teams will all be trying to strike that big deal either by means of acquiring that elusive missing piece through a blockbuster trade or the luring of a prime time free agent who will push the squad over the top. Some GMs will have less coin to work with and will have to be smarter; other GMs know that they have clubs ready to win and don't need a major move, but rather a tiny tweak to the bullpen or an addition of complementary parts to the bench. It should be an eventful four days as some of the major free agents still available are expected to sign, marquee talents are shopped by teams looking to trade (Bobby Abreu anyone?), and teams pick guys long on potential but short on experience in the Rule 5 draft. It's Sunday night now - the eve of the Winter Meetings. We can only wonder what our Phillies team is going to look like when we wake up Friday morning. Good luck Mr. Gillick, give 'em hell.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bobby Abreu and his Suitors

I'll start this thing off with a response to a comment from the previous Abreu article. It's fairly topical and should make for a nice little introduction to what I want to do here. Yeah, I know I'm lazy. Deal with it.

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 different 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 equivalent value for Abreu but you get the general idea. Keep in mind that the players I mentioned were just for the sake of argument and hopefully you get the idea from the players.

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.

The list of number one pitchers from the previous post is fairly interesting (if I do say so myself) and, to me anyway, it is definitely a fun exercise to go through the majors and minors and pick out the pitchers whom you think will be frontline guys, but I’m not sure if the discussion is particularly relevant to the Phillies dealing Abreu. There isn’t a single guy on the list from the previous post who will be traded this offseason – I should probably point out I would have said the same prior to the Beckett deal, but I remain confident there will be no more trades involving these players. So, do we just not trade Abreu then? It just isn’t that simple – it never is. Abreu is being shopped and it is worthwhile to see what his market value is. Some ideas for the GM:

Chicago Cubs: SP Kerry Wood and OF Felix Pie

If the Cubs refuse to include Pie in the deal, substitute the better right now Matt Murton (also an OF). Pie will be difficult to pry loose from the Cubbies, but could be a long-term solution for the Phillies in center field. He posted a solid .304/.349/.554 in 240 AA at bats. The at bats were limited due to a leg injury, but there should be no lasting effects from the injury. 315 minor league strikeouts to 118 walks isn’t pretty, but his power production has been very impressive and he is considered to be a very raw physical talent still learning. He had a very nice year in AA as a 20-year old; this is a great sign as he was one of the younger guys in the league and age relative to league is such an underrated aspect of player evaluation. Pie has all the tools to be a dynamic power/speed guy in centerfield; it is more a matter of if he puts it all together.

Is Kerry Wood available? I have no idea. Cubs have had reported interest in a good number of the free agent starters (they are a darkhorse in the Burnett sweepstakes) plus starting pitching has long been a position of depth for them. Wood may be considered expendable in the right deal. Acquiring Wood would be a savvy pickup by the Phillies – I’d love to see him come in a reclaim his dominance as a starting pitcher, but Wood could also make for a potential big time closer. Wood only pitched 66 innings last year due to injury and is a huge medical risk going forward, but he is talented enough to take a big gamble on. Maybe this deal would have made more sense prior to the Tom Gordon signing, but it would still be a move I’d endorse if the Phils can somehow pull it off.

St. Louis Cardinals: SP Jason Marquis, SP Anthony Reyes, and SP Adam Wainwright

Marquis and Reyes just aren’t enough – one other player needs to be included to push it over the top. The problem about dealing with the Cardinals is their pathetic farm system. They don’t really have much of value down the farm and they have an older big league roster to choose from. Reyes and Wainwright are both young pitchers capable of stepping into the rotation right away if necessary – Reyes is definitely ready now, but maybe Wainwright could use a bit more AAA time. Reyes should be a solid starter for a long time while Wainwright has more of a boom or bust element to his game. Both guys will be 24 years old for the majority of the upcoming season and the fact that each will be under contractual control for 6 years makes them a very appealing duo.

Marquis is the big major leaguer you’d get in return in the deal. He is a solid middle of the rotation starter and not much more. He is absolutely no ace and doesn’t even have the look of a top of the rotation guy – note the dangerously low strikeout rate. Marquis is arbitration eligible this offseason and should get a nice raise (maybe around $5 million total for ’06), but is still reasonably priced for a starting pitcher. An acquisition of a guy like that creates all kinds of fun financial options – the flexibility to make other moves would be great. 3 starting pitchers is quite a haul and probably too steep a price for any team to offer, but it would be what I would demand from St. Louis in return for Abreu.

New York Yankees: SP Chien-Ming Wang, SP Phillip Hughes, and 3B Eric Duncan

This isn’t a package for today; this is a package for the future. It is built on my personal belief that Phillip Hughes will be an absolute stud starting pitcher someday. I like him so much I was tempted to put him on my list of starting pitchers I’d deal Abreu for straight up. Luckily, my better judgment got in the way of this and I left him off (he has only pitched 17.1 innings above low A ball for goodness sake). Even still, I remain very much in love with his potential and think he’ll be a very good one at the big league level. He is young (won’t be 20 until June) so a team could afford to be very patient with him as he moves up in the system. He could spend all of 2006 in High A ball and still be on the express path to the majors. Hughes is 6’5’’ and 220 pounds – classic hard throwing righthander frame. He had a K/9 rate of 9.44 in Low A (68.2 innings) and then an even better 10.7 K/9 after his promotion to High A Tampa. It is a very small sample size, so those numbers should be met with some skepticism. But all Hughes has done as a professional is pitch very, very well (WHIP of .85 in 91.1 innings) and should be expected to continue as he progresses along.

Eric Duncan is a 21-year old third base prospect who already has 451 AA at bats to his name. Getting that many at bats in AA so young is impressive. There is a problem in all of this. Duncan only hit .235 in those 451 at bats and is only .258 career minor league hitter. He does have impressive raw power (19 homeruns in 2005), but the jury is still very much out on his future. At the very least he’d be the Phillies top 3B prospect and one of the most advanced (in level anyway) hitting prospects in the organization. The Phils could afford to take their time with Duncan with 3B potentially covered the next two years (Bell/Nunez in ‘06, Nunez/someone new in ‘07).

The major league element to the deal is Wang. I don’t Wang so much, but he is a legit back of the rotation innings eater starter who will be under team control for five more seasons including the next two on the very cheap. 47 strikeouts in 116.1 innings are not going to cut it. Eventually all of those balls hit off of him will start finding holes in the defense – guys will low K rates do not often succeed. On the plus side (especially for the Phillies) Wang was a crazy groundball pitcher in 2005 (3.08 GO/AO ratio). There is enough to like to make him a decent addition to the deal, but he is not the key by any means. It has been reported that the Phillies asked for Wang in return for Jason Michaels. Since no deal has been struck we can only assume the Yanks turned it down. Something to think about.

Baltimore Orioles: SP Eric Bedard, SP Hayden Penn, and OF Nick Markakis

This is almost certainly more than the Orioles would be willing to offer, but it is the only package I’d accept them. They are another team with a weak minor league system and little worth picking up at the big league level.

Nick Markakis combined for a line of .310/.390/.504 with 41 doubles and 15 homeruns while playing for both Class A Frederick and AA Bowie. Penn was hit hard after reaching the majors, but he was obviously rushed by a less than intelligent Baltimore front office. His AA numbers were very good (3.83 ERA in 100 innings) and he has shown a penchant for getting strikeouts (120/37 K/BB ratio). Both Markakis and Penn profile as plus major league talents and it would be a boon for the Phils to pick up both the O’s top SP prospect and top hitting prospect. It’s highly unlikely of course, but it would be nice.

Bedard will be 27 this upcoming year and should be entering his theoretical prime. He has very few big league innings and minimal wear and tear on his arm which is a nice plus for a still relatively young pitcher. He is under contract for at least 4 more seasons (he isn’t even arbitration eligible yet, but will be next year) so that is another big plus. The Orioles may value him too much to part with him along with their top two minor leaguers – that would be perfectly understandable. It wouldn’t hurt to ask anyway.

Boston Red Sox: SP Bronson Arroyo, C Kelly Shoppach, and SP Jon Lester

Again, this is probably more than the Sox would be willing to give up. It would take a ton to give up Lester (the key to the deal) and I’m not even sure if Abreu would be worth it to them. Lester (22 in January) is coming off a sensational year in AA. He can spend all of 2005 in AAA refining his skills before getting a shot in the rotation fulltime in ’07. Plus he is a lefthander – always a good thing. I never have quite understood the love of Shoppach, but he would be a good guy to include in the deal. The Sox are actively shopping him and he would fit a need for the Phils. He’ll be 26 in April and only has 15 big league at bats so far, but he is still considered a decent prospect by many. He hit .253/.352/.507 in 371 AAA at bats in ’05. Pretty good plate discipline, impressive power spike (26 homers), and a decent defensive track record make him an attractive candidate to land a starting or platoon job somewhere in the near future. A Shoppach/Carlos Ruiz combo in 2007 would work for the Phillies.

Again, I’ll end this with a mention of a big league starter than can help right away. Arroyo has (don’t hold me to it as I’m not 100% sure) two years remaining of arbitration and should be a good value in the short-term. He’ll be 29 next season and would slot in decently after Myers and Lieber in the rotation. The Phils could also choose to stick him in the bullpen where he has had some success. Arroyo could be of use in middle relief or late game help. As you may have noticed, the structures of these deals are all similar. They all seem to include a SP who can help in the short-term and then (ideally) a young pitcher and hitter who can help down the road. It may be asking too much, but I think it is fair for a player like Abreu. Maybe I am overrating him (based off the other rumors I really seem to be), but my main point is simple: there is little pressure to trade Abreu this offseason, so the Phillies ought to be blown away by an offer to do it. These offers blow me away. That’s the idea.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 3B Dallas McPherson/OF Kendry Morales and RP Scot Shields

This deal is wishful thinking at its best. I love McPherson, but I’ve heard he is as close to an untouchable as the Angels have. Even after two down years in the majors, they remain high on his potential. I think he’ll be a good one. Morales has been rumored in deals for Manny Ramirez. He is a special young hitter, but does not have a position. He is more of a 1B/corner outfielder type right now as his defense is best when hidden from batted balls whenever possible. Stick him in RF as a long-term solution and let him hit. He is another guy I just don’t see the Angels parting with yet. So I won’t get into too much detail with this deal. I’d take either guy along with RP Scot Shields. Apparently, Shields and Brendan Donnelly are being heavily shopped by the club. Might be worth some of Pat Gillick’s time to place a quick call to Bill Stoneman and see what it’ll take to make something work. Imagine an OF with Abreu in left and Vlad Guerrero in right. Anaheim has some of the best minor league talent in baseball and should be set up for a good, long time no matter what they give up this offseason.

Toronto Blue Jays: SP Dustin McGowan, C Curtis Thigpen, and IF Aaron Hill

This is a package of three prospects (Hill being more of a player than a prospect as he established himself pretty well this season in the majors), so I’ll just turn it over to Mr. John Sickels from Here is what he said about these kids on November 28th in Top 20 Pre-Season Prospects in Review:

3) Aaron Hill, SS
Hit .274/.342/.385 in 105 games for Toronto. He will hit better than that in the long run, I'm pretty certain. Main question is how much power he will develop, but batting average and OBP should only improve.

9) Dustin McGowan, RHP
Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Posted 6.35 ERA in 45 major league innings, but if you saw him pitch his natural talent was obvious. Even slight improvement in his command will make him a dominator.

18) Curtis Thigpen, C
Sleeper prospect, hit .287/.397/.413 for Lansing in the Midwest League, with an excellent 54/34 BB/K ratio in 293 at-bats. Hit .284/.340/.426 in 39-game trial in Double-A. I like him.

Well put, no? I love McGowan (looks like a young Schilling to me) and Hill could be an instant upgrade at third base. Thigpen is a sleeper, but he has hit well everywhere he has been so far. I would be thrilled with this deal.

Oakland Athletics: SP Barry Zito and C Kurt Suzuki

You can replace Suzuki with RP Jairo Garcia (great K/BB ratio in AAA and just about ready for the majors) if you like, I couldn’t decide on the two. This trade makes a good bit of sense. The Esteban Loaiza signing makes Zito’s future in Oakland questionable. He could be kept (if I had to bet, I’d say he stays this year), but it is also very possible he is now shopped. Oakland has a surplus of starters and I’m sure they could find creative ways to use the $8.5 million owed to Zito in 2006. Zito would give the Phillies a potential top of the line guy and Suzuki would be the heir apparent at catcher. Oakland has shown a willingness to be creative when adding salary, so Abreu’s massive salary might not be such a problem as one would initially think. Either way, I don’t see this deal happening.

So there you have it. All kinds of trade ideas to think about. I realize now that just because I’ve done all of this work, Abreu rumors will die down and he won't wind up going anywhere but his familiar place in right field in South Philly. So if you are a big Abreu fan, you’re welcome. If you aren't a big Abreu fan, what's wrong with you???