Monday, August 28, 2006

Phillie Killer Jeff Conine Joins the Good Guys

The Phillies completed a long rumored deal today as they officially announced their acquisition of Baltimore Orioles corner OF/corner IF/ultimate gritty veteran Jeff Conine. In return, the Phillies will send the Orioles a player to be named later...a player believed to be currently a part of the Phils 40-man roster. The Baltimore Sun reports:

However, it is believed that the Orioles will get one of the following Triple-A players: infielder Angel Chavez, left-handed starter Eude Brito or right-handed reliever Brian Sanches. Chavez, 25, is hitting .271 with five home runs and 26 RBIs. Brito, 28, is 10-8 with a 3.30 ERA this season, and Sanches, 28, is 3-2 with a 1.79 ERA and 17 saves.

The Orioles also are expected to send $550,000 to the Phillies to help offset Conine's $2 million option next season.

Mr. Marlin turned 40 years old this past June and is a veteran of 15 big league seasons. A deal like this is a confusing one (to me anyway) to properly analyze - there are plenty of pros and cons to pick apart for such a relatively small roster move. As far as a solid righthanded hitting bat off the bench (792 OPS against lefties from 2002-2005, 795 OPS against them so far this year) that ought to be an upgrade for a bench stretched thin as currently composed. It is unclear at the time of this posting as to which player currently on the 25-man roster will be sent down to make room for Conine. Ideally, the Phils will send IF Danny Sandoval back to Scranton and go with a bench of Jose Hernandez, Joe Thurston, Chris Roberson, Jeff Conine, and Chris Coste/Mike Lieberthal down the stretch. When looked at it that way, a straight Sandoval for Conine swap, the trade is a winner.

Now time for what I do best...the downside (NOTE: I tried to be negative here, but I had a much harder time than I expected...I don't love the trade or anything, but it seems like such a low risk move, both in cost of players and financial resources, that it isn't all that much to get worked up about either way). Well, first things first...Jeff Conine's .265/.325/.401 2006 line (good for an OPS of 726) falls below that of former Phils Marlon Anderson and David Bell, not to mention star utility infielders such as Jamey Carroll and Hector Luna. Though to be completely fair, Conine has a higher OPS than Jason Michaels, Geoff Jenkins, Juan Pierre, and Mark Kotsay - none of them stars, but all guys most fans (well, at least me) would have thought had better '06 numbers. Anyway, the point is that Jeff Conine is a nice bench option and not much else at this point. Not a problem, right? Right...except for the pesky $2 million owed Conine come 2007. Ah, but Baltimore is already on the hook for $550,000 of that $2 million owed next season. Problem solved? Maybe not to all, but I'll take it. The going rate for bench help these days isn't cheap, so it really isn't all that unreasonable to dish out roughly $1.5 million for an old man at the end of the bench...for better or worse.

As far as the player dealt away by the Phillies...hopefully it's Eude Brito. I've never been a Brito backer, but perhaps a change of scenary could help him succeed somewhere, someday. Giving up IF Angel Chavez would be alright as well (though he has really hit well since earning his promotion to AAA and is already a better player than Danny Sandoval in my mind), but I would resist moving Brian Sanches if at all possible...there is just something about him that I like (great statistical analysis, no?).


Time to come up with my bottom line opinion of this trade (because I could think of no other way to conclude this)...this trade will be okay by me, so long as Jeff Conine is used by the Phillies properly (pinch hit against tough lefty relievers in late game situations, occasional spot start in right to give Dellucci a blow against tough lefty starters) and not cast in a role where his diminished skills will be exposed (if he starts over Pat Burrell in left at any point, and deep down I know he will, I will not be a happy Phillies fan).

Because I like to end on a negative note...the Phillies roster, from one to twenty-five, is worse today than it was at the beginning of this season. I hate to harp on the Abreu/Lidle trade, but that deal should absolutely be reconsidered now that the Phils have added Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine over the past few weeks. Dellucci off the bench (with Abreu in right) and Lidle in the rotation makes for a much better combo of veteran starter/veteran bench bat than Moyer and Conine. Dellucci + Lidle > Conine and had to be said.


Blogger Adam said...

Question>> Is Ryan Howard going to pass Roger Maris's 61 HR mark?

9:22 AM  

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