Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meet the Phillies: 2007 Roster Forecast

Why wait until April to know who will be on the Phillies active roster to open the 2007 season? Here is a sneak peek at what to expect out of the Phils in the coming months of offseason activity. I have no inside information (clearly) about whom the Phillies are going to pursue, so this is purely speculation on my end...in other words, don't go bet the farm on the Phillies signing Jay Payton. Without further ado, meet your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies:

Catchers:

Chris Coste and Carlos Ruiz will both be back and will both be paid the big league minimum ($380,000) in 2007. The Coste/Ruiz combo is a promising one, but the Phillies will find a way to screw it up somehow – there is just way too much Johnny Estrada smoke out there right now for there not to be a fire. Arizona will be more than happy to move Estrada now that they are ready to commit to Miguel Montero behind the dish full time. Expect to hear rumors of Pat Burrell (plus cash) for Johnny Estrada, but expect something more along the lines of youngish, bullpen arm for Estrada.

Chris Coste, Carlos Ruiz, Johnny Estrada ($4.5 million, arbitration estimate)

Starting Infield:

1B: Ryan Howard ($500,000), 2B Chase Utley ($4.5 million, arbitration estimate), SS Jimmy Rollins ($8.0 million). I know I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but there is no chance at all that any of the three players listed above will not be Phillies in 2007; they are all stone cold, mortal locks (as I channel Howard Eskin…) to remain in Philadelphia. Third base is a wee bit trickier position to predict…all I am willing to say with any conviction is that Abraham Nunez will not go into the season as the starter at third. Yeah, yeah…I know that isn’t all that daring a prediction either. There are three players out there that I can close my eyes and picture manning the hot corner in red pinstripes next year – Joe Randa, Shea Hillenbrand, and the wild card, Akinori Iwamura.

Randa feels like a fit because he’ll be relatively cheap (with good reason…it’s Joe Randa after all), he hits righthanded, and, quite possibly the most important reason to the Phillies braintrust, he is a gritty veteran (in other words…he’s old). Hillenbrand fits because he hits righthanded and is kind of a “name” player. An Iwamura signing would make the biggest splash of the three potential moves, but it remains the least realistic option of the three at this point; he’ll cost the most by far ($10+ million just for the posting fee, probably at least $7 million annually), he’ll be a free agent in high demand, and he bats lefthanded. Call it a hunch, but I think the Phillies make a play for Shea Hillenbrand and sign him to a two year deal worth roughly $4 million per season.

Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hillenbrand

Starting Outfield:

Here is where things get tricky…and where this news really, really screws up all of my offseason plans (I knew I shouldn’t have originally written these plans so far in advance…oh well, maybe I still have time to come up with revised ones before the offseason officially begins). I had originally thought that the Phillies would make a big splash in the free agent market with either one of two big signings – in my head, either Mike Mussina or Gary Sheffield was coming to Philly. In this, my now outdated offseason prediction of what I think the Phillies will do this offseason, I had the Phillies signing Gary Sheffield to a two year deal worth roughly $12 million per season. Now that this possibility seems to be gone (the Yankees now plan on picking up his $13 million option in order to trade him and Sheffield is not happy about it), I suppose we can adjust on the fly and I’ll just go ahead and predict that Mike Mussina will be a Phillie and be done with it.

So…back to the outfield. Shane Victorino ($380,000+) and Jeff Conine ($1.45 million) will both be back and it is a widely assumed that the Phils will pick up Aaron Rowand’s $5 million team option. Ladies and gentleman, those three could very well make up your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies starting outfield – Rowand, Victorino, and Conine…for a team that expects to contend for a pennant. Pencil in Chris Roberson ($380,000) as the cheap, speedy, plus defender kind of fifth outfielder that teams like to have on the roster and the Phillies are still short one outfielder.

I find it hard to believe that this outfielder is already on the roster – in other words, so long Pat Burrell (boy, that was an awkward sentence). I don’t like it, you don’t like it, but the writing is on the wall. Burrell will be shopped to any team with a need for a power hitting outfielder, of which there are plenty. Ultimately, I envision a Pat Burrell/Gavin Floyd package going to Minnesota for former Phil Carlos Silva ($4.3 million) with the Phillies picking up about $5.5 million (a number I totally made up) of Burrell’s salary per year over the next two years.

I have no idea what kind of outfielder the Phillies have in mind if this is the route they take. They clearly need to add somebody decent if they deal Burrell and are left with Victorino, Rowand, Conine, and Roberson as their outfield options. Moises Alou would be a great idea, but for some reason I keep coming back to Jay Payton. I say the Phils snatch him up for three seasons at roughly $5 million per.

Rowand, Victorino, Payton

The Bench:

If you’ve been paying close attention, you’d know that the 2007 Phillies bench will consist of IF Abraham Nunez ($2.1 million), OF Jeff Conine, OF Chris Roberson, and the third catcher (most days this would be either Coste or Ruiz).

Total Cost of Position Players: $36.170 million

Starting Pitching

Mussina is brought in to be the “ace” of the staff and he’ll be paid like it – we’ll estimate $12 million/season for two years. The three Phillies starters currently under contract (Brett Myers, Jon Lieber, and Cole Hamels) are all expected back. They are set to earn $5 million (arbitration estimate), $7.5 million, and $380,000 respectively. I honestly did not expect the Phillies to reach an agreement with Jamie Moyer (I had him pegged for either Seattle or Chicago), but we now know that he’ll be back with the Phils in ’07 and beyond. I originally had the Phillies bringing back Randy Wolf on an incentive-laden, one year contract ($6 million base salary), but I have no problem swapping Wolf out for Moyer ($7 million) to make this a little more relevant. I know it’s cheating, but it’s cheating for the greater good. So the rotation sets up as follows: Mussina, Myers, Hamels, Lieber, Moyer. Not bad, Phillies, not bad.

Bullpen

Tom Gordon ($7 million) will be back, Ryan Madson will be back ($1.4 million, arbitration estimate), and Geoff Geary will be back ($1.2 million, arbitration estimate). I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that Madson could be dealt, but I’d say the odds are strongly in his favor for a return to the Phils. We’ve already added Carlos Silva and his hefty salary to the back of the bullpen and it seems as though the Phillies were impressed enough by both Matt Smith and Clay Condrey ($380,000 each) to give them the inside track at jobs come spring training. This leaves only one more job in the pen to hand out. Shoring up the back end of the bullpen is a big part of Pat Gillick’s plan for the offseason, so expect more money than necessary to be sunk into finding relievers for ’07. Righties Joe Borowski, Chad Bradford, David Riske, and lefties Ray King, Steve Kline, and J.C. Romero all will be on the Phillies radar. In the end, I say they’ll make Borowski an offer he can’t refuse: two years, $7+ million to set up for Gordon. If Borowski is signed, then it is possible the team will want a second lefty in the pen to go with Smith; if this is the case, Eude Brito can easily be substituted for Clay Condrey.

Total Cost of Pitching Staff: $50.480 million

2007 Opening Day Lineup:

SS Rollins
CF Victorino
2B Utley
1B Howard
RF Payton
LF Rowand
3B Hillenbrand
C Estrada
SP Mussina

Bench:

C Coste
C Ruiz
IF Nunez
OF Conine
OF Roberson

Starting Rotation:

RHP Mussina
RHP Myers
LHP Hamels
RHP Lieber
LHP Moyer

Bullpen:

RHP Gordon
RHP Silva
RHP Borowski
RHP Geary
RHP Madson
LHP Smith
LHP Brito

Total Cost: $86.65 million

For the record, I’d like the Mussina move, but I'd dislike almost every other move to varying degrees of...dislike (again with the awkward sentences). This isn’t the worst 2007 Philadelphia Phillies roster that could be assembled (the pitching is solid, but the lineup isn’t as strong as it should be) and I actually think the majority of the fanbase would be more than happy with these 25 guys wearing the red stripes. I still see this offseason as one great, big, giant opportunity for this team to add the pieces it needs to get over the hump and into the postseason – anything less than an offseason that gets us closer to the playoffs will be a bit of disappointment in my eyes. I don’t know why I wrote that last sentence…it just seemed like a nifty way to end this gracefully…though I suppose I just ruined that by writing what I just wrote.

The End

4 Comments:

Blogger GM-Carson said...

I like the prospect of having Mussina heading the rotation, but I do believe his option was picked up by the Yanks during the season.

I dislike the move for Estrada, as I think the combo of Coste/Ruiz would be fine and cheap.

I would rather have Burrell and Nunez then Payton and Hillenbrand...just my opinion. But really I'd rather have Burrell and any upgrade to 3rd. Basically keep Burrell and don't eat his contract.

I'd like to see Chad Bradford brought in for the bullpen too.

7:33 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

The Yankees did not and will not pick up Mussina's $17 million option for 2007. However it is still very likely that he'll remain with the Yankees by signing a one or two year deal worth anywhere from $10 million to $12 million per - Mussina wants to remain a Yank and New York wants to keep him in pinstripes. That said, chances are very, very good that he'll hit the open market and a team like the Phillies will have an opportunity to swoop in and offer him enough cash to convince the Williamsport native to "come home" to Philly.

I also like the move to bring in Estrada, but all signs point the Phils at least having interest in bringing him back. I think a short-sighted, illogical trade like Zack Segovia for Estrada will go down, but I hope I'm wrong.

I'd much rather have Burrell and Nunez than Hillenbrand and Payton, but I don't believe the Phillies feel that way. They seem to be in a "trade Burrell or else" kind of mode right now, so it's hard to envision him having a spot on the '07 roster. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

Chad Bradford is solid, but as a rule I don't like spending any kind of real money on relief help. I wouldn't be too upset if he was signed, however.

I just want to reiterate one more time: this little plan isn't what I want to see hopen or what I would do if I was in charge; it is what I think the Phillies will do over the next few months. Pretty big difference there.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous AI3 said...

i agree full heartedly about not moving burrell if for no other reason then there is just no one better out there. Gillick made a comment the other day saying that while burrell will be shoped it is unlikely that he would be traded which i found promising because it made it seem like he wasn't actually willing to eat a good portion of his contract just to get him out of a phillies uniform. lets hope he goes back to that thinking. i like the idea of brining in Shea to play third. overall the team doesn't look to bad and if they could keep pat it would look a lot better. a lineup of j-roll, shane, chase, howard, pat, rowand/ whoever, hillenbrand and ruiz is not a bad starting 8 at all if you ask me. im 100% with you on the Mussina idea, i think that would just fortify our rotation and i then would not mind jamie moyer coming back for 2 years to be the 5th starter at all. i don't hate any of the ideas about the bullpen and while im with you on the not paying for bullpen arms brining one big one in to set up for gordon i don't think would be a terrible idea. (as always money pending) good job with coming up with all the figures and ideas, nothing funner (yeah i said funner) than thinking about things they might do. personally i would rather sit here and dream about what they should do all year instead of them actually doing something (with the exception of when they do what you want them to do or this is gonna sound crazy but something better than you actually imagined... wouldn't that be cool)

o and one more thing i know i said i like hillenbrand and i support the phillies signing him but i am huge on the AI3 sweepstakes and bringing him in. but i guess we can't have it all.
keep up the good work

12:34 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

Man, I hope that Burrell stays but I still have a bad feeling about the whole situation no matter what Gillick says publicly. I'm not a big fan of Hillenbrand and I think there are other, better options out there - as you know, I'm a big fan of a potential platoon at third in '07.

Bringing in Akinori Iwamura would be something I'd endorse wholeheartedly - it would be a solid baseball move and an even better PR/financial/global marketing move. The fact that he is a lefty could be enough to dissuade the Phils from pursuing him though...well, that and the potential of spending $10 million plus just on his posting fee. I still think it would be a lot of fun to see the guy play on an everyday basis.

As always, thanks for the thoughtful comments and kind words.

2:58 PM  

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