Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Perfect Phillie

I've followed the Phillies closely enough in my lifetime to realize that a move like this just makes too much sense to the Phillies braintrust not to actually happen. I'm sure Benito is a little young for Pat Gillick's tastes, but he fits the mold in every other aspect of his game.

I'd be shocked if this doesn't happen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Borowski Not A Phillie

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think this offseason has gone just about as well as anybody could have expected to this point - no trade of Pat Burrell (yet), solid signings of mid-level players that plugged holes like Adam Eaton in the rotation and Wes Helms at third, and major long-term financial problems averted every time the Phils get rejected (i.e. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee both heading elsewhere for big bucks). The trend continues today...Joe Borowski flunked his physical with the Phillies this afternoon, thus negating a potential multi-year with the club:

According to the sources, the Phillies were prepared to sign Borowski when a team doctor examined the results of the physical and advised against giving the pitcher a multiyear contract.

You just gotta love how the Phillies were bailed out from making a bad decision by a wonky shoulder. Now my position on paying for bullpen arms in today's market is probably pretty clear by now (just in case you are new, I'm against it), so I'm obviously more than okay upon hearing this news. Giving Borowski a multi-year contract would have been a mistake. That said, this news isn't so bad:

Borowski's agents, Ron Shapiro and Michael Maas, continue to field one-year offers from several clubs. It's believed they haven't ruled out resuming negotiations with Philadelphia.

It's not so much that I like the idea of Borowski being on the Phillies under any circumstance at all (though a one-year deal is a heck of a lot more appealing than a "multiyear" deal), it's more that I think bringing Borowski in would satisfy the Phillies seemingly insatiable appetite for veteran bullpen arms - I'd hope that a Borowski signing would be enough relief insurance for the Phils to instead begin to turn their attention to, I don't know, figuring out who is going to be their rightfielder next year.


So Ken Rosenthal says the Mike Piazza sweepstakes have come down to the Phillies and the Oakland A's. Is anybody out there really buying this? Every single quote coming out of the Phillies front office seems to indicate that they have no interest in bringing Piazza aboard. Oakland is the heavy favorite to land Piazza, but the fact that Rosenthal believes the Phillies are still in contention to land his services is a significant departure from literally everything else written about the idea. Puzzling.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Old/New Phillie: Adam Eaton

Adam Eaton

On the whole, I like the signing. After the Jamie Moyer re-signing, I made a mental list of second tier free agent starter pitchers (i.e. no Matsuzaka, Mussina, Maddux, Schmidt) that I was hoping the Phillies would target if they could get them at the right price; the list, in order, included Adam Eaton, Randy Wolf, Tomo Ohka, and Gil Meche. Getting the guy at the top of a list of second tier guys may not be the most exciting news in the world, but it's another step in the right direction for an organization desperately trying to find it's way. The free agent market has been so screwy this offseason that I think it would have been best for the Phils to distance themselves from signing any starting pitcher and instead look to fill the remaining hole in their rotation via the trade route. That said, I realize that this is a bit of an unrealistic approach to expect the local ballclub to take when they've got the combination of pressure from the fans eager for a signing, a handful of solid options available on the market, and money burning a hole in their collective pocket. Given the available, realistic options out there, Adam Eaton was a fine choice.

Eaton is at worst an injury plagued, league average when healthy back of the rotation starting pitcher (slightly overpaid at $8 million/season). At best, he is a player with vast untapped potential who has only been held back by nagging injuries and who, if healthy, could ultimately provide the Phillies with impressive bang for their buck in this exploding free agent market (a steal in today's game). Needless to say, the fan in me hopes that Eaton will be at his best for the three (maybe four) years he is in Philly.

I think that it is very fair and almost always correct to argue that a 29-year old baseball player is what he is at that point in his career...and even though I believe this very strongly, I can't help but waver in the case of Eaton. I liken this signing to the recent drafting of Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek - the Phillies wouldn't have been able to get guys with such upside so late in the first round if each didn't have major injury/character concerns associated with them. Now this is a point that can be argued back and forth all day long, but if Adam Eaton had not got hurt at (pick any random point along his development path), then there is no way the Phillies could have signed him for the deal they got him at in the first place. IF Adam Eaton can stay healthy in 2007, I do not think it is unreasonable to expect a career year out of him - I realize that doesn't mean all that much after looking at his career numbers, but his peripherals have always been solid and he appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season in 2005 before a midseason injury took him down, so he must have been doing something right at some point.

I think it's interesting that the Adam Eaton signing and the David Dellucci signing were both finalized on the same day. It boggles the mind to compare what Eaton, a pretty sizable risk based on his checkered injury history, got on the open market compared to what Dellucci, way more of a sure thing when used properly (the man just flat kills righties), wound up getting paid. Eaton signed a contract paying him an average of $8 million annually. Dellucci signed a contract paying him less than half of that per season (just under $4 million per). Signing a pitcher is almost always a bigger risk than signing a position player due to the unpredictable nature of pitching...and yet teams willingly throw more money at pitching than they do comparable hitting. I understand why (need, mostly) and I see the logic in that to an extent, but it's still wacky.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ryan Howard

I've spent too much time reading about and thinking about these wild Carlos Lee rumors flying around that I'm just getting around to mentioning Ryan Howard's MVP award. Now I know nobody out there is hearing this for the first time and I really don't have anything special to say about Howard's awesome 2006 season, but it would be a real shame to completely ignore the occasion for such silly reasons. Anyway, kudos to Ryan Howard...your 2006 National League Most Valuable Player.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Out of the Frying Pan...

Losing out on the Alfonso Soriano sweepstakes is unquestionably a blessing in disguise for the Phillies to any close follower of the baseball team; eight years and $136 million is far, far too high a price to pay for even one of the top hitters on this year's market. This is why the new stories circulating that link Carlos Lee to the Phillies make me a little bit queasy - the unconfirmed rumor making the rounds tonight is that the Phillies are prepared to offer Lee a five-year contract worth roughly $62 million. The Phillies wanted Soriano, missed out on getting their man (in a very public manner), and are now desperate to use some of the money fans expected to see spent on a big name free's a recipe for disaster.

Alfonso Soriano is a good player, but his addition to the Phillies lineup would not have made sense - subtracting Pat Burrell and adding Soriano would have cost the Phillies a fortune, and the upgrade from Burrell to Soriano wouldn't have been worth the cash.

Carlos Lee is a good player, but his addition to the Phillies lineup would not have made sense...well, you get the idea - just read the previous paragraph and sub in "Lee" for "Soriano."

In a completely unrelated tangent, it was a little tough to see the New York baseball empire getting the players they wanted. Money absolutely wasn't everything in the contract decisions made by Moises Alou (Mets) and Mike Mussina (Yankees), but it still stings to see the two New York teams make sound, fiscal decisions in the face of this offseason's exploding market. Two of the Phillies biggest holes could have been filled if only they could have somehow lured Alou and Mussina away (I don't blame the Phillies for not being able to do so as both players seemed set on playing in New York) and all for just a few million dollars more combined (I'd say $9 million for Alou and $12 million for Mussina might have gotten it done) than one Soriano ($17 million per).

On the plus side, at least Pat Gillick is a better GM than Ned Colletti.

Phillies Dodge a Bullet

Alfonso Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 million contract with the Chicago Cubs yesterday. More on this to come, but...phew.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Baseless Rumors

Between getting my computer back up to speed, writing 2o page papers, and making Thanksgiving travel plans it's been a bit touch and go around this site as of late. I do have two unsubstantiated rumors to pass along:
  1. The Phillies and Rockies continue to talk about a possible Aaron Rowand deal. Some of the names being thrown out by the Rockies include SP Aaron Cook and C Yorbit Torrealba. This seems very plausible to me.
  2. It's being reported here and there that the Phillies much talked about offer to free agent Alfonso Soriano (did they make an offer? didn't they? how much?) has now been upped to a six year, $98 million deal. I have no way of confirming whether or not this is true, but it seems less likely to be true than the Rowand rumor...though when it comes down to it, I think Soriano will either be a Phillie (35% shot) or an Angel (65%). We shall see...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Big News Day

Wes Helms in, Scott Graham out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Phillies Targets

I've been out of the loop for the past couple of days or so, but I think this is a fairly complete list of players that the Phillies have been connected to through the media this offseason. If I'm wrong on anybody or I'm missing someone, yell at me in the comments.

The list:

C Johnny Estrada
3B Wes Helms
3B Mark DeRosa (forget that)
3B Rich Aurilia
3B Akinori Iwamura (forget this too)
RP Joe Borowski
RP David Weathers
SP Miguel Batista
SP Jeff Suppan
SP Randy Wolf

Latest additions to the list:

RP Chad Bradford
RP Octavio Dotel
RP LaTroy Hawkins
SP Gil Meche
SP Tomo Ohka

Even later addition to the list:

SP Adam Eaton

Adding players like Helms, Dotel, and Ohka may not be all that exciting, but it would go a long way towards shoring up some areas of need...while also saving enough cash to go out and add an impact bat for the outfield - whether it be via free agency (Moises Alou?) or trade (the possibilities are endless). More rumors from the dailies...

Situation to keep an eye on:

"Sensing that the market - both international and free agent - is going to be prohibitive for many clubs to enter, the Rockies have let teams know Jason Jennings is available and the White Sox have told clubs they are not adverse to dealing any of their five veteran starters." [NY Post]

Now combine that rumor, with this one:

"Cash is the operative word at this event, where agents are smiling and mini-crabcakes are going for 12 bucks a pop. That explains why the Rockies will make a run at the cost-efficient Burke and inquire about Philadelphia's Aaron Rowand. Executives said Monday that Coco Crisp, on the Rockies' radar the past 11 months, is not available even as Boston pursues Gary Matthews Jr. and J.D. Drew." [Denver Post]

Top Competition for Alfonso Soriano?:

"The Angels won't spend the rest of the general managers' meetings in Naples, Fla., sulking, though. GM Bill Stoneman said Monday that he's "thrown some offers out there already," and one is believed to be to slugger Alfonso Soriano, possibly for six years and about $80 million."
[LA Times]

Closing Arguments:

I love the idea of Rowand winding up in Colorado...he'd be a perfect fit there and the needs of the Phillies really match up with some of the strengths of the Colorado organization. I'll need to think on this possibility a bit more and come up with some viable trade ideas. I love Jason Jennings, but Rowand is not enough to get him...something could be worked out, I'm sure.

The Angels and Soriano seem like a match made in heaven (horrible pun intended). I hope Fonzie comes to his senses and realizes that there is nothing better than playing in Los Angeles...Anaheim...Southern California...whatever. Anyway, I like Soriano but not for the money being discussed - he just isn't a significant upgrade over Pat Burrell, I don't care how you slice it. So, Alfonso, you have my blessing - go west, young man.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Daisuke Matsuzaka

The rumor isn't Phillies related, but it is big all the same - it has been widely speculated that the Boston Red Sox have won the bidding for Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka with a posting fee ranging anywhere from $30-$40 million. The latest rumor claims that it is indeed the Sox with the winning bid, but the dollar figure is actually in excess of $50 million.

Whoa, that's a lot of money.

EDIT: Peter Gammons is reporting that the winning Red Sox bid is $42 million. That's still a heck of a lot of money. I may be in the minority here, but I think Matsuzaka will be worth every penny - both from a financial perspective (i.e. the cost of the posting fee vs. the increased marketability of the Sox in Japan) and from a baseball perspective (i.e. his yearly salary vs. his potentially dominating performance on the field).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Site Update 2.0

So my computer is back in my possession and finally running smoothly again, but there is still the not so small matter of converting, recovering, and rediscovering lost files and documents. So posting here will still be fairly irregular, but (hopefully) not non-existent - we are about to embark on what all signs point to being the busiest part of the offseason after all. All of my "big" plans for this site have kind of gone to hell, but I'm nothing if not adaptable...a full free agency preview and the continuation of a lot of the things I started and never finished don't seem like they'll be possible this year, but there figures to be plenty of other interesting (and more relevant) topics to discuss in the coming days. Such as...

Aramis Ramirez staying in Chicago after agreeing to a 5-year, $70 million contract

I count this as the third big move of the offseason so far...the first being the Kevin Kouzmanoff/Andrew Brown for Josh Barfield trade (an extremely even deal as I see it, both teams filled big holes), the second being the Gary Sheffield to the Tigers trade (another fairly even deal in my eyes, but for different reasons - the Tigers got their man by dealing from one of their organizational strengths, but the Yankees got a phenomenal haul for a player that everybody knew wouldn't be on their roster in 2007...a trade like this just makes the Bobby Abreu trade look that much worse, right?). I am shocked by the Ramirez re-signing...everybody has talked about how the market was going to blow up this offseason, and then the premier hitter goes and signs what appears to be a below-market deal to kick things off. Wacky. Looks like a crazy offseason continues to just get crazier...

EDIT: The total value of the Ramirez contract is now being reported at $73 million. Minor difference, but $3 million is $3 million, right?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Site Update

My computer is pretty busted right now (damn those Blue Screens of Death), so updates will be sporadic for the next few days while I go off and tried to get it repaired. Just a heads up to the 3-4 regular readers out there.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Minor League Free Agency

It's that time of year again - minor league free agency! Clearly this is the most important period of the offseason...the Phillies contingent of minor league free agent position players includes:

C John Castellano
C Dusty Wathan
C Jeff Winchester
1B Gary Burnham
1B Brandon Gemoll
1B Randall Simon
2B Carlos Leon
3B Brennan King
SS Avelino Asprilla
SS Jonathan Johnson
SS Jesus Merchan
SS Juan Sosa
OF Peter Bergeron
OF Ryan Fleming
OF Gary Harris
OF Josh Kroeger
OF Matt Padgett
OF Brian Sellier
OF Pedro Swann

They all can go find new jobs except for King and Kroeger – sadly, both of the K & K boys count as decent hitting prospects in a Phillies farm system lacking in talented position players. To rectify that, the Phillies can always go scrounging around the minor league free agent heap - that is how they landed Kroeger and King last year, after all. Names that could interest the Phils include:

  • C Guillermo Quiroz (Age 25: .267/.321/.411 for AA San Antonio and AAA Tacoma) – After being deemed Toronto’s catcher of the future following his breakthrough 2003 season at AA, Quiroz’ performance has steadily declined. The dearth of good catching in baseball make this young backstop worth a look, especially if you can slip him through waivers and keep him as your third catcher on the depth chart/starter at AAA.

  • 1B Jeff Bailey (Age 28: .275/.383/.489 for AAA Pawtucket) – Bailey is as good a candidate in all the minor leagues to emerge as the next Chris Coste. He fits the profile as a well traveled minor league veteran capable of playing multiple positions (first base, corner outfield, and emergency catcher). On top of that, Bailey kills lefty pitching – 1.035 OPS against them in 2006. Fun fact: Bailey is exactly one year older than Phils first baseman Ryan Howard.

  • 1B Brandon Sing (Age 26: .196/.330/.341 for AA West Tennessee and AAA Iowa) – Believe it or not, I’ve already written about Sing on this website about ten months ago. Since that time, Sing’s game has completely fallen apart – his two great years in 2004 and 2005 are a distant memory in the minds of many after his disaster of a 2006 although we probably should have seen the potential of a freefall coming as he was old relative to the leagues in both ’04 and ’05. Sing obviously can not be expected to help a big league club in ’07, but he still has enough youth on his side that he would be an excellent option as the Ottawa AAA next year.

  • 3B Terry Tiffee (Age 28: .273/.314/.377 in AAA Rochester) – Tiffee is a decent hitter with major league experience and has proven himself capable at playing third base at the big league level.

  • OF Mike Restovich (Age 28: .293/.374/.560 in AAA Iowa) – Restovich has long been a personal favorite of mine and is a player who clearly deserves a spot in the majors. I’d be willing to give him a shot as part of a platoon in an outfield corner on the Phillies in 2007 – that’s how confident I am that Restovich can hit lefty pitching at the big league level.

  • OF Luis Montanez (Age 25: .277/.340/.415 at AA West Tennessee and AAA Iowa) – Montanez spent the second half of this past season working in the AAA Iowa outfield with fellow current minor league free agent Mike Restovich. He was originally drafted by the Cubs with the third overall pick in the 2000 draft out of Coral Park HS in Miami. He began his pro career as a shortstop with big-time offensive potential…hmm, a high school shortstop with a high offensive ceiling from Miami…the Alex Rodriguez comparisons were everywhere – especially after Montanez garnered the short season MVP award in 2000. Unfortunately for Montanez, he was never able to get close to his 2000 numbers and his career stalled until a move out of the middle infield in 2005. His improvement from year to year since being converted to the outfield is for real – Montanez may never live up to his draft billing, but he will be a useful major leaguer before long.

Other minor league free agent hitters of note: OF Abraham Nunez (the other one), former Philies 3B prospect Travis Chapman, and recent former Phils INFs Bobby Scales and SS Angel Chavez

A look at interesting minor league free agent pitchers to come…