Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winter Meetings

Day two of the Winter Meetings is almost in the books and so far there is not a whole lot to report on. Normally, I love reporting free agency rumors and coming up with all kinds of wild trade ideas during this time of year, but the relative inactivity around the league thus far gives the whole event a different feeling than in years past. When it is all talk and no action for this long into the offseason, it's only human nature to begin to tune out the talk until a big move actually goes down. It almost seems silly to obsess over every tiny bit of Phillies related news that some random newspaper on the other side of the country decides to report on...as I've come to realize over time, I'm a silly guy who can't help but get wrapped up in the excitement of roster management - even when I try to stay away, there's something about baseball that pulls me back in, time after time. So with that said, let's get ourselves caught up on some of the latest Phillies related news:
No big changes here unless you missed the news of Scott Graham's firing from last month (Graham's departure has been more or less confirmed as a decision made by the Phillies and not Graham himself, by the way). Gary Matthews joins the gang as the newest color commentator, Chris Wheeler will reassert himself by doing more play-by-play than in years past, and Scott Franzke further establishes himself as Harry Kalas' heir apparent...though not for at least three more seasons per HK's latest contract extension. I know many fans dislike both Wheeler and Franzke (in the case of Wheels you can substitute "hate" for "dislike"), and many are worried that HK is slipping, but the Phils five man rotating booth is still one of the best in the game by default - take a listen to MLB.TV someday and you'll realize how bad the quality of announcing is these days. This isn't an excuse for subpar announcing, but it's important to remember that it's all relative.
Davis is a good idea in theory, but not a terribly important addition in practice (nothing personal, Kane). There is no better way to fill out the few remaining spots of your bullpen then by auditioning a bunch of live arms making the big league minimum in spring training, keeping the ones that impress the most, and then stashing the others in AAA in/when they are needed to help out the big club. There is no more unpredictable subset of baseball players than relief pitchers and, outside of the well established, well known elite class of relievers that you just know will have above average years, there really isn't all that much difference between a Kane Davis/Brian Sanches/Clay Condrey-type when compared to any of the relievers making big bucks this offseason (Joe Borowski, David Weathers, et al.) - the only major difference between the those two groups is one of opportunity...somebody once gave Borowski/Weathers a chance to perform, while Davis/Sanches/Condrey are still waiting.

Both Borowski and Weathers had good seasons last year and are good bets to have at least league average quality seasons in 2007; both players are nice relievers and I don't mean to take anything away from their accomplishments in the big leagues. It's just that it makes so much more sense to find the Borowski's and Weathers' of the world before they become the big-time free agent relievers - get them while they are youngish and competing with other AAA arms for a spot on the big team in spring. It can be done though finding quality bullpen help really is a crapshoot from year to year - near equal parts art, science, and luck.

Bringing in Kane Davis is a step in the right direction...even though Davis' minor league track record is extremely spotty. He does have the strength of a very, very good 62.2 innings pitched at AAA in 2005 going for him, so he is far from a lost cause. That said, take this signing for what it is: a low-cost, low-impact move that at worst provides depth for the pen in Ottawa and at best gives the Phillies a cheap extra bullpen option at some point in 2007.
A non-story masquerading as news...
Off the top of my head, I remember Dallas Green publicly calling out Scott Rolen (multiple times), Charlie Manuel, and Pat Burrell (if I missed someone recent, let me know). What exactly does he think he is accomplishing by this? Why does the Phillies organization condone this kind of behavior? Green's comments about Burrell were not all that offensive (especially compared to what he has said in the past), but they still served no practical purpose - why say anything at all? I know Dallas still has a fancy title within the organization and is still revered by some Phillies fans for his work with the '80 club, but I see no reason why he is still a paid employee of the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Last, but not least: the BIG rumor(s)
This rumored deal will not go away, so we'll have at it - keep in mind there are a ton of permutations of this deal, so you may have read it differently at some point:

Phillies deal: SP Jon Lieber, SP Justin Germano, CF Aaron Rowand
Phillies receive: OF Kevin Mench, OF Geoff Jenkins, RP Derrick Turnbow/RP Jose Capellan

This deal would be contingent on the Phillies getting another starter to fill the void a Lieber trade would create. Dealing for one of the White Sox starters (namely Javy Vazquez or Freddy Garcia) makes the most logical sense, but any deal involving the Sox would almost certainly have to involve Rowand (and, according to most sources, another pitcher - perhaps either Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd, or Germano). The other deal that could be a part of this crazy scenario could involve the long rumored Gavin Floyd-Rodrigo Lopez deal. So, in theory, the Phillies could realistically wind up with something like this:

GET: Lopez as the fourth starter, Mench/Jenkins platoon in right field, Turnbow/Capellan in the back of the bullpen
GIVE: Lieber, Germano, Rowand - three impressive trade chips (you could argue the Phillies could get more than they would in these proposed deals for such quality), but three guys that are either expendable at the moment or would be if these other deals were to happen.

I'd have to give it more thought, but there could be something worthwhile here.

Some versions of the deal with Milwaukee are a bit simpler: both the possibility of a Lieber for Mench and a reliever or Rowand for Mench and a reliever swap have been floated out there. Mench is not an everyday outfielder, but he could make a fine lefty hitting half of a platoon (969 OPS against lefties over the past 3 seasons). If the Phillies acquired Mench and Capellan for either Lieber or Rowand (ideally Rowand), I'd be happy...assuming the Phillies were smart enough to view Mench for what he is (a platoon guy) and not something crazy (a potential Pat Burrell replacement).

It's a wild time of year, no?


Blogger skeeter said...

yes. indeed it is. Rowand for garcia or a deal similar is fine as long a jeff conine is not our opening day right fielder. Good bench player but not a starter.

11:55 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

Agreed, although I'd go as far as to say it's a stretch to call Conine a "good" anything at this point...I think the guy is finished.

1:11 AM  
Blogger skeeter said...

yea i guess i might have used that word to loosely.

Plus it is still hard to like jeff. He screwed us for way to long.

1:17 PM  

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