Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Elias Player Rankings

Good news for the Phillies today: both David Dellucci and Aaron Fultz have been classified as a Type A free agents. The complete Phillies free agent list is below:

Type A's: Dellucci, Fultz, Mike Lieberthal
Type B's: Arthur Rhodes
Type C's: Rick White, Randy Wolf

I'd definitely offer arbitration to Dellucci, I'd almost certainly offer to Fultz, and I'd think long and hard about offering it to White. Ideally, you want to put yourself in a win-win position with each player - if the player accepts arbitration, you get a useful player back for a (typically) reasonable price; if the player declines, then you get the subsequent compensatory draft picks owed to you based on the level of free agent you lose (assuming another team signs the player). Either getting picks for Dellucci or having him back would be great; I wonder if any team out there would be willing to give up a first rounder to sign Dellucci. Getting picks for Fultz or White would be super and even if either player accepted the arbitration contract, it wouldn't kill the team to pay for either to come back.

Soriano and Estrada for Burrell?

Randy Miller:

Soriano, 30, is expected to get a first offer this week from the Phillies, who have decided to go all-out for the right-handed slugger the same way they did four years ago when signing free agent first baseman Jim Thome to a six-year, $85 million contract.

A team source says the Phils are prepared to dish out at least $75 million over five seasons for Soriano, who hit .277 with a career-high 46 homers, 95 RBIs and 41 steals last season for the Washington Nationals, most out of the leadoff position.

If the Phils land Soriano, their next move would be dealing left fielder Pat Burrell, who has two seasons and $27 million remaining on a $50 million contract that includes a no-trade provision.

In a meeting late this summer with general manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Burrell was forewarned that the team wants to move him and asked to provide a list of places he'd go, the team source said.

Dealing Burrell to Arizona for catcher Johnny Estrada is a possibility.

I'm taking the easy way out here and pulling a recent discussion out of the comment section because it is so damn relevant to this rumored report:
malphie said...

I just noticed this.

A: .388 / .502 / .301
B: .389 / .504 / .302

A is Pat Burrell this year. B was him last year. He literally had the same exact year at the plate in '06 as he did in '05. So why is everyone calling for his head now? Because of the emergence of Howard, right? They say he needs "protection" in the lineup. Only...he hit 58 homeruns last year! I mean, didn't Howard have an awesome, MVPish year with Burrell protecting him? If the Phils spend ridiculous money to bring in Soriano, I guess he would provide marginally more protection than Burrell, but at his cost? No way Soriano is worth it.

1:06 PM

I said...

Damn good points, couldn't have said it better myself. People can hate on Burrell all they want, but the simple fact remains that he is a good hitter. Replacing a good hitter with a "great" hitter like Soriano (I use the term very loosely) would provide a net gain, small as it may be. Making a move like this would likely cost about $5 million or so of Burrell's salary on top of the $13 million plus that Soriano figures to make.

Replacing a garbage hitter like Abe Nunez with even a league average hitter represents a greater net gain (yes, Nunez really was that bad in 2006 - as good as Chase Utley was this past season, Nunez was literally as bad) all at a much, much cheaper cost.

The Phils are not in a position where they can afford making big money changes to get better around the margins; they need to target their biggest weaknesses and seek out solutions that can, at the very minimum, provide a one year or two band-aid over their problems.

OPS+ is not even close to being any kind of definitive statistic, but it is interesting to compare Burrell's career OPS+ (117) with Soriano's (115). If we were to forget finances, I would rather have Alfonso Soriano on my baseball team in 2007 than Pat Burrell (by a slim margin). But after factoring in the cost it would take to dump Burrell and then sign the dollar bills it would take to sign Soriano, there is no way in heck that it could even be argued Soriano is the better choice.

As for the pesky Burrell for Estrada rumor...let's just hope that's all it is - a rumor.

Russell Branyan Off the Market

From The San Diego Union-Tribune:

In other player developments, the Padres picked up the $1 million option on corner infielder/outfielder Russell Branyan..."Right now, Branyan's our third baseman,” Towers said. “He gives us protection at third. For a million bucks, a guy that versatile with that type of power – it's pretty much a no-brainer.”

Russell Branyan is now officially off the market. Even though he is utterly useless against lefties, he is still a very valuable player because he has shown himself to be capable of destroying righties while also being able to play a "competent" third base. Branyan would have been a good fit for the Phillies in 2007, and, in all honesty, a great fit for the Phils in 2006 as the platoon partner with David Bell; it is no exaggeration to say that with Russell Branyan on the roster in '06, the Philadelphia Phillies would have made the playoffs (again, not because Branyan is a world beater but because Abe Nunez was so historically bad). No point in wondering what if, I suppose...all we can do now is cross Branyan off the list of potential third base solutions and set our sights elsewhere.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quick Glance at the Papers

If this report is to be believed, then we've got some big news on our hands. I can't seem to shake the feeling that Pat Gillick really wants to go out and make a huge splash this offseason. Now that the Alfonso Soriano and Gary Sheffield rumors are hot once again, it only makes sense that the Akinori Iwamura and Aramis Ramirez rumblings get louder as well - it still may be a long shot, but it would be far from surprising to see one of those four names (Soriano, Sheffield, Iwamura, Ramirez) playing in South Philly in 2007.

I don't even want to comment on the latest article by Marcus Hayes - all I can say is that an article like that can very quickly undo all of the optimism that this fan felt after dreaming about adding a bat like Sheffield's, Iwamura's, or Ramirez' to the everyday eight (I'm not a big Soriano fan - he is a heck of a hitter, but he'll be grossly overpaid the second he signs his new contract). Just say no to spending big bucks on relief help (though Guillermo Mota isn't a terrible idea if the price is right), to mindlessly picking up Rowand's $5 million option, and to dumping the still productive Pat Burrell only to spend even more money on a replacement that won't be worth the upgrade in cash (Soriano). Making lateral moves for large quantities of dollar bills will get this team nowhere fast - upgrades are needed at the positions of need such as third base, right field, and the entire pitching staff. If the Phils focus their time, money, and resources on the actual positions of need instead of inventing or creating new positions of need, they'll be alright. If not, it'll be a long offseason.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What I Would Do If I Was Running the Phillies (My Ideal Yet Somewhat Realistic Offseason Plan)

Since it's always fun to play pretend, here is my "If I was GM of the Phillies" scenario where I get to pretend that a multi-million dollar business entity like the Phillies organization would be willing to hand the reins to some punk kid running a sporadically updated Phillies website. But since we are all fans and we all are free to dream, here is exactly what I would try to do if I was named general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow:


I am more than happy going into 2007 with the catching tandem of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste handling duties behind the plate. I have plenty of confidence in Ruiz’s last three minor league seasons (his OPS in each of the last three minor league seasons: .822, .812, and .894) to hand him the bulk of the at bats at the catching spot early on in the season; a 2-1 ratio of games started compared with Coste would be ideal. I should point out that I have an illogical love for Carlos Ruiz and have followed his last four minor league seasons with much care; I haven’t had a true favorite Phillie since Bobby Abreu was dealt and it is a possibility that Ruiz could seize that highly sought after honor heading into 2007.

From April 21, 2006:

Quick note about Carlos Ruiz (who continues to hit the heck out of the ball down in AAA)...my new, best possible scenario prognostication for him is...Paul LoDuca...I think it's a pretty solid comparison...both players were late bloomers as pros, both with unconventional hitting styles for catchers, somewhat similar minor league stats, and, last but not least, extremely similar (in my mind anyway) batting stances and physiques...watching Ruiz at the plate reminds me so much of LoDuca, it's scary...just a thought.

LoDuca hit .320/.374/.543 in his first full big league season, by the way. It was obviously a heck of a season for LoDuca, but it wasn’t a great predictor for his future big league numbers – I mean, where did all that rookie season power come from anyway? That said, I don’t think any objective follower would object if Ruiz had a rookie season like LoDuca’s…or, for that matter, a career like his. Ruiz will be 28 years old on opening day, Chris Coste will be 34; both players are expected to earn the league minimum ($380,000).

I said earlier that I would be more than happy with Ruiz and Coste sharing the catching duties, but if an intriguing catching option pops up, I would not be adverse to adding a third backstop. Fortunately for the Phillies, an intriguing catching option has popped up. J.R. House was recently dropped by the Houston Astros off the 40-man roster and is now a free agent. House broke out big time as a prospect way back in 2000 when he hit a robust .348/.414/.586 in Low A ball as a catcher in the Pirates organization. Injuries (abdominal hernia, torn muscle, Tommy John surgery, rotator cuff surgery, mono) and the pressures of being a two-sport star (he holds the national high school record with 10 touchdown passes in a championship game and actually threw 4 passes for West Virginia in 2005 – almost ten years after deciding to play pro baseball rather than sign with the Mountaineers out of high school) have held him back as a ballplayer, but his 2006 numbers are very, very encouraging: his combined line of .345/.392/.521 in 493 at bats split between AA and AAA is nothing to sneeze at.

House will be 27 in a few weeks and should be willing to sign with a team willing to give him a guaranteed big league contract ($380,000). I’m not typically a fan of having a third catcher on the roster, but the flexibility that both Coste (capable of playing first and third) and House (capable of playing first) provide make the idea possible. Having three catchers on the roster also frees up one of the three as a pinch hitter on any given night – the Phillies bench was so underwhelming last year that it would be a welcome sight to see Coste, House, or Ruiz come up to the plate in a tight late inning spot. Adding House to the roster could also pay off in the long-term – he is still relatively young and the hidden benefit of his many minor league injuries is the lack of wear and tear on his body from catching a ton of innings. A move like this would take some big time guts on the part of the Phillies, but the potential payoff is huge.

Carlos Ruiz, Chris Coste, J.R. House

Total Cost: $1.140 million


Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins are part of the Phillies core and should all be in Philadelphia for a good, long time. Patching up the black hole that is known as third base will take a whole lot of creativity and open-mindedness by the Phillies organization – luckily, they are free to use any of my ideas at no charge. I see about a half dozen possible solutions on the free agent/trade market, but there are very few players that will realistically be available that can man the position all by themselves. My solution to this: a good, old-fashioned platoon.

The Phillies, as of this second, have two spots to fill in their everyday lineup going into ‘07: third base and an outfield position. They have also stated that one of their offseason goals is finding another righty bat to protect Ryan Howard in the lineup. We can then put two and two together, and see that a power hitting, righty third baseman or outfielder is what the team wants. Finding a power hitting, righthanded third baseman would be ideal, but rather difficult to accomplish – Aramis Ramirez would be perfect, but there are so many hurdles that need to be jumped for that to happen that it isn’t worth mentioning at the moment. There are a few other options at third available, but none that jump out as rock solid additions that will contribute consistently going forward. Again, my solution to this problem can be found in a platoon.

Mark DeRosa put up an OPS of .983 in 146 at bats against lefthanders last season. He posted an OPS of .876 against lefties in the three year stretch from 2003-2005 (291 at bats). DeRosa would be a perfect fit as a lefty masher in the Phillies lineup and the UPenn grad could be very receptive to returning home to play for the Phils. He also gives you incredible flexibility on days he is not in the starting lineup as he has played every position on the diamond in his career with the exception of centerfield. I have no real idea what kind of market there will be for DeRosa’s services, but I think a two-year deal that pays about $7 million total would be a competitive offer. DeRosa at $3 million in 2007 would be a great fit for the Phillies. If the Phillies strike out on DeRosa, I would be more than happy to move on to former Marlins infielder Wes Helms. He probably deserves offers in the same range I expect DeRosa to get, but I bet he winds up being the cheaper option of the two. Helms really took to his role as a reserve last season and had a career year (.965 OPS in 240 at bats), but has previously shown himself to be stronger against lefties than righties (.886 OPS against lefties in 262 at bats from 2003-2005). Either Helms or DeRosa works for me, but I think DeRosa is a tad more desirable because of his versatility.

Now that we have a third baseman who can hit lefties, we of course need the more important half of any platoon – it’s time to find someone that can handle righties.

The best option as I see it on the free agent market is Russell Branyan (.894 OPS against righties in 510 at bats from ’03-’05, pretty even split in OPS in ’06). Unfortunately, it appears that the Padres have a $1 million option on him and they’d be fools to decline it. Assuming he isn’t available, I’d turn my sights to the trade market and try to snag a player that has actually been compared to Branyan at times – 26-year old Angels third baseman Dallas McPherson. A Michael Bourn for Dallas McPherson would give both players a fresh start in an organization that could provide regular playing time as early as opening day ’07. McPherson’s job with the Phillies would be to play a solid third (although both Nunez and DeRosa could sub for defense in the late innings), keep his back healthy (I consider his aching back the number one reason for his struggles in recent years and it is apparently now as healthy as it has been in years), and hit the heck out of righthanded pitchers.

Corey Koskie could also be an option here if the Phillies decide to explore the trade route. It has been rumored that not only will the Brewers look to move Koskie this offseason, but they will also be very open to picking up a good chunk of the $5.75 million he is owed in 2007. If the Brewers pick up at least $2 million in salary, then the Phillies could get themselves an undervalued commodity that could be used as the righty hitting half of their third base platoon. Koskie had an OPS of .857 against righthanded pitching in the three year stretch preceding his injury plagued 2006. The more I think about Koskie, the more I like the idea…but if my deal of Bourn for McPherson is feasible (I’d be willing to add a low level arm to make it work if need be), I think that is the move to make.

Abraham Nunez will be back as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch-bunter, and backup middle infielder. There is no way that he is bad in 2007 as he was in 2006…right?

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Dallas McPherson/Mark DeRosa, Abraham Nunez

Total Cost: ($500,000 + $4.5 million + $8 million + $380,000 + $3 million + $2.1 million) = $18.480 million


The Gary Sheffield situation as gotten too complicated for me to rationally expect the Phillies to get involved, so I made the sacrifice and scratched him off of my personal offseason wishlist. With Shef out of the picture, please allow me to introduce the newest member of my version of the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies – free agent OF Moises Alou. Alou decides to join the a Phillies team very close to breaking through to the postseason after accepting a two year contract worth $17 million. Alou is similar to Sheffield in a lot of ways – both guys are older, righthanded hitting corner outfielders coming off of somewhat injury plagued seasons – but different enough in a lot of key areas that ought to appeal to the Phils – Alou will be cheaper and is far less of a sourpuss in the clubhouse. Alou would join an outfield already occupied by returning starters Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino. Jeff Conine is a bat off the bench/fourth outfielder already under contract, and Chris Roberson makes a fine fifth outfielder/pinch runner/defensive sub for Burrell.

If you really want to go platoon crazy and Moises Alou isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to check out the splits of Frank Catalanotto and Jose Cruz Jr. (you don’t really have to check on your own, I have them here: Cat regularly posts .800+ OPS figures against righties and Cruz destroys lefties to the tune of a .885 OPS in the three year stretch from ’03-’05). Another option would be Jose Guillen – a useful player coming off a year completely wrecked by injuries. I have no idea what kind of contract he’ll get (I’d hope for a one year, make-good deal worth $3-$5 million) and he has something of a negative reputation in the clubhouse, so his coming to Philly is a stretch.

The best outfielder that is likely to be made available this offseason will be Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford. It would probably take a package featuring both Carlos Carrasco and Gio Gonzalez to land him, a package that is almost definitely worth it but still very, very difficult to pull the trigger on. My initial offer to Tampa would be Gonzalez, Jason Jaramillo, Welinson Baez, and Clay Harris (Gonzalez and Jaramillo being the headliners of this deal). In the end I don’t think Crawford coming to Philly is all that realistic a possibility, but it is something to keep in mind as the offseason events unfold.

Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Moises Alou, Jeff Conine, Chris Roberson

Total Cost: ($13 million + $380,000 + $8.5 million + $1.45 million + $380,000) = $23.710 million

Running Total Cost for All Position Players (14 total) = $43.330 million

Vs. Righties

SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
RF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
LF Moises Alou
3B Dallas McPherson
CF Shane Victorino
C Carlos Ruiz

Vs. Lefties

SS Jimmy Rollins
C Carlos Ruiz
RF Pat Burrell
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
LF Moises Alou
3B Mark DeRosa
CF Shane Victorino


C/1B/3B Chris Coste
1/1B J.R. House
IF Abe Nunez
(UTIL DeRosa or 3B/1B McPherson)
OF/1B Jeff Conine
OF Chris Roberson

Pitching staff ideas come Monday…

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:


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.


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


C Coste
C Ruiz
IF Nunez
OF Conine
OF Roberson

Starting Rotation:

RHP Mussina
RHP Myers
LHP Hamels
RHP Lieber
LHP Moyer


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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Labor Deal Details

Relatively good news from MLB.com:

• As far as the June First-Year Draft is concerned, teams will now get same-slot compensation if they don't sign their draft picks, meaning if a team fails to sign it’s No. 3 pick in one draft, it will get the 3(a) pick in the next year's draft. More important, teams will no longer have until the next draft to sign their picks, but must do so by the following Aug. 15 or the player goes back into the pool. Minor League players that fall under the Rule 5 Draft can now be protected from an extra year. Currently players with four to five years of experience can be selected. It will increase to five to six years.

• Type C Major League free agents will no longer carry draft pick compensation for the club that loses the player, beginning this year, while Type A and Type B free agents will continue to carry compensation. Next year the Type A and Type B pools shrink. Right now, Pool A is the top 30 percent at their position, but in succeeding with decrease to 20 percent. Pool B is the top 50 percent, but it will decrease from 21 percent to 40 percent.

• The MLB minimum salary increases from $327,000, plus cost of living this year, to $380,000 next year. After that it goes to $390,000 for 2008, $400,000 for 2009 and 2010, and $400,000 plus cost of living adjustments for 2011.

The rules really have not changed as far as draft pick compensation goes for losing free agents – Type C free agents were pretty much irrelevant anyway from a compensation standpoint and the important compensation that most fans are familiar with will still exist for Type A and Type B free agents. The changes in the June First-Year Draft are welcomed, but still underwhelming – I suppose my hopes were a bit too high after I read that salary slotting was talked about. Major League Baseball had a chance to make some positive changes to the game, but failed to do so; I won’t complain so much because it’s always a good thing when the threat of a work stoppage is eliminated.

One thing that came out of the new agreement that really surprised me was the raise in minimum salary. The hike to $380,000 from $327,000 is totally unexpected and will force me to recalculate my ’07 payroll figures.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

News From All Over

Lots of news out there with plenty of details on the Jamie Moyer contract…among other things. Let’s break down the Moyer contract first:

From Randy Miller:

Besides getting two years, Moyer obtained a limited no-trade clause and the freedom to leave Phillies road trips early so that he can fly home to Seattle and spend time with his wife and six children.

From Phillies.com

The club signed the veteran to a two-year contract extension worth $10.5 million plus incentives that could bring the deal to $14 million, keeping him in red pinstripes through the 2008 season.

According to a baseball source, the specifics of Moyer's deal are as follows: He'll earn $7 million in 2007, $1 million of which is a signing bonus. He's guaranteed $3.5 million in 2008, but would balloon to $7 million if he pitches at least 185 innings. He's reached that number in nine of the previous 10 seasons.

From Daily News:

After making $5.5 million this season, in which he went 11-14 with a 4.30 ERA, he will take home $7 million next season: $6 million in salary and a $1 million signing bonus. Moyer is guaranteed $3.5 million in 2008, but could make twice that.

If he pitches 170 innings in 2007, he gets $4.5 million in 2008, and if he hits 180 innings he gets $5.5 million in 2008. He also gets $500,000 if he hits the 165-inning plateau in 2008, another $500,000 for 175 innings and another $500,000 for 185 innings in 2008.

If Moyer completely falls apart this season, then the contract essentially boils down to a one-year deal worth $10.5 million (this year’s salary plus next year’s guaranteed cash). If Moyer pitches 180 innings in ’07 and 185 innings in ’08, he will have collected $14 million from the Phillies for two years of work. $14 million…I am now more convinced than ever that this was a bad deal.

The following is a bit of a jumbled mess with some good news and also some bad news. It's all rumor and hearsay at this point, so take it for what it's worth...not much:

From Randy Miller:

Once the free agent signing period begins next month, Gillick will focus on adding a fifth starter (unless Wolf returns), signing or trading for a third baseman with “a little more pop” — free agent Aramis Ramirez won't be pursued — and strengthening the bullpen. He'll also try to deal disappointing left fielder Pat Burrell.

So Randy Miller says Aramis Ramirez will not be a Phillie. I’m not a huge fan of Miller, but he has gotten some pretty good Phillies information lately…we’ll see about this one.

Daily News:

And the Adrian Beltre experiment, begun under Gillick's extended watch in Seattle, isn't working out all that well for the Mariners in cavernous Safeco Field. Perhaps Beltre could regain that 48-homer righthanded stroke he showed in 2004 with the Dodgers if he hit behind Howard, perhaps coming East (with $35.5 million in salary due through 2009) in a deal that could send embattled leftfielder Pat Burrell (and his remaining $27 million) to the Mariners if he would waive his no-trade clause.

But that doesn't sound likely, to hear Gillick talk.

"There's a very strong possibility that Pat's in leftfield," said Gillick, who noted that despite Burrell's .258 average and his .222 mark with runners in scoring position, "You don't find 29 home runs and 95 RBI in the street."

The Phillies probably won't find it in David Dellucci, either.

The Phillies certainly will be buying in the solid bullpen portion of the free-agency market.

"We're going to be looking to fortify the back end of our bullpen," Gillick said, hoping to improve with a replacement for the setup shortcomings of Arthur Rhodes and Ryan Franklin.

The prospect of a Beltre for Burrell swap intrigues me, but I honestly don’t see it making a whole lot of sense for either side in the long run. Let me just run this quote by one more time: "You don't find 29 home runs and 95 RBI in the street." That is music to my ears…I just hope that Mr. Gillick really believes what he is saying. Dellucci is a goner, no surprise there. Finally, the Phillies are looking to shore up the bullpen through free agency. I can not fully express how bad an idea I think this is. For anybody out there keeping track of the relief pitching market, Mike Timlin re-signed with the Red Sox today and Guillermo Mota is widely believed to be very interested in re-upping with the Mets. So now you know.

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Gillick said the team's next priority is more pitching.

He wants to fortify the back end of the bullpen, and the Phillies will continue to look for more offense. That most likely means a righthanded bat to protect Howard.

Gillick said there's a "strong possibility" that leftfielder Pat Burrell could be back next season, but there's a 100 percent certainty he will try to trade Burrell first.

The Phillies are prepared to eat some of Burrell's guaranteed $27 million over the next two seasons to make that happen. Burrell has a no-trade clause and must approve any trade.

This last link is pretty much unnecessary, but I added it anyway…and there is nothing you can do about it. I just want to reiterate how bad an idea it is to go out and spend real money on bullpen help. The odds of Joe Borowski getting big bucks to come and set up for Tom Gordon just went way, way up. This isn’t a good thing. All this talk of fortifying the back of the bullpen also leads me to believe that the inevitable Pat Burrell and Gavin Floyd fire sale where the Phils pick up a washed up, overpaid reliever is getting closer.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jamie Moyer

The Philadelphia Phillies and LHSP Jamie Moyer reached an agreement earlier today that will pay Moyer $10.5 million (plus incentives) over the next two seasons. Read all about it at Phillies.com. Rarely has there been such an important decision made by the Phillies that has educed such a nonpartisan response out of me; it's just that it is extremely hard to evaluate this one move without knowing the context of it. We can evaluate this one move and one move only in a vacuum, but that just isn't the way baseball teams are built – there are so many other factors have not yet been decided on that will impact the relative success or failure of this move. For example:

What are Randy Wolf’s contract demands anyway? What kind of contract will a comparable pitcher (say…Tomo Ohka, a pitcher that I believe can put up similar or better numbers to Moyer in ’07) get on the open market in a few weeks? How much of an impact did cost certainty make on this signing – did the Phillies jump at the chance to have one of their two open rotation spots filled so that they have one less need to address when pursuing other players of interest (Aramis Ramirez, perhaps?)? The free agent crop of starting pitching is weak this year – this seems like a key reason behind getting a preemptive deal with Moyer finalized and out of the way, no? I don’t like the Moyer signing in a vacuum (I realize that he couldn’t have been signed without a two-year deal, but yikes – two years of guaranteed money to a guy in his mid-40s just does not seem like a good idea), but I can live with it because I am hopeful that the Phillies have a plan this offseason and this is merely the first step, however uninspiring, in their effort to carry it out.

Now if we find out that Randy Wolf would be willing to take a one year, make-good contract with the Phils for less than $7 million or so, or if Tomo Ohka (or any other of the marginal back of the rotation starters floating out there) winds up having to settle for a one year deal worth less than $3 million or so, or if the Phillies wind up going the whole offseason without adding an impact player, then this deal quickly becomes a whole heck of a lot harder to take.

I know I tried to take a positive (or at the very least neutral) position on the signing, but I must admit that this move, for lots of reasons, does not give me a good feeling heading into the offseason.

Which Columnist Do We Believe?

The details about the new Major League Baseball labor deal slowly trickled in over the weekend, but there seems to be some confusion about one of the most immediate ramifications of the talks - the matter of what will become of draft pick compensation for free agents lost.

Peter Gammons says:

The new agreement will likely end draft choice compensation for losing free agents.

Ken Rosenthal

The deal will not eliminate draft-pick compensation for departed free agents, but the current plan will be modified, the source told FOXSports.com.

Tracy Ringolsby says:

The new deal won’t have any major changes from the past, but there were be several subtle alterations that will have a long-term benefit. The two sides have agreed to eliminate draft choice compensation for teams losing free agents, and they will have a slotting system for bonus money paid to June draft choices.

So, which big time baseball columnist do we believe? Personally, I hope that Ken Rosenthal is correct as I believe free agent compensation for lost free agents to be a good idea in theory, but one that has been incorrectly executed in recent years. It is in the best long-term interest of baseball to tweak the current system so that it actually benefits small market clubs. I love the idea of a slotting system for bonus money in the June amateur draft - a move like that would go a surprisingly long way in creating competitive balance in baseball.

Ah, a discussion of the upcoming labor agreement...what could be more fun than that?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Random Musings on Ryan Madson's '07 Salary

Predicting Ryan Madson's 2007 strategy was the toughest thing about creating this post from earlier this week. I've given the whole matter a lot of thought (probably way, way, way too much thought) over the past few days and I figured I'd might as well get my thoughts typed out and get an easy post out of it. So here goes...rambling thoughts about Ryan Madson's 2007 salary...

There is something I always forget when thinking about arbitration - just because a player is eligible for arbitration, does not mean that he'll actually go to arbitration. In fact, the vast majority of players and teams settle before meeting before the arbitration panel. From the MLBPA website:

Q: What is the record between players and owners in salary arbitration cases?
A: Since 1974, and including 2006, arbitrators have ruled on behalf of the players 199 times and clubs 269 times. Although the number of players filing for salary arbitration varies per year, the majority of cases are settled before the arbitration hearing date. For example, since 1990, 1,658 cases were filed and 191 were heard, which means approximately 88 percent of the players filing for arbitration reach new agreements before a hearing.

88 percent is a whopping number; I don't know why I so easily forget how rare it is for a player to actually go through the arbitration process. This applies to the discussion from yesterday about the projected salary figures of certain 2007 Phillies (Chase Utley, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, and Geoff Geary). I'm reasonably happy with all of my estimates with the exception of Madson's; $1.4 million is a good chunk of change to hand out to a guy coming off such an iffy 2006 season. Now how did I come up with that $1.4 million figure in the first place? There was a method to my madness:
  1. The Scott Boras Factor: Madson's agent is none other than Mr. Boras himself, so it can be assumed that negotiations will be eventful, to say the least. The relationship between Boras and the Phillies has never been as bad as the general public likes to think, but that doesn't make it any easier for the Phils when dealing with the notoriously stubborn negotiator. Boras is as prepared as any agent in the game and he has plenty of ammunition to bring to the bargaining table...see point 2.
  2. Madson Can Play Ball a Little: 2006 was a fairly awful year for Madson, but his down season only constitutes one third of his big league career thus far. I think his very two impressive years out of the bullpen will carry more weight than his up and down third year spent both starting and relieving.
  3. Julian Tavarez Got Paid: This is where things get a bit tricky. It made sense to me to track down players with similar first three year stats to Madson and then compare their salaries in their first year of arbitration. Madson's first three seasons are extremely similar to Tavarez'; Tavarez made just a little over $1.1 million in his first year of arbitration back in 1998. Keeping in mind the way salaries have gone up since then, I'd say Madson's $1.4 million projection might not be that far off.
All that said, I have no idea if Madson will get $800,000, $1.4 million, or $2.0 million - all I've done is try to think it out logically and make a reasonable guess. If you've read this far, congratulations - I'm not sure how interesting any of this was, but the whole arbitration process and MLB salary structure (especially for years 4-6 of a player's career) really fascinate me. So much like the majority of what I post here, this was as much for me as it was for anybody out there reading. Is $1.4 million right? Well, I hope so just for the sake of establishing an accurate framework of the Phils budget in advance of knowing the real number. But it isn't all that important if I'm right or wrong - the process of coming up with the number is what it was all about...for me anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good Rumor, Bad Rumor

The original title for this post was "Good News, Bad News," but it felt funny to even call any of the offseason speculation at this point "news." The rumors today come courtesy of Randy Miller at phillyBurbs.com and Marcus Hayes at the Daily News.

Before I go on, let me first address the hottest bit of gossip going around Philly - numerous sources have indicated that Pat Gillick is head over heels in lust after Nationals free agent OF Alfonso Soriano. Randy Miller confirms this yet again in his article linked above. Since I believe that there is a smaller than small chance that Alfonso Soriano is a Phillie in 2007 (anybody else hear that his potential asking price is 5 years/$80 million?), I'm choosing to completely ignore that part of the rumor for the time being. Sorry to anybody dreaming about Soriano in red pinstripes, but it ain't going to happen. On to the "Good," the "Bad," and the "Completely Unrelated but Interesting All the Same."

Good Rumor

The Phillies have identified Gary Sheffield as a free agent of interest. Sheffield is exactly what the Phillies need - righthanded bat, relatively short-term contract (max 2 years guaranteed, maybe an 3rd year option), and more than enough power to "protect" Ryan Howard in the lineup. I wrote up an offseason wishlist when putting together my own plan for the Phils and Sheffield's name was at the very top; Dwight Gooden's nephew is an ideal fit on the Phillies roster. Imagine an outfield of Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, and Gary Sheffield...that's a scary group.

Bad Rumor

Imagine an outfield of Gary Sheffield, Shane Victorino, and...Aaron Rowand? Jeff Conine? Some other replacement level outfielder? Well, that could very well be the case if the Phillies decide to "Abreu" (yeah, it's a verb now) Pat Burrell.

General manager Pat Gillick indicated that the Phillies would look to move Burrell, perhaps eating some of his remaining $27 million over the next 2 years, as long as he would waive his no-trade clause.

"We're going to have to continue to look for a little more offense. We know we're probably... Pat has had a really difficult time protecting Howard," Gillick said.

A straight salary dump of Pat Burrell would be an unnecessary and downright stupid move for the Phillies to make - signing Sheffield is a marvelous idea, but if you are just going to give away Burrell at the same time, then it's a classic case of one step forward, one step back. Probably not a good way to get those extra five wins, eh Mr. GM?

Two Items of Note Worth Mentioning But Unrelated to Anything Else Previously Mentioned

Marc Bombard, a name mentioned a bunch of times in yesterday's post on the Phils coaching staff, is a top candidate for one of the most controversial jobs in the minor leagues - manager of the Durham Bulls. The situation in Durham is a mess - the Bulls are the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team loaded with talent on the farm. Unfortunately for everybody involved in Durham, that talent comes with a price - mainly having to deal with the immaturity of Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, two of the top prospects in all of baseball. Young will probably never see Durham again now that he has gotten a taste of the big leagues, so there should be no more concerns about bat throwing for the Bulls. Elijah Dukes is a whole other story - it has been rumored that the staff in Durham (not just the on-field baseball staff, but the entire staff) will refuse to report to work if Elijah Dukes is on the roster. It's just a rumor at this point, but it's a biggie. So, good luck Marc Bombard...although I'm not sure if "good luck" means getting the job or not getting it.

From the Daily Herald in Chicago:

Lou Piniella spent the day at Wrigley Field on Monday, probably talking about the many holes the Cubs need to fill, especially in the rotation.

And one guy who’s available is left-handed starter Jamie Moyer, who began his career with the Cubs and had many of his best years under Piniella in Seattle (1996-02).

Moyer has a mutual option with the Phillies worth $4.75 million, but you have to think he’d rather be with an old friend in Chicago, which also is much closer to his Seattle home and his family.

The 43-year-old Moyer still is good for 210 innings and 33 starts, and with a decent team he’d still be a 15-game winner, not to mention a good influence on the young pitchers.

If that sounds like a left-handed Greg Maddux, it’s exactly what the Cubs need to fill one of the empty spots on their 2007 staff.

Bringing back Moyer at $4.75 million I could somewhat justify, although I think there are better ways to spend that money and better options as fifth starters. If Moyer winds up getting any more than $4.75 (the Phils and Moyer share a mutual option), I think it would be a mistake for whatever team signs him. In a perfect world, Moyer gets to pitch somewhere he pleases that isn't Philadelphia (Seattle or Chicago) and gets paid as much as possible.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Phillies Coaching Staff

I've been purposely holding out on bringing up the subject of who will fill the three available jobs on the Phillies coaching staff because, in all honesty, I hadn't the faintest idea. The news today that Jimy Williams, Davey Lopes, and Art Howe would join pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Milt Thompson, bullpen coach Ramon Henderson and catching instructor Mick Billmeyer on the Phils staff certainly qualifies as a shocker. Williams is the new bench coach, Lopes is the new first base coach and outfield/baserunning instructor, and Howe is the new third base coach/infield instructor [Pick your favorite: Phillies.com, Inquirer, Comcast Sportsnet]

I hate to make it appear like I'm copping out here, but I can't help but to take a centrist, fairly balanced approach on these hirings. There are things I liked and things I didn't like about the hirings:
  • I do like having Art Howe as the new third base coach/infield instructor. Howe as a third base coach can not possibly any worse than Bill Dancy, the man he replaces. Plus, Howe has a fairly strong reputation as an infield instructor - he also has an eye for infield teaching talent as he was the manager in Oakland who hired Ron Washington, the best third base coach/infield instructor in the league by far, to his staff.
  • I don't like Jimy Williams being on the coaching staff. I don't like the way his managerial tenures have ended throughout his careers (his firings in Boston and Houston being the most damning as I see them), I don't like the fact that he is the man keeping tabs on things in the dugout for Charlie Manuel, and I especially don't like the fact that there is only one M in his first name.
  • I do like having Davey Lopes aboard as the first base coach/outfield instructor/baserunning instructor despite his disastrous managerial record (144-195 in 2+ years with Milwaukee...though to be fair, those Brewers squads weren't the most talented). Lopes was a prolific base stealer in his day and, while I'll readily admit that being good at something doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher of it, I do tend to give the guy the benefit of the doubt because of it...rightly or wrongly.
  • I don't like the fact that Lopes replaces Marc Bombard on the staff...I know Bombard was fired weeks ago, but I still think losing a good baseball man like him will hurt the Phillies. There's something to be said for having a coach on staff who has experience dealing with players on the roster stemming from time in the minor leagues together. The young players really seemed to respect Bombard and now he's gone. I don't like it.
  • I do like the fact that the Davey Lopes hiring made me check out his Baseball Reference player page. I've read all about his abilities as a base stealer, but I had no idea he popped 28 homers in 1979. That spectacular '79 season is a pretty crazy outlier in his otherwise above average career. Guess you really do learn something new everyday, right?
  • I don't like that the Phillies couldn't find a spot for John Russell on the staff. Hopefully no other team can lure him away from the organization (I've read Texas is planning on interviewing him for their top job shortly) so that he can return to a managerial job in the Phillies minor league system.
So as a whole, I think it is fair to say that these three hires are fine in the short-term. I think that the trio of Williams, Howe, and Lopes is at least slightly superior the departed Gary Varsho, Dancy, and Bombard group. Howe is absolutely an upgrade over Dancy, Williams and Varsho is probably a push, and Lopes and Bombard seem pretty evenly matched (I'm a big Bombard fan, so I give him the slight edge...but it is very close).

Now here is what I really think - I think the names won't really all that matter much to the majority of Phillies fans out there; I think both the age of the guys hired (they are all old - average age of the three is 61) and the previous managerial experience of each (as noted, all three have been managers before) are the two things Phillies fans will ponder the most. Why would the Phils go out and bring in three veteran coaches with plenty of big league managerial experience to surround their lameduck manager? Hmm...I think there could be some long-term implications to these hires, no?

What Does the New Coaching Staff Mean in the Long-Term?

I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself in my evaluation of the new coaching staff to get into this, but I'll bring it up here as the last thing I do not like about the hirings. I don't like the idea that Charlie Manuel should be feeling pressured into getting off to a hot start because of the presence of three former big league managers on his staff; more to the point, I don't like the idea that any one of Jimy Williams, Art Howe, or Davey Lopes is in position to take over for Manuel should the Phillies start off cold in 2007. If you aren't a fan of Charlie Manuel, that's fine - it's a legitimate position to hold after the disappointment of his first two years in Philly. However I warn any fan that is anti-Manuel to take a long look at the three new hires - if it is your wish that Manuel get fired in-season only to be replaced by one of the members of his new staff, then I hope you know what kind of mess you are getting yourself into. Charlie Manuel may be the frying pan, but the trio of Williams, Howe, and Lopes collectively make up one roaring fire.

First Real Post of the Offseason

It's hard to get into the offseason mindset when there is still baseball being played, but today we'll do our best to ignore the pesky distraction that is postseason baseball and instead focus on what in the heck the 2007 Phillies are going to look like. I sketched out a rough idea of 2007 payroll figures and here's what I've come up with thus far:


Chris Coste (C): .350*
Carlos Ruiz (C): .350

Ryan Howard (1B): .500
Chase Utley (2B): 4.500**
Jimmy Rollins (SS): 8.000***
Abraham Nunez (IF): 2.100

Pat Burrell (LF): 13.000
Shane Victorino (CF): .350
Jeff Conine (OF): 1.450****

Starting Pitchers:
Jon Lieber (SP): 7.500
Brett Myers (SP): 5.000
Cole Hamels (SP): .350

Relief Pitchers:
Tom Gordon (CL): 7.000
Ryan Madson (SU): 1.400
Geoff Geary (SU): 1.200
Matt Smith (MR): .350

Jim Thome: 5.500

16 players
58.900 million dollars committed

*I listed all of the players still on their original contracts at $350,000, my projected major league minimum. I’m not sure yet what the minimum will be in 2007, but I’m fairly certain it’ll be less than $350,000. So why did I set it there? Well, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

** I did my best to come up with accurate figures for the 4 arbitration eligible players on the above list (Utley, Myers, Madson, and Geary). Again, I tried to be conservative and give the players the benefit of the doubt salary-wise. I personally can not see any of the four arbitration eligible players making more than the salary figure I’ve estimated…but you never know. Howard’s salary is unofficial as well…he’ll get more than the minimum, but not by much. I settled on $500,000 because that’s the amount Chase Utley played for this past season.

*** Rollins is owed $7,000,000 in base salary in 2007, but the Phillies are also obligated to pay him $1,000,000 of his signing bonus as well.

**** Conine is owed $2,000,000 in 2007, but the Orioles are on the hook for $550,000.

I would imagine the opening day roster is composed of the following:

C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, IF, IF, LF, CF, RF, OF, OF = 13
SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, CL, SU, SU, MR, MR, X, X = 12

I’m not sure what the “X” stands for exactly…just a quick and easy notation for the bottom of the barrel bullpen guys. I suppose that it could either signify a long-man or a mop-up man or even just another “middle reliever” – all of this definition in the bullpen doesn’t really mean anything (they are all relief pitchers after all), but it’s somewhat useful (for me, anyway) within the confines of this exercise. I suppose labeling any of the relievers (with the exception of the closer, Tom Gordon) as “MR” would have worked just as well…I mean how do we really determine whether Ryan Madson is a “SU” or a “MR” if we are just making up the terms on the fly? Anyway, I’m sticking with the current system unless anybody out there has any objections. Hopefully a tiny bit of that made sense and didn’t just confuse anybody even more. Moving on…

The 16 players listed above are very likely to find spots on the 2007 roster of the Philadelphia Phillies. This means that the following spots are up for grabs:

3B, IF, RF, OF
SP, SP, MR, X, X

If we believe that the Phillies will have a $90 million payroll yet again (give or take a million here or there), then that means that the Phillies have roughly $31 million to spend on 9 remaining players.

As you may have noticed, I’ve omitted the players that have options for next year - Aaron Rowand and Jamie Moyer. I think there is a very good chance that both players could be back in ’07, but until the news is made official, they shouldn’t count against the payroll, right?

So here is the contract info. Now what? Well, I’ve been working on putting together an offseason plan for the Phillies and I hope to unveil it shortly. Expect multiple versions of the plan because I’m having a tough time trying to figure out my ideal Phillies offseason. I’m also hopeful that I’ll finish up my predictions for what I think the Phillies will do this offseason as well – I think it’s a pretty safe bet that my ideal offseason and what I think the Phillies will do will be quite different, but that’s what makes the whole thing fun. Until these big plans are ready to see the light of day, the goal here is to update this here site with any bits of news/rumors/juicy gossip concerning potential roster moves as frequently as I can. At the very least I like to think I’ve provided a pretty decent framework for any other enterprising Phillies fan out there who wants to formulate their own offseason plan…so what are you waiting for? Get to it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Johnny Callison

I never saw Johnny Callison play, but I've heard countless Phillies fans call him their favorite player of their generation. Not a bad legacy to leave behind for a ballplayer, if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Proving once again that there is really is no off-season, the Arizona Fall League kicks off their 2006 schedule tonight (there's also some game being played in Oakland tonight...A's in 6 is the prediction, by the way). The team Phillies fans should keep an eye on in the AFL is the Peoria Saguaros - the Saguaros have seven Phillies minor leaguers on their roster. Tonight's starting pitcher is none other than Gavin Floyd. Here's hoping Floyd can get his winter off on the right foot and, maybe just maybe, make a good enough impression on the Phillies to work his way back into their 2007 plans.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Reading

I pulled this out of the comment section from a few days ago because I think it's fairly topical today (original comments in bold, expanded comments found afterwards):

Matsuzaka: Odds of the Phillies getting involved...very low. Then again, you never know with Pat Gillick now in charge - Seattle had a strong presence in the Pacific Rim (though I'm not so sure he had all that much to do with it...). I'd personally take him over any starting pitcher on the market...by a large margin.

Two reasons why I think Daisuke Matsuzaka is the best free agent starter on the market this offseason: 1) I think he is the best pitcher out of the group...better than Zito, better than Schmidt, yes, even better than Vicente Padilla, and 2) I think Matsuzaka will wind up being a relative bargain...in a baseball payroll sense. To the best of my understanding, the posting fee that teams must pay is rarely credited to . It is more of a lump sum payment made by ownership that is considered a business expense outside of the baseball team. I'll be honest, I'm not sure if my understanding of this procedure is correct or not (I'm awaiting more information on this from people in baseball much more in the know than I), but it's all I have to go on for now. Details on his latest outing (a 9 inning, complete game shutout with 137 pitches thrown, 6 hits allowed, no walks, 4 hit batsmen, and 13 strikeouts) can be found at the very detailed Matsuzaka Watch.

Continuing on the the topic of Japanese ballplayers: [The Japan Times]

Iwamura had a so-so first half this season following recovery from a hamstring injury sustained in the World Baseball Classic in March, but he's the guy who tied a team record with 44 home runs in 2004. He's also been as hot as the weather lately, with 11 homers in his first 15 games during August, and his season batting stats through games of Aug. 18 include 26 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .305 average.

Closer Ishii, said to be coveted by several MLB clubs, missed three months of this season with a shoulder injury but, over a full schedule in 2005, Ishii was 4-3 with 37 saves and a 1.95 ERA in 61 appearances.

Scouts from at least three National League teams were at Tokyo Dome Aug. 15-17 to check out the Yomiuri Giants vs. Swallows games. While they got to see Iwamura in fine form, there was no chance to watch Ishii because there was no save situation for Yakult and, inexplicably, Ishii was deactivated again following the first game of the series on Tuesday.

I know for a fact that one of the three National League teams that had scouts watching Iwamura was Phillies. It's a long offseason, but I don't think it would hurt Phillies fans to store away the name Akinori Iwamura in their memory somewhere. He is a 28-year old, lefthanded hitting third baseman who, if he could be had relatively cheaply, would make a fascinating lefty half of a third base platoon.

Estrada: I hope the Phillies don't even consider him...it would be a disaster.

I'd be willing to bet just about anything that a Chris Coste/Carlos Ruiz catching tandem will greatly outproduce any kind of season Johnny Estrada hopes to put together in 2007. Even if you believe Estrada is on the same level of the Coste/Ruiz duo, it is damn near impossible to justify the salary that Estrada figures to receive as an arbitration eligible player this offseason. The only way I would be okay with Estrada's return to Philly is if A) the Phillies give up little to nothing to obtain him, B) Estrada's salary remains reasonable, and C) the Phillies bring him in and use him correctly - Estrada and Ruiz at catcher (Estrada vs. righties, Ruiz vs. lefties), with Coste getting plenty of spring training time at third base - not as a potential regular, but as a player capable of catching, playing the infield corners, and serving as the top bat off the bench. [East Valley Tribune]

Top Priority: 3B, figuring out the OF situation, and pitching, pitching, pitching.

Dellucci: He'll be moving on.

I should point out that these priorities are in no real set order and can be solved in any number of ways. Today, just for fun, let's take a look at some of the recent news concerning the OF situation. As you can read, I already made my opinion known that David Dellucci won't be back with the Phils in '07. More news on that:

"I want to be with a team that allows me to do what I can do," he said. "I feel that I'm more of a contributor than just a utility-type player... . I wasn't satisfied, especially coming off the amount of playing time I had last year... . Gosh-darn it, I know I can hit lefthanded pitching. I haven't been given the opportunity.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]

I don't think he'll be back.

Rumors about Aaron Rowand’s future have also been hot as of late. The latest on Rowand beginning with the persistent noise that the Rockies are very interested in adding a centerfielder this offseason:

The club is expected to pursue Coco Crisp or Aaron Rowand through trade, with Dave Roberts among several potential free-agent possibilities. [Denver Post]

Centerfielder Aaron Rowand has a $3.75 million player option for next season, with a $5 million club option. "The only way I won't be back is if they trade me," Rowand said. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Rowand will be back unless the Phillies trade him. I don't think the organization has it in them to deal the guy...we'll see. I wouldn't mind bringing back Rowand for $3.75 million as a platoon player (as you can see, I'm big on the idea of platoons), but, again, I don't think the Phillies are bright enough to do something like this.

Phillies manager in 2008: My personal list of favorites includes Davey Johnson, Larry Dierker, Orel Hershieser, Terry Pendleton, and, the guy who I think will be the next manager of the Phillies, John Russell.

Charlie Manuel will be back in 2007, but because his hold on the job is so shaky, the list of candidates for the job come 2008 is worth discussing. I'd be more than happy with any of the above candidates. I'd be ecstatic if John Russell was promoted to the role of Phillies bench coach.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pat the Bat

Why do Phillies fans dislike Pat Burrell so much? The answer to that question has been discussed over and over again, but it remains a mystery to me. Forget what you know about Pat Burrell and pretend the following Burrell quotes are actually from Philly fan favorite Aaron Rowand [Philadelphia Inquirer]:

"I want to be back, and I plan on being back."

"It's difficult," he said of sitting out games. "But the team is bigger than just me. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that maybe the manager feels the team is better off with someone else out there. You don't like it, but it's part of the game."

He added again that he'd like to return next season and talked about his loyalty to the Phillies.

So, Pat Burrell wants to be in Philadelphia, feels loyalty to the Phillies organization, and realizes that he is not bigger than the team. I can really see how the public perception of this player matches up with reality…More Burrell:

"I didn't understand a lot of it, to be honest. I've been around town long enough to know that [the fans] have their guys. Maybe I'm one of the guys that doesn't fit into the mold or whatever, but that's something I can't control.”

"I had a major-league contract the day I signed," Burrell said. "Not a lot of guys can say that. I feel fortunate. I'm grateful. You feel loyalty to the people who take care of you."

Pat Burrell is right; the fans do have their guys and he doesn’t fit the mold. Pat Burrell isn’t the problem for not fitting the mold; it’s the Philadelphia fan designed mold that is at fault.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Playoff Time

Is it too late to make public my '06 playoff predictions? I say no. It may seem like cheating since the playoffs began on Tuesday, but you just gotta trust me that I'm telling the truth here. It's not like these picks are rocket science anyway...plus you can refer to my pre-season picks to see where I stand on the A's.

NLDS: Mets over Dodgers, Cardinals over Padres

Why? I know the Mets starting pitching is a concern, but they can still hit the hell out of the ball. The Cardinals aren't world beaters, but they are just good enough to get by the Pads.

ALDS: A's over Twins, Yankees over Tigers

Why? The A's were my preseason pick to win it all and I'm sticking with 'em. The Yankees have the best 1-9 batting lineup of any team in my lifetime.

I realize it is highly suspicious that all of the teams I picked already have the lead in their respective series, but it is what it is.

If the playoffs aren't interesting enough for you without the Phillies being involved, fear not - the Inquirer has the complete list of ex-Phillies in the playoffs [Philly.com]:

Oakland A's: None

Minnesota Twins: Nick Punto and Carlos Silva

Detroit Tigers: Todd Jones and Placido Polanco; coach Andy Van Slyke

New York Yankees: Bobby Abreu, Sal Fasano and Cory Lidle; coaches Larry Bowa and Joe Kerrigan

San Diego Padres: Coach Darrel Akerfelds

St. Louis Cardinals: Gary Bennett and Scott Rolen

Los Angeles Dodgers: Marlon Anderson, Kenny Lofton and Ramon Martinez; coaches Mariano Duncan and Dan Warthen

New York Mets: Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Roberto Hernandez, Michael Tucker and Billy Wagner

So out of these groups of players, can we determine what team ought to be the favorite of Phillies fans? The Mets are clearly out for many reasons: 1. Billy Wagner, 2. Roberto Horrendous, 3. Endy Chavez (I hate that he is doing well this year), 4. They are the Mets. The Cardinals are out...that goes without saying (and yet I said it anyway...go figure). The Tigers have Todd Jones on their team - he may actually be my least favorite Phillie of all-time.

The teams that deserve a little love are few and far between...the Marlon Anderson/Mariano Duncan duo is impressive, but it's hard to root for a team that beat the Phils out of a playoff spot - I'm a sad, bitter man. Minnesota has a decent argument - I can't say I have anything against Nicky Punto or Carlos Silva. The Yankees have some guy named Abreu (I can't believe he only had 4 RBI in Game One...he is so "unclutch") and I'll root for him as much as I would if he were still a Phillie, but in the end my dislike of the Yankees wins out. Plus, it makes me happy to know that Jason Giambi still hasn't won a ring...

This leaves us with two teams that have little (San Diego) to no (Oakland) connections to the Phillies. Sure, the Padres have a coach who is an ex-Phillie, but who really cares? Plus they are like the Dodgers in that they beat out the Phils for a playoff spot...not cool, Pads, not cool. So we are left with Oakland...a team with no ex-Phillies, but a team that is ex-Philly. The Philadelphia Athletics connection, the great Billy Beane running the show, Frank Thomas showing that he is a first ballot HOFer, Rich Harden's intriguing storyline of returning from injury...the choice is clear - it's time to adopt Oakland for the '06 playoffs.

Former Phillies organist Paul Richardson died on Monday [Phillies.com]. Hearing the organ playing at a baseball game makes no sense in theory if you stop and think about it, but the combination works together quite beautifully in practice. Listening to Paul Richardson on the organ during a visit to the Vet back in the early 90's is literally one of the earliest memories that I can recall. I was at Yankee Stadium over the weekend and one of the things I noticed was the way the Yanks still employ an organist to handle all of the pre-game music entertainment. It would be a fitting tribute if the Phillies decided to go back in time and begin to play nothing but organ music during the pre-game festivities at Citizens Bank Park once again.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gone VORPin'

Well, it’s that time of year again – time to fire up the hot stove (man, I hate that expression) and get this here website heavily involved in both reporting and commenting on the moves that my favorite baseball team makes over the autumn/winter months ahead. There are already plenty of things to delve into including news on the shake up on the Phils coaching staff, comments directly from Pat Gillick on the future of the organization, and a whole boatload of rumors found in the daily papers concerning potential player movement. Expect to see comments on all of those topics and more in the coming days. For now, check out this here rundown of the 2006 Philadelphia Phillies using the simple (too simple?) statistical measure of value over replacement player.

Well, what is VORP anyway? This is the definition as given by Baseball Prospectus: Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense. [Baseball Prospectus]

I bolded the part about defense since that is something that shouldn’t be forgotten when evaluating these numbers. Howard is just behind Pujols in VORP, but Pujols’ lead in WARP-1 (Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season.) is more substantial because his superior defensive performance is taken into account. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just focus on VORP and call it a day (format is given below):

Player – Position: 2006 VORP (fun fact!)

Key Phillies in ’06

Ryan Howard – 1B: 81.3 (second in baseball to Pujols, closest to Travis Hafner)

Chase Utley – 2B: 65.0 (fifteenth in baseball, closest to Manny Ramirez)

Jimmy Rollins – SS: 45.1 (42nd in baseball, closest to Bill Hall, right behind Aramis Ramirez)

Brett Myers – SP: 40.8 (27th in baseball amongst pitchers)

Geoff Geary – RP: 27.6 (63rd in baseball amongst pitchers, five spots ahead of Billy Wagner)

Pat Burrell – OF: 27.4 (89th in baseball, sandwiched between Kenny Lofton and Esteban German)

Bobby Abreu – OF: 25.3 (full season VORP is actually 48.5 when you add in his numbers with New York…that would put him in the top 35 in baseball between Andruw Jones and Paul Konerko)

Cole Hamels – SP: 22.9 (somehow listed at 23.4 in the listing of rookie pitchers…not sure which figure is the correct one)

David Dellucci – OF: 17.6

Tom Gordon – RP: 17.1

Rheal Cormier – RP: 16.9 (shockingly high from where I stand)

Chris Coste – C: 16.4 (18th amongst rookie position players in baseball…wouldn’t it be a great story if somebody threw a Rookie of the Year award vote Coste’s way? Just one vote would be cool by me…)

Jon Lieber – SP: 14.0

Shane Victorino – OF: 12.0 (VORP is a counting stat, but as it turns out, Victorino and Rowand finished the year with a nearly identical number of plate appearances - in other words, Victorino’s superior numbers are no mirage…and this doesn’t factor in his better defense in CF)

Aaron Rowand – OF: 8.6

Mike Lieberthal – C: 7.0

Pat Gillick’s veteran acquisitions – luckily for the other fellas, Jamie Moyer was good enough for the whole lot of ‘em:

Jamie Moyer – SP: 9.4

Jeff Conine – OF: 0.3

Randall Simon – PH: -0.8

Jose Hernandez should also be in the discussion here, but because Blogger causes all of my other programs to freeze up, I can't check his VORP at the moment. No big loss, I suppose.

Rough Years

Ryan Madson – RP: -0.7 (Madson has had a weird start to his career: one phenomenal season, one slightly above average season, and now one horrible season…any guesses on what he does next year?)

Sal Fasano – C: -2.6

Gavin Floyd – SP: -10.9

Abraham Nunez – 3B: -18.3 (fourth to last in baseball, 1027th overall, only ahead of Yadier Molina, Tomas Perez, and Clint Barmes – also keep in mind that Christian Guzman, he of the -14.9 VORP last year, missed the ’06 season due to injury)

I had an discussion with a friend prior to the season about the relative value of Clint Barmes as a baseball player. The friend was a big Barmes fan and happily drafted him to be his shortstop on his fantasy baseball team. I did my best to dissuade him, but he was convinced that Barmes was capable of putting up numbers like he did in the first half of 2005 (.329/.371/.516) if he could only stay healthy in ’06. Well it turns out that Barmes was literally the worst hitter in baseball this season. How about that? Hate to say I told you so, buddy…

What a horrible, irrelevant, wholly self-promoting way to end this piece...oh well, I can't think of anything better so it'll have to do for now.