Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Arbitration Figures and More

Phillies arbitration figures are out. Here is what the player requested and what the team offered:

Chase Utley – offered $4.5 million/requested $6.25 million
Brett Myers – offered $5.0 million/requested $5.90 million
Geoff Geary – offered $0.750 million/requested $0.925 million

Aaron Rowand already accepted a $4.350 million offer. Ryan Madson accepted a $1.100 million offer. Once Utley, Myers, and Geary agree to terms then all players expected to be on the 25-man roster this spring will have their salaries set at a fixed price. It is more than likely that Carlos Ruiz and Matt Smith will get the major league minimum ($380,000) in their first full seasons. Ryan Howard, Chris Coste, and Shane Victorino all could conceivably get paid the minimum, but are expected to get some bump in their salaries (Howard to keep the reigning MVP happy, Victorino as an acknowledgement that he’ll play a lot in ’07, and Coste as a reward for his years of minor league servitude).

In other news, Marcus Hayes drops a good bit of information in his most recent offering:

Madson hopes to regain that rhythm. He won't start throwing until next month, about a month later than when he prepares to be in a starting rotation. He also will abandon his potentially devastating curveball, a pitch that requires frequent use and better serves starters, and instead refine the slider that he tinkered with last year.

It’s a shame to lose the curve, but the reasoning is sound – hopefully the slider progresses nicely this spring.

A lefthanded hitter [Greg Dobbs] who plays first base and third base, if he has a big spring it could entice the Phillies to shelve Coste, who plays the same positions. Dobbs would be a second lefty bat, along with Karim Garcia or Randall Simon, who agreed to minor league deals.

Rod Barajas, Abraham Nunez, and Jayson Werth are guaranteed roster spots (assuming good health). This leaves two open bench jobs – presumably a backup outfielder and a backup infielder/utility guy. The recent signing of Greg Dobbs complicates the filling out of the bench. I still think a fifth outfielder will materialize one way or another (whether it be Karim Garcia [the current favorite], Chris Roberson, or a to-be-determined acquisition remains to be seen) and, as of this moment, I’d think the last job on the bench will come down to Dobbs and Chris Coste. Randall Simon is also in the mix, but his chances of making the team will be greatly hindered by the fact he can only play first base – the lack of positional flexibility is something the Phillies frown upon.

I’m not one for getting emotion and sentiment getting in the way of the bottom line when building a ballclub, but even I would have to admit that it would be somewhat tragic to see C/1B/3B Chris Coste get squeezed off the roster with another last minute addition to the team. Last year it was the acquisition of David Dellucci that kept Coste in AAA and this year it looks like the late additions of C Rod Barajas and 1B/3B Greg Dobbs could make Coste’s presence on the roster appear superfluous to the Phillies decision-makers. Dobbs ability to at least play semi-competently in the corner outfield spots could allow the Phillies to keep both Dobbs and Coste with Garcia, Roberson, and the other OF candidates heading to Ottawa.

And then the team made it known that they wanted a better backup to Ruiz. Why? " 'Lack of experience,' " said Coste, putting air quotes around the phrase. He understands that the Phillies are uncomfortable with his unorthodox catching style and the fact that he is a converted pitcher and infielder. "It's a mirage. Because they don't see me as a top-line catcher, I must be bad."

The fact that Coste put air quotes around “lack of experience” cracks me up. How is it that a ballplayer understands the many fallacies of inherently found in making oneself a slave to the “veteran presence” and “proven” commodities while the powers that run the team from the front office can seem to grasp similar ideas? Coste gets it, the Phillies don't. There is a serious problem with that. Rod Barajas has plenty of big league experience; he is inarguably a “proven” player. The only problem is that all he has “proven” to this point is that he is a pretty lousy major league baseball player. That said, Barajas was not born a “proven” player – at one point in his life he was just a minor leaguer waiting on his own opportunity to reach the majors and get a chance to “prove” his worth. I know I harp on this all the time and it may seem like I’m borderline obsessive about it all, but the inability of Phillies management in recent years to improve upon the periphery of their spectacular core has been the reason why this team has not reached the postseason in over a decade. Even the most casual observer can identify the very best players in the league (and in some cases, the very worst as well), but it is hard to distinguish between the large number of guys that fall somewhere in the middle of the player performance spectrum. Signing Rod Barajas for $2.5 million with Chris Coste and Carlos Ruiz already on the roster just goes to show the difficulties the Phillies still have with this concept.

Hayes also dispels the notion that Fabio Castro is definitely ticketed to Ottawa or Reading to make up for some of the innings lost last season and to prepare himself for a starting role; Mike Arbuckle himself says that Castro has a very good chance of winning a bullpen job out of spring training. If this were to happen, the pen would sure look a lot like it did at the end of last season, no? If Jon Lieber is kept (and that plot thickens as Adam Eaton recently said that he'd be a "good soldier" and pitch out of the bullpen without complaint), there is only one remaining spot in the bullpen open for competition. If Castro wins it, the Phillies would go into 2007 with a staff made up of Brett Myers, Freddy Garcia, Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Jon Lieber, Adam Eaton, Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary, Antonio Alfonseca, Matt Smith, and Fabio Castro.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous malphie said...

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4:58 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

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12:54 AM  

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