Monday, April 26, 2010

Grading Ruben Amaro's moves

As you have definitely heard by now the Phillies have signed Ryan Howard to a 5 year, $125 million extension. That has prompted me to take a look at Ruben Amaro's history so far as general manager and grade each one of his moves that has had an impact on the Major League team.
November 20, 2008--Phillies trade OF Greg Golson to Rangers for OF John Mayberry, Jr. Grade: B+.

Amaro's first trade was a swap of failed prospects. Golson was released by the Rangers rather quickly whereas Mayberry can at least serve as a fifth outfielder in a pinch and is having a decent season at AAA so far.

December 10, 2008--Phillies trade C Jason Jaramillo to Pirates for C Ronny Paulino. Grade: C.

Both Jaramillo and Paulino exceeded expectations last season but Paulino did so for the Marlins (see below).

December 15, 2008--Phillies sign P Jamie Moyer to 2 year, $13 million contract. Grade: D+.

Moyer was not as good for the Phillies last year as they hoped but he quietly had a very good second half last season pitching in the rotation and bullpen and is very good for 2010's rotation depth. However, had Moyer not signed this contract (or signed a one-year deal as he should have), the Phillies would have possibly saved enough money to retain Cliff Lee for 2010.

December 16, 2008--Phillies sign OF Raul Ibanez to 3 year, $31.5 million contract. Grade: C.

At the beginning of last season this looked like this would have been one of the best signings in the history of baseball as Ibanez was the top outfielder in the 2009 All-Star Game. However, in the second half of the year Ibanez experienced a significant dropoff and his contract is backloaded so Ibanez is essentially on a 2 year, $23 million deal now. It would not surprise me if Ibanez is released after this season.

January 6, 2009--Phillies sign P Chan Ho Park to 1 year, $2.5 million contract. Grade: A-.

Once the Phillies learned that it was not 2001 and Chan Ho Park is not a starting pitcher, Park emerged as the Phillies best and most consistent relief pitcher. It would have been nice to have the Phillies re-sign him for this season but he instead signed with the New York Yankees in the offseason.

January 16, 2009--Phillies sign IF Greg Dobbs to 2 year, $2.5 million contract. Grade: C.

Dobbs was unable to replicate his fine 2008 season but being a pinch-hitter doesn't give you a big sample size anyway. Dobbs isn't great, but this contract doesn't kill the team.

January 18, 2009--Phillies sign P Cole Hamels to 3 year, $20.5 million contract. Grade: B+.

Even though Hamels hasn't been the quite the pitcher he was during his 2008 breakout season, this is still a nice affordable contract for a young pitcher. Would've been nice to see the Phillies buyout (or have team options) for a couple of Hamels's free agent years though.

January 20, 2009--Phillies sign P Ryan Madson to 3 year, $12 million contract. Grade: B.

With this deal, the Phillies bought out his final arbitration year and two of his free agent years. Madson has had trouble closing games but he is still a very good relief pitcher.

January 22, 2009--Phillies sign OF Jayson Werth to 2 year, $10 million contract. Grade: B-.

The Phillies did very good for themselves signing Werth cheaply before his 2009 breakout season. However, the Phillies missed a huge opprotunity to sign Werth to a longer-term, below-market contract and as a result Werth will probably be wearing a different uniform next season.

February 8, 2009--Phillies sign 1B Ryan Howard to 3 year, $54 million contract. Grade: C-.

This contract was about fair market value for Howard's arbitration years but it would've been nice to see the Phillies get a slightly below market value for this deal as a trade off for Howard's job security.

March 27, 2009--Phillies trade C Ronny Paulino to Giants for P Jack Taschner. Grade: D.

In theory this trade made a lot of sense for the Phillies as they already had two catchers (Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste) and they needed another left-handed pitcher while J.C. Romero served his 50 game suspension. As much as I liked Taschner, he was ineffective and off of them team by July (as was Coste) while Paulino was flipped to the Marlins had a nice season in a part-time role.

July 15, 2009-Phillies sign P Pedro Martinez to 1 year, <$1 million contract. Grade: A-.

It was a blast having Pedro on the team even if it was only for a couple of months and he did a great job down the stretch for the Phillies. The only thing preventing this from being an A grade was a relatively lackluster World Series performance.

July 30, 2009-Phillies trade P Carlos Carrasco, C Lou Marson, IF Jason Donald and P Jason Knapp to Indians for P Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco. Grade: A.

Its hard not to like this trade for the Phillies as Cliff Lee led the pitching staff throughout their playoff run and was completely dominant in the playoffs and World Series. To make matters even better for the Phillies, Carrasco and Marson have been awful with the Indians and Donald and Knapp have yet to make the majors.

December 1, 2009-Phillies sign C Brian Schneider to 2 year, $2.75 million contract. Grade: C.

This contract is pretty big for a backup catcher but Schneider is a border line starter and if Ruiz is out for an extended period of time, the Phillies may be grateful to have Schneider.

December 3, 2009-Phillies sign IF Juan Castro to 1 year, $750,000 contract. Grade: B-.

He's not Eric Bruntlett.

December 3, 2009-Phillies sign 3B Placido Polanco to 3 year, $18 million contract. Grade: B.

Sure this contract was probably too long but I've always been a big Polanco fan and so far he has been great and the contract isn't a killer on the payroll.

December 15, 2009-Phillies sign IF Ross Gload to 2 year, $2.6 million contract. Grade: D-.

This signing was completely unnecessary as the Phillies are already have a (slightly) better version of Gload in Greg Dobbs and one Greg Dobbs is enough for a team.

December 16, 2009-Phillies trade P Kyle Drabek, OF Michael Taylor and C Travis D'Arnaud to Blue Jays for P Roy Halladay and trade P Cliff Lee to Mariners for P Philippe Aumont, OF Tyson Gillies and P J.C. Ramirez. Grade: C+.

Obviously, the jury is still out on this trade but so far the trade has favored the Phillies as Roy Halladay has been the best pitcher in the National League and Cliff Lee has yet to throw a pitch for the Mariners. The Phillies gave up better prospects to the Blue Jays than they received from the Indians but the Phillies were also able to sign Halladay to a (slightly) below market extension.

January 5, 2010-Phillies sign P Danys Baez to 2 year, $5.25 million contract. Grade: D-.

Baez was nearly cut by the Baltimore Orioles last year, there's no reason he should be signing a 2 year contract let alone one for over $5 million. The early returns on Baez have been less than stellar.

January 21, 2010-Phillies sign P Joe Blanton to 3 year, $24 million contract. Grade: B.

Blanton is a good innings-eater and the Phillies have him signed to a reasonable contract. Blanton should be worth the money.

January 21, 2010-Phillies sign CF Shane Victorino to 3 year, $22 million contract. Grade: C.

If Victorino has similar season to his last two seasons, this will be a decent contract but Victorino's already showing signs of concerns with declining defense and speed.

January 24, 2010-Phillies sign C Carlos Ruiz to 3 year, $8.85 million contract. Grade: A-.

Ruiz certainly won't be confusing anyone with Johnny Bench but he is an above-average catcher signed for three years in his prime very inexpensively. He will definitely be worth this contract.

January 28, 2010-Phillies sign P Jose Contreras to 1 year, $1.5 million contract. Grade: B+.

Contreras had a nice run in the bullpen last September for the Colorado Rockies and that run so far has continued with the Phillies. He is a good replacement for Chan Ho Park.

April 26, 2010-Phillies sign 1B Ryan Howard to 5 year, $125 million contract. Grade: F.

This signing was completely pointless and has the potential to be up there with Barry Zito, Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano as one of the worst contracts in baseball. I am a big Howard fan and certainly wish him the best of luck, but this contract won't even kick in until the 2012 season when Howard will be 32 and in the probable beginning of his decline. In the best case scenario, this contract will be like Miguel Cabrera or Carlos Lee's contract where he will probably be paid close to market value but is so large that it will be impossible to trade Howard if the Phillies need the payroll flexibility. Furthermore, the Phillies did not get any sort of discount with this deal making it even more toxic for the team.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 MLB Predictions

It's that time of year again for my annual MLB predictions. I can't remember the first time I started posting these predictions but it has been a long time since I began.
Let's take a look at my predictions from the past three seasons:
2009- Prediction: Indians over Dodgers/Actual: Yankees over Phillies
2008- Prediction: Tigers over Dodgers/Actual: Phillies over Rays
2007- Prediction: Twins over Astros/Actual: Red Sox over Rockies

Looking back on those predictions, it probably hasn't been the best idea to have a personal rule against picking the Phillies, Yankees or Red Sox to win the World Series. It also looks like I had a strange affinity for picking different AL Central teams to win the World Series every year. Anyway, here are my 2010 predictions:

1) Phillies (91-71) (Offseason Grade: C-)
2) Braves (87-75) (D+)
3) Mets (80-82) (D)
4) Marlins (79-83) (F)
5) Nationals (68-94) (C+)

The talent in this division is there to prevent the Phillies from four-peating but it is not consolidated enough to make a defeat of the Phillies likely.

Philadelphia-Count me among the Phillies fans who did not like the big Roy Halladay-Cliff Lee swap (well at least the Cliff Lee portion of the trade) but it's hard to say that this team is not better on paper than the 2008 and 2009 World Series clubs. Halladay is an improvement over Lee, Placido Polanco is an improvement over Pedro Feliz and Danys Baez and Jose Contreras are....well, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras. The only thing coming in the way between a prediction of a third straight World Series is my aforementioned rule which bans myself from picking the Phillies, Yankees or Red Sox to win the World Series.

Atlanta-The Braves finished 2009 strong but just outside of the playoffs. The Braves responded by trading their best pitcher last year (Javier Vazquez) for an unimpressive haul and spending their savings to make their bullpen more expensive, if not better. That being said, the Braves look to be in a good position to make another playoff push for manager Bobby Cox's final season before retirement.

New York-Clusterfuck is the only word I can think of to describe the Mets' 2009 season. With all of their key injuries last season, it will be almost impossible for the Mets to be worse this year. However, that does not mean that this will be a good squad in 2010. Jason Bay was a much needed, albeit overpaid, bat to go along with Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran. With holes at pretty much every other position and a lack of starting pitching depth, the Mets should not expect to make the playoffs this season.

Florida-I'm never a believer in the Marlins so take my 4th place prediction for what it's worth. However, I think the team overachieved in 2009 and failure to sign a single major league free agent (while losing key role players such as Jeremy Hermida and Kiko Calero) will only hurt this team. The team was wise to sign ace Josh Johnson to a long-term contract but that seemed to be the only effect of the union forcing the franchise to spend more money.

Washington-The Nationals would have had a really good offseason if they were any other team but the Nationals. Money spent on players like Jason Marquis, Adam Kennedy and Ivan Rodriguez could help a contending team make the playoffs. I do applaud the Nationals for bringing in low-risk, high-reward players such as Chien-Ming Wang and Matt Capps. The Nationals won't be the laughing stock of the league forever, but 2010 looks like it will be another last place finish for the club.

1) Cubs (88-74) (D)
2) Cardinals (87-75) (B-)
3) Reds (85-77) (B)
4) Brewers (78-84) (B-)
5) Astros (71-91) (C-)
6) Pirates (64-98) (C)

The Cardinals are the favorites to repeat as NL Central Champions but the Reds, Brewers and Cubs provide enough intrigue that the division title will not be a cakewalk.

Chicago-Yes, sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling and in this case gut feeling is that the Cardinals won't make the playoffs this year. The Astros and the Pirates are terrible and I don't think the Reds and Brewers are quite good enough so that leaves...the Cubs. The Cubs acquired some non-talent in the offseason in John Grabow and Carlos Silva and players such as Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez aren't getting any younger. Nevertheless, the Cubs are just one year removed from being the team to beat in the (regular season) National League.

St. Louis-The Cardinals are the favorites in the NL Central and rightfully so, especially after bringing back Matt Holiday and signing Felipe Lopez. However, a lot of their success last year was based on career years (Joel Pineiro, Ryan Franklin). Some regression should also follow from their four big stars (Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright). The team also lacks starting pitching depth and as a result may not be playing October baseball.

Cincinnati-I wish I hadn't been so lazy and had published this post earlier in the offseason so I could take credit for pegging Cincinnati and Baltimore as sleeper teams, but I did not do so, so as I result I look like a follower even though I liked this team before it was popular to do so. I expect Jay Bruce to have a breakout year to make up a passable, somewhat exciting young offense. The pitching staff is full of question marks (Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez, Aroldis Chapman) but if more than one of those starters can live up to, or exceed, their potential, the Reds will actually be decent this year.

Milwauee-The Brewers have a fetish for boring, innings-eater pitchers signing Randy Wolf and Doug Davis to join Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan (who at one point was still considering an "innings-eater") behind Yovani Gallardo. Their offense has some good stars (Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder) but in order to contend they'll need contributions from players outside of Braun and Fielder (notably Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart).

Houston-Teams without a huge payroll who already have a lot of money owed to old, albeit productive, veterans should not be giving 3 year, $15 million contracts to middle relievers (as Houston did with Brandon Lyon). General Manager Ed Wade also continued his infatuation with former Phillies signing Pedro Feliz and Brett Myers (the latter being a signing that I actually like). However, with a bad product on the field now and no help in the minors, it will be a long time until Houston will make the playoffs again.

Pittsburgh-I admire General Manager Neal Huntington's willingness to trade away players for prospects at the expense of fielding a mediocre club. However, with a couple of exceptions, he has brought in prospects with lower ceilings, complicating the Pirates' chances of making the playoffs in the future, let alone in 2010.

1) Diamondbacks (89-73) (C+)
2) Rockies (86-76) (D)
3) Dodgers (85-75) (F)
4) Padres (77-85) (B-)
5) Giants (71-91) (F)

The NL West looks like it will really evenly matched division this year as three teams have good chances to win the division and once again the 2nd place team could end up winning the NL Wild Card.

Arizona-I really don't like the Max Scherzer-Edwin Jackson swap but outside of that, the Diamondbacks have had a decent offseason, bringing in Adam LaRoche, Kelly Johnson and Ian Kennedy. If Brandon Webb and Chris Young have bounceback seasons, they will partner nicely with Dan Haren and Justin Upton to make a really good team, capable of pulling off a worst-to-first extended playoff run.

Colorado-The Rockies didn't too much to improve the club in the offseason but they probably did not need to do that much anyway as they are bringing back most of a decent team from last season. Both their lineup and the rotation is full of good, though not spectacular players but Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez are close to spectatuclar. It is asking a bit much too ask the team to repeat last year's Cinderella story, but they shouldn't be too far out of the playoffs.

Los Angeles-Divorce is a bitch and not just to the people involved with the divorce. Owner Frank McCourt's divorce has cost the franchise so much money that they weren't even able to offer arbitration to quality free agents in Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson. The Dodgers have made the NLCS in each of the last two seasons but lack the financial flexibility (and prospects) to make major trades this year as they have done the past two seasons (acquiring Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, George Sherrill, Jim Thome, Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland midseason).

San Francisco-General Manager Brian Sabean's infatuation with old veterans way past their prime continued this offseason with his signings of Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff. Unfortunately for Giants fans, neither of these players can fix an already anemic offense. Their pitching staff may be the best in baseball but for the Giants to win ball games, they will actually need to score more runs than they give up.

San Diego-It's a real shame that this team doesn't have any money because the Padres could actually be decent this year. They quietly won a respectable 75 games last year. They have a number of exciting young players on their team but with the exception of Adrian Gonzalez, not many worthwhile veterans surrounding the veterans and once Adrian Gonzalez is unfortunately traded, no worthwhile veterans. It will be a rough year or two in San Diego, but this team will be back in playoff contention in that not too distant future.

1) Yankees (96-66) (A-)
2) Rays (93-69) (D)
3) Red Sox (90-72) (B+)
4) Orioles (81-81) (C-)
5) Blue Jays (65-97) (C)

The AL East has four teams that could be considered playoff quality and once again this division will be the most brutal in all of baseball with deserving teams watching the playoffs from home.

New York-The defending World Series champions got even better in the offseason acquiring Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez. Several of their important players such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera are getting very old and the team will probably experience some regression from their 2009 campaign, but the Yankees should be favored to repeat as AL East champions.

Tampa Bay-Their offseason wasn't too inspiring with Rafael Soriano being their only significant acquisition but the Rays seem poised to make the playoffs in the AL East following 2009's "sophomore slump". With Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena in contract years, this could be a big year in Tampa. The teams has the depth of young players to move, if not the payroll, to make a significant trade deadline move to keep them afloat in the very tough AL East.

Boston-Giving over $80 million to an injury-prone pitcher in John Lackey will be a mistake in the long-term but he should bolster an already strong rotation. Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro were nice, defensive-minded acquistions but like most of this team are on the wrong side of thirty. They've got a great rotation and some great stars but they are too old and slow to make the playoffs in the AL East this season.

Baltimore-If this team was in the NL or the AL Central, they could be playoff contenders. They have a lot of young talent and should take a huge leap forward this year. Baltimore's also added a lot of pricey veterans (Miguel Tejada, Kevin Millwood, Garrett Atkins, Mike Gonzalez) so a run similar to the 2008 Rays is not out of the question but is highly unlikely. If the Orioles fall out of contention midseason, they should be able to trade off those veterans (and eat some salary) for some more useful young players to make a 2011 playoff push more likely.

Toronto-Think back to May 18, 2009. It's not that long ago. The Blue Jays just finished a four-game sweep of Chicago White Sox to improve their record to an AL-best 27-14 (and just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball) and had a 3 1/2 game lead over the Red Sox in the division. The Blue Jays would then go on to lose their next nine games, finish the season 48-73 and trade their franchise pitcher, Roy Halladay, in the offseason. There are some glimmers of hope for a bright future in Toronto, but 2010 will be a straight up rebuilding year for the Blue Jays.

1) Twins (88-74) (A-)
2) White Sox (86-76) (C-)
3) Tigers (80-82) (C+)
4) Indians (75-87) (C+)
5) Royals (58-104) (D-)

The AL Central is a rather weak division and if any team has a lot of breakout performances or savvy pickups, they will win the division (unless your team is based in Kansas City).

Minnesota-I like Nick Punto (former Phillie) and Brendan Harris (fellow William and Mary tribesman), but with all do respect to them, the Twins significantly upgraded their middle infield both offensively and defensively with the acquistions of J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson. This franchise is also resourceful enough to overcome the season-ending injury to Joe Nathan. They are bringing back most of last year's division-winning team so the Twins should be favorites to repeat in the AL Central.

Chicago-General Manager Kenny Williams did most of his offseason shopping last summer when je acquired (and overpaid for) Jake Peavy and Alex Rios. Consequently, Williams spent most of the offseason pretending it is still 2005, bringing the likes of Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel to Chicago. I'm open to Williams' idea of using a rotating designated hitter but with players like Russell Branyan and Jim Thome signing cheap contracts late in the offseason, signing a full-time DH might not have been a bad idea. Like every year, the White Sox will be OK and if the breaks happen the right away, they'll make the playoffs.

Detroit-I don't hate the Tigers' controversial offseason because it will allow them to free up a bunch of money for after the 2011 season without significantly hurting them in 2010. I also really like their swap of Edwin Jackson for Max Scherzer. However, the Tigers are not a great team and will need a lot of players to have big rebound years (Maggio Ordonez, Dontrelle Willis, etc.) to make the playoffs even in this weak division.

Cleveland-The trades of CC Sabathia, Mark DeRosa, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez clearly signify that the Indians are in rebuilding mode but their return for these players has been rather underwhelming. I do applaud the team for not wasting money on free agents in the offseason and Russell Branyan was a cheap signing who can be flipped for prospects at the trade deadline. LeBron James, not the Indians, will be the Indians will be the top sports story in Cleveland this season.

Kansas City-The Royals signed highly touted Cuban defector Noel Arguelles, but that's about the only thing right General Manager Dayton Moore did this offeason, also bringing in retreads such as Jason Kendall and Scott Podsednik. Outside of Zack Greinke, there's absolutely nothing to be excited for this franchise about in 2010 or in the future

1) Rangers (85-77) (B-)
2) Mariners (84-78) (A)
3) Angels (83-79) (D)
4) Athletics (82-80) (B-)

On paper, this division is looking like it might be the best playoff races in recent memory. All four of these teams are pretty average/slightly above average and I would not be surprised to see any of these teams win the division.

Texas-The 2009 Rangers fell a bit short of being the 2008 Rays but still have a ridiculous level of talent on the Major League club and in the Minor Leagues. In the offseason, the Rangers sacrificed stability (Kevin Millwood, Marlon Byrd) for risk (Rich Harden, Vladimir Guerrero). If those risks pay off large dividends, Josh Hamilton is healthy and effective and their young players continue to improve, Hamilton's prediction of the Rangers being a 96-win team could be underselling the club.

Seattle-No team had a more dramatic offseason than the Mariners bringing in Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley. For most teams coming of a winning season, those three players alone should be enough to make a team instant World Series favorites. However, much of the Mariners's success last year came from players having career years such as Russell Branyan (who is no longer with the team), Jarrod Washburn (also no longer on the team, but still a free agent) and David Aardsma. Their defense is excellent, but the team is still a power bat or two and possibly a starting pitcher (at least until Erik Bedard comes off of the disabled list) away from being a great team.

Los Angeles-They keep losing their star players (John Lackey, Mark Teixeira, Chone Figgins, Francisco Rodriguez) to bigger contracts elsewhere but the Angels as they have found suitable replacements such as Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Joel Pineiro (paying Brian Fuentes and Fernando Rodney over $14 million this year to replace Rodriguez is not suitable though). One of these years the Angels will collapse and I am going to say it is this year.

Oakland-148. That is the number of games started by an Oakland Athletic pitcher last year who was 26 or younger. The Athletics still put up a respectable 4.26 ERA. Improved defense, another year of maturity and a if healthy 1-2 starting pitching punch of Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer (who combined to throw 0 games in 2009) could put the Athletics in the upper echelon of pitching staffs in 2010. However, their offense needs Jake Fox or Jack Cust to turn into Jason Giambi and Adam Rosales or Kevin Kouzmanoff to turn itno Miguel Tejada for this offense to be respectable.

National League Wildcard
Phillies over Cubs in 3
Diamondbacks over Braves in 4 (Braves win one last game for Bobby Cox)

American League Wildcard
Yankees over Rangers in 3
Rays over Twins in 4

National League Division
Diamondbacks over Phillies in 6
Rays over Yankees in 7

World Series (Battle of the Class of 1997)
Rays over Diamondbacks in 5
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blanton for Halladay?

Before you get too excited, the Phillies will not be trading Joe Blanton to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. However, that does not mean that the Phillies couldn't use Blanton to try to acquire Halladay.
Recent reports have indicated that the Phillies are open to the possibility of trading Blanton. These seems odd as the Phillies' only needs are pitching (since they signed Placido Polanco to play third base and addressed their bench needs by signing Juan Castro, Brian Schneider and Ross Gload). The back end of the Phillies' starting rotation is already uncertain, so trading Blanton would create an unnecessary hole. It would seem odd for the Phillies to trade Blanton for another pitcher. Blanton is going to be due an arbitration raise on his $5.5 million salary this year, but certainly the Phillies can afford that raise. So with so no non-pitching needs and an affordable salary, why are the Phillies considering trading Joe Blanton?

Perhaps, the Phillies are looking to obtain prospects. The Phillies are in anything but a rebuilding mode right now but they could flip some of these prospects to Toronto in a trade to acquire Halladay while keeping their farm system in tact. Trading Blanton would also allow the Phillies to free payroll space to afford Halladay's $15 million salary in 2010.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The top of the Lineup

It is being reported that the Phillies are close to signing free agent Placido Polanco to a three-year contract to play third base. The signing would give the Phillies three players (Polanco, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino) who could hit in the first two spots of the lineup. Therefore, the Phillies will need to move one of the three down in the lineup, most likely to the 7th spot.
Looking at the three players, it is obvious that one player definitely belongs at the top of the lineup:

Player #1: .292/.355/.446, 24 HR, 61/80 SB
Player #2: .295/.340/.407, 18 HR, 14/17 SB
Player #3: .262/.320/.429, 32 HR, 78/89 SB

Player #1 has been the best hitter of the three and the highest on-base percentage. Along with that, he is also a good baserunner having stolen sixty-one bases in the past two years and has only been thrown out nineteen times. He belongs at the top of the lineup.

Player #2 has the fewest stolen bases of the group but does have a higher on-base percentage than Player #3 which is a key to hitting at the top of the lineup.

The identities of these players are: 1) Victorino 2) Polanco 3) Rollins.

The Phillies should resist all temptations to move Victorino down in the lineup as he is much better suited as a leadoff hitter. It would make the most sense for the Phillies to move Rollins down in the lineup as he has more power than Polanco and he could be used to drive in runs. Polanco's superior on base percentage would allow him to get on base for the Phillies' offensive core to drive him in. An ideal Phillies' lineup for 2010 would look as follows:

CF Victorino
3B Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
SS Rollins
C Carlos Ruiz
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Phillies Trip?

I'll take a break from the hot stove to ask if anyone would be interested in taking a weekend trip at some point for a Phillies series in 2010. I have found five intriguing weekends on the schedule schedule:

May 28-30 at Florida Marlins: May 31 is also Memorial Day and the Phillies will be in Atlanta. That game could also be worked into the trip.

June 11-13 at Boston Red Sox

July 15-18 at Chicago Cubs: This is a Thursday-Sunday series right after the All-Star Game.

August 13-15 at New York Mets

August 27-29 at San Diego Padres: This series could also connected to a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers from August 30 (Monday) through September 1 (Wednesday).

If anyone is interested in any of these trips, let me know! Read more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Outrageous Offseason Ideas

If you are like me, you are probably sick of hearing the names Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Chone Figgins, Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon, Jose Valverde and Fernando Rodney. We still have the entire offseason of discussing these players, so let's take a diversion and look at five trades and free agent signings that probably won't happen but could make sense for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Braves trade SP Derek Lowe to Phillies for RP Brad Lidge

Why it could work: Brad Lidge is a player who needs a change of scenery every few years. He struggled with the Houston Astros prior to his trade to the Phillies so another trade could help Lidge become a quality closer again. The Braves' top two relievers from 2009, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, are both free agents. Lowe struggled in his first year with the Braves but as a sinker ball pitcher, could see a rebound with the Phillies' excellent infield defense. The Braves have six starting pitchers under contract next year and are expected to trade Lowe or Javier Vazquez.

Potential problems: Both players have large contracts, with Lidge owed $36 million over the next three seasons and Lowe owed $45 million for the next three seasons. The Braves may not have confidence in Lidge to return to elite status and the Phillies may be reluctant to have a 37-year-old pitcher with declining numbers for the next three years. The Phillies have a full rotation already, although there is room to improve.

Nationals trade 3B Ryan Zimmerman to Phillies for SP J.A. Happ, SP Jamie Moyer, SP Antonio Bastardo, OF Michael Taylor and cash

Why it could work: The Phillies need a third baseman (preferrably a defensive standout) and Zimmerman fits that description perfectly and is an offesnive juggernaut as well. Zimmerman is only 25 and under contract through 2014. The Phillies have the pitching depth to give up three starting pitchers while the Nationals have a huge need for pitching as they currently have only one Major League-caliber starter (John Lannan). The Nationals have expressed an interest in acquiring a veteran starter to mentor the young pitching and Moyer is a perfect fit for them. Happ could be the Nationals' ace for next season and it would make sense for the Phillies to trade him now. Bastardo and Taylor are Major League ready but there may not be room for them on the Phillies roster so they could be expendable.

Potential Problems: Zimmerman is the face of the Nationals' franchise and by far their best player so the Nationals would be very reluctant to trade him. Happ, Bastardo and Taylor are not yet arbitration-eligible but Moyer is owed $6.5 million for next year (while Zimmerman is only owed $5 million) so the Nationals may require the Phillies to eat some of Moyer's salary.

White Sox trade RP Bobby Jenks and cash to Phillies for 3B Pedro Feliz

Why it could work: The Phillies need another reliever and the White Sox need a third baseman. Jenks will get a small arbitration raise over his $5.6 million salary from next year and Feliz has a $5 million option for 2010.

Potential problems: This trade was plausible a couple of weeks ago but since then the White Sox have traded for Mark Teahen to play third base and the Phillies have declined Pedro Feliz's option for 2010. This trade will not happen.

Phillies sign Brad Penny

Why it could work: Last season, Penny had success in the National League with the San Francisco Giants after a disastrous stint in the American League with the Boston Red Sox. However, the Phillies could look to use Penny in the bullpen. Throughout his career, Penny has much better numbers against hitters the first time through the lineup than the second time. The Phillies could shift Penny to a starter if there is a vacancy in the rotation. Penny is a highly emotional pitcher who can start or relieve similar to Brett Myers, who will not be returning to the Phillies next year. Penny may also be motivated to pitch for the Phillies to defeat his former team, the Florida Marlins.

Potential Problems: As a career starter, Penny may have trouble or may be reluctant to shift to the bullpen. Penny will probably have contract offers to be a starter from other teams that were similar to the 1 year, $5 million contract that Penny signed with the Red Sox this season. To sign Penny, the Phillies would need to beat that offer and the Phillies may not want to commit that much money to a reliever.

Phillies sign Eric Hinske

Why it could work: With Matt Stairs unlikely to return for next season, the Phillies could use a left-handed hitting reserve outfielder and Hinske would fit in perfectly. He would also be a defensive improvement over Stairs. Hinske should be affordable and could also fill in at third base in a pinch. Hinske has also played on the last three American League champion teams, winning World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2007 and the New York Yankees in 2009. Hinske also struck out to record the final out for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.

Potential Problems: There doesn't seem to be any drawbacks here though Hinske may prefer the American League or will look for more playing time.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Offseason Report

Yesterday, I looked a what the offseason would bring for the individual Phillies and today let's take a look at what lies ahead for the team.
As of today, the Phillies roster for 2010 is as follows:
C: Carlos Ruiz*
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Pedro Feliz#
IF: Greg Dobbs
IF: Eric Bruntlett*
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
RF: Jayson Werth
OF: Ben Francisco

Others of note: John Mayberry

SP: Cliff Lee#
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Joe Blanton*
SP: J.A. Happ
SP: Jamie Moyer
RP: Tyler Walker*
RP: Clay Condrey*
RP: Chad Durbin
RP: J.C. Romero
RP: Ryan Madson
RP: Brad Lidge

Others of note: Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona, Jack Taschner

*=The player is arbitration-eligible
#=Club option

Let's take a look at each position opening:


If Paul Bako chooses not to retire, the Phillies could easily bring him back. Should Bako retire, the Phillies do not have an internal replacement so they will have to look elsewhere. The Phillies could reunite with Chris Coste or Sal Fasano. Other cheap options for the backup catcher include Henry Blanco, Josh Bard, Jose Molina or Miguel Olivo.


The Phillies need to decide by Monday on whether or not they will pick up Pedro Feliz's $5 million option for next year. As covered here, the decision to exercise the option is a tough decision. Free agent options include Adrian Beltre and Chone Figgins while possible trade targets include Ryan Zimmerman, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Casey Blake. If the Phillies feel they can get one of these players for a reasonable price, they should decline Feliz's option and make the deal, otherwise it would be wise to bring back Feliz.


The Phillies do have Eric Bruntlett under team control for another year but the Phillies would probably want to sign someone more prolific offensively. While the top utility infielders such as Marco Scutaro, Felipe Lopez and Mark DeRosa may seek a starting role and be too expensive for the Phillies, they can sign a less costly option such as Rich Aurilia, Adam Kennedy or Craig Counsell. The Phillies could also opt to re-sign Miguel Cairo.


The Phillies could use a left-handed bat off of the bench to compliment Greg Dobbs and could use a fifth outfielder. The Phillies could choose to bring back Matt Stairs but may be reluctant to do so after his atrocious second half to the season. Other targets could include Eric Hinske, Randy Winn or Frank Catalanatto.


As expected, the Phillies exercised Cliff Lee's option today which gives the Phillies a five-man rotation for next year. However, there is still room for improvement in the rotation with Jamie Moyer coming off of an unproductive season and offseason surgery. To increase starting pitching depth, the Phillies could sign a pitcher coming off of injury such as Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard or Justin Duchscherer. Although the Phillies will not re-sign Brett Myers, they could re-sign Pedro Martinez. The Phillies could also trade Happ in an attempt to sign a more veteran starter, such as Javier Vazquez, Roy Halladay or Bronson Arroyo.


The biggest question mark in the bullpen is obviously the closer's role. Brad Lidge was untrustworthy in 2009 and Ryan Madson struggled when asked to close. The Phillies could use another good reliever and Jose Valverde and Bobby Jenks could be available via trade while intriguing free agent options include J.J. Putz, Rafael Betancourt and LaTroy Hawkins. The Phillies could also choose to bring back Chan Ho Park and/or Tyler Walker. Additionally, the club needs a left-handed reliever to complement J.C. Romero but may stay internal for the position (Scott Eyre (if he returns), Sergio Escalona or Antonio Bastardo).
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