Writing this morning on the Phillies plans now that Billy Wagner is headed to Queens, one writer called today "the first day of Pat Gillick’s plan C."
The reason why? During negotiations with Billy Wagner, if Gillick was asked if the Phillies were prepared for losing Wagner, he said the organization had a plan B.
It was later reported plan B was Orioles free agent closer B.J. Ryan, who signed with the Blue Jays for five years, $47 million, giving them the apparent "sure bet" that will lead them to the playoffs, if only in their dreams.
Ryan, by the way, has 42 career saves.
Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News reported that 38-year-old Yankees setup man Tom Gordon is apparently Gillick’s plan C.
No matter what, plans C through Z probably deserve an F.
I have yet to see solid proof that relief pitching can be bought this way. Plan B should have been in place, raised in the farm system, or found by process of evolution.
I go back to the World Champion White Sox time and again, who started the year with Shingo Takatsu, went most of the way with Dustin Hermanson, and finished up with Bobby Jenks, who played half the season in Double-A. By the end of the season, many experts were regarding their bullpen as the team strength, yet they started out with some question marks.
Is this how it works? Process of elimination? Mix of veterans and unprovens? Apparently it can.
I think back to all the veteran setup men the Phils have brought in over the last few years and it's a sad story: Todd Jones, Tim Worrell, Rheal Cormier, Mike Williams, Roberto Hernandez, even Ugueth Urbina.
It's not strictly a Phillies thing. The story is the same everywhere. This game of buying veteran relief doesn't always work the way GMs seem to think it does.
Generally speaking, about half the teams in baseball will enter 2006 with a closer they are comfortable with, the other half, including the Phils, will be taking a significant risk. Plan C, Gordon, hasn’t been a full-time closer for years. The remaining options appear to have similar gambles, including age, health or inconsistency.
I don’t know why more teams like the Phils aren’t developing in-house answers for a position that’s demanding $8-10 million on the open market.
Not that the closer business will ever be logical, or sensible.