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Thursday, January 12, 2006

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Jason, a question - in terms of transactions by the phils minor league teams this off-season, can you discern any noticable trends which differ from the last couple of years? Is the volume of trade roughly the same, but average age younger, or is the number of deals up as well?

Good guestion, Oisin.

The Phillies signed a fair share of minor league free agents both this season and last season. Last season's crop had some good success, including Travis Minix, who is worth keeping an eye on at camp. He could challenge for a spot in the pen.

It seems to me that the team is trending toward younger players with upside and shying away from veterans, like Terry Adams or Jose Offerman, and the veterans they have brought in on the cheap (Fasano, Franklin) are stop-gap, insurance type moves.

In terms of the number of deals, it certainly seems to me that 18 is a lot of non-roster invitees to bring to camp, more than most seasons and more than other teams. I think it's a product of a depleted system. A number of veterans like Budsinski and Deschaine become free agents all at the same time. Nearly all positions were thin, as in, not enough bodies: infield, catcher, outfield. Now they have bodies and can fish from a large pool.

I like what Gillick has done with the minors so far very, very much. Haigwood and Gonzalez made the Thome deal exceptional to me. A guy like Kroeger could be very good. I'd still trade Michaels straight up for a starting prospect. That would give the Phils three starting prospects in one offseason. Bravo if it happens.

Most of all, they needed to cultivate winners, because as Tom. G pointed out, winning breeds winning. On paper, AA and AAA appear to be much, much stronger than last season. And I like that some of these players are still at a stage in their careers when they're still scrapping for a chance, unlike Adams, who arrived fat and shot. I've always liked teams that have an equal balance of established stars and the threat of youth and hustle. I believe this is one of the reasons why the Phillies have gained a reputation for complacency.

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