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Thursday, August 10, 2006

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in Pat I trust

I forgot to mention ... all of this is secondary to the salary dump, which was the focus of Part 1 of my deadline review.

As I have mentioned I have seen CJ Henry play alot this year (11 games), color me very unimpressed, although I will say he does have a fantastic arm, which is great, except he can;t hit a lick.

So if salary dumping was the major accomplishment of selling off major league talent at the deadline, then who are tops on the offseason list? Im not sold on Nunez at 3rd and catcher is a glaring hole.

I think it may be a misrepresentaion of sorts to say Gillick was "strongarmed" by a more aggressive GM. The situation was what it was, and was dealt with by both sides accordingly. I don't know if it's fair to assume that one got the better of the other. Cashman had an advantage because he knew Abreu would only agree to go to a few teams, his being one. I don't believe that this therefore means that he somehow got the better of *Gillick*. The Phillies, maybe; but to me, they were the ones who put themselves in the position to be taken advantage of.

Funny how I've actually begun defending ol' Pat, isn't it? But I was willing to have my mind changed on him by what he did at the deadline. Most people have begun souring on him because he didn't get back what seems like a whole lot, but to me the defining point here was unloading people whose presence was not contributing to a winning cause. By not being afraid to take these measures, Gillick showed me that he gets it.

I'd love to have heard the discussions PG and his retinue had about these 8 guys. What were they looking for? What were they seeing? If recent history at the major league level is any indicator, I'd bet that "approach to the game" carried a lot of weight.

"I think it may be a misrepresentaion of sorts to say Gillick was "strongarmed" by a more aggressive GM. The situation was what it was, and was dealt with by both sides accordingly."

You're right, RSB. That's a fair point and just defense of Gillick and the situation.

I think "strongarmed" is a fair assessment, if only because Gillick seemed to be acting on his perception that he HAD to do something major at the trade deadline, a situation that - in my mind - Cashman took advantage of. The Yanks seemed to want Abreu, but not THAT badly. Given Abreu's recent resurgence, it's still possible to make the argument that a better value could have been had during the offseason. I imagine that unloading a proven run producer for financial reasons in exchange for essentially nothing could be accomplished at almost any point during the year.

Gillick was not "strong-armed" by Cashman since this implies physical coercion. Maybe Cashman is a tough guy but he looks kind of wimpy.

Still, if the trade rumors were true, then Cashman totally jobbed Gillick. Cashman was able to back the Phils down from their demands from Hughes, etc. I would have not been surprised if trade had included some NY Bagels or old baseball cards. Also, Cashman even got the Phils to throw in Lidle for nothing.

The Phils would have been better off keeping Lidle and having him leave as a free agent this offseason. There is a good likelihood that this would have meant a first-round pick and a compensation pick for the Phils if Elias graded Lidle as an "A" free agennt.

Unfortunately, this would have meant the Phils would have needed to spend alot of money to sign both of these picks. At least $500k and probably over a $1 Million depending upon the position and if the kid had the option of going to college. More instance of the Phils displaying the penny-pitching ways.

i have a hard time thinking that the Red Sox would not have given the Phils a better deal than the Yanks. I think that if Gillick had called Epstein and said he was trading abreu and lidle and these are the 4 prospects the yanks are giving us, Epstein would have put together a better package.

RSB: No matter how hard you try you can't rewrite history. Abreu's stats and value to this team are known, proven and identifiable.

Pat Gillick's moves speak for themselves: Nunez, Franklin, A. Gonzalez, Fasano, giving Padilla away for nothing, giving Abreu away for nothing. He gave Bell and Franklin away for nothing, but they were going anyway and every organization needs filler. On the above list, none of the position players will ever be a major league regular and, except for Henry, none is likely to spend a full season in the bigs. The only pitchers on the list likely to see time in the bogs are Germano, a decent 5th starter prospect, and Smith, a situational lefty reliever.

The Haigwood-Castro deal looks good for now and Rowand/Gio Gonzalez for Thome is passable, given the circumstance.

Bottom line: Compare the quality of these prospects to the prospects acquired by rebuilding teams like the Marlins, Indians & Nats and then tell me again that Gillick's been doing a great job.

JK, it was well known that Gillick tried to shop Abreu all winter. What he received in return may not have seemed like much, but Gillick obviously felt it was more than could have been recouped from another go-round this coming off-season. I think it's fair to deduce this considering Gillick knew both what the off-season and in-season markets were for Abreu, and must have felt this was his better bet.

MG, Cashman has said the Abreu deal wouldn't have happened without Lidle.

Dane, if the Red Sox had been willing to give more for Abreu - don't you think the Phillies would have taken it? You seem to imply that Gillick was only willing to deal with the Yankees to make a trade, and simply ignored better offers elsewhere. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to presume.

Clout, no. "Abreu's stats and value to this team are known, proven and identifiable." No. Stats are known, proven, and identifiable. Value is not. That is an area of pure subjectivity. No matter how hard *you* try, you can't rewrite the definition of statistics to portray a subjective realm such as "value" as a quantifiable objective. You assert that Abreu's stats alone indicate his value, and I assert that they do not measure anything other than his individual performance. Of what value he is to anyone is open to interpretation. Judging by the heightened level of play demonstrated by the Phillies in his absence, this sense of value may begin to be seen as grossly overestimated.

RSB, You can't just discount Abreu's statistics as not having value by asserting they just measure individual performance. There has been quite a bit of research on individual stats and their contribution to a team's runs created. To blanketly discount years of statistical research, and then to assert a causal relationship between Abreu's absence on the team and the Phils recent play is foolish.

MG, and the Phils would have had to offer Lidle arbitration to get draft pick compensation and they probably weren't 100% confident that he would test the open market and not accept arbitration. Obviously they didn't want Lidle back or were so desperate to get rid of Abreu at the trade deadline they conceded to the Yanks demands or both. I agree about their recent penny pinching with signing draft picks. Also I suspect there will be very few September call-ups regardless if they are still in the wildcard chase. This is another manner in which they have penny pinched. Compare this to the Yanks who will have the entire bench filled.

Billy Mac: RSB's irrational bias against Abreu fails to acknowledge even the little things. Abreu was among league leaders in OB and pitches taken. In other words, he was on base all the time, increasing run chances, and he contributed to wearing down the opposing pitcher by forcing him to throw more pitches. I confess that if the Phillies continue to average 7 runs scored per game as they have since the deal, then I will have to admit RSB's right about how little we'll miss him. But something tells me this won't continue and RSB is wrong.
P.S. RSB doesn't have the slightest clue what Gillick was offered for Abreu in the off season or how hard he tried to move him.

Billy - Market is really thin this offseason for starting pitching and I bet that Lidle gets at least a 2yr/7-10 million deal somewhere. Even if the worst-case scenario and Lidle accepted arbitration for a year, I think he is as good as anyone the Phils plan on being in this offseason. The Phils are going to need at least 1 starter from the outside. Worth gambling on to get the picks.

I don't see the rotation of Myers, Hamels, Lieber, Wolf?, and x (Floyd, Mathieson) makign it through April let alone an entire season. Worst comes to worst, you could trade him next trading deadline.

MG: A similar argument can be made about Abreu. What most are forgetting is that as the months go by, the amount of guaranteed money to Abreu shrinks accordingly. Teams that acquired better prospects were, in general, trading players who will be leaving for free agency in just a couple of months. That means the acquiring team is picking up a tab in the single millions, not the tens of millions. If that team lets the FA-to-be walk, it also gets the draft picks next June, not June 2008.

What was reported about Gillick's efforts to trade Bobby during the offseason was that PG wanted a No. 1 starter in return. At that point, Abreu was guaranteed almost $30 million; I'm sure it was difficult finding a fit in terms not only of the quality of the pitcher, but his price tag. For all we know he was offered pitchers of the Livan Hernandez stripe -- decent established starters, but not a true No. 1.

RSB favors the trade because he saw the team as lifeless and unlikely to show any more spirit than the average zombie. It's true that shipping out a cornerstone player shook up the clubhouse and gave younger, hungrier players a chance. By the same token, this is not a team with a lot of assets to spare. If shaking up the team was deemed necessary and money was treated as a secondary consideration, Gillick could have sent an even stronger message by simply putting Burrell on irrevocable waivers. Heck, there would have at least been a chance that one of the AL East monsters would have claimed him, ridiculous salary and all, to keep him out of a rival's hands. But then that course of action runs the risk of nobody claiming him, the Phils losing him AND having to pay his salary for the next two years while he played elsewhere. You have to admit, though, it would have sent a helluva message, with the extra benefits of letting Gillick shop Abreu this winter and next July. He also could have gotten at least as much in young talent for Lidle alone as he did by making him the pot-sweetener for dumping Abreu's $20+M.

The bottom line question with the Abreu deal is still the same: why subsidize his departure by throwing in cash and Lidle? Wouldn't it have been wiser to wait until August and them put Bobby on waivers? Then the Phils could see if any of his favored big market clubs needed an outfielder due to an injury (the Mets just lost Cliff Floyd) and would take the contract with no subsidy of dollars or talent.

I am ok with giving Bobby away for nothing if PG was convinced he was in an irreversible decline in production (I'm not convinced, but I'm not the decision maker.) What burns me is that no rational person would trade Lidle for the 4 suspects we got back from the Yanks. Throwing Lidle in the deal was a blatant giveaway of either a) a better prospect than any of the 8 suspects in JW's article or b) compensation draft picks.


Sure, Abreu had value to the Phillies - certainly moreso in the past than recently. He's a good player. But any more value than even a guy like David Dellucci? I really don't think so. There's no way to prove it, but I can't imagine the Phillies' record being even a smidgen different if Dellucci had been penciled in as the starting right fielder in every single one of the games started by Abreu. So, valuable? To a degree. Replaceable? Very.

If a guy is hitting in the middle of the order and has the ability to drive the ball, he is helping his team less by taking an inordinate amount of pitches and walking once or twice a game than he would be by making things happen and swinging the bat. Abreu's inflexiblity when it comes to his acceptable swinging zone is not something I'd consider an asset, either to him or whichever team he plays for. You're talking about a guy who has demonstrated outstanding plate coverage and ability to hit the ball with authority to all fields. If it's my "bias" (read: considered opinion) that I feel the walks and pitches taken are more of a flaw than a positive to his game, then so be it. But it's hardly a reach to say he is not an impact player because of this approach, and it is not a coincidence that the Phillies have been doing just fine without him.

I read about the ongoing, multiple trade offers concerning Abreu all winter, Clout, just like everyone else. It's not like I'm claiming to have Peter Gammons' cell phone number. With all due disrespect, you haven't any more of a clue than any of us about anything. It would be nice if you stopped posturing as if you did.

To the people who say that Abreu was "not contributing to a winning cause," or has no more value than David Delucci, I would say this. The latter claim may be true this year, because Delluci has been hitting exceptionally well. But, throughout his career, Abreu's certainly a better player. His managing to walk once - not twice- a game (91 walks over 98 games for us this season) can only be seen as an asset. The assumption seems to be that he could just trade in his walks for hits, somehow. But, in fact, if he swung in all those at-bats, he'd reach base a third of the time, certainly no more. Right? So what you're really doing is exchanging 91 walks for 30 hits (at best), some of which would drive in some runs or advance runners. The sixty or so outs thereby accumulated would end innings, lead to two-out situations, etc. I can't imagine how 30 hits and sixty outs are preferable to 90 walks. There are also Abreu's own runs to be considered. His getting on base allows someone else to drive him in, and if he were to decrease his on-base percentage in exchange for driving some more runs in, he would score fewer runs himself.

Now tha the dust has settled a little bit, I have mixed feelings about the Abreu trade. There were some definite reasons for trading Abreu. Abreu's play and attitude this season clearly reflected that did not feel that his attributes were appreciated by Phils' management/fans. To what extent this affected the Phils' clubhouse is uncertain but it definitely had some kind of affect. Plus, Abreu's power numbers were down this year (although it seems like everyone forgets that he was never a 30+ HR every year anyway).

Still, I think Gillick got little to nothing in return for Abreu. Maybe one of those guys helps this team in the next 2 seasons but I doubt. Fine. Far from ideal and Gillick definitley missed the window on trading last offseason when he could still have gotten something decent in return.
To add to it, he also traded Lidle, who is far from a star but would have gotten something back that would have helped this team next year. Particularly at 3B or C. Hell, the Devil Rays got Navarro from the Dodgers for Mark Hendrickson about a month before the deadline. Lidle is as good if not better than Hendrickson.

This trade simply came down to money. Don't give me any other cr@p about attitude because this trade comes down to dollars. Phils' management specifically said that their contracts prohibited them from making the moves they thought necessary. Phils' management said they would use the money for several other purposes inclduing FA, overseas players, and developing the minor league team.

Jury is out and we won't have a verdict until next April. I am willing to bet that this simply came down to a cost-cutting move for budget purposes and the ownership is going to pocket the funds. Guess I have to wait until April to find out.

Tray, that's one way of looking at it. I'm not saying patience is a detriment. Patience can obviously be a very good thing, and there's nothing wrong with walking around 100 times a year. But Abreu was beginning to do this to excess, in my opinion. Maybe he'd only have gotten hits in a third of the plate apperances in which he was instead content to walk. How many of those walks came with runners already on base, though? I don't have the numbers. I'd be willing to guess about half. I know I witnessed a good many myself. I don't fault Abreu for each and every walk he'd take with men on. Sometimes they pitched around him. Sometimes he legitimately didn't get a pitch to hit. But other times, when aggressiveness was merited and appropriate to the *situation at hand*, Abreu did not and would not change his game plan. He had his locked-in little strike zone, and he'd beef to the ump or go prancing out of the batter's box if a strike was called which happened to run an inch outside of it. That kind of crap is what I'm talking about, and as the years went by I saw more and more of it from him. The extra-base power, the stolen bases, the exceptional hitting ability I will miss. The unwillingness to be a go-to, prime player which befitted his status in the lineup order, I will absolutely not miss - and neither will the Phillies.

Just to demonstrate the difference of opinion, here's a hypothetical game situation. Man on second, two outs. Abreu works the count full, then swings at a pitch that's a little below the knees, grounds it sharply to the right side. The second baseman has to range a little, but fields it easily and throws him out: end of inning.

Or, Abreu lets the pitch go, hoping the pitch won't be called a strike. It's called ball four, he walks, runners on first and second for Pat Burrell.

Now. You would say he did his job better in the latter instance. I would say he did his job better in the former, even though he didn't succeed. He took a shot at it. He wanted to get the runner in himself. That's what I want out of my three-hole hitter. Irrational? Let the readers judge.

An addendum: 49 of Abreu's 91 walks with the Phillies came with runners on base. 30 came with runners in scoring position.

So taking a shot at driving in a run even when you have a mere 30% chance of success and a 70% chance of making an out, ending the inning, and erasing any chance of the runner on second scoring, to you, is better than walking and giving someone else, albeit a lesser hitter, a shot at driving in two runners (and in Burrell's case, maybe three)? Not only that, your example assumes that he's swinging at pitches he's less likely to do anything with, so perhaps the odds of him getting a hit are lower than his average would suggest. I think it's quite irrational, but that may be just me.

Ever seen pitches out of the strike zone hit hard, even out of the park? I have. My example specifically mentioned that he hit the ball sharply, meaning that it was a pitch he could handle, regardless of the umpire's designation.

This isn't so much about percentages. There's *always* a 70% chance of making an out. It's about doing what is expected of you, and playing situationally rather than single-mindedly. If you are hitting in the middle of the order, you are looked to to deliver runs, not leave it to the next guy. That doesn't mean swing at everything thrown to the plate. Look how Utley handles this same position. Patient, yes, but when there are runners on, he's more willing to leave the strike zone and often with success.

Once again, I object to the use of the word "irrational". Where opinions are subjective, there needs to be a more diplomatic way of disagreeing. I'll gladly take into account what you're saying, Tray, and acknowledge there's validity in it. What I'm saying is no less valid, but another way of interpreting what is there to be observed. I'll keep harping on this point until it's fully heeded, because it needs to be.

So just like everything related to this team, this post is all about bitching. The trades are made and done with. I like this team. The trades were a salary dump and opened up auditions for next year. Without getting rid of Abreu and Lidle, we couldnt see what we need in the offseason. I like the lineup with Dellucci in it. The main question remains..What is Gillick going to do with the money he saved in the offseason?
PS: This team is still in the hunt!

Jam - Team is in the hunt . . . for what? Certainly isn't the NL East title and there is alot are ton of teams in front (better) teams in front of the Phils for the WC. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

Jam - You would be the Bizarro GM . . . instead of trading to get fill your holes, you would trade away your good players to see what you truly need by creating additional holes.

This Kool-Aid stuff is getting old, but whatever amuses you...

Gillick did what he did, it's over with, and now we have to wait and see how it all pans out. It's funny how so many on here claim to know exactly what is going to happen this offseason.

By the way...we don't miss Abreu all that much!

Tray: Irrational is the correct word. If you look at RSB's argument, he is saying an out is better than a walk.
P.S. Another team that has quietly been making smart trades of vets from decent prospects are the horrid Royals under their new GM. They've picked up Ryan Shealy, Joey Gathright, Odalis Perez, Jorge De La Rosa & Luke Hudson for their vets. Again, compare that to what the Phillies got.
P.P.S. RSB you are correct that I have no clue what Gillick was offered for Abreu in the offseason. But it was YOU who stated flatly that he was offered less than what he eventually got and that he could not have gotten any more under any circumstance.

clout - you never look at contracts or player's situations, we realize this. You see X player for Y player and make the judgement. We get it. You don't like the trades the phils made. I don't necessarily do either. But because that team had a lower payroll and much smaller, flexible, non-no-trade clause contracts they got better prospects. Also, the royals have no up and coming all-stars like Howard and Utley who are coming up on their pay days.

Heck with the past...let's forge on...big weekend series. I'm just happy the Phils are still "in it"!

Will: Yep the small market Phils had their hands tied financially. LOL!

i think bill conlin is the best sports writer in the world!

Tim: Good judgment.

thanks - it's the same judgement conlin used in not voting for nolan ryan.

You can make a pretty reasonable estimate at what the Phils are going to this offseason. Management has said that they think it will be until '08 until they put a contending team on the field again. Fine. That indicates the Phils will probably deficient in '07 at a couple of positions.

Look at the FA market this year and it is a pretty weak class. More troubling, there are very few decent options available at 3B, C, or SP (Phils' biggest holes). Maybe they go overseas to fill one of these positions. Plus, the Phils have little to no commodities to trade this offseason. Don't have the depth or high-value prospects.

I really think that for the most part, the team that you see on the field now will be the team the Phils use next year. Granted there will be a whole new bunch of faces in the bullpen and the bench but the starting rotation and position players will be pretty much the same.

MG,
I disagree and think there will pretty big roster turnover with all of the free agents they have and obvious holes.
Rollins, Utley, Howard, are certainly back.
Of the remaining 5 starters, I think perhaps 2 come back. I suspect 3 new position starters (3b, C, and RF). Do you think Nunez and Coste will be your starting 3b and C respectively to start 2007 ? And as you indicated, bench and bullpen will be completely redone. Of the bullpen, I think only Gordon, Geary, Madson, Castro, and perhaps Sanchez return. Adios Rhodes, Fultz, and White. Of the starting pitchers, Myers and Hamels are your only sure bets. I think it is 50/50 they resign Wolf. Matthieson is certainly not a certainty to even stay in the rotation the rest of the season. If they can't move Lieber in the offseason, he's back. So, I think it is likely there are two new starters in the rotation. 2 new/different pitchers in the rotation , 3 new position starters, a new bench, and bullpen changes is fairly big turnover.

I agree about the bullpen and the bench but this starting rotation will be pretty similiar next year. Agree on Myers/Hamels but Lieber is definitely going to be here next season. No way the Phils can move his large contract.

Maybe Mathieson isn't there but I would be willing to bet one of the rotation spots is filled by an internal guy (Mathieson/Floyd/Madson). The other spot is where they probably resign Wolf. They probably bring in one other starter but that is not huge turnover.

As for C, I am willing to bet the Phils fill in this position with another stop-gap solution. Unfortunately the market for starting catchers this offseason is really lean. I bet the Phils going into spring training with a combination of Coste, Ruiz, and x (FA) and let it sort itself out. I agree about 3B though. I can't possibly see how Nunez is a starter next year.

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