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Monday, October 23, 2006

Comments

Is it a coincidence that the Moyer signing comes hot on the heels of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement? Assuming that free agent compensation remains in the new CBA, Gillick must be thinking that Moyer is the best veteran arm he can get without giving up a draft pick. If so, that is a refreshing change from the Ed Wade era when draft picks were squandered for mediocre free agents.

Wow! 2 yrs at $10.5M for a 44-yr-old junkball #4 or #5 starter. Not a bad move if Moyer can continue to pitch effectively, but how long can he continue?

Portends a huge payday for the services of Zito, Schmidt, et al. When does the bidding war between the large-market clubs begin?

The Moyer signing makes sense but the Phils are in a tough spot. They cannot make the playoffs with a mediocre rotation like Hamels-Myers-Leiber-Moyer-Wolf. Yet, FA pitching pool this offseason is shallow and will be overpriced.

Clout said "They cannot make the playoffs with a mediocre rotation like Hamels-Myers-Leiber-Moyer-Wolf."

I don't agree, although it would be certainly easier to make the playoffs if they upgraded their staff. I don't see a lot of good staffs in the NL, including the 2006 playoff teams.

If Moyer gets 2 yrs 10.5 M, what will Wolf command ?

This is an important move. Moyer's overall numbers were not terribly impressive, but he gave the Phils some outstanding outings at the most important time of year, pitching deep into most of his starts. He's still got enough left to be a legitimate no. 3 pitcher.

The Phillies' rotation at the end of the year was the strongest in the division. Had they employed it all year (and if Lieber had pitched as he was capable all year), they would have certainly been a lot closer to the Mets. It's not a spectacular rotation, but it is better than mediocre. It's more solid than anything the Phillies have had top-to-bottom since 1993, in that it comes without question marks. With a strong enough bullpen in place, the Phils can definitely compete with this rotation (assuming they'll re-sign Wolf).

I don't agree with Clout's statement on making the playoffs, but I agree with his skepticism. The National League is very weak. Hamels looks like he will be terrific, and Myers is still taking steps forward.

However, Lieber and Moyer are a very, very old tandem. Lieber is actually the bigger risk of the two. Aside from the last month or so, Lieber was fairly terrible last season.

Overall, I believe this was a positive move for the reasons stated above, but loading up on veteran pitching didn't work for two noteworthy New York teams this season.

if i was a betting man i'd bet against wolf returning to the phil's. can anyone think of a rotation with three lefties? i've been trying and i cannot do it. if they don't resign him before fa begins i'd be shocked if he came back. of the cards, red sox, yankees, texas, mets, toronto all it takes is one team willing to go to 10 mil a year to make him overpaid. i'd like him back, but it may get too expensive.

one more thing - lieber being in a contract year is very, very good for us. i know he'll be in better shape this year.

>Hamels-Myers-Leiber-Moyer-Wolf

I dunno clout, that sounds like the best rotation in the NL, and i'd prbly put wolf at 3 and move lieber and moyer down a notch.

I think that Gillick wanted to first pin down Moyer, and then work on Wolf.

I expect Wolf to stay in the NL, he likes to swing the bat too damn much. Which means, if the phils dont sign him, we're looking at Wolf as a Met.

This is one of the most amazing statements I've ever seen: "It's more solid than any [rotation] the Phillies have had top-to-bottom since 1993, in that it comes without question marks."

Are you kidding me? A rotation with a guy who's 36 coming off 9-11, 4.93? Another guy who is just beginning his second full year and has been hurt in 2 of the past 3 seasons? A third guy who's coming off Tommy John surgery? A fourth guy whose mental stability is in question? A fifth guy who is 44 years old coming off 11-14?

That's a playoff rotation "without question marks"?

>That's a playoff rotation "without question marks"?

In the NL, yep. :-)

TJ'ers are much better 2 years removed, hopefully Cole Hamels stopped getting into barfights, and hopefully the 44 year old guy, can calm the head case down.

its a helluva lot better than last year, where slots #4 and #5 were prayers (madson and floyd).

I think that its the best rotation in the NL...

Joe:
Well, I hope your fantasy becomes reality. But there is no factual evidence to support your fantasy, unfortunately.

Another negative to this signing, and especially if they resign Wolf to fill out the rotation ...

The Phillies may not be sitting on another great pitching prospect like Cole Hamels, but then again, how would they know? Detroit's rotation, widely considered the best in the playoffs if not all of baseball, developed over time. They were not blocked by three veterans on a downslope, all of which were no better than a No. 3.

I'm not sure about Wolf. Wolf will probably go to the team that makes him the longest offer, probably a third year. Someone said Mets, but I would include teams like Washington, Atlanta, St. Louis, Baltimore and Cubs as teams that will look at Wolf. Remember how many scouts watched his final start? Lots.

Joe:
Tell me if these names ring a bell: Willis, Sanchez, Olsen, Johnson, Nolasco.

it's not like anybody is going into next year with the 71 orioles rotation. i don't know how anyone could look at these pitching staffs and say any team couldn't win with any rotation - so lets not get carried away. they just need five guys with a 75% chance of going 6+ every fifth day - in todays mlb (especially nl) that's all it takes to give you a great chance of winning.

phils were 36-22 with the end of the year line-up. Extrapolating over 162 games yields 100.5 wins. Even if they get 10 games less than this, they'll be serious contenders. What you'd offset by Moyer's age, I'd counter with Wolf's improvement.

I can't reasonably believe that Wolf is going to stay here either. Just way too much money out there. You'd like to believe that he'd give us a discount, but I think if he gets offered 12mill a year, he'll give us a shot at 9mill a year, and even that may be too much.

clout makes a good point. Although I feel he's underestimating how good our rotation will be next year and overestimating the performance of the Marlins young staff, that is to say I think they're closer than he does. I'd still have to agree with the basic premise that the Marlin's staff looks better than the phils right now.

Will:
The 36-22 was accomplished against teams with losing records. Recall how weak the schedule was the final 2 months of the season. Whether 36-22 is the true ability of this team as you and most posters here believe, or not, as I believe, will give us plenty to debate this offseason.

With the ball park the Phillies play in, those early 90's Atlanta Braves rotations wouldn't have exactly been a "lock." It goes both ways, too. A 4.93 ERA pitching at CBP wouldn't be that high pitching elsewhere.

The point that can't be overemphasized enough is the fact the the entire NL is sub-par in pitching. The NL East winning (by a wide margin) Mets will surely spend freely to attempt to improve their pitching, yet they ran away with the division this year. If they do so, sure, the Phils will need to be that much better. This team is built more around an offensive/pitching balance. Even if the staff can be one of the top 7 or 8 in the NL, they'll remain competitive, assuming the bullpen can be tweaked and improved.

in re: left-handed starters...

not that you really want to imitate them, but the Pirates basically had three left-handed starters this year if you count Oliver Perez and Tom Gorzelanny as one pitcher. Zach Duke started 34 games, Paul Maholm started 30, and Perezelanny started 26 combined games.

two teams had 2 and a half left-handed starters. Cleveland had Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, and 14 starts from Jeremy Sowers. the Devil Rays had Casey Fossum, Scott Kazmir, and 13 Mark Hendrickson starts. the Orioles and Royals both had three left-handed starters at times, but each team had only one lefty that started more than 25 games.

of course the marlins look better - they are a bunch of guys with only a year under them. everybody knows that liebers out of shape, moyer is 100, wolfs arm is broken, etc. all we know about the marlins youngsters is that they traded really good players to get them and they had one year of reasonable success. at they are mark prior 6 years ago - still a coin flip.

plus, the marlins ar getting a new skipper. that does effect young pitching and defensive chemistry.

maybe dusty baker will sign there and all their arms will fall off. (i'm not wishing them harm, i'm just saying...)

Tim:
People who actually do research know that the Marlins pitchers are top quality prospects likely to improve in 2007.

clout:
i actually go to the games and watch them, not bitch (IN NOVEMBER) when are rotation isn't cy young, nolan ryan, roger clemens and babe ruth.

I agree with Will that while there's a definite gap between (projected) Phils and Marlins pitching, it's not insurmountable when you account for Florida's stadium bias and weaker offense.

Nolasco is arguably worse than anyone in our rotation - his park-adjusted ERA+ is lower than any of the Phils' starters except Wolf and Floyd. his minor-league stats are spotty, and include a 2.07 WHIP and 9.30 ERA in AAA in 2004.

Sanchez has extremely limited minor-league experience - zero innings at AAA, less than 150 innings at AA. he also outperformed his 2005/6 minor league stats this season, which suggests to me that he may have been playing over his head. on top of that, his strikeout rates declined every season he's played, and plummeted by 4 K/9 when he got to the majors. (Hamels' K rate dropped a lot too, but at 12+ K/9 for his minor league career he had more room to drop.) he's still got excellent stuff, and I'm not writing him off, but he's no guarantee.

point being that these Marlins pitchers are hardly proven quantities, Willis excepted. Florida's park-adjusted ERA+ is actually worse than Philadelphia's (100 - i.e. league average for Philly vs 99 for Florida). I'm not arguing that our pitching is better than theirs, but we're not competing with a bunch of 22-year-old Koufaxes here.

Tim, I was going to make the point that you just did. The Marlins may have some nice potentials in that rotation, but there is no way of knowing how any of those pitchers (other than Willis, who may not be long for that team anyhow) will fare in their second years. I certainly would not feel comfortable with that many uncertainties in the rotation. With the Phillies, at least you know for sure what you're getting from day one. You have to figure Lieber is better than he showed last year, and that Hamels will build on his experience; even though he is also only a second-year pitcher, he is probably the surest thing the Phils have on the staff. Myers' mental stability isn't so much in question that he can't be an effective, above-average pitcher most of the time. Moyer has proven can still pitch reliably. The 'question marks' aren't there with this group the way they are with a younger staff.

If the Phils can really get someone better than Wolf to plug into the rotation, I'm all for it. But I seriously doubt that they will, and they had better sign him if that is the case.

this is insane! we're comparing our team to one that traded every valuable player they had for pitching prospects. of course they have more of them than the phillies do.

RSB: Your absurd statement that the Phils rotation "is without question marks" is indefensible, although it is amusing to see you try to defend it.

Tim: Sounds like we agree. The Marlins have a better rotation than the Phillies. They actually do get quality prospects back when they trade their vets. Imagine that.

what's it like being a marlins fan? i bet you were really happy when they traded beckett, delgado, lo duco, pierre, castillo for "prospects". did you start the ownership fanclub after that?

What exactly are the question marks here? Insofar as we can't predict exactly how any player will perform based on prior performance alone, there is always a degree of uncertainty. But it is fairly easy to project the results of the present staff all the same, barring injury. We know precisely what their capabilities and limitations are. Moyer, Myers, and Lieber are most likely all good for 10-15 wins, and Hamels may well be god for more than that. Add one more competent starter to the mix and you have a very respectable staff.

clout: your point about the phils record the last 2 months was mainly against bad teams is a good one, although I would counter with the fact that we went 7-3 against that vaunted Marlins rotation (including 3 wins over Olsen), 5-1 vs the current NL WS representatives, and 4-6 against the heavily stacked Mets.

and why must you constantly point out that the phils get no good prospects for their veterans without at least mentioning that our vets contracts were prohibitive, to say the least? At least give proper respect to the Marlins management who knew how to sign vets without limiting their trade options.

I don't mean to over-hype Hamels *that* much! He'll be good, not god.

Tim:
I'm a Phillies fan. But I'm not a fantasy pollyanna or management apologist. I think they need to upgrade the rotation to win. I said the same thing last off-season. I hope they do it.

the question is exactly how old and lonely is clout? he really thinks it's 1971 and we should be the orioles (or marlins).

clout:
you're bill conlin in drag. you want me to think that if we sold ever player on the phillies you'd be happy - if you are a real phillies fan that can't be true.

Will:
Unless you work in the Phils front office you don't know what efforts were made to deal Abreu and what other trade opportunities were available. Mike Lowell's contract was pretty fat as I recall. In any event, the bottom line is the Phillies return on trading quality vets like Rolen, Schilling, Polanco, Abreu, Lidle etc. has been poor by any standard.

Tim:
The 1971 O's would be tough to match. I'm simply saying I don't think the Phils can make the post-season with their current rotation and I hope they upgrade.

rolen, schilling? are you serious? are there any moves from the 70's or 80's you'd like to discuss in addition?

Hoo-ah! Just like old times at the Beerleaguer Corral. And no one's even mentioned Pat Burrell! There goes a chair through the window. Watch out for that table leg...

on a day the phil's make their rotation better some people are complaining they aren't making it better - and the world series isn't even over. it's like they're only happy when they make themselves miserable.

on another note - i just noticed morgan ensberg had an obp of .394. other than the strike outs he might be a third baseman to take a shot on.

Anyone can be called a "question mark" in the offseason. Roger Clemens's age makes him a "question mark" but I wouldn't mind having him on my team.

But all 5 of these guys (if you count Wolf) have had some amount of success in the majors or have a very big upside in the case of Hamels. The bottom line to me is there are no better options than Wolf/Moyer at a reasonable price on the free agent market. Plus, I like the idea of 3 lefties in the rotation. They don't have any sure-thing guys in the high minors right now ready to grab a spot in the rotation. I'm hoping someone does tear up the International League early in the year because given the age and injury history this 5-man rotation won't be there all six months.

I'd prefer to go this route and spend the big free agent money on a 3B then try to make a run at a Zito or Schmidt and watch Abe Nunez battle the Mendoza line all year.

Think about this: Zito and Schmidt are the top 2 FA prospects without a doubt? Who would you place 3rd? I think that the answer may be Wolfie. So, we need to sign him, and then break out the big bucks for a real 3b.

I like the Moyer signing. He fit in nicely with the current club and is a decent pitcher. I don't care that he's old, and I don't care that he's a soft tosser. All I care about is him pitching decently and in today's baseball world, he does just that.

Moyer, Lieber, Myers, and Hamels aren't going to set the world on fire collectively, but they're a solid 4...now on to the 5 slot in the rotation.

I agree with Steve Jeltz, who by the way, I had a few beers with a number of years ago in Clearwater. The Mets found Maine, the Cards found Reyes. Hopefully Segovia or Happ can help the Phils. I was drinking with you, Steve and your buddy Dernier.

After reading all these comments, I have to agree with clout. This five man rotation isn't good enough (unless Tinker Bell sprinkles them with Pixie dust.) Hamels in my mind is great, but is he really great all season? We don't know. That's a question mark.

Myers? He's been supposedly great for years. He's never had a "great" year. That's a question mark.

Leiber? Doghnut boy had a few quality starts down the stretch. I smell mediocrity in him. That's a question mark.

Moyer. I'm glad they signed him, especially as the season was ending, the word was he would return to Seattle. He's 44! That's a question mark.

Wolf? I was favorably impressed with Wolf, yet the tone on this blog was that he should not start down the stretch. Was he really that bad? or is he good? That's a question mark.

clout/Lake Fred,

If the Phils chose not to sign Moyer and/or Wolf, who would you put in the rotation in their place? It's easy to call everyone a "question mark" but I haven't heard of any alternatives that wouldn't be more of a question mark. I'm not trying to phrase this in an antagonizing tone, but if you go with a AAA guy isn't he more of a question mark than either one of those two veterans with track records? Throw some names out there.

again - i find it hard to believe that after watching the playoffs - one can say that our rotation flatly, without question, isn't good enough.

Mathieson or Floyd rather than Moyer? If you haven't realized by now, this ownership group will NOT (I can't be any more emphatic) return to a $90MM payroll. That being said, Zito and Schmidt are not options and in all honesty, if Wolfe is #3 on that list, we'll need the above referenced "hometown discount" to keep him, as well. The NL is extremely void of good starting pitching and the law of Supply and Demand will drive any available pitcher's price up quickly. For that reason, I kind of like the Moyer signing. I didn't say I love it, but again, the Supply is very low this year.

I can see Lake Fred and clout's points, as well. This staff isn't going to yield next year's Cy Young winner, especially at CBP. I've been saying for months now that trading Meyers might actually make some sense while his value is still high. If I remember correctly, it was actually clout who said that he still has plenty of upside. I guess the upside outweighs his "mental stability?"

Willard-

My point exactly. Would anyone feel more comfortable with Floyd in the rotation? I can see Mathieson, but like I said earlier at some point you're going to need someone to take a spot. Let him build some confidence in Ottawa and be ready to step in whenever someone's elbow blows out or Lieber eats his way out of the rotation.

I agree Zito and Schmidt aren't options, so what are the other options besides Wolf and Moyer? Anybody want Jeff Weaver? Before you start complaining, consider the alternatives (or lack thereof).

This is a good signing by the Phils. Without any more tinkering they have 4 solid starters. Hamels and Meyers are set for the next few years. Leiber is under contract for next year and Moyer for the next two years.

Leiber is a likely canidate to be involved in a trade. He could be moved with Rowand for someone like Garcia and Crede from Chicago. Or Leiber may be teamed with Burrell or prospects to the Red Sox for Schilling. And there are a number of other possibilities that may occur before spring. But if there is a trade that involves a pitcher it will likely be Leiber, only for an upgrade.

Another aspect is that the Phils have a long train of very good pitching prospects coming up. The first of these (Gonzalez, Happ, & Sergovia) should be ready by mid season this next year. In 2008 the next few (Carrasco, Outman, & Kendrik) should be ready with even more beyond them. Some of these guys will challenge for a spot as a starter while a few will end up in the pen or as trade bait. With Leiber done in 1 year and Moyer in 2 years it should open up spots for these young pitchers.

Next with Wolf he won't be getting any 12-15 mil a year. He is likely to see 5 - 7 mil a year with incentives. He may only get a 1 or 2 year contract anyway from whoever signs him. He would be a decent signing by the Phils as the 5th starter.

Other options would be thru trade. The White Sox are interested in Rowand and may part with Garcia or Vazquez to make room for McCarthy. Rowand is likely to be used for a 3rd basement if one is not aquired via free agency.

A free agent signing is unlikely as Gillick will use that to pick up a 3rd Baseman or an Outfielder. Recent history shows free agent pitchers are over paid and don't live up to the hype.

Any way these 4 SP they have are solid and now Gillick can start to build upon that foundation. Or he can move someone to upgrade the pitching.

>> again - i find it hard to believe that after watching the playoffs - one can say that our rotation flatly, without question, isn't good enough.

You don't need a great or even a good starting rotation to make the playoffs in the NL. I would call the Phils rotation as it is presently assembled decent with a chance to be good. If they resign Wolf, it will be better.

Look at the NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals -- Carpenter, Mulder, Marquis, Suppan, Reyes, Weaver. Other than Carpenter, who was even good this season ?

How can you flat out say the Phils won't make the playoffs solely on their starting rotation, without knowing how they will upgrade the bullpen, bench, 3rd base, and right handed power ?

Good post Bob. I like those scenarios. Lieber would be attractive, being in a contract year, for a team looking to buy at the deadline (if he's still around then).

At what point do we need to seriously address extending Utley and Howard? Do we know if that is on Pat G's "to do" list in the next year or so?

Gillick is on record that there is not a need to extend Howard yet.

Bob D., I think Wolf will command more than a 2 year deal for $5- 7 M per if Moyer can get this.

Mid level guys like Matt Morris signed 3 year deals for nearly $10M a year last season. With the scarcity of free agent pitchers this year, I suspect new contracts to be even higher.

Zito is a no go, and Schmidt is going to be pricey. Therefore it was smart to lock up Moyer. He's not flashy but he almost always gives his team a chance to win. Put him the the rotation with Myers and Hamels and now we're talking. Lieber needs to bounce back in order to give us 4 strong. But honestly, those are 4 starting pitchers many teams would want. We're not as blessed as the Florida Marlins, but our fans are better!

The latest on the White Sox is they are seeking young starting pitching in exchange for their veterans. A guy like Garcia could be dominant in the NL, but it doesn't appear the Phillies have what it takes to acquire him. Rowand alone won't get it done.

im not sure that moyer's ability to "shake off" homers is a quality that makes me feel good about him.

any 3 of moyer, hamels, meyers, leiber is a good back end of the rotation, but we need someone who's going to be really good, not just pretty good -- though i'd prefer value over name-recognition.

I think Bob D. did a nice job of laying out the timelines for each of our starting pitchers. Essentially he's saying (without actually saying it) forget the free agents, sign Wolf and have a locked in place rotation under contract for years down the road. Then you can tweak it by trades and moving up minor league real prospects as they become ready. I like it. I like signing Moyer.

Myers is not a back-of-the-rotation starter. his 2006 was better than Zito's and basically on par with Schmidt's - and he's younger than both of them. there is no FA starter on the market better than Myers, and there is no starter we will trade for that's better than Myers.

classic Phillies mindset - undervalue the players you have, overvalue the ones you don't.

i agree with what ae said. myers/hamels is as good as it gets - outside santana/liriano and maybe another combo. give me three other guys that go 200 innings and with our offense this year we would have not only made the playoffs, but challenged the mets.

The Moyer signing is a good move. You probably won't get better value for the dollar on the FA market than what the Phillies should get from Moyer. The Wolf signing would also be a good move if the contract is reasonable.

Hwr, I would prefer the Phillies try to move Lieber this offseason. Free up his slot and see if one of the youngsters can fill the void (a risk) or if the Phillies can pry a starter away for Rowand/Lieber/Burrell, etc...

There are two ways Lieber can go in 2007. First, he can be out of shape, get off to another slow start, and take up a slot in the rotation. The Phillies cannot afford that, but at least it would be clear that they have to replace him.

Second, and worse in my opinion, is that he comes in ready to pitch in his contract year and has a solid first half. This prssents the Phillies with a bigger problem. As the trade deadline approaches, what do you do with him?
Keep him, let him go as a FA at the end of the season and get nothing for a valuable commodity?
Trade him at the deadline and risk losing a key part of your rotation during perhaps a close pennant chase?
Sign him to another contract extension?
I don't like any of the options, although if forced to choose I would trade him at the deadline in that scenario.

No, better to move him prior to the season. Teams are desperate for starters, the FA market is slim and the prices inflated. Lieber would command a nice price in return value, and the fact that he has only 1 year remaining on his contract is a terrific attraction to many teams as well. He might be the key piece in getting a 3B or some young bullpen help.

While we're on the subject of FA starting pitching, lets compare three pitchers from 2006.

Pitcher A : 200 IP, 156 K, 1.38 WHIP, .95 HR/9, 44% GB, 70 BB

Pitcher B : 221 IP, 151 K, 1.40 WHIP, 1.09 HR/9, 38% GB, 99 BB

I'll give you a clue as to who they are. The first one was traded away for absolutely nothing because he was an "overpaid headcase," at about $5 mill. The second is going to be making about 2.5x that in free agency. We don't need a Zito or Schmidt to upgrade the rotation. We just can't make stupid trades and signings.

*two, not three

Jason sez, "Detroit's rotation, widely considered the best in the playoffs if not all of baseball, developed over time. They were not blocked by three veterans on a downslope, all of which were no better than a No. 3."

True, but Detroit was under no pressure to compete for several years before suddenly gelling after a manager change. That's not the situation in Philly; management is scared to death of another summer far out of contention. They will not throw a bunch of youngsters out there and accept a single 70-win season, let alone several years of them.

Billy Mac sez, "Look at the NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals -- Carpenter, Mulder, Marquis, Suppan, Reyes, Weaver."

Good point. Count how many pitchers you named. Eude Brito is not going to cut it as starter #6, and 6 is the minimum number necessary. Who is starter #6? For those who suggested Mathieson, he's out, probably for the entire season. I'm sure they're thinking Segovia; I'd be happier with a reclamation project, someone in the same place career-wise as Paul Byrd was the year the Phils hauled him off the scrap heap.

George S. wants to trade Lieber. And replace him with whom, George? Wolf is essentially the lefthanded version of Lieber, and we seem to agree he's going to get a 3-yr, $27 million contract. That's $2 million per year more than Lieber. Pitching is getting more expensive, not less. I'd do it for a high-quality 3B, but you still have the problem of filling the hole. Given his track record, Gillick's answer would probably be at the Ryan Franklin level. Or is anyone prepared to try Madson in the rotation again?

I like this signing but this team needs a whole lot more pitching help before they are a legit contender. I can't believe that people think this starting rotation (Hamels-Myers-Leiber-Moyer-Wolf) is not full of questions.

Myers and Moyer are probably the most sure things. Still, Myers still hasn't had that breakthrough season of 15+ wins and you never know about Moyer since he is so old. Moyer could "lose" it at any time.

Hamels has great potential but he has never pitched an entire season with dealing with injuries. Lieber is coming off a generally poor season and I doubt that we will pitch that much better next season at age 37. As for Wolf, he is a giant question mark. You just have no idea how much he will rebound to his further self.

At least the starting rotation is more set though. This bullpen was a diaster at the end of the season. Sadly, I think the Phils need alot more help there than any other spot.

My position has been distorted by others, so let me make it clear: I like the Moyer signing. I said so. I also said I don't think a rotation of Hamels-Myers-Lieber-Moyer-Wolf is good enough to make the playoffs.

Now if you want to add a bunch of fantasy "ifs" to the equation, fine. "If" none of them gets hurt, "if" Lieber returns to his '05 form, "if" Moyer doesn't act his age, "if" Wolf bounces back to his previous self a year after TJ surgery and "if" Myers continues to develop, the Phillies will have a good rotation. But I think at least half those "ifs" won't come true and the Phils have no sure things in the minors to step in.

Oh, and Jeltzie, your logic is as weak as your bat. Just because there are no decent alternatives doesn't mean the Phillies rotation is good enough. It isn't. And if the Phils can't work a trade for another starter or sign Schmidt, they won't make the playoffs.

Alby asked who is the #6 pitcher. Good question here since during a season every team needs that extra pitcher to come in and make that spot start or fill in for an extended period of time. That will fall to Germano and Mazone early on. However keep an eye on RHP Sergovia, he is the real deal. He likely needs another half of season, but he could make this team right out of spring. And he isn't the best arm in the minors that would be Gio Gonzalez another lefty with great stuff. These 2 and JA Happ could make an impact sometime next year but more likely during the second half.
As for Mathieson he'll be back for 2008, Brito and Madson they will be in the bullpen.
Other reclemation projects could include Sheets or Prior as that 5th starter. There may be a few starters cut loose in January but that is where Franklin came from. Maybe able to snag an arm for the pen there.

Clout: You're probably right, and yet they came within two games of making the playoffs with a rotation no better than the one you list. What say we see who the Mets upgrade with before we throw in the towel?

Bob: I think Sheets and Prior are a higher level "reclamation project" than Gillick will have in mind.

I agree with Clout about the "ifs." You can count on a couple of them but that is highly unlikely that all of them will fall into place.

More importantly, the Phils are going to need some starting pitching depth if they start next season with Moyer, Lieber, and Wolf. Madson and Brito aren't the answer as starters and Mathieson is out until 2008. There are a few promising young arms but I hope they don't get thrown into the fire too soon. This is one of the few times that I wouldn't mind Gillick bringing in one of his old favorites as a stop-gap and to bolster the pitching depth.

ae wrote- "Myers is not a back-of-the-rotation starter. his 2006 was better than Zito's and basically on par with Schmidt's - and he's younger than both of them. there is no FA starter on the market better than Myers, and there is no starter we will trade for that's better than Myers.

classic Phillies mindset - undervalue the players you have, overvalue the ones you don't."

excellent comment!!!

The hot stove league has begun. This particular thread has been excellent. Each comment is well thought and offers either a positive or negative aspect of the starters. Unlike during the season, when each of these guys would be pitching in a few days and pitching like someone describes to prove him right or wrong; there will be no answers for these comments until the season begins.

I have a feeling that the starting five we are talking about right now will not be intact on opening day. I think Hamels and Moyers are definite Phillies and will not be traded. I think Myers and/or Lieber could be gone in a trade to upgrade other positions like 3B and OF. As for where Wolf ends up is anyone's guess. I think the Wolf situation will need to be resolved before any trades of Myers or Lieber are consummated. I think trades are more likely if Wolf stays and I think PG would be more willing to deal doughnut boy than Myers.

LOTS of info in this Daily News article - http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/15833910.htm?source=rss&channel=philly_sports

encouraging (to me, probably not to the RSB contingent) comment from Gillick: "There's a very strong possibility that Pat's in leftfield," said Gillick, who noted that despite Burrell's .258 average and his .222 mark with runners in scoring position, "You don't find 29 home runs and 95 RBI in the street." Amaro pretty much guarantees that Dellucci won't be back: "I think he'd probably benefit from hitting the free-agent market,'' assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We've told him that's the best thing to do at this stage of the game."

article leads with the search for third base, also mentions that Gillick is looking to bolster the bullpen. buried is a comment from Gillick that "We'd like to have the same five guys," speaking about the rotation. comments about Wolf are mixed - Gillick and Amaro both suggest they'd like him back, but that it will very much depend on what kind of demand there is for him in the offseason.

details about Moyer's contract: limited no-trade clause. $6M+1M bonus for 2007, guaranteed $3.5M for 2008 with escalators depending on how many innings he pitches each year, to a maximum of $7M in 2008 if he pitches 180 innings in '07 and 185 in '08. comments from Gillick and Amaro suggest to me that they would like any Wolf deal to be structured similarly.

Moyer's comments about returning are very positive - possible fodder for the rumor that the Phils PTB are grooming him as a potential pitching coach.

clout - the victim of distortion by others... HA!

i love the way pg structured moyers contract. it's similar to gordons in that we won't have elder pitchers who's contracts are peaking at the end.

clout,

My logic is not weak. If you're counting Wolf in the rotation, this rotation is better than the 2006 Opening Day rotation that featured Floyd and Madson. I haven't seen anyone yet argue that point. The Phillies won 85 games this year, 2 more than the NL team in the World Series. Lieber and Myers are the only guys from the 2006 Opening Day rotation projected for 2007. If the 2007 Opening Day rotation features Wolf/Moyer/Hamels vs. Lidle/Floyd/Madson in 2006, I think that's an upgrade that can translate to 5 more wins (90) over the course of the regular season which would almost guarantee the wild card in the weak NL.

What part of that logic aren't you following?

Also, they're not signing Schmidt. I'll put money on that, so that's a scenario that's simply not going to happen. I agree a trade involving Lieber might be a very good idea.

And besides maybe the Marlins, feel free to name me one five man rotation in the NL that doesn't have any question marks in it. Everyone has them and relative to say the Mets (injured Pedro, using Oliver Perez in a Game 7) and the Cards (is anybody really sold on Jeff Weaver as a #3?), I can deal with the question marks in the Phils rotation.

yeh, its nice to see that gone are the days of Wade contracts.

Wolf wil get az similarly structured deal, but the numbers will be a bit bigger.

He really didnt have that good of a year this year, so there are still questions about him. However, te second year after TJ tends to be a very good year for pitchers.

Wolf is still a risk, so he may not command the $12-$15 a year that the top FA's will, but a 2 year incentive heavy contract would be attractive to him.

If Wolf is retained then we have a solid rotation. May not be flashy, but at least every guy gives the team a chance to win.

I'm hoping Pat Burrell comes back. I know he has negatives, but his production isn't an easy replacement.

Jeltzie:
Well, after the season begins, we get to find out who's right.

given the nature of the free agent market for starting pitching, gillick's aversion for long term deals for pitchers, and the unlikeliness that a minor leaguer can effectively fill a rotation spot from the get go, i think this signing plus a similar wolf signing woudl be the best thing the team can do for its rotation. wolf will almost certainly pitch better next season than he did down the strech. getting a 1-5-110 ERA+ out of him in the 4th slot for $5 mill will be a much better bargain that anything else they would get. teams get burned by the paul byrds and matt morrises every season. i'd much rather them retain these five and concentrate more on 3rd base and the 8th inning out of the pen.

take this with a grain of salt given Wolf's TJ surgery, but now is a good a time as any for me to repost the career-to-age-29 numbers of Wolf and a certain San Francisco Giant currently on the FA market:

1175 IP / 1135 IP
190 GS / 182 GS
69-60 / 69-62
4.21 ERA / 4.33 ERA
550 ER / 546 ER
971 SO / 924 SO
437 BB / 478 BB
1129 H / 1132 H
157 HR / 110 HR
102 ERA+ / 98 ERA+

that should read "105-100 ERA+". Wolf's two best years were 01-02 with ERA+ numbers of 116 & 118. this past year, it was 83. with this offense, league average (or better) from all 5 rotation spots is really all they need.

argh. "105-110 ERA+."

Alby, my thinking on Lieber is based on exactly what you stated in your comment: "Pitching is getting more expensive, not less". Someone like Lieber will never be more in demand or his value inflated as high as this offseason. If the Phillies could parlay Lieber into a starting 3B or a reliable bullpen arm, I'd take that chance.
The 'hole' that the Phillies would have to fill by Lieber's departure, that many people seem so concerned about, is this big: 9-11, 4.93 era. If the Phillies cannot get that performance from their prospects, another trade, or a lower-priced FA or a combination thereof, then they are farther away from the WC than ever.

I agree - this seems to be a no-brainer. Sign wolf to a 2 year deal with a reasonable base and good incentives based on innings pitched. Then go get ARAM and win the East, couldn't be simpler...

Kind of surprising and refreshing to hear Gillick (and Amaro) make such direct comments about where their interests may lie this off-season, particularly regarding Wolf and Dellucci. Sure, it just confirms what everyone suspected, but it's nice to *know* what they're thinking instead of just guessing all the time. As for the comments on Burrell, they sure sound different than the ones he made last week. That part I'm not buying.

If Wolf is the Phillies' fifth starter, I can't see how that's a bad thing. Consider the caliber of most teams' fifth starters coming out of spring training, let alone fourth. You're talking about a guy who's made almost 200 major league starts, who's going to be at full strength for the first time in three seasons. I think I can handle that kind of 'weak link'. As I've said before, this proposed staff reminds me an awful lot of the '93 rotation which featured no real ace but five reliable starters who each won at least 10 games. *That* to me was the reason why the '93 team won the division. There was no reliance on fringe starters in and out of the rotation, up and down from the minors, no Cliff Brantleys, Danny Coxes, no Kyle Abbotts or Brad Brinks. It was 1 through 5 the entire season, first day of spring training to sixth game on the World Series as the five starters, etched in slate. To me, that's what the five guys the Phillies have (or almost have) a chance to be in '07 - a rotation that's the same all year, that provides a *stability* for the team. No Gavin Floyds or Adam Berneros or Eude Britos. They aren't going to set the world on fire, but can you reasonably say that any of these five pitchers are eminently capable of winning ten games? You can.

George S - I'm never fully confident about comparing value in the FA market with value in the trading market - the value of a player in the latter market (players+possibly prospects) always seems to be of greater than hard cash spread out over several years to the club trading for the player. Plus, with only a year away from Free Agency, I think we're less likely to get value in the trade for what is a year's rental. Having said that, depending on how the pitching poor market plays out in terms of expensive contracts this year, I could see a case for gillick trading lieber to a club that just missed out on a FA deal and felt it crucial to acquire pitching help.

Also, I still don't have a sense of how good a salesman gillick is (clearly his hands were tied on the dump bobby at all costs deal, forcing the situation with the yankees) to know whether he could explain away lieber's lousy 2/3 of a year in 2006 to any interested GM.

Jason made a comment in his post a few days back about how even Phillies.com was fanning the "Pat Burrell will be gone next year" rumors. I wonder if the forwardness of shopping Pat has turned some teams off (as if his contract didn't enough) to the point where Pat is making the latest comments to try to increase his value. By mentioning his stats in the quote, it sure sounds that way. We'll see. This is going to be a fun off-season. For all the Gillick bashing we've all partaken in to some extent this season, I feel like we're in better hands this off-season.

RSB -

I keep hearing that Brito is Bullpen material at best, and I'm not sure that I agree. At the end of the year, under pressure, he pitched brilliantly as the 6th starter out of the pen.

I would even go so far as to say that he deserves the first crack back into the rotation should the need arise, before an untried Minor leaguer, Floyd or Madson.

He may have just had a bad first trip up to the bigs, and needed to settle. I think that he may be valuable as a starter still.

Yes, too may lefties :-)

I wouldn't go so far as to say Brito pitched brilliantly, but I agree that he's probably the best 'number 6' option available now. I think I'd be more comfortable with things if he were perhaps the best number 7 option.

Brito's one of those guys that you really don't want to pencil in as the #5 guy to start the season, but if you need a spot start, you can be reasonably sure it won't be a disaster.

Oisin, although Lieber's bad 2/3 of a year would be hard to sell now, you have to admit that his trade value will skyrocket come July. Every August and September (and October when he gets there), his ERA and WHIP dip. It will be interesting to see where the team is this July and where Lieber will go. If clout wants to see if Gillick can get good prospects for vets with workable contracts, this may be the test.

I wouldn't be ready to throw in the towel if the starting five is Myers-Hamels-Lieber-Moyer-Wolf. Sure, there are plenty of "ifs", but what staff doesn't have question marks?
After the Chisox starters "lights-out" performance in the '05 WS, the White Sox were the consensus pick to return to the post-season. After they traded for Javier Vazquez in the winter, the baseball pundits claimed "The best team in the AL just got better!. Then they went out and never lived up to their expectations.

Nothing is more fickle or inconsistent in baseball than pitching. If a position player has a bad year it seldom has the impact of a bad year by a starting pitcher (if Lieber had an average year, Phils probably make the playoffs). Likewise, a better than average year by a starting pitcher can be the difference maker (if Hamels is in the rotation the entire season, Phils are more likely to be in the post-season).

A few things have to go right, but the Phils rotation compares favorably with other NL staffs, now they need to bolster the bullpen instead of seeking more starters.

BTW, I wouldn't trade Lieber unless another team is dealing from desperation. He's not expensive at today's standards and he is coming off a bad year and may even be undervalued (at today's prices) on the trade market. Given the scarcity of starting, the Phils need to keep what they already have. Likewise for Myers - it's hard to believe anyone would even suggest trading him. He'd get a huge contract if he were on the free agent market. He may be a total ass, but as far as total asses go, he's pretty effective.

The only way I see Lieber or Myers traded would be in multiple player deals. For example we trade Lieber for a quality 3B and the other team gives us a lesser quality starter and we give them a lesser quality infielder.

I also sense less movement in the winter and more in the spring. I would think that Clearwater will be holding open auditions for 3B, OF and pitching.

Will - fair point on lieber in july. But its a bold gm who trades him in july if we're still in the mix for the postseason.

RSB: Be curious to know who you think on this 5 is as good as Schilling and Tommy Greene were in '93.

You're right about the 10 game winners, though. Last year the group went 45-40. I see no reason why they can't win 50 this season. Another 40 wins and we're there.

My main problem is for this rotation to make the playoffs, they all must stay healthy, at least 3 must pitch better than last year and the Phils must have no need of a 6th starter. The odds are against it.

VOR: You think that 5 is as good as the Astros, Padres, Cards & Marlins? How about the Mets if Pedro & El Duque are healthy?

Clout, you have been right on in your posts on this starting five rotation. The only way one could actually think this starting five is a bonafide playoff winner rotation is if one puts on their Phillies Pink Phog Sunglasses and then everything looks rosy.

I'd add the Dodgers starters as a group that I'd envy with Penny, Lowe and Maddux anchoring the staff.

phillies are pretty strong 1-4. Atleast based on last year. I didn't realize that Moyer's ERA was the 44th best in baseball. Thats pretty good considering a #1 pitcher in Beckett was worse.

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