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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I usually cringe when there's a Daily News article about Phils plans, but this one was dead on. here's hoping someone with some sway takes a look at it.

of course, there is the problem that the pieces to fix these problems that Hofmann mentions are not exactly immediately apparent this offseason. but that's no excuse for diverting the entire management focus to pursuing an overpaid, overrated outfielder. this is why Gillick gets brought in - if all the GM needed to do was sign checks, we should have just kept Ed Wade, who sources tell me was able to do that just fine.

I disagree. In an ideal world, sure, there would be free agent pieces (or, gasp, in-house guys) that could be used to address our glaring need for pitching. But right now I think the market for pitching has become so inflated that you have to take a different tack with roster management. Build a team that can score 1000 runs and let the other teams hand out 40 million dollars to the likes of Weaver and Suppan. Why let the market force you to pay through the nose for mediocrity? With free agency we're going to overpay no matter what; I'd rather overpay for a 40/40 threat than for old middle relievers and thoroughly average starters.

That being said, Justin Spier would be a nice addition.

Finally someone who disagrees.
Thank you for the parity.

Pushing all your resources toward offense has not worked for two noteworthy teams over the years: Texas, and Philadelphia. And until the White Sox finally acquired some pitching (via trade) and won a world title, they were a mashing team that couldn't get over the hump.

Now, I could be wrong about the current staff. Cole Hamels could become a dominant ace and lead this team, along with Myers and a resurgent Lieber. But as much as I hate speak in absolutes, I cannot see them going anywhere if pitching is not addressed.

how is it better to overpay for a guy who *might* go 40/40 - or then again, might go 28/18 like he did way way back in 2004 (in a lineup, by the way, which included .930 OPS Mark Teixeira, .855 OPS Hank Blalock, .836 OPS Michael Young and .874 OPS Kevin Mench)?

now I agree with you, it would be foolish to overpay one of the mediocre FA pitchers this offseason just for the sake of appearances. but the fact is, we are still short at least one starting pitcher and several bullpen arms. Gillick should be focused on addressing those problems by signing FAs, pursuing international prospects, trying to work out a trade, etc. instead, all we hear about is Soriano Soriano SORIANO!!!11!!

(and obviously, this could all be a smokescreen intended to drive up the eventual price on Soriano while we actually go after other players. but at the moment I can only judge Gillick on his public statements, and I don't like those a whole lot.)

still it was good to see manuel recognises upgrading offence is nice, but we need to do something abou the bullpen. Also encouraging to hear hoffman say that no one at the club is generating the 'we're gonna go for soriano' buzz. Makes me wonder where randy miller is getting all the rumours from, tho'.

(Apart from our new base-stealing coach . . .)

I think you can add the current Yankees and the pre-Schilling Red Sox (like 80 years worth) to that list as well Jason.

While I like the idea of signing pitchers, Maverick is right - it's telling that Hoffman doesn't actually mention any names. Schmidt and Zito are not comming east, and I don't think Weaver, Suppan, etc. would be much of an improvement over Lieber. Signing Soriano woudn't stop us from signing Weathers, Borkowski, etc., so who cares. I'm curious what pitchers people on Beerleaguer (or Hoffman) actually want.

Basically the Phillies are in a position where they think they are close (the 83 win Cards were certainly a wake up call), they presumably have money to spend, and want to spend it. I would far prefer the team to go after Top Gun or Ramirez because 3B is a much bigger hole than , but the logic of the market does mean that you can get better value on hitters than on pitchers.

Also, I think Hamels/Myers/Lieber/Moyer is already much better than anything Texas ever put together.

Oisin, I actually missed that line...glad to read that as well. rumors are crazy these days; every day there seems to be two or three obviously contradictory stories about supposed offseason plans.

Oh, and of course Texas DID make a big effort to improve their pitching by overpaying for mediocre talent...I don't think this guy worked out too well.

Good point Oisin, Lopes was slurping Soriano like he was his campaign manager or something and Lopes will be in the dugout next year. I don't know what to make of that. Hopefully, just a smokescreen since he was with AS last year.

The easiest offensive upgrade we'll see next year is when an untradable and hopefully healthy Pat Burrell gets his swing together and when whoever is playing 3B puts together numbers that are worthy of an offensive MLB third baseman. Simply returning to their career averages is upgrade enough for me, and it's free!!! After all, this team led the NL in runs. Consistency is what was lacking and Soriano doesn't exactly bring Tony Gwynn consistency to any team.

Im not sure Texas is a valid comp; I can't recall them having one pitcher as good as Myers or Hamels in the last few years. All things in moderation; an offense-heavy team does little good if you're throwing the likes of Chan Ho Park out there every night.

I would applaud a trade, offering a chance to a non-veteran guy, or any other example of roster creativity. Unfortunately, this historically has not been the Phillies forte, and I think the Madson/Floyd experiments put the final nail in that coffin. And I think the inflated price of pitching applies to trades as well. Again, I'm hearing a lot of challenging but not a lot of viable alternatives. Which FA pitchers should the Phillies sign? If there's value there that I missed, let me know, but I just don't see it.

As much of a "wake up call" as STL was this year, let's remember that they played the vast majority of this year as underachievers. Most "experts" picked them to compete for the WS and if anything was a surprise, it was the fact that they ONLY won 83 games (they were in the WS 2 years prior, too). That isn't exactly the same position that the Phillies are playing from. If anything, they probably were able to finally "get it together" by the time the playoffs rolled around.

That Hoffman line is crap! Unless you don't consider Davy Lopes part of the organization:

"He has so many pluses, it's ridiculous," Lopes said of Soriano. "He'll strike out a lot, but on the right team, he'll put up a lot of numbers."

As things look right now, the Mets aren't players for Soriano. That could bode well for the Phils because, according to Lopes and others who know Soriano, the slugger prefers the East Coast.

"He doesn't want to leave the East Coast, so this is the right location," Lopes said.

But Lopes cautioned, "He's going to go where he gets the best deal. Green talks. It's about how much money is thrown his way."

So, for the Phillies, it will come down to how badly they want Soriano, and how willing they are to sign the check.

Lopes thinks Soriano would be a great investment.

"This is a good team, good city, good park for him," Lopes said. "He's just an outstanding guy. Pound-for-pound, I've never seen anyone hit the ball farther. And he brings energy to the park. Every day, he comes in with a smile and is ready to play. He has the ability to elevate and pick up people."

And Gillick:

"We could use a little more depth in the middle of our lineup," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said at a media luncheon yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.

Gillick never mentioned Soriano by name yesterday, but he sounded like a man who has the resources to make a legitimate pursuit.

"The market is what the market is," he said. "If the market was X last year and it's XX this year, then if you want to play you're going to have to pay XX. You can't ever be sure. But when you make these decisions, are you going to be in love with this guy a year from now as much as you're in love with him right now? That's a decision you're going to have to make. I don't know a lot of people that I want to be in love with for five years."

Hmmm...middle of the lineup, "five years," whom do we think he is talking about?

How about presenting a trade for Freddy Garcia? He's rumored to be available. Garcia could be dominant in the NL. He would round out the staff nicely.

kdon, I don't think anyone is advocating going after sp's through free agency. what they want we won't offer (long term big bucks), and we all know the market's thin. If we have better starting pitching it will be through a trade (me, i'm sitting on crossed fingers and the crazy lowry thing . . .)

But there's always enough relievers, and there's just no way you overpay them, unless you're ed wade. Plus, I rarely see a reliever sign for more than a 2 year deal - so in that respect, FA is just fine. It's just arguing the merits of weathers vs borowski and which do we need.

The key to not getting fleeced is deciding what we want for the bullpen. Its easy to argue that bullpen is a crap shoot one year to the next, but lets get the situational lefty sorted (matt smith is presumably one), lets get the long-relief guy, and the back-up closer.

I don't mind the Soriano speculation, as long as Gillick sticks by his LIMITED no-trade clause stance. The Phils CANNOT, under any circumstances get handcuffed with a no-trade like they did with Abreu. I am very skeptical as to what Soriano brings to the table that the Phils don't already have (most of the guys in last year's lineup had better than average power and were very streaky, a la Alfonso). If PG thinks he can hit with RISP, then bring him on, but only if it doesn't handcuff this team, or prevent them from exploring what SHOULD be priority number 1 - pitching.

Maverick, to your point about who to pursue, why not step it up and get Wolf resigned before he can talk to other teams Sunday?

kdon - in fairness, I made reference to lopes comments. but neither him nor gillick say 'we're going for this.' In fact, gillick's comments are so carefully judged and so easy to interpret either way, I think he's been doing time in the 6 counties (nor'n ireland, like) hammering language in the new power-sharing agreement.

Really - what does the gillick quote say other than 'long term deals seem to be the order of this year's market, but you can't be sure, and if you sign a long term deal, you better be sure you want that player over five years.'

The only thing we know for sure about gillick's intentions is we don't know nuthin'.

WP, from what I've read I think Wolf is pretty intent on testing the FA market, even if he eventually comes back to us. And why not? In a world where Eric Milton gets 3/27, what's Wolf worth?

Oisin, I would direct you to the recent deals for the likes of Howry, Eyre, Looper (four years!) etc. Plenty of middling relievers get signed for much more than 2 years, and plenty of teams that don't employ Ed Wade overpay for them.

Is anyone else somewhat outraged about the lack of pitcher availability because Geary, White, etc. didn't want to pitch on consecutive nights? Is this common? As mediocre as he is, I can't see this mentality coming out of someone like Madsen. Not sure I'm thrilled with that notion. Is this a product of Manuel being a "player's manager?" I don't think Bowa would have put up with that.

Also, to Jason's point, I think a Garcia-for-Burrell deal would be interesting (seeing as how they're looking for a LF) and infinitely more likely to occur than the Lowry pipe-dream.

... And they want Rowand back.

jason, on garcia, its a tough call, but he would be cheaper than wolf. I think its tough because I see the garcia's FIP going up in 04, 05 and 06. He might do okay in front of our infield tho', and he's cheaper and younger than batiste. If it happened in a trade, I wouldn't scream.

Oisin. It's an easy call for me. I wouldn't consider FIP. They would be taking a pitcher away from the best all-around division in baseball and putting him in the NL East, against the likes of Washington, Florida and Atlanta. The latest on the Sox it they're seeking young pitching, so the Phils would need to deal away Madson, or someone like Gio Gonzalez. I'd do it.

Oisin, I agree that bullpen arms are cheap - that's my point. A big ticket offensive signing wouldn't hamper the teams ability to sign mid-level guys at all.

I would also like to see a trade for Garcia. No chance that they would do Burrell-Garcia though as Ozzie hates those kind of players, and they spent the last few years ridding themsleves of guys like Ordonez and Lee.

On the Good Phight, djafi suggested a Rowand for Garcia deal that I think makes more sense. They love Rowand, need a CF more than a corner outfielder, and he is cheaper. I wouldn't mind throwing in a solid prospect if that is what it took.

As for Gillick's interest in Soriano, I just think it is completely disengenuous to say the rumours have all come from outside the organization. Last Thursday, Hayes wrote that:

"Though Gillick would not confirm it, team and league sources have indicated that their No.1 target will be outfielder Alfonso Soriano."

Unless you think Hayes is simply lying, SOMEONE in the organization is pushing for Soriano.

Oisin, Garcia is owed $10M next year, definately more than Wolf or Batista would get.

tho' it's off-topic to this discussion and possibly entirely irrelevant given recent comments, there's an interesting Hardball Times article on Akinori Iwamura's possible ML stats, which includes a Tom "BS&S" G. name-drop:

Yeah but Garcia is only 1 year; Wolf and Batista will probably get 2 years, minimum.

THe more I think about it the more I like the idea of a Garcia trade. Only problem is, if we can't move Burrell even after the FA bats get snapped up, and still go after Soriano, we're talking about adding a LOT of payroll next year.

Maverick, good to bring up those contracts. But in fairness - braden looper was a mets contract. Obviously they're not reknowned at throwing money at people, so it *was* a surprise . . .

Howry and Eyre were fairly aggressive early signings by the cubs last year (signed on 23 november in 05), so I'm not surprised that the cash was more. that's not the FA market value speaking, that was the cubs aggressively going for guys. ( Not dissimilar to what Jason was suggesting with Weathers, now that I think of it.) I've not aggregated all relief pitchers deals, so I'll freely admit that this is me guessing on anecdotal evidence, but I do believe that those deals are the exception rather than the rule.

In this thread, I'm agreeing with Maverick and Jason. The way I see it, a guy like Soriano is unique, being a 40/40 player. I'd take him, if available.

I agree that pitching is our greatest need. Of course that need is universal to all of the MLB teams. I don't believe that the FA market is where we will get our pitching upgrade at a fair price. I believe that trades or our minor league prospects is where our future quality pitchers will come from. I don't think there's be much of an argument here in trading Burrell for Garcia.

I don't think there's be much of an argument here in trading Burrell for Garcia.

That's because there's been no word on whether Burrell will accept a trade there.

Kdon - I'll split the difference with you on batiste and wolf - I should have checked to see garcia's wage before saying that. I think he'll come out cheaper than wolf (because I think zito is going to do bad, bad things to SP prices this year), but more expensive than batiste. But it is only one year.

Jason, I take your point about garcia vs the NL East. are you discounting FIP on the basis that we'd only have him for one year in 4/5 place, and that he'd probably put up good numbers for that year? In which case i'd agree that its definitely a good gamble to make. If we move rowand, so much the better.

Oisin, the only other name I can think to add to that is Farnsworth to the Yankees for 3/17. To which you would rightly say well, the Yankees, big spenders. But after a while, the big-spending Yankees, deep-pocketed Mets, and early-mover Cubs stop being outliers and start driving the market.

It'd be in Burrell's best interest to give management a list of teams he would be willing or not willing to go to. Last year's WS winner, the Chisox, would be an attractive team to go to. He'd be a fool to say "no" to them.

Hoffman is off his rocker. Soriano is the biggest FA out there. If you look at the stats you will see how many times Howard was walked. His production fell way down. His rbi, his whole overall production. Any GM can plainly see if someone like Burrell is hitting behind Howard your chances are much much greater to get out of the inning. NOT TO MENTION Gillick has said all along that he wanted to upgrade the RP. There are plenty of good RP out there that you might as well get the best LF in the market first. You have to replace Burrell no matter what. He is gone. What does he want, Rowand in LF and Bourn in CF. The guy is gone. There are plenty of RP that to get the main guy first should be the priority....

so much discussion about what should be done, and the "doors" don't even open until sundat officially.

gotta love the internet.

Well, if Wolf gets more than $10M, then the market is a complete joke.

I like Garcia as a possible option, but that is still only one name, and one that invloves a trade. I would hope Gillick would be creative enough to land a solid SP somehow, but so far, I don't see it. I'd rather spend money on an upgrade at 3B and sign a mid-level outfielder like Catalanoto instead of Soriano, but I don't disagree with the basic point that money is better spent on position players.

More on the Sox:

If they pick up Buehrle's option, they are looking at a $50M starting rotation. There has to be a way to pry one of those guys loose.

Also, I wonder how sold the A's are on Loaiza. He is fairly expensive (for them) and they have a lot of pitching depth.

actually, on the thought of the backup closer and long relief guy, what does anyone make of the idea of howry? I guess it depends on whether the cubs are determined to try for it this year, and at 3 mill salary, he's almost as expensive as moyer, but he's had decent relief numbers for three years running. would they be that determined to hold onto him in a trade? I've no idea who we could trade for him, tho'. Maybe floyd?

I totally agree with Hoffman's article. I would rather have this team spend more money on pitching/defense and forgo a bat like Soriano. Figuring Rowand rebounds a bit, Coste/Ruiz is a bit more productive than Fasano and that Nunez/Welms? is not quite as terrible production-wise, I think the offense will be ok regardless or not whether they pick up Soriano.

Ideally, you have a stud at the back of the bullpen and maybe one or two decent arms. The rest can be cobbled together but it is always hit or miss. These guys are generally interchangeable parts.

I think the Phils' biggest problem right now is the uncertainity surrounding Gordon. If Gordon is healthy, you can work on picking up a Weathers, White, etc. to round out the bullpen. Instead, the Phils really have no idea what Gordon will give them for 2007.

who got their season ticket renewal stuff in the mail? notice they mentioned utley, jroll and ROWAND as the team leaders. they did not mention lieber in the brochure - which i like. i'm a little annoyed my seat prices went up AGAIN.

gillick is a genius. he is going to beat burrell into submission to accept a trade. this has to be embarrassing burrell. first the gm who said he takes "40 good swings a year" and now this espn article.

Add my name to the list of those who feel Rich Hofmann grossly overstated his column today. While there can be no argument that the Phillies need to seek help for the bullpen, it is ludicrous to suggest that finding suitable protection for Ryan Howard is merely a superfluous objective. He states, 'This team did not fall short in another wild-card chase because of the bats', but to everyone watchinmg those games in September who will recall Howard being thrown three weeks' worth of slop and Conine popping up and Burrell striking out and Nunez fisting balls to the pitcher, will perhaps recall that the Phillies were not able to execute offensively in the last *six* slots in the batting order. That's something which needs to be addressed. The Phils went 25-15 in their last 40 games.

Meanwhile, it's just so believable to me that if the Phillies would go after mediocre relievers like Weathers in November, while other teams go for all-star big names like Soriano, that the likes of Hofmann wouldn't turn right back around and whine about how the Phillies were betraying their fan base by not spending money. The Abreu deal was made in anticipation of replacing him with a top free agent - otherwise it made little sense.

If your primary off-season target is available at the onset of the free agent market, you *don't* just shrug it off and go moseying up and down the aisles for veteran relievers instead. There always will be arms out there to help upgrade the bullpen. I can appreciate people's skepticism about Soriano and long-term deals to some extent, but I also appreciate that there is a certain logic in going after him - and that the Phillies wouldn't shy away from a big name *despite* getting burned from big-name contracts. I would've thought that what happened with Thome would've sent this organization into a decades-long moratorium on free-agent spending, but evidently this is not so. If there was starting pitching to be had on the FA market, I believe that would make the focus on Soriano a very different story. But there isn't.

There was a trade today between the Padres and Indians that really grabbed my attention- Rookie Josh Barfield, who hit .280 for the San Diego Padres last season, was traded Wednesday to Cleveland for Class AAA prospects Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown.

When was the last time there has been an actual real baseball trade that had absolutely nothing to do with money/contract,etc..? Barfield was a ROY candidate with huge upside, traded for 2 minor leaguers with great potential. I just thought it was pretty interesting.

>These guys are generally interchangeable

I dunno if I agree.

If you can manage to take your young fireballer potential starters, like Zumaya, and limit their exposure by keeping them in the pen for a couple years, you may be able to get above average arms in your pen, cheaply, and still season the young guys.

Cleveland traded kouzmanoff and a reliever for josh barfield . So now I'm curious. unless one or the other definitely wants iwamura at 2nd, this leaves the only interested team the red sox. if they do go for him, can we get lowell off them?

I meant to supplement the statement 'The Phils went 25-15 in their last 40 games' by qualifying that they did so mainly on the strength of their starting pitching - meanwhile, the only acknowldgement Hofmann chooses to make regarding the starting pitching is that Jon Lieber is too fat. Thanks for the insight, Rich.

this whole "protection" buzz word is kiling me. just bat howard in front of utley if he is getting bonds treatment. it's pitching or bust! i agree with hoffman.

This is off topic a bit but news is that the Matsuzaka bid is rumored to be even lower(Sub 20 MM). Am I wrong or did PG claim the team needs to be rebuilt with young starting pitching?

I know he may not be playing his hand but has anyone heard Gillick claim their is no interest in Matsuzaka? I don't see how you could argue to not take a shot at the guy. Some people were gushing over Wolf as the 3rd-5th starter(depending on preference).

Also with 2 of the 4 rumored suitors for Iwamura out, maybe Gillick might change his mind there. In my opinion, you could do worse then adding 2 players in their prime with this market. While both are gambles, isn't Abe Nunez the definition of gamble at 3B and Wolf to a lesser extent.

Can only dream Gillick is playing ninja GM and not revealing his hand at all to the public.

From everything I gather on Gillick and Matsuzaka, he's going to let the big market teams battle it out for him, reserve X dollars for a posting fee and bidding war, and get either Soriano and Sheffield before the big spenders enter the playing field.

Although it was posted aways up, I agree with Maverick about Justin Spier. I would like to see the Phils end up with he and Borowski as upgrades to the pen. I really have no interest in David Weathers.

I still would prefer the Phils to go after A-Ram or Crede, rather than bothering with Soriano. Is Soriano very good? Yes, but I really feel a Burrell-Ramirez combo would put up better numbers than a Soriano-Nunez combo.

"I meant to supplement the statement 'The Phils went 25-15 in their last 40 games' by qualifying that they did so mainly on the strength of their starting pitching"

The idea that the Phillies' offense did not perform well over the last 40 games is not correct. According to a very quick count, the Phils scored 220 runs (25.4% of their total output) over the last 40 games (24.7% of the entire season). Pitching was not carrying the team during this period, just performing at a level higher than the mediocrity (or worse) that we saw for a good stretch of the season. Conclusion (in agreement with many others on this board): pitching needs to be upgraded, not the offense.

AS, those numbers may not lie, but neither do Howard's from Sept. 9 -Oct. 1: 2 HRs, 10 RBI, 27 walks. That's cause for concern, and not something that can be magically solved by flip-flopping him in the order with Utley. The Phillies *need* balance from the right side - which is most likely why they passed on Iwamura. People who still believe that balance is Burrell might want to explain why he was regularly not even in the lineup down the stretch. I'm for finding solutions to problems, not just sticking a failed solution back into the equation, and hoping it'll turn out better next time. If the Phillies don't find a bat to hit behind Howard, his production is going to plummet in a way that no one wants to imagine.

Found a cool new phils blog today.

AS: You are correct.
The "no protection for Howard" argument falls flat when you realize that Howard had a helluva year last season with Burrell batting behind him. A season is 162 games, not 40 games.

Jason: I'm with you 100% on Garcia. I saw a Sox player (I forget who) saying the big differnece between 05 and 06 was they missed Rowand, his defense, his hard play and his clubhouse presence. If we can work a deal that sends Rowand and a prospect like Floyd to the Sox for Garcia, that would help both teams. I'd also like to see them at least make a play for Lowell. His glove, which is better than Nunez, would make the pitching that much better and he'd hit 25 HRs at CBP.

Someone mentioned Burrell to Chisox. That's is not a possibility. Thome is DH, Dye is RF and Podsednik is LF. He would have no position.

Rsb - granted, its frustrating to think of september and the opportunity lost. But if teams insist on walking howard for a whole season, especially our division rivals, it is going to bite them in the ass.

This is a crude comparison, but in 2004 when Bonds got those 232 bbs, his protection was edgardo alfonzo and pedro feliz, who combined for .305 obp, .412 slg and 50 ks when batting behind Bonds. Despite this, bonds still manages to score 129 runs himself, exactly the same number when he hit 73 homers in 2001 and 49 in 2000. His BB's those years were 177 and 117 respectively. Ultimately the walks will score runs.

Sure, protection would maximise howard's run scoring potential. But he's a smart enough hitter that he'll punish mistakes. If he doesn't get as many to hit this year to absolutely wallop our offensive stats into the stratosphere, I'm fine with that. But I want pitching, then (if possible) 3b sorted first. if 3b solves our protection problem, grand. But I don't want to be relying on lieber's fat arse again in april, and I sure as hell don't want to see the same situation that apparently was the case in our bullpen, as hoffman describes. Soriano would be nice, but I don't think its the absolute priority.

Teams weren't intentionally walking Howard with no one on base before September.

Oisin, how many times did walking Howard bite teams in the arse in September? I think it bit Howard and the Phillies in the arse quite a bit more.

Bonds is Bonds. Howard is not at that level - he doesn't have the discipline. We would see him swinging at a ton of bad pitches if the same lineup that ended '06 was brought back. Is it *the* priority of the off-season to maximise Howard's abilities? No - and neither does it necessarily require signing Alfonso Soriano - but it's up there.

i just don't see how leading the league in runs scored again next year makes the phil's any better. i don't see how we can be in the same division as the braves for 12 years and not know that pitching is an absolute must.

didn't ben franklin say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Clout: Not to let the facts spoil a good argument, but Podsednik's contract is up and they've said (so far) they're not going to re-sign him. So LF is, in fact, open.

Tim, if there's a Maddux, a Glavine, a Smoltz, a Steve Avery, a whoever on the market, let me know. Otherwise, I'm still blanking on how we can turn the Phillies into the dynastic Braves this offseason.

does Steve Avery really deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz?

Maverick: Did not know they're not bringing Podsednik back. Thanks. BTW, there are some pretty good starters to be had, Jason mentioned just one, Freddy Garcia, but you have to trade for them. I agree the FA pool is shallow and overpriced. Hard to believe some people here still think the pitching's fine, we just need another bat.

peavy, willis, erwin santana and a white sox starter could all be traded. schmidt, zito are definite top of the order guys. mulder, matsuzaka, mussina, gagne are question marks that i'd go for. then there are about ten guys starting with lily and adam eaton and kerry wood that would also be improvements.

i've said for a long time that people who say their isn't pitching out there are just listening to espn and nooding their heads. just because there is no pedro doesn't mean this is the deepest class in years.

both maddux and glavine are free agents - lol.

Yeah - I shoulda said the "chicks dig the longball" era of Maddux/Glavine

And Steve Avery would've been great if Bobby Cox hadn't killed him; I'd take his 1993 in a snap.

The Phils don't necessarily need to fill the spots (RP, SP, 3B, and OF) in any order. They have money to spend this year and should still have $15 mil available after bringing in Soriano as Gillick strongly hints. They may get a little more with possible trades of Burrell, Rowand, and/or Leiber. I feel at least 2 of those guys will be moved this offseason and that will fill 1 or 2 of those spots mentioned. Gillick is likely to add 2 SP and one that can relieve/start such as Bautista and move Leiber as there is interest from a number of teams. Rowand is the one guy who would bring the most talent back maybe even Garcia from the White Sox or a 3B. Floyd could be moved but Gonzalez is way too good to trade.

From Jerry Crasnick's ESPN article -

"He [Burrell] also has two years and $27 million left on his contract, and any trade partner probably would be asked to assume about half of it.

It amazes me how stupid the Phillies organization is at times. It is classic move for them to smear a player in the media. Nothing new there. Besides basically stating in the article that the Phils will trade Burrell for nothing (aka Abreu trade), they are going to pay another organization $13-$14 million for the next 2 years.

This is the same as giving away a decent TV set to someone and having to pay them to take it. Just makes no sense. I can't believe that there is not an organization that is willing to pay $6-$7 million for Burrell's production. Especially considering that teams are supposedly going to give Gary Matthews, Jr 3 yr/24-30 million dollars this offseason.

Only MLB teams could operate on such a retarded business model and still stay in business. Thank god for their monopoly.

i think they are just shaming him into accepting a trade. it's pretty much a strategy of last resort.

Burrell is more like that huge projection TV from the '80s that takes up half the room - seemed like a good investment at the time. You see him as a guy with 29 HRs and 95 RBI and the Diamondbacks (and likely everyone else) see him as someone who takes "40 good swings a year". He's not a commodity by any team's standard. Put yourself in the shoes of an exec and consider of all the dimensions of an offensive player and how he can conceivably help your team - speed, contact, power, defense, marketability - and realize that Burrell is only halfway adequate in one of those dimensions. He's a flat-out terrible contract - even at *half* the value - and the Phillies are going to get those pennies on the inflated dollar for him rather be stuck with it.

I agree RSB that Burrell's contract is definitely not worth his production but its the no-trade clause that is the problem.

I am also sick of the "40 good swings a year" comment. That is just crap. Burrell is certainly no MVP candidate but he definitely brings some valuable offense production.

With the exception of 2003, when Burrell was truly awful, he generally hits about 30 HRs, works the count, and gets on base almost as much as any LF in the game. Defensively is a liability and he is pretty slow around the bases. Burrell's cardinal sin, just like Rollins, is that he is incredibly streaky.

Best comparison though is to Carlos Lee. Both Burrell and Lee are 30 yrs old, LF, and have very similiar stats the past 3 years. Would you rather have one guy at 2 yrs/$13 million (after Phils pick up half of Burrell's tab) or Lee at 3 yrs/$40 million. Plus Lee has been training at KFC the past year and looked terribly out of shape by the end of the season. Give me the gimp!

For all you folks who say trading for Sheffield would be a good move, give this a read and see if it doesn't change your mind.

There is no way I'd let this guy in to my clubhouse.

RSB - its the next morning over here, and probably too late, but what the hell. The point was not that bonds and howard are the same hitters, its that bonds total runs scores were not impacted that much by an absurd number of intentional walks. He got on, and despite lousy protection, he still managed to score a significant number of runs - the same number scored at two other points in his career when he hit more homeruns (2001) and when he he was walked significantly less (2000).

You cite september, but september was one month in last year. Yeah, it kills me that they were walking him at that point, and yes it didn't help the team, but its optimising an offence. That's nice. Its not essential. Its certainly not worth saddling us with an expensive 6 year contract, (enough time for the current cash-rich situation to change again and the ownership to start balking at 15 mill wage bills a year) with or without a no-trade clause. A-ram I'd put that money on, because he's young enough. Soriano is a gamble, and if he's looking for six years, the luxury of optimising our offense is just that. especially when we need pitching and may have to pay for it with randy wolf.

If teams carry out that strategy consistently over a whole year against us, it will hurt them. It hurt teams against bonds with lousy protection, it'll hurt teams against us with pat burrell or chase utley or whoever. You can't give out walks regularly like that and not expect to give up runs.

RSB - that contract is not the albatross that is was the last two years. As I said before, Burrell's numbers this year put him in the top 5 of leftfielders in the NL, and at least one of those is going to ask for at lest 2-3 mill more per year on his contract than burrell. The no-trade clause is a problem, and it will take smart work by gillick to move someone, but owners are feeling cash rich this year and there is NO WAY we should be paying for any part of his contract in a trade.

errm, sorry rsb. I see MG just made exactly the same point as me about burrell. didn't mean to hector needlessly. (but I still don't think we should be paying any of his salary - if people are prepared to sign carlos lee, they should certainly like the idea for same production for two years instead of three).

This offseason blogging blows. During the season we can discuss a topic and in 24 hours, they play a game, then we see if our theories pan out. Now, we talk about a trade or an FA prospect and....nothing happens. Days, weeks, and/or months can go by and we still can have nothing happen.

Clout said earlier "Hard to believe some people here still think the pitching's fine, we just need another bat." I agree. I think our highest need is to secure our starting rotation with quality starters. Our second highest need is to upgrade our relief pitchers. Third is third base. We can't go into 2007 with Nunez as the starter. These are the things we need. All three are almost equally important.

We can live with Burrell in LF. We can live with Burrell batting behind Howard. We can live with a starting outfield of Burrell, Rowand and Victorino. Getting Soriano would be nice, but its not crucial or critical that we get him. I'd rather see us get Iwamura as he would fill one of our critical needs. I read that in the year he hit 44 homers, that he was the HR season league leader.

Given the stats and comparisons, do you think that Burrell is just a victim of familiarity? By that, I mean, let's say Burrell was on the White Sox the last three years with the exact same contract. Do you think we'd be speculating that we need to make a trade for him with those numbers? I'd bet that more than 1 post would appear saying that he'd be a good get, even given his deficiencies (the K's, speed, etc.). That being said, are we being hypocrites to say that we should trade him away and eat half his salary so that we can bring in another big salary (Soriano), just to get rid of 2 years of a no-trade clause?

Look, I've been just as down on Pat the Bat as anyone on here, but truth be told, he's got more than 40 good swings a year in him, especially when healthy, and probably with a good hitting coach. Hell, I've never played more than HS ball and I could tell him to keep his front shoulder in and watch the ball hit the bat. I just don't see why the Phils NEED to get rid of him. Sure, he's not exactly clutch with RISP, but neither is A-Rod, and look at THAT contract!!

I'm surprised that Podsednik not resigning hasn't been more talked about, too.

NBC San Diego, via MLBTradeRumors: "A source inside the Padres organization said the team feels very confident they'll sign Alfonso Soriano when the free agent signing period begins, NBC 7/39 reported."

I believe the Padres have no left fielder right now, and have only about half their estimated $75M payroll tied up.

Manuel finally admits that his bullpen needs to be fresher down the stretch, yet some of our target names for signing thrown about are Batista (35) Borowski (35) and Weathers (37)

Heres a thought - try Floyd as a middle reliever. see if he can't work his way through one inning at a time.

everyone ages.

AE - darn. I was wondering whether we could tempt them with burrell, them being on the west coast and all.

The single most frustrating thing to me about the offseason is that outwith (sorry, scottish phrase - outside of) soriano, we've got nothing definite to spend the money on. We may get a shot at a-ram, but only if he doesn't do a deal with the cubs. so we have some free agent cash, but we've made no moves towards the japanese guys, and in that context, it

It annoys me that we didn't put in something for matsuzuka or iwamura. Initially I thought there wasn't a hope, but word from mlb trade rumours is now potentially 7 teams are involved . If we're prepared to shell out for soriano, couldn't we have put up a respectable posting bid for a good pitcher?

I'm sceptical at the reasoning behind pushing for soriano and paying half of burrell's contract just to get attendence up , but it's almost like the phils want to spend on the flashiest player because there's nothing else to spend on, he'll keep people coming to the park, and the protection would be of some help. You can't disagree, but the priorities seem badly skewed when we need to address pitching.

I actually don't think it would be the end of the world if we weren't able to spend all the available cash this offseason. starting the season with some of that almighty "payroll flexibility" isn't a bad thing - during the season when teams fall out of contention, impact players can often be had via trade just for taking on their contract (I'm sure I don't need to name any names).

and in re: Iwamura, the deadline for posting on him still isn't until tomorrow. of course public comments indicate that we're not going to do anything anyway, but quotes in the Daily News aren't exactly binding, in case someone changes their mind.

going back to what lake fred said - right now we're stuck analysing gillick's pr strategy, which is not exciting if you don't know what he's got in mind.

His opaque and tight-lipped comments, combined with comments on soriano from roberts, monty and the dog at CBP are doing my head in. Is this just so that gillick can *appear* to be playing his cards close to his chest, whilst actually broadcasting his intentions to the derosa's and sorianos of this world? I don't want to take the statments by monty et al at face value, because it seems like more of what we had under wade, and flies in the face of everything gillick has gone on record as saying he prefers. But its either that or stumble through all the half-rumours like an old person with astigmatism in a london pea-souper.

"a london pea-souper" What's that? I'll guess a thick fog? Great line Oisin!

I have a feeling Gillick does recognize the need to upgrade the pitching, but he realizes that there is nothing of value on the FA market.

The Hoffman/Clout, etc. line about pitching, pitching pitching is fine, but it will have to come about through a trade. I would hope Gillick is exploring the option of trading Rowand (who is really the only valuable commodity we have outside of the untouchables). I agree that paying $22M for Soriano (his contract plus eating Burrell's) is incredibly stupid, but if they kept Burrell AND signed Soriano, I think this can be a playoff team with the current pitchers (assuming Wolf).

If we could sign Zito or Schmidt, I would go for it, but they are not comming here. As for relievers, they don't make enough anyway so signing Soriano doesn't hurt your ability to sign them.

Right now, RF is almost as big a hole as 3B.

The kind of fog which doesn't exist anymore in London, in truth. Except in films, and hackneyed metaphors.

from this morning's NY Newdsay article:
Sheff lashes out

What seems to bother Sheffield the most is not that he's leaving, but that he's going out not on his own terms. Especially when someone he considers an inferior player is playing his position.

When asked about Bobby Abreu, Sheffield said, "He's a good player, but like I say, you can draw it up any kind of way. He ain't me. And that's the bottom line. I understand them having to make this move for the remainder of the season, but to sit here and I'm leaving because of it, I always was told you leave because someone is better than you. I don't think that's the case here."

Duder: What a post! So Sheff thinks he's better than Abreu! Whoosh! We await clout's take on this.

Oisin: The fog is gone? Why? Global warming? Hot air on the sports page? Every time Burrell swings and misses, he blows away the fog?

"this offseason blogging sucks"- true to a certain extent. at least we have these blogs to collectively gripe and speculate.

each year the internet improves in regards to the amount of information that can be found. for example there are now sites that can get updates faster than espn can get it up on their site or broadcast. thei are sites that have better discussion with true emotion and insight than sports radio or it up my friends because the amateurs are truly ruling now!

Sheff was better than Abreu at his peak, 1996-2003 I think. His skills have fallen every year since and at age 38 I don't think he has much left. He's a liability in the field now, injury prone and has attitude problems. Obviously, Abreu is the far superior ballplayer today and has more years left.
kdon: Here's where you and I disagree. You think the pitching, as it stands now, is good enough to take the team to the playoffs if they add a bat like Soriano. I don't, even if they add 2 bats. History is littered with teams that could score runs by the tons but didn't quite have enough pitching to make postseason. The White Sox unloaded Carlos Lee & Ordonez to add pitching before 2005, which generated a lot of fan heat up there. We know how that ended.

I guess Sheffield *is* still a whiny brat after all these years. I read that he wants to 'plead his case' with King George so he can stay in NY. Why? Especially after completely dissing a teammate, why would you want him back? Whether Abreu or Sheffield is the better player is open for debate, but it's not like Abreu is Joe Thurston, as he makes it sound. That's way out of line. And besides, the reality is that the Yankees want Abreu, who is considerably younger, and not Sheffield. That doesn't sound unreasonable. Deal with it, Gary.

I don't know. I still would say that he'd make more sense to the Phillies than Soriano. But I can see why people have reservations about his personality. I said earlier that defamations of Sheffield's character were greatly exaggerated - but every day now he seems to be shooting off his mouth somewhere and proving me wrong.

First of all Sheff has always had issues with management. How do you or I or anyone else know that Steinbrenner didn't have a handshake deal with Sheff. I have never read anything where this guy is a bad teammate. Actually, everyone says he is a great teammate.

He didn't even diss on Abreu. All he said is Abreu aint me. Thats true. Sheffield is a leader, and Abreu isn't. How many playoffs has Abreu played in? 1. please.

This is the exact reason why I would love to see him here.

"Everybody knows when I go to another team, I'm coming back looking for you. That's just the way it is," he said. "The Dodgers, that happened. The Marlins, it happened. When you let me go, I've got a chip on my shoulder, and I'm coming with it. That's how I play the game."

Couple of points on Sheffield and article:

1. Steinbrenner did personally sign Sheffield and went over Cashman's head on that one. That is why Sheffield is probably pissed because Cashmna is calling the shots on this Sheffield move now.

2. RSB - How are you surprised about Sheffield? He was always a big-mouth and me-first guy from his time with the Brewers. Only time we was kept in line was by strong managers and other veteran leaders. Case in point (Florida - Leyland and high-profile veterans, Atlanta - Cox and high-profile veterans, Yankees - Toree and high-profile veterans).

mg, thinking that Charlie Manuel isn't disciplinarian enough to keep Sheff in line?

Me too.

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