FoxSports scribe Ken Rosenthal says the Padres, Devil Rays and Phillies are among the six clubs pursuing free-agent outfielder Geoff Jenkins, but the Phils believe he will be out of their price range.
Last night on Comcast Daily News Live, Phillies GM Pat Gillick reiterated that payroll flexibility is not the issue when courting free agents. The problem, he stressed, is talent, and to a lesser extent, length of contract. The suggestion is the team would rather not sign long-term deals with mid-level older players like Jenkins, which burned them last season with Adam Eaton. Jenkins earned almost $7.5 million last season and could command something similar at age 33. Plus, the Phillies may still believe they have a shot at Aaron Rowand, which means they wouldn’t have extra money to spend on the outfield.
One option we discussed in an earlier post is left-handed hitting Jody Gerut, who’s making a comeback in the Venezuelan League and hitting very well. Gerut, 30, last played for the Pirates in 2005 before knee problems forced him out of action. He’s in his arbitration years and is a lifetime .263/.334/.434 hitter with 34 home runs in three seasons, including 22 in 2003. Like Jenkins, he’s ideal for a platoon and is a lifetime .838 OPS hitter against right-handed pitching. Gerut, who's at the same crossroads Jayson Werth was in last season, fits Gillick's bargain-bin criteria.
Beerleaguer isn’t the only one taking notice of Gerut's comeback. From today’s Jayson Stark column: “Meanwhile, a hitter in Venezuela who has popped a few eyeballs is Jody Gerut, who is trying to prove he's over his knee issues. Well, here's a good way to prove that: bat .390, with a .488 on-base percentage. Which what Gerut is doing. "He's raking," said the same scout. "He should wind up in somebody's camp."
Gillick confirms interest in Wolf: As mentioned, Gillick was a guest on DNL yesterday and verified they are talking with free agent Randy Wolf. Gillick said Ruben Amaro Jr. had just gotten off the phone with Wolfie's agent before he left for the studio. The Phillies' medical staff has looked at Wolf's reports and believe his shoulder surgery was a minor cleanup.
Gillick gave the impression Rowand is not entirely out of the picture, but that's been consistent with both Gillick and Amaro this winter. Gillick said the team also flew a convoy to California to meet with Rowand personally about five weeks ago. He expects many of the major free agent happenings, like Rowand, to occur a week or two before the holiday.
New nickname for Youman: Stu, Reading Eagle security guard and life-long Pirates fan, called new acquisition Shane Youman "Sugar Shane Youman," which is what I'll call him from now on. Let's hope he can knock out Major League hitting.
Readers react to Percival signing: Veteran reliever Troy Percival signed a two-year, $8 million deal with Tampa Bay. Said Beerleaguer contributor, Clout: “Isn't this exactly the kind of signing the Phillies should've made? He's been very good in five of the past six years. He's 38 but he absolutely kills righties (.418 OPS). I'd be willing to bet he has a better season this year than Gordon. Are you telling me the Phils can't afford $4M to get that last bullpen piece? As a result look for Condrey or Durbin to fill that last spot and when Gordon goes down with an injury, for everyone else to move up a notch into jobs they aren't equipped to handle.”
Then later ... “That's what's so depressing about this management. They're just a few small pieces short and yet they scrimp on the little stuff and it's just enough to sabotage them.”
Extremely minor news: Catcher Pete LaForest, who’s still on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, has left the Tomateros de Culiacan for the Aguilas de Mexicali of the Mexican Pacific League. He went from the first-place team to the last place team. ... Career minor leaguer Randy Ruiz, who hits a ton, but is haunted by character issues and problems staying clean of baseball’s drug policy, signed a minor league deal with the Twins. Ruiz, 30, spent parts of 2007 with Reading and Ottawa and was eventually released, as usual.