The Phillies' off-season is dealt an early blow as Curt Schilling agrees on a one-year deal to remain with the Boston Red Sox. The agreement is pending a medical exam.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the two sides have reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth about $8 million in base salary and another $2 million in incentives. Schilling, who will be 41 next season, went 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA for the world champion Red Sox. It had been reported that the Astros, Diamondbacks and Phillies had expressed interest in Schilling, who acts as his own agent. Boston held exclusive negotiating rights with Schilling until Nov. 12.
Beerleaguer: With Schilling off the table, the starting rotation is sure to move to the very top of Pat Gillick’s list of priorities as baseball’s GMs meet this week. Gillick has expressed trepidation over turning to free agency to fill this void and may need to wheel and deal to shore up the starting five, which includes Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick, followed by Adam Eaton and Jason Weitzel.
Gillick downplays third base: On a related note, Gillick told reporters yesterday the he intends to make pitching a priority and is uncertain third base will be addressed. This echoes what I've said all along. They need pitching so much more, and if push comes to shove, they wouldn’t hesitate to run out the Greg Dobbs/Wes Helms/glove man combo if it meant having more resources available for pitching.
However, I wouldn't read too far into it Gillick’s words, either. The names mentioned most at third are Mike Lowell, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera, so maybe it means they won't get involved in discussions on that level. But for guys like Cory Koskie and Mike Lamb, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't kick the tires. That's minor tinkering. They typically reserve resources for that.
33 farmhands become minor league free agents: Eude Brito and Brian Sanches are just two of the names included in a roll call of 602 minor leaguers who were declared free agents recently. Here is the complete list, via Baseball America:
Righthanders: Ryan Cameron, Matt Childers, Julio de la Cruz, Landon Jacobsen, Gary Knotts, Tim McClaskey, Bubba Nelson, Chris Rojas, Brian Sanches, Heath Totten, Charles Weatherby, Jason Wylie; Lefthanders: Eude Brito, Allen Davis, Chris Key, Luis Villarreal, Cory Willey; Catchers: Jason Hill, Dusty Wathan; First basemen: Gary Burnham, John Urick; Second basemen: Carlos Leon, Peeter Ramos; Third basemen: Joey Hammond, Brennan King; Shortstops: Gookie Dawkins, Danny Sandoval; Outfielders: Shaun Boyd, Nic Jackson, Greg Jacobs, Matt Padgett, Jim Rushford, Pedro Swann.
You’re sure to see some of them again when the Phillies pad their barren rosters. Chances are quite slim there is a Major League future awaiting any of them. Retirement is an excellent idea for several of them.
Let's brainstorm utility infield some more: Pat Gillick says he has someone in mind for the vacant utility position and naturally my mind turns to the Seattle Mariners. Seattle-lifer Willie Bloomquist carries the torch as team everyman and can play third base, but alas, he’s signed through the 2008 season and might be competing for a job at second base next season. Bloomquist, 30, was Seattle’s third-round pick in the 1999 draft and is a career .261/.313/.329 hitter. Seattle actually has a couple of marginal infield mercenaries who could shake loose, a-la Greg Dobbs, like Mike Morse and Jose Lopez. Nevertheless, Beerleaguer odds makers have named Geoff Blum as the favorite to take over the utility role.
Final thought: The Phillies must throw their hat in the dohyō for some Japanese pitching. Have I mentioned that already?