New York Post baseball writer Joel Sherman sweats the small stuff, like possible regrets over issuing two-year deals to Brian Schneider and Ross Gload, in rebuking Ruben’s offseason. [Link]
Sherman lists the Phillies ninth, well behind the Dodgers, Royals and Mets, but right behind San Francisco, which retooled with Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa. Meanwhile on planet Earth, Phillies fans are finally starting to get revved up about the Roy Halladay reality, realizing they’ll watch one of the game’s best pitchers tear apart the National League through '13. Sherman and the rest of the national media have been banging the “Why not have both” drum for months, ignoring the Phillies’ hard budget cap, the need for bullpen, third base and bench improvements and the fact that they tried to trade Joe Blanton at the Winter Meetings. Oddly enough, Sherman lists Halladay himself as the offseason’s big winner, mentioning that he’ll finally have a legitimate shot at a title. (He mentions his three-year, $60 million extension, but neglects to call it the smartest pact made by any GM in baseball this winter.) Sherman pads the remainder of his column like so:
“Plus, I question if Placido Polanco can play third, whether Danys Baez provides real insurance if Brad Lidge is a dud again and whether Jose Contreras (ticketed for the bullpen) can provide rotation depth if needed. ...With that kind of outlay already, it is going to be tough to keep the uber-valuable Jayson Werth. Plus, players such as Raul Ibanez, Polanco, Ryan Madson, Baez, Brian Schneider and Ross Gload are tied up next year already, and the Phillies might just regret that.”
Added together, Baez, Schneider, Gload and Contreras will rake in the budget-busting total of $7 million, very manageable with the potential for high reward, particularly Baez and Contreras, whose value will come as inning eaters late in ballgames, not backing up Lidge or providing rotation depth, as Sherman suggests. Indeed, the Phillies may live to regret Polanco, but not for his glove.
But more than anything, he’s missing the big picture with Halladay. Teams stacked with pitching at the top of the rotation win, something the Phillies have guaranteed for years to come. Given Cole Hamels' 2009 recession, there would have been no guarantee if this deal hadn't been made. With Halladay's appearance on the cover of The Sporting News, along with Rich Hoffman's recent piece on his animal work ethic, fans are feeling fat and happy again, anticipating an easy waltz toward a fourth-consecutive division title, with the likelihood of more.