With the Winter Meetings approaching, agents are Xeroxing client resumes in hopes of one final payout from baseball's fringe players.
I hated homework, and I'm a big believer and letting Beerleaguers engage "organically," but here's a fun assignment you're sure to love. Peruse this comprehensive list of notable free agents and identify the reclamation project or washed up veteran who would be worth a minor league flier. The Phils almost always take a shot on a noteworthy project player who was once considered "elite" talent - think Kris Benson in 2008. My selection follows in the Antonio Alfonseca mold as someone who could be signed cheaply and add instant credibility to the bullpen, even for half a season. Recall that Alfonseca, who was scouted on the comeback trail in the Dominican Winter League, pitched to a 3.93 ERA and six saves as a stop-gap set-up man and closer in the first half of 2007. Soon after, he was cooked, and he never pitched in affiliated ball again.
So here's my choice from the list. a minor league deal to Vicente Padilla. At 34, and having missed most of the last two seasons with injury, Padilla may be done as a starter but could be poised for a Jose Contrera-like second life as a reliever. Padilla was a formidable force as recently as 2010 and his K/9 numbers were actually the best of his career in his three years with the Dodgers. Joe Torre and company loved that he had matured into a pitcher who relied as much on guile as pure stuff. And there's always been the notion that Padilla could thrive in the bullpen.
Padilla missed most of the season with surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck and is a free agent. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been an update on his status. He typically returns to his native Nicaragua in the offseason where he's - how shall we say - "off the grid."
Update: We'll have the big Pat Misch, Kevin Frandsen and Scott Mathieson posts coming up shortly. Of course the Phillies can't scatter these transactions over a couple of days. There's, like, six days worth of offseason material right there ...