The Phillies’ Off-Season Gets Worse

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed Pat Burrell to a two-year, $16 million deal. [Ken Rosenthal]

This is after Pat Burrell had declined a two-year, $22 million offer from the Phillies back in October. And after the Phillies wasted $31.5 million over three years for Raul Ibanez in mid-December.

Both Burrell and the Phillies screwed themselves. Burrell held out for more money and/or more years and instead lost (in the figurative sense) money and never got the three-year deal he was seeking.

The Phillies lowballed — it was lowballing at the time — Burrell with that $22 million offer, thinking that if he accepted, they would get him for just about at market value, if not less. If he declined, they could take him to arbitration unless their estimates put Burrell at a higher value. Those figures did indeed peg Burrell as a $15 million-ish player, so the Phillies declined arbitration, a defensible move at the time that would pay off only if the Phillies didn’t sign a player like Raul Ibanez.

They signed Raul Ibanez, not only setting the market — an indefensible decision given what was available (Adam Dunn) — but attaching themselves for three years to a player who will turn 37 in early June and is just as bad defensively as Burrell and a step down offensively.

You have to be steaming if you’re a Phillies fan.

But you still have to pull for Pat Burrell. The guy has been nothing short of awesome in his tenure in Philadelphia and I for one wish him all the luck and success in the world, as long as it doesn’t directly affect the Phillies’ chances of repeating as World F*cking Champions. On behalf of the Phillies’ front office, I formally apologize to him for getting screwed over by the team he busted his ass for since 1998.

More bad news: J.C. Romero to be suspended for the first 50 games of 2009. []

There’s a good discussion at Baseball Think Factory regarding this issue, and the general consensus is that Romero got screwed. But the likelihood of this decision getting overturned is about as small as the Pirates reaching .500 within the next ten seasons. In other words, the decision is final. The Phillies will be without their best left-handed reliever, thus praying for the 2005-06 versions of Scott Eyre. Hey, Joe Beimel is available too.

To recap, here’s the Phillies’ off-season thus far:

– One of the best general managers in baseball history resigns and is replaced by Ruben Amaro, who has absolutely no G.M. experience.

– Utley’s bum hip requires surgery. He may miss the first 33 or 50% of the 2009 season. He will more than likely be replaced not by Jason Donald, but by Eric Bruntlett. Donald has to have an amazing spring training to win Utley’s job.

– Amaro declines to offer arbitration to Burrell and Jamie Moyer. Moyer, a 46-year-old (who I will wager will put up a 4.50 ERA or worse in ’09) is given a two-year deal. The average annual value ($6.5 million) is only slightly cheaper than what Moyer likely would have been awarded in arbitration — a one-year only deal. Meanwhile, Burrell ends up signing elsewhere for relatively dirt cheap while the Phillies will be trotting out a left-handed Burrell Lite in ’09 for twice the money over one extra year.

– The Mets address their glaring weakness by acquiring two Grade A+ relief pitchers in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.

– Romero, the Phillies’ #1 left-handed arm in the bullpen tests positive for a drug, the illegality of which is entirely ambiguous. Romero will miss the first 50 games, or 31% of the ’09 season.

I know I should be relishing the Phillies’ WFC, but this is getting to be one of the more embarrassing off-seasons of a World Series winner, Florida Marlins aside.

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  1. Pingback: Pat Burrell Signs With Tampa Bay Rays | For the public, by The Public

  2. SirAlden

    January 09, 2009 11:35 PM

    “The guy has been nothing short of awesome in his tenure in Philadelphia”

    Excuse me? I love Pat, but in 2007 he was hitting .201 in late June, and after the
    All-Star Break in 2008 he hit .215.

    “The guy was nothing short of streaky with entire years of futility mixed with two month streaks of greatness.”

  3. Bill Baer

    January 10, 2009 07:00 PM

    I think it’s funny that Pat Burrell has a reputation as being streaky, because he might be the most consistent hitter in baseball after Adam Dunn.

    Between 2005-07, for instance, his OBP only deviated by 12 points from .388 to .400. Between ’05-08, his SLG only deviated by five points between .502 and .507.

    As such, his OPS+ in the last four seasons has only deviated by six points, from 122 to 128.

    He may not be the offensive force that Manny Ramirez is, and he may not have the glove that Carlos Beltran has, but Burrell is among the most reliable players out there.

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