Scrounging Around in the Bargain Bin

The Phillies, through the years, have heavily relied on veterans to get the job done out of the bullpen. When Brad Lidge wasn’t available early in 2010, the Phillies placed the responsibility of closing out ballgames on 38-year-old Jose Contreras rather than 29-year-old Ryan Madson. Even in less-important roles, the Phillies have preferred to go with veterans such as Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre. It wasn’t until last year, out of necessity, that the Phillies finally handed the ball off to the younger arms, starting with Michael Stutes.

After newcomers Jonathan Papelbon and Dontrelle Willis, as well as Contreras, the Phillies will be going into 2012 with a young bullpen. Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, and David Herndon each are 27 years old or younger, and the final two spots will be open to competition in spring training. Familiar faces such as Stutes, Justin De Fratus, and Michael Schwimer would be considered for that role along with Phillippe Aumont.

There is a veteran arm out there that has shown up on the Phillies’ radar, however. Over the last three seasons spanning 152 innings, this right-handed pitcher averaged 10 strikeouts and 4.6 walks per nine innings. Last year, he earned just $1.5 million while posting a 10.1 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 with a 3.11 SIERA.

That pitcher is Kerry Wood. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Phillies and the Chicago Cubs have interest in signing the 35-year-old starter-turned-reliever. Contrary to speculation, Wood does not intend to retire according to one of his recent tweets. He fits the Phillies’ bullpen mold almost perfectly, with the only blemish being his spotty record of health — Wood has missed 80 days to the disabled list in the last two seasons. Wood has experience closing, having finished 132 games in the last four seasons and he has been effective in doing so.

The best part for the Phillies, though, is Wood’s price. As mentioned, he made a paltry $1.5 million last year and does not have the leverage to ask for a significant pay raise. He would slot in the seventh or eighth inning, allowing the possibility for Bastardo to be used as efficiently as possible. If Wood flames out or succumbs to injury, it’s not a big deal and there would be no issue in asking everybody else to move up a notch. Signing Wood would be a low-risk, high-reward (even if unnecessary) move and it would match up with the organizational philosophy we have seen from the Phillies over the last five years.

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12 comments

  1. Josh G

    January 09, 2012 09:23 AM

    Wood is going to seek a significant raise. He signed below market value last year and he knows it. I would expect he is looking for 4 or 5 MM on a one year deal

  2. Bill Baer

    January 09, 2012 09:29 AM

    I wouldn’t call that a significant raise.* You’re close on the amount, though: Jim Salisbury is reporting that Wood will seek around $4 million on a one-year deal, with Octavio Dotel as a comparison (1/$3.5M).

    twitter.com/#!/jcrasnick/status/156376848731873281

    * Insignificant in that getting three times the previous year’s salary seems more than it really is. Going from $1.5M to $4M isn’t like going from $10M to $27M.

  3. Nik

    January 09, 2012 09:51 AM

    Would definitely pass on 4MM, but something like 2.5MM plus incentives and I’d do it.

  4. Josh G

    January 09, 2012 10:02 AM

    When trying to pinch pennies on Kerry Wood (who I really like), I have to remember how much KK is getting and cry :(

  5. Dan

    January 09, 2012 10:16 AM

    @Josh, considering that Kendrick can start at a moments’ notice (being the only member of the bullpen who can do so) and is fine in long-relief, he does have another dimension of value that Wood does not have. As good as Wood is, he’s sort of one-dimensional in his usage.

  6. MisterZoomer

    January 09, 2012 11:01 AM

    That is another $4MM that could be given to Cole this year, in an extension, to try and cheapen the later years of an extension, NPV and what not.

    However, it would buy some time if the young guys mentioned aren’t quite ready for the big show and I think it is a leap of faith to assume even 3/4 of a year from Contreras.

  7. Phillie697

    January 09, 2012 04:13 PM

    Isn’t Wood just an older, albeit more proven, version of Aumont? I personally hope that last year’s good experiences with young pitchers have encouraged RAJ to use less important roster spots (the back end of the bullpen) to test out young talent. Kerry Wood at $4M won’t break the bank, but it takes away an important roster spot to youngsters, who by establishing themselves could 1) give us cheap parts, and 2) give us greater trade leverage, two things the Phillies have been pretty poor in doing the past five years.

    Quite frankly, with Aumont, I’m just hoping for something to justify that Lee trade, even if Lee himself is back with the team again. Maybe we could have won the WS that year if Lee wasn’t given away for scraps.

  8. chris short

    January 09, 2012 06:07 PM

    Didn’t we learn anything last year, Our pitching was great. But in the playoffs Hallady gives up 1 run and we lose. The Marlins, Nationals( possibly signing Fielder), and Braves all have good pitching and hitting. Amaro said after the Phils lost to Cards that they had to improve hitting with 2 strikes. So what do they do—sign Thome, Nix, Wiggington whio all stink hitting with 2 strikes.

  9. Keystone

    January 09, 2012 09:02 PM

    I would pass on Wood. And Bill I notice after listing Papelbon, Willis, Contreras, Kendrick, Bastardo, and Herndon you mention competition for “the final two spots”. Do you envision an 8 man bullpen?

  10. Drew

    January 09, 2012 09:18 PM

    chris short, you realize the Braves scored 72 fewer runs than us last year, right? If they have “good hitting,” ours must be great. Seriously, the Braves are a good team, but I don’t know of anyone who considers them a dangerous hitting team.

    The Fish will be better next year, so will the Nats. The NL East is shaping up to be really dangerous as a division in the near future. But that doesn’t mean our hitting relegates us to the bottom of the division. Hopefully it just means the Braves have some inter-division competition for the wild card this year.

  11. FromThisSeat.com

    January 11, 2012 03:46 AM

    Wood insists he is going to retire a Cub. Why? If the price is right in Philadelphia, why would you pass that up? World Series titles ain’t going to be coming to Wrigley maybe for another century.

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