A Vintage Approach to the Off-Season

Free agency is what makes every baseball off-season interesting. Envisioning your team signing the best player, then that player leading your team to the World Series behind an MVP award-winning season makes any baseball fan salivate. Phillies fans nearly lived it when GM Ruben Amaro signed Cliff Lee as a free agent after the 2010 season, meaning the Phillies would open the 2011 season with a starting rotation that included Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be; we all know how that season ended.

In the time since, we’ve endured rumors that involved the Phillies signing Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and Michael Cuddyer. This off-season is no different, as the Phillies are linked to many of the upper-tier players, mostly outfielders, such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz, and Curtis Granderson.

With a TV deal on the horizon, it seems that now is an appropriate time to bring out the checkbook and add some new talent via free agency, even if that means crossing the luxury tax threshold ($189 million) – though the team has not given any indication it plans to actually do so. As they stand right now, they owe $119.5 million to seven players. They also have decisions to make on eight arbitration-eligible players, as well as the Major League minimum salaries for a handful of players. If the team is constrained either by the luxury tax threshold or its $160 million Opening Day payroll from 2013, then they only have the room for one or two big-ticket free agent signings.

The problem is that the Phillies finished at 73-89, 17 games out of the second Wild Card. And this was while they over-performed their expected W-L by seven games, so if you put stock into an expected record based on run differential, they were more like 24 games out of the second Wild Card. Even if you fall more on the optimistic side of projecting production from players in 2014, the Phillies have a lot of work to do to become a legitimate threat in the NL East again.

One avenue to explore is the possibility of bolstering the roster through trades, such as acquiring center fielder Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, who have four starting outfielders for three spots. This is more concerning than signing a free agent to a bad contract, as the Phillies still have one of the league’s weaker Minor League systems and it has only recently begun trending upwards. For example, Baseball America ranked Ethan Martin and Cesar Hernandez as the organization’s #7 and 8 prospects, respectively. Trading for Kemp would involve at least one of Maikel Franco (#1) or Jesse Biddle (#2) among others near the top, which would be repeating the same mistake that helped put the Phillies in their current hole (see: the Hunter Pence trade with the Astros).

If the Phillies are trying to compete in 2014, they are looking at using some combination of free agent signings and trades to make themselves nearly 20 games better. To put this in perspective, Chase Utley was the most valuable Phillies position player in 2013 at 3.5 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. To get themselves into realistic playoff contention, the Phillies would need to add about five more Utleys this off-season via new players and improved performances from current players on the roster.

In terms of probability, the money is heavily in favor of the Phillies finishing below .500 again in 2014 almost regardless of who they add this off-season. Thus, a big free agent signing – and remember, free agent contracts are best at the beginning and worst at the end – or trading for a marquee player would be a low-percentage gamble.

It would seem, then, that the best route to take for 2014 would be one of limited risk but potentially high upside. That is, signing players on the rebound and players whose stock has fallen recently. These players wouldn’t require contracts greater than two or three years in length and certainly wouldn’t command the type of money to put a clamp on your payroll early in the off-season, nor would they cost a second round draft pick as compensation (the Phillies have a protected first round pick).

This also means that Ben Revere keeps his spot in center field, because you’re unlikely to find a better center field candidate when you’re pawing through the bargain bin. So, the Phillies need a catcher, corner outfielder, two starting pitchers, and a bench.

Let’s look at our roster:

Starting Lineup (6, $53.75 million)

C – TBA

1B- Ryan Howard ($25 million)

2B – Chase Utley ($15 million)

SS – Jimmy Rollins ($11 million)

3B – Cody Asche (pre-arb, $500,000)

LF -  Domonic Brown (pre-arb, $525,000)

CF – Ben Revere (arb-1, $1.5 million, proj.)

RF – TBA

Bench (3, $1.5 million)

C – Erik Kratz ($500,000)

IF – Freddy Galvis ($500,000)

IF – TBA

OF – TBA

OF – Darin Ruf ($500,000)

Starting Roation (3, $52.5 million)

SP – Cliff Lee ($25 million)

SP – Cole Hamels ($23.5 million)

SP – Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez ($4 million, AAV)

SP – TBA

SP – TBA

Bullpen (7, $24 million)

CL – Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million)

RP – Mike Adams ($7 million)

RP – Jake Diekman ($500,000)

RP – Antonio Bastardo (arb-2, $2 million, proj.)

RP – Justin De Fratus ($500,000)

RP – B.J. Rosenberg ($500,000)

RP – Jeremy Horst ($500,000)

Total: 19 players totaling $131.25 million. Eight spots remain, with $28.75 million left before last year’s $160 million Opening Day payroll, and $57.75 left before the $189 million luxury tax threshold.

I put Rosenberg and Horst at the back of the rotation, but the Phillies could realistically go with a number of other candidates at the same cost, or they could go for slightly more expensive options with higher upside via free agency. For now, we’ll focus on the other vacant spots. Also note that only two players eligible for arbitration were tendered contracts: Ben Revere and Antonio Bastardo. Additionally, I put $500,000 for all of the pre-arb players, but their actual salaries will likely differ by tens of thousands of dollars. Overall, not an important issue, as it will only make a difference of a couple hundred thousand dollars here or there.

Let’s start with the open starting catcher spot. The most likely scenario involves Ruiz coming back, likely on a two year deal totaling $14 million or so, as suggested by MLB Trade Rumors. The Phillies like Ruiz because they’re familiar with him and he has a great rapport with the pitching staff. Ruiz likes the Phillies because they’ll be willing to look beyond his age, injury history, and drug suspension, whereas other teams could use it as a bargaining wedge in negotiations.

If, for whatever reason, Ruiz can’t be had, the Phillies’ options become limited, especially if they abstain from jumping into the Brian McCann fiesta, which will likely end up with a four- or five-year deal approaching $100 million being signed. The only other left-handed-hitting catcher (aside from McCann) is A.J. Pierzynski, who made $7.5 million in 2013. Switch-hitters include Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dioner Navarro, Koyie Hill, and Hector Gimenez. I don’t have much of an opinion on back-up catchers since they mean so very little in the long run. The difference between Erik Kratz, Cameron Rupp, and any of the veteran free agents out there is so small as to be meaningless.

Now, we’re looking for two starters at the back of the rotation. Here, we’re looking for short-term deals for players who have either taken a significant hit in value or are currently reestablishing their value.

Scott Kazmir comes to mind immediately. After leading the Rays to the World Series in 2008, Kazmir had trouble finding himself again. From 2009-11, he posted an aggregate 5.54 ERA with the Rays and then the Angels. He fell to the Independent League in 2012, playing with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. He struggled even there. On a whim, the Cleveland Indians signed him to a Minor League for the 2013 season, giving him a base salary of $1 million if he made the Majors and an additional $1.75 million in incentives. Kazmir finished with a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings spanning 29 starts. He averaged better than a strikeout per inning pitched and nearly 3.5 strikeouts for every one walk.

158 innings of 4.00 ERA ball, following three arduous years filled with adversity, does not an ace make, so Kazmir is not exactly in a position of bargaining power.  He can be had cheaply, but he will be helped by a handful of other teams who liked what they saw with the Indians. MLB Trade Rumors projects a two-year, $16 million contract for Kazmir. Depending on how much stock you place in defense-independent statistics, that is either right on the money for his value as shown in 2013, or it is a slight overpay.

There are two things that make this an attractive contract for the Phillies: one, the money is better spent on him than Kyle Kendrick (MLBTR projects a $6.6 million salary for Kendrick in his final year of arbitration eligibility); and two, if Kazmir performs well, the Phillies could turn him into a prospect or two by trading him if the team isn’t a serious playoff contender, or during the off-season once the 2014 post-season concludes.

Phil Hughes and Roy Halladay are two names that fit in here. For obvious reasons — Hughes never showing any of that upside at any point in the last four years, and Halladay completely falling apart last year – I’m skipping over them.

I’m looking at Josh Johnson. The former stalwart of the Marlins rotation hit the skids in his first year with the Blue Jays in 2013. He logged just 81.1 innings, posting a 6.20 ERA. He missed time between late April and early June with a right triceps injury, and more time between mid-August and the end of the season due to a strained right forearm. Since getting a regular job in 2006, he has logged 100 or more innings in just four of eight seasons.

MLB Trade Rumors projects a one-year, $8 million deal laden with incentives potentially adding another $4-6 million. If he has a bounce-back year, that’s awesome. If he falls apart again, the Phillies can give Pettibone, Morgan, or someone else a shot just like they did last year with Pettibone and Ethan Martin. And as with Kazmir, if Johnson performs well but the Phillies aren’t in contention, they could potentially flip him for a prospect at the trade deadline.

In this hypothetical, we have signed Kazmir and Johnson while non-tendering Kendrick. The Phillies will have Jonathan Pettibone as well as a healthy – or, at least, healthier – Adam Morgan waiting in Triple-A. The Zach Miner-like detritus can be had at a moment’s notice during the season as well, in case Pettibone and Morgan aren’t enough.

I penciled Galvis and Ruf in as bench players because both can be quite useful. In Galvis, the Phillies have a utility guy with plus-defense who can be used in an everyday role in the event of an injury. In Ruf, the Phillies have their right-handed power bat off the bench who can spell Ryan Howard at first base against a tough left-handed starter. We still need another capable infielder (particularly one who can play third base) and an outfielder (particularly one who can play center field).

I purposefully saved right field for next-to-last because we have already brought up Ruf. Rather than serving in a pure bench role, he could be used as part of a platoon in right field. Or left field, whichever. The Phillies can spend some money here since they wouldn’t be taking playing time away from a legitimate outfield prospect and they will have this corner outfield gap for several years down the road, so even a bad free agent contract would still serve some sort of useful purpose.

If you subscribe to the mindset that one’s salary should determine one’s playing time, then this suggestion may not sit well with you. But I would attempt to sign Curtis Granderson and use him in a platoon with Ruf in right field. Granderson is unlikely to accept the $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees; rather, MLB Trade Rumors suggests a three-year, $45 million deal. In a platoon role, Granderson would take roughly 75 percent of the playing time in right field, which translates to 475-500 plate appearances.

Over his career, Granderson has posted an OPS 172 points higher against right-handers than left-handers. Ruf actually performed much better against right-handers than left-handers, but he had just 212 and 81 PA against each, respectively. After regressing those splits heavily towards the league average, Ruf is still a guy you want to expose to right-handed pitching as little as possible if your goal is to maximize his value.

As for the final two bench spots, I like taking a flier on Franklin Gutierrez. He’s a defensive wizard who has shown he can still hit when healthy (but he’s rarely been healthy). He’s right-handed and can take Ruf’s spot as part of the platoon in right field (either to start, or to replace Ruf if he doesn’t perform well), and he is capable of playing center field with plus-defense. Spitballing a contract, one year at $1 million with a chance to make an additional $2-4 million in incentives sounds right.

I’m not too concerned about the other infield spot – it can be anyone. Taking a flier on Rafael Furcal on an incentive-laden one-year deal would be interesting, similar to that of Gutierrez. I like the gamble.

To recap, here’s who we’ve added:

  • Carlos Ruiz (C): two years, $14 million ($7 million AAV)
  • Scott Kazmir (SP): two years, $16 million ($8 million AAV)
  • Josh Johnson (SP): one year, $8 million (plus $4-6 million in incentives)
  • Curtis Granderson (RF): three years, $45 million ($15 million AAV)
  • Franklin Gutierrez (OF): one year,  $1 million (plus $2-4 million in incentives)
  • Rafael Furcal (IF): one year, $1 million (plus $2-4 million in incentives)

That’s six players at $40 million in base salary for 2014 with a chance for an additional $14 million. $40-52 million brings us to $172-185 million with rounding. If payroll needs to fit around $160 million, then you can sub out Josh Johnson for someone cheaper with less upside like Jeff Karstens. Or you can just plug in Pettibone.

Overall, this is a team that still likely finishes below .500, but if everything goes right – each of the signings pans out, Ryan Howard has a bounce-back season, Cody Asche becomes a solid regular, Domonic Brown makes more progress, Darin Ruf doesn’t regress, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez shows promise out of the rotation, Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t implode, all of the young arms in the bullpen prove useful, etc. – the Phillies could be threatening in the NL East.

I like this approach because only one deal longer than two years is doled out, and that is only for three years. The Phillies don’t sacrifice future payroll flexibility for low-percentage short-term gains. While the 50th percentile performance isn’t likely to represent a winner, there is more than enough upside for the Phillies to become a surprise contender, meaning that they aren’t just punting the 2014 season.

The Granderson deal ends in 2016, a pivot year for the Phillies. It marks the final year of the Ryan Howard contract, as well as Cliff Lee’s contract (unless the Phillies pick up his $27.5 million club option). Chase Utley has $15 million vesting options from 2016-18 with a $2 million buyout for 2016. Jonathan Papelbon has a vesting option for 2016. Other than that, the only money left on the books is Cole Hamels ($23.5 million through 2018). At this point, the Phillies will know where they stand with Maikel Franco, Jesse Biddle, and J.P. Crawford, among others. Domonic Brown will have succeeded or failed as an offensive threat. This new core could do for the Phillies what Hamels, Howard, Utley, and Rollins did for them in 2007. The worst thing to do would be to add another inflexible contract (e.g. four-plus years given this off-season) to an aging veteran who won’t provide nearly as much value down the road.

While adding Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and a handful of other free agents would be sexy, it wouldn’t be the most prudent use of resources, even if you’re counting on an influx of money from a TV deal. Poor decisions made in the past have led the Phillies to their current predicament; it would be unwise to double down and hope that you can erase some of those past mistakes with new decisions made in the same vein.

Remember, in 2006 after trading away Bobby Abreu, former GM Pat Gillick told the media, “It would probably be a stretch to think we’re going to be there [as a contender] in 2007. It’s going to be a little slower. I don’t want to mislead anyone.” The Phillies made the playoffs the next season, and won the World Series in 2008. They didn’t do it by signing the biggest free agents around; they did it with careful development of their Minor League talent and with low-risk, high-reward acquisitions (for example, Shane Victorino through the Rule-5 draft and Jayson Werth through free agency).

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39 comments

  1. Noah

    November 08, 2013 12:26 PM

    Nice breakdown. Interestingly this made me more depressed about the Phillies next year than anything so far.

  2. nik

    November 08, 2013 12:46 PM

    At the very least once Amaro crashes and burns another season (there is no way in hell he can salvage a playoff run), his head will finally land on the chopping block.

  3. hk

    November 08, 2013 01:44 PM

    Bill,

    The $189M luxury tax threshhold includes ~$11M for Club Player Benefit Costs and another ~$1M for the MiLB players on the 40-man roster, so they only have ~$45.75M, not $57.75M, to spend if they want to go all of the way to the luxury tax limit.

  4. Bill Baer

    November 08, 2013 02:01 PM

    I’ll respectfully disagree on Hanigan. His offensive value is entirely tied up in his ability to draw walks. Thankfully, he walks a lot. 12 percent over 1,580 plate appearances. 38 of his 189 walks (20%), though, have been intentional. Take out those intentional walks and it drops to 9.5%.

    Erik Kratz has drawn walks at a 7.5% clip. If the back-up catcher is getting ~150 PA, then the difference is three walks. Plus Kratz hits for a slightly better average and significantly more power. So I’d rather stick with Kratz, or give the job to Cameron Rupp.

  5. hk

    November 08, 2013 02:25 PM

    Bill,

    Take away the IBB’s and Hanigan’s BB% is still 9.8%, which would have placed him 2nd on the team. We often lament the fact that this team does not take a lot of walks and show patience, so it seems a little hypocritical to knock a cheap, good defensive catcher with a high OBP because his offense is so BB-heavy.

    Also, while I get that Kratz hits for significantly more power, he does not hit for a better average (Hanigan’s career BA is .262 vs. .220 for Kratz).

    I think if the team does not sign Ruiz, Hanigan for ~$2.3M plus Kratz for $500K would make for a nice, cheap way to possibly get 3.5 WAR from the C position.

  6. Ryan

    November 08, 2013 02:27 PM

    I like Eric’s Matt Murton suggestion. It seems similar to Jayson Werth but a bit older.

  7. Pencilfish

    November 08, 2013 02:28 PM

    Why spend money on Furcal when Cesar Hernandez is available? Also, given that RAJ said he will make an offer to KK, isn’t it prudent to pencil him as a SP or are you expecting him to be traded?

  8. Eric Longenhagen

    November 08, 2013 02:52 PM

    I just texted a scout for a Japanese team asking for info on Murton, just out of curiosity. I can’t know where he is or if he has access to cell service that works with mine at any gievn time but I’ll let you guys know if I hear back.

    I’m more interested in Hanigan’s glove. He has the patience to make the most out of the 8th spot in the lineup and turn it over by taking walks when guys pitch around him to get to the pitcher.

  9. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    November 08, 2013 03:43 PM

    I’ve often expressed the opinion, to my Red fan friend, that Ryan Hanigan is the ugliest player in all of major league baseball.

  10. Otis Nixon

    November 08, 2013 04:16 PM

    @ACA…as long as it’s not all-time, we’re still cool.

  11. hk

    November 08, 2013 04:50 PM

    Randy Johnson would give Ismael Valdez a run for his money.

  12. sweatingisnormal

    November 08, 2013 06:17 PM

    It’s all rosterbating speculation but doubt kemp would cost that much in prospects unless the dogers agree to throw in significant $$$. The way their roster is currently set up, they prob take prospects that are a bit away from making the majors or guys off the major league roster.

  13. Ryan

    November 08, 2013 07:08 PM

    We should make a big offer for the 25 year old Japanese starter coming out and trade Cliff Lee. That would give us two top of the rotation guys who will be here for a while and probably even save some money while we’re at it (for the next two seasons at least).

  14. Ryan

    November 08, 2013 07:10 PM

    Take a look at Matt Murton, but I’d be all over Shin Soo Choo if they intend on going for it this year. We sorely need his on base skills in our lineup!

  15. Jerome

    November 08, 2013 09:38 PM

    Fantastic article, especially for someone who is supposed to be taking a 2-week break!

  16. Larry

    November 08, 2013 09:47 PM

    I’ve been on board with signing Josh Johnson. Taking a guy who had a bad year in the powerful AL East back to a bad offensive NL East would be smart. He was so dominant when he was with the Marlins. He would still have an upside to be an ace. I would sign him for 2 years.

    @Bill Baer,

    So you were kidding around about Kendrick a few weeks ago. I recall you saying that you wanted to pay KK 6.6 mil next year to be a swing man with the expectations of a 4.25 ERA in 2014. lol I’m glad to see you are not crazy, but you took that joke pretty far.

    RE: Chooch- I wander if people even realize that if we did sign him he would just be a platoon player. If you look at his career stats he will most likely give you 300-350 ABs next year. Why would RAJ pay that much for a platoon catcher, besides the fact that he’s RAJ?

  17. Eric Longenhagen

    November 08, 2013 09:56 PM

    Scout quote from Japan:

    “Murton’s hitting lots of gap to gap line drives but there’s not really big league home run power there. He’s an average defender in left field. He’d be a useful platoon guy.”

    It doesn’t really make sense for the Phillies to add a RH platoon bat since they might already have on in Ruf. I just like the idea of a guy coming back after five years in Japan and playing a viable role in the big leagues. I wanna root for that guy.

  18. Dan K.

    November 08, 2013 11:00 PM

    @Larry,

    How do you figure? Ruiz had 341 PA (310 AB) in a season shortened by both suspension AND injury. Are you figuring he gets suspended again? Or just hurt more often than he historically has?

    By the way, he averages just under 118 games a year (not including 2006 or 2013 for the artificially shortened seasons). That’s not bad at all for a catcher.

    One more reminder: he’s typically batted 7th or lower in the order. It’s not surprising that a catcher (who typically only plays ~80% of the time as a starter at the position) batting 7th or 8th wouldn’t accumulate a full 500-650 PA. If they’re worried about him getting more AB/PA, then they can put him at 1B on his rest days.

  19. EricL

    November 08, 2013 11:57 PM

    If we’re punting and just hoping to for a number of dominoes to fall just right in order to secure a playoff berth I’m not a real big fan of giving up the high 2nd round pick for three years of Curtis Granderson.

    I also think I like Chris Young a little better than Gutierrez, just because he’s got a similar skill set but has been able to stay on the field a bit more, but that’s so minor I probably shouldn’t even mention it.

    My question is, if they’re conceding that this team really isn’t likely to be a contender, why would you want players like Ruiz back or to bring in Granderson. Why not just give Ruf the LF job, Pettibone and Kendrick (or even a guy like Lannan) the final two SP spots and sign a cheap stopgap catcher, maybe someone like Navarro? I’d absolutely hate the 2014 team to have spent an additional $40-50 million over the offseason bringing in older players only to end up hoovering around .500.

  20. Larry

    November 09, 2013 12:42 AM

    @ Dan K,

    Since 2007 which was his 1st full year, he averaged 354 ABs per season. That’s not a stretch when I predict 300-350 ABs in 2014 when he’ll be 35 and probably not cheating.

    We’ll probably have Revere, Jroll, and of course the pitcher’s spot with not a lot of HRs in 2014, Chooch when not on drugs doesn’t have much power.

    When you are struggling to score runs in CBP, you have to start thinking about getting guys that can hit homers don’t you think?

  21. Dan K.

    November 09, 2013 02:14 AM

    -He does not control the number of at bats he receives.-

    The only thing he can do is play when he is told to (and healthy/eligible). 118 games is barely under 73% of games. As I said, catchers are typically in the 80% range of games played when they are healthy and the starter. If you want to increase that number, play them at another position when they are getting a rest day (Ruiz has played in exactly two games at any other position than catcher, both times 3B in emergency situations).

    Chooch can’t help it when the manager decides to sit him or where he chooses to bat him in the order. Also, AB is a bad stat to use because it ignores BB’s, which Chooch draws a fair amount of.

    To your last point, no. I would say it’s important to get guys who make fewer outs. Someone that has, say, a .358 career OBP and had shown an ability to be around the .400 mark for 3 consecutive years before his shortened season.

    Power is not coming from catcher. It just isn’t. The BEST you can hope for in that regard is McCann or Salty. But neither of them has hit more than 25 HR in a season. Would consistently double digit HR power be an improvement over Ruiz? Of course. But at what cost, exactly? First of all, they’ll both command larger contracts; both in terms of years and money. Second of all, I worry more about McCann breaking down than Ruiz. Thirdly, other things beside power are important; Ruiz has the highest career OBP of the three, is much better defensively than McCann and VASTLT better than Salty, and (perhaps most importantly) has a rapport with our pitchers which is especially important since we need production out of Hamels and Lee to be able to do anything. So why would you pay for power just to sacrifice other important aspects of the game?

    It has always been my stance that catchers should ALWAYS be defense-first. If they are good hitters as well, that’s great. McCann is a bit of that, but his defense isn’t that good. Besides, if B-WAR is to be trusted, McCann has only been worth 5.7 wins over Ruiz in 280 MORE games played. That’s about 3.3 WAR per 162 games that Ruiz would need to average to equal McCann. Ruiz, for his career, has average about 3.5 per 162 games. So on a per-game basis, Ruiz has been better (0.0215 versus McCann’s 0.0213). What makes that even more palatable is that 1) Ruiz’s performance has been MUCH more balanced than McCann’s; if Chooch has a bad year with the stick, he’s still producing with his defense. If McCann has a bad hitting year, he gives basically nothing. If Salty does, he’s a net negative. But, perhaps more importantly, 2) McCann has more mileage on him than anyone in this discussion. If anyone is going to fall apart over the next 2 years, I’d bet him no doubt about it. Even if he keeps the bat, there is a very high chance he has to be moved to 1B. Even assuming we didn’t have Howard, that would create a vacancy at C, and our 1B would be, what, average at best?

    So yes, I’d rather pay less money for Chooch than to sell out for power that is likely to cost us more than it gains. You want power in the lineup? There’s plenty of OF on the market. See if you can move Howard (or maybe he can get healthy enough to produce some of that power) and get a power hitter there. As for catchers, I’ll take the one that produces in multiple ways, not the least of which is on the defensive side.

  22. hk

    November 09, 2013 06:43 AM

    I like Bill’s thinking in regards to starting pitching and I think Gavin Floyd is another name to put in the low risk, high potential reward category if he’ll take an incentive laden deal with a 2nd year vesting option if he pitches a certain number of innings.

  23. Paul

    November 09, 2013 10:56 AM

    In the brief talk about ugly players, conversation should start and end with Otis Nixon.

  24. GB

    November 09, 2013 11:29 AM

    This again is where the Phils stating they will “compete every year” regardless of reality backfires not only on the field, but in their precious PR battle to keep the wolves at bay…

    They did the same thing with Rollins, had no internal option ready, had talked up Rollins as a Phillie for life so much that they got stuck with bidding against themselves & giving him too much for too long in the end.

    If they can hold to a 1 or 2 yr deal with Ruiz, I’m fine with that, but anything longer not only is crazy for a catcher his age & with his injury and drug history, but cuts into the development of our farm hand catchers who we need to succeed to balance out the payroll and inject much needed youth/talent into the roster…

    Hopefully, the Phils do not get stuck again and can be more straight up with the fans (as if the fans do not know they will struggle again in 2014 and need to re-tool), admit they need to change direction for a better future and actually get some people in here who can engineer/manage such a transition.

    It would be refreshing, thats for sure…then they can sell the sucessful process to the Flyers and get their money back…

  25. Larry

    November 09, 2013 11:36 AM

    Dan K,

    Looks like too many teams want Mc Cann, which will end up being a bidding war. Chooch’s defense is not the same after he got suspended. He’s not blocking balls like he used to. Lee can throw to any catcher. Hamels was still struggling badly when Chooch came back last year. Let’s not give Chooch too much credit.

    At worse case scenario, you can platoon Kratz with someone. Kratz has a stronger arm and way more power than Chooch. Why over pay for Chooch at this point.

    Anyway, right now the starting pitching is your biggest problem. We need at least 2 more starters, hopefully good ones which won’t expose the worse part of the bullpen like last year. We need guys who can get to the 7th consistently where you only see our best relievers: Paps, Diekman, Bastardo, Maybe Martin, Maybe Adams, not guys like Chad Durbin where you would see in the 4th and 5th innings. Use the Chooch money on a guy like Josh Johnson.

  26. Larry

    November 09, 2013 11:37 AM

    worst, not worse

  27. Bill Baer

    November 09, 2013 11:38 AM

    When I was writing the article, I originally suggested going after Brayan Pena, but the Reds signed him when I was halfway through.

  28. hk

    November 09, 2013 06:30 PM

    Bill,

    I thought I read somewhere that Floyd could be back in May. Bad info, I guess. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Can you clarify your “Kratz hits for a slightly better average” comment? Was this an oversight? If so, have you revisited the idea of the good fielding Hanigan and his .262 / .359 / .343 as a cheap, one year starter if Chooch signs elsewhere?

  29. JT

    November 09, 2013 07:40 PM

    I like these moves, but instead of signing Granderson they should try to trade for Braun or Kemp. Braun would actually be cheaper than Granderson for the next couple years. They both come with fairly big risks, but the upside is having one of the elite (right handed) different-making hitter batting third for at least the next three or four years. Something tells me they could get one of these guys without giving up Franco, Biddle or Crawford as long as they take on their contracts. Neither Kemp or Braun’s contracts are that terrible, but their overall value probably makes them off limits to about 3/4 of the league. And if they Phillies can use their largess to get them on a discount in terms of what they give back, they should jump on it.

  30. Scott G

    November 09, 2013 10:30 PM

    Haven’t studies shown that teams that lack overall OBP skills benefit more from a few high SLG guys than OBP guys? And that teams with OBP skills have a better use for guys with more
    OBP skills? I feel like I read about this here or at fangraphs

  31. pedro3131

    November 10, 2013 01:39 AM

    I doubt we could put together a package with our top prospects that would land us a Kemp or Braun caliber bat, let alone our sup top prospects….

  32. Joecatz

    November 10, 2013 11:55 PM

    The phillies can get kemp if LA makes him available. It costs Franco.

    A ride from a deal with Boston for middlebrooks and a starter or a deal with Texas for andrus or profar no one willing to move a 3B can match what the phillies have.

    Also, Ryan handgun had a horrible babip season, he’s maybe the best pitch framer in the game and has one of the vest arms of any catcher playing. They could do a lot worse.

    Bill I think your ideas here are bout as good as anything I’ve seen. And it’s still not enough.

    For me, I’m slowly starting to feel that the phillies need to decide real fast whether they want to win or not, and if they do, they can’t worry about the luxury tax. They either need to spend a boatload, or rebuild. But they can’t put together a winner IMO and keep the budget between 160 and 170mm

  33. yizzit

    November 12, 2013 11:48 AM

    And we kick it off with Marlon Byrd, hahaha

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