In the midst of some very hilarious pre-Winter-Meeting developments, the Phillies have made two negligible acquisitions. As Jim Salisbury reports, the Phillies have traded Rob Rasmussen and Erik Kratz to Toronto for reliever Brad Lincoln. The fact that this trade was officially announced by Phillies personnel prior to any rumor or leak should clue you in to its significance.
His contention is that injuries have kept him from being full strength (understandable) and that age is really just a number (less so). There’s no arguing the injury point; Howard’s missed tons of time over the last two seasons, and even when he was in the lineup, he generally produced – much less just slugged – far below his career averages.
But in baseball, age isn’t always just a number. Sure, now and then you get guys who defy the odds, who put together solid-to-good-to-great seasons well into their 30s (from Raul Ibanez on up through Barry Bonds and Randy Johnson), but this isn’t the norm, especially when the most accessible examples are Hall of Fame-level talents. Howard is not a future Hall of Famer, but he was an elite slugger at one point. That point wasn’t recent, but at least it exists.
So, on its face, the claim that Howard could hit 30 homers isn’t a silly one, but there’s enough to leave one dubious.
It’s sort of arbitrary, but I always figured mid-2009 for the time when Carlos Ruiz turned it around at the (side of the) plate. Through games played on July 19th of that year, Ruiz had posted a .688 OPS, following a rough 2008 season (in which he nevertheless provided some choppy World Series heroics). That doesn’t sound too bad, I know, but this is 2009, when the league as a whole was still hitting baseballs.
Freddy Galvis is rooting around the Venezuelan Winter League right now, playing shortstop for los Aguilas de Zulia. When he returns stateside, he’ll almost certainly have a spot with the big league club in 2014. Galvis has two seasons of non-arbitration team control remaining, and has established himself as exactly the kind of utility player any manager would love to have in reserve for the league minimum (or possibly more).
Dan Szymborski ($) seems to think so. Szymborski’s argument for not counting out the Phils making a serious push to the top of the division hinges around payroll flexibility, acknowledging that Roy Halladay‘s money is off the books and a new television deal is on the horizon, so even though Ruben Amaro has made it clear he wishes to stay below the $189M luxury tax threshold, the safety net is almost in place.
But the amount of work left to do is sizable, and I think we all realize this. Having the resources to accomplish most (if not all) of it doesn’t seem like an outlandish thing to believe; as always, it’s a question of how the resources are allocated.
Many years ago, when I first started dating the woman who is now my wife, we were driving on a highway and passed a B.J’s Wholesale Club (pretty much a Costco as I understand it) that was under construction. Her father is apparently fond of shopping there for things, and, accordingly, she exclaimed “Oh! My dad loves BJs!” I laughed, a lot.
The other night, when I was watching a Cardinal (I believe Carlos Beltran), hit a screaming line drive straight into the Ted Williams Shift for an out, I remarked that if I were dictator of baseball, I’d outlaw the shift, which generated this response:
We should probably have seen John Lannan‘s acquisition coming. The Phillies were intimately familiar with Lannan, for reasons both good (the Phils had smacked him around for a collective .899 OPS over 448 plate appearances) and bad (he was ejected from his debut for hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively, the former derailing a possible MVP season). So Ruben Amaro opted for the traditional boring fifth starter play, taking the divisional guy that could grind away some innings and, theoretically anyway, keep the game winnable. It wasn’t a bad idea, either. Prior to 2013, Lannan had been essentially league average in terms of ERA, which would have been more than effective enough for the last slot in the rotation on any team.