What Are the Phillies Doing?
Summing up the winter so far for the defending World Series champions:
*Signed OF Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $31.5 million contract (replacing Pat Burrell).
*Signed RHP Chan Ho Park to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
*Re-signed 46-year-old Jamie Moyer to a two-year, $13 million contract.
And that, apparently, is going to do it for the Phillies. Good night, everyone. See you in spring training.
My, my. There are so many problems with this. Let's take it from the top:
*Ibanez. The Phillies' management must really hate Burrell, because in essentially swapping him for Ibanez, the team just got older (Ibanez is 36, Burrell 32) and more left-handed, while improving themselves only slightly (if at all) defensively and not at all offensively. In the process, they may have saved themselves only $5 million or so per year (assuming Burrell actually gets the $16 million per season he is seeking).
Burrell was a terrible fielder and a streaky hitter (and, I must add, a nightmare for the media), but he was beloved in the clubhouse (read Chase Utley's comments here) and served an important purpose, because of his right-handed bat -- counter-acting the extreme left-handedness of the heart of the Phillies' order, namely Utley and Howard.
Now, unless Manager Charlie Manuel gets really creative, he will have Utley, Howard and Ibanez all hitting within a spot or two of each other in the order, making it laughingly easy for opposing managers to neutralize them with lefty relievers late in games. For their careers, Howard's OPS against lefties is 279 points lower than it is against right-handers; Utley's is 57 points lower, and Ibanez's is 116 points lower.
Why not just bring Burrell back at a slightly higher cost, or else get somebody cheaper (and right-handed) to play left field instead?
*Signing Park is fine, as long as you don't guarantee him money, and as long as you don't expect him to be in your rotation. Oops. The Phillies fail on both counts. Despite somehow winning a World Series with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Moyer, Joe Blanton and an assortment of fifth starters, the Phillies desperately needed to make a rotation upgrade. It is their weakest area. Derek Lowe would have qualified as an upgrade. Chan Ho Park does not.
*Nothing against Moyer. Amazing pitcher, great human being. But do you really want to be guaranteeing him $6.5 million in a season in which he will turn 48, as he will in 2010? Ruben Amaro Jr., be honest here.
"There's no question it's a concern," Amaro, the Phillies' new GM told reporters yesterday. "For us to go two years guaranteed, I think shows our commitment to him."
Well, it certainly shows something.
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