On this unusually brisk and cold November morning anything with “Hot Stove” in the subject line is welcome.
I am not particularly fond of him but I tip my hat to Roger Clemens. Not too many pitchers are going to win a Cy Young Award after they retire and you can look that up. Clemens, by the way, also fits my definition of a MVP, that is, most valuable to his team not to the League. But I know all about position players vs. pitchers and the MVP award. That one should go to Albert Pujols.
Bobby Crosby won the AL Rookie of the Year award, falling one vote shy of being a unanimous pick. Though he hit 22 home runs, knocked in 64 and scored 70 runs, Crosby also managed to hit less than .240 and strike out 141 times. I am not familiar with the competition he faced in the American League, but on the surface I cannot imagine how he was a near-unanimous choice. For comparison sake only, Jimmy drove in 73 runs last season while scoring 119. There are a lot of quality shortstops in the game at the moment and the bar is set high.
Reports that the Phillies are interested in David Wells are appalling. Wells is 42 years old, one year removed from back surgery, fat and terminally out of shape and prone to putting his best face forward at every contentious opportunity. Yes, he can still pitch (when not on the DL), but it appears his most attractive quality to the Phillies is that he would only demand a one-year contract. This is just the sort of rent-a-player, stop-gap measure the Phillies must avoid. Unfortunately, with all the long-term contracts they gave away (all of which call for raises in the 2005 season), the Phils have little room to maneuver. This way lies madness, however.
A far more intriguing idea is the rumor that the Phils are also interested in Milwaukee centerfielder Scott Podsednik. Podsednik was the National League rookie of the year in 2003 at age 27. Scouting reports said he was less a late bloomer than held back by injuries as a minor leaguer, which is why he “arrived” relatively late. Of greater concern, perhaps, his batting average fell dramatically last season from .314 to .244. However, scouting reports also say he is a very patient lead-off hitter who lead the majors with 70 stolen bases. Podsednik may not come that expensively unless, of course, the cost is Ryan Howard.
One free agent receiving scant attention in the local press is Todd Pratt. I haven’t read anything regarding Pratt’s inclination to return or not to the Phillies, but I’d like to see it happen. Pratt isn’t young; nor is he a Pudge Rodriguez behind or at the plate. But he is a solid veteran whose presence in the clubhouse is reportedly very important. There aren’t many alternatives out there, but something must happen. An injury to Mike Lieberthal would essentially end the Phillies quest for a playoff birth. Pratt may not be the insurance policy that would avoid that catastrophe, but the Phillies don’t have anyone else they could rely on unless they sign one of the middling free agents available. And those players, such as Mike Metheny, are going to want longer contracts than the Phillies are in a position to give.