Friday, June 23, 2006

Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be

It’s official…for now.

Speaking with reporters the other night, Pat Gillick announced "Absolutely, we're buyers now. We're not sellers." According to Todd Zolecki of the Inquirer, the operative word here is “now.” All would depend, it seems, on how the Phillies fare on their current road trip through the rest of the American League East and where they reside in the standings as the July trading deadline approaches.

What else is Gillick going to say? We’ve given up? Don’t bother coming to the Bank the rest of the year, we’re just biding our time?

The funny thing about buying and selling is the inescapable fact that both transactions are required to complete any deal. You know the old saw: If someone is buying someone else is selling. So, what exactly is the currency Gillick plans to use?

If the Phillies are absolutely buyers as of right now, we can safely assume they don’t have the ready funds for a straight cash transaction. Their bloated payroll and contractual obligations through the end of this season hardly provide them with much room to maneuver on the cash front. So, who not what, are they planning to exchange when they go shopping?

That is a long and familiar list, headed no doubt by Abreu and Burrell and potentially including at least one other outfielder, either Dellucci or Victorino. The Phillies certainly don’t have pitching to give, but they may decide to give up on Gavin Floyd, whose trade value is so low at this point he is more likely to be the throw-in than the bait.

What does this all add up to? I’m not buying that the Phillies are buying.

When the salaries of Bell, Lieberthal and Wolf are off the books at the end of this season and the obligations to Jim Thome are further reduced, then the Phillies will seriously enter the market. For now, Gillick is just rallying the troops inside and out of the clubhouse, many of whom are in retreat.


Oisín/Wizlah said...

gillick's talk of the trade market is refreshing, even if the end result is to say the same thing as wade before him - there's not much out there.

But I find it reassuring that a GM is saying things like 'many buyers, few sellers', clearly indicating that he knows who's going to be calling the shots come trade deadline. His swift put-down of the willis trade-rumours was done in the same fashion - suggesting that the marlins would be crazy to trade now since if they wanted to trade at the deadline, they'd get more value for willis.

All of which I find more comforting than 'we're working the phones, but its hard.'

George S said...

I found the comment about Jimmy Rollins in the Daily News interesting. It was made by Sam Donnellen:

"He really isn't a leadoff guy, and I doubt he will ever be one. He likes to swing the bat, likes to slug, and his patience comes and goes. But on another team, especially one in the American League, Rollins could bat sixth, catch the ball and be a key member of a championship team."

I don't quite understand why he could bat sixth in the AL but not for the Phillies. Is he saying that because there is a DH and no pitcher batting there is in fact no such thing as a leadoff man in the AL?

Why can he not bat 2nd or 6th or 7th for the Phillies? Because we don't have a 'conventional' leadoff man?

Let's see. Hypothetically, if you simply switched Utley and Rollins, what would you gain and what would you lose?

Utley OBP .362 while Rollins is .313, so advantage to switching them.

Rollins as a switchhitter gets the benefit of the firstbaseman holding the runner if Utley gets on base, so nothing is lost there unless a LHP is on the mound (personally, if I were a switch hitter and batted RH as poorly as Rollins, I would bat LH even against a LHP if there was a man on 1B).

Rollins is a better base stealer, but their success rate is not that much different, 80% to 70%. But advantage Rollins in terms of stolen bases.

Utley's Slg % is .488 to Rollins' .410. But that is misleading in two ways.

First, here are the power numbers for Rollins and Utley. Rollins has only 11 more PAs. Doubles: 18-18. Triples 1-1, HR 9-12. How much power are you really losing? 3 HRs?

Second, if Utley bats first, are you really losing his power? If he already has an OBP of .362, does he really have to change his approach at the plate to be a more successful leadoff man than Rollins? Why should his power be affected? It shouldn't have to be. On the other hand, I believe Rollins' SLG% will increase, maybe dramatically, if the leadoff man "handcuffs" are removed and can freely swing as he wants.

The only statistical area where you might have a real concern is in the RISP area, where Utley is at .380 while Rollins is at a paltry .217.
But I consider that stat be highly volatile. In fact Rollins had a higher average with RISP than Utley in both 2004 and 2005.

I said this is hypothetical. Barring a trade that puts Victorino in the everyday lineup, I don't see CM doing anything innovative or trying anything new. We'll just keep on with the Rollins leadoff travesty, hurting the offense and dampening Rollins' true offensive potential.

RickSchuBlues said...

I couldn't disagree with Donnellon more. The Phillies need more players like Rollins and Rowand, not fewer. Why not just trade Utley and Howard, too, since they're marketable and cheap? Then the team can figure out a way to sell a 25-man roster comprised of cardboard cut-outs to the public.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

It doesn't seem to matter much anymore.

Our #1 pitcher goes out and gets arrested for slugging his wife. This can't be good.

Are Myers' days numbered now? I've seen Major League ballplayers get run out of town for something like this (Wil Cordero in Boston in 1997).

And how will Philly fans react when he comes home?

The questions are a little bigger now than whether the Phils are buyers or not.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

By the way.. shameless plug here.

I wrote something about Brett Myers on

Feel free to comment on it.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...


After seeing what you posted on my blog about the Boston Globe article, I went and searched it out.

I'm sick to my stomach after reading it.

I know he's innocent until proven guilty, but there's entirely too many witnesses here, and there's less doubt now.

If this is 100% true, Brett Myers can go to hell for all I care.

Even if it is 80% true, it's still not good.

And I think every Phillies fan should read this article...

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Maybe you can provide the link in your blog. I will in mine. It didn't seem to take on the last posting.

Tom Goodman said...

I sent it to Jason Weitzel earlier and he posted it.

John Salmon said...

"Rick Schu Blues" must be Rollins' user name. Is that you, Jimmy?

There's no other way to explain the fact that somebody who obviously knows baseball can't realize that Rollins is part of the problem with this team, and will never be any part of the solution. The only way Jimmy's useful is is you bat him down in the order, where his speed (less needed ahead of Utley, Abreu, etc.) and (occasional) power are more useful. Clearly either the club or Jimmy himself have nixed that, so now's grwat time to move him, while he's still pretty young and not super expensive.

How many thousand of at-bats does the guy have to waste before his supporter (possibly the only one left) wakes up? What's the line about an insane person-he does the same thing over and over again expecting different results? That's RSB, hoping and hoping and hoping that Rollins will learn how to hit leadoff. It ain't gonna happen, any more than at 46 I'm gonna learn how to play the trumpet like Miles Davis.

RickSchuBlues said...

John, I don't hold out hope at this point that Rollins will ever be a good leadoff hitter. I think that the emphasis on his abilities as a leadoff hitter, however, detracts from people adequately assessing his overall strengths as a player. I don't get hung up on the leadoff thing like so many people do. A leadoff hitter is only guaranteed to lead off one inning per game. Big deal. It helps to have a standout leadoff hitter, naturally, but it's not going to make or break your team if there are larger overall issues at hand - and there always are. Rafael Furcal, a guy who swings at an awful lot of pitches, was the Braves' leadoff hitter the past several seasons, and it didn't seem to hurt them any. Maybe the fact that Furcal was a dynamic, if not star-caliber, offensive threat had something to do with that.

I support Rollins for many other reasons, all of which I cited in the most recent thread at Beerleaguer, and which I frankly don't feel like repeating here for the benefit of trying to persuade you, as you have your mind made up on the guy anyway. And if you don't like him, fine. I seriously doubt, however, that I am the last person who likes Jimmy Rollins and wants him to remain a Phillie - or that there is some kind of irrational thought process driving that preference.