Going into the off-season if you had told me the Phillies would add two starting pitchers I would have been surprised, yet here we are in early December and they have done just that with the free agent signing of Adam Eaton and yesterday’s trade with the White Sox for Freddy Garcia.
The Eaton signing shows up on many observers’ lists as one of the worst deals of the Hot Stove League to date in terms of the dollars spent. The Garcia trade will be viewed by many as one of the best deals. To get the proven right-hander the Phils gave up [on] former first round draft pick Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, whom they had acquired from the same White Sox.
The surprise here is that the White Sox were willing to gamble that Floyd would eventually fulfill his early promise. The Phils gave him every chance and he muffed the overwhelming majority of them including a stint in the Arizona Fall League that just concluded. His promises will likely remain unfulfilled. Gonzalez is a known commodity to the Sox, who originally developed him and then traded him to the Phils in the Jim Thome deal. Gio was inconsistent at Reading last season but was still considered one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.
Garcia is eligible for free agency at the end of next season and thus may turn out to be a one-year rental, but it is highly unlikely Floyd would have helped at all this coming season or beyond and Gonzalez, like many young pitchers, remains unproven.
The other surprise is that the White Sox did not insist the Phillies include Aaron Rowand in the deal. They have openly regretted trading him in the same Thome deal and have made no bones about wanting to reacquire him. In today’s Inquirer it was suggested they can wait another year when he becomes a free agent.
Commenter extraordinaire George S. wrote a number of us an email this morning suggesting that the improvements in the starting rotation should translate to more innings thrown by that quintet and thus less demands on a clearly depleted bullpen. Theoretically George is correct though Charlie Manuel has shown himself to be one of those managers who turns to his bullpen with Pavlonian consistency after five or six innings no matter what the situation. When he does, he is going to find less proven arms there to call on as things currently stand. Chief among the deficiencies are a proven set-up guy and someone who can take Flash Gordon’s place should the aging right-hander suffer yet another injury. No matter how much they improve at the beginning of the game, the Phils must have someone for the finale if they expect to compete for the NL East title.