Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Comings And Goings

Under whelmed. That’s the only way to put it regarding the recent signings by the Phils. Has-beens . Never-weres. Guys who skipped town, even country, to rediscover whatever it was they lost if, indeed, they ever had it. Guys whose stat sheets pale when compared to their medical records. And all the while the Phils have failed to address their most critical need: the bullpen. We can argue into the wee hours whether they have enough starting pitching (talk about a few wings and a prayer) and offense, but if the Phils go into the later innings and can’t hold leads, a distinct possibility, they are in big trouble.

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With Shane Victorino, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell in the outfield the Phillies have a decent chance to see all three starters go down to injuries, the first two because they play all out all the time and the third because his wrist and foot could betray him at any moment.

With “The Catch” burned indelibly into their psyches, fans tend to forget how many times Victorino also threw himself into walls and turf only to get up slowly. He plays every bit as hard as Rowand with more luck on his side thus far, but his style doesn’t lend itself to longevity or an injury-free campaign.

One thing I don’t look forward to seeing in 2007 is Rowand, Victorino and Utley converging on a shallow pop fly.

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As a follow up to my lack of enthusiasm for the fellows filling out roster spots on the 2007 Phillies, has anyone ever considered how much of a drop-off there is between the starting nine of most clubs and their benches? Does this same disparity occur in the other major sports? There sure seem to be a lot more flotsam and jetsam in major league baseball than ever before. Jeez, even Randall Simon is being given another shot at making the roster.

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The next time I complain about salaries in baseball (and those of you who follow this space closely know that will be any moment), remind me that things could be worse: the Phillies can consider themselves fortunate they were never stuck with Chris Webber or, for that matter, Billy King. The Sixers have finally admitted what everyone else knew two years ago when King acquired the decrepit veteran forward in the first place: he's done. They have bought out his contract and will place Webber on waivers this AM. I love the quotes attributed to King that Webber no longer fits in the Sixers' plans. One week into 2007 and the overmatched GM has already uttered the understatement of the year.

The whole deal is beyond my expertise or interest other than to note as Phil Jasner wrote in today's Daily News, [Webber's salary is] currently listed on the salary cap at $20,718,750 this season and $22,312,500 next season, [but]those figures will be amended to reflect any reduction, with the total reduction spread over the two seasons.

Twenty-plus million per season for a guy who was shot. That's worth bitching about.

7 Comments:

Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

I agree that the talent pool seems thinner all the time, but I'm not ready to agree that players like Jayson Werth and Karim Garcia, who logged nary a major league inning between them in 2006, are the best Gillick could have done. There were better options out there and the Phillies opted not to spend the money. Being that they've determined that those young scrubs Utley and Howard are not priorities, and being that they were evidently ready to shell it out for Soriano last month, it justly begs the question of why they *aren't* willing to spend money on guys who, while they may be risks in their own right, aren't risks any more so than the players they did sign. Trusting that Gillick does have ability to estimate talent, it appears to be coming down to dollars and cents. And that's a throroughly sorry answer for why this team isn't being made any better than it is.

You have an excellent point about three OFers being highly susceptible to injury based on nagging conditions or all-out style of play. This being the case, wouldn't it be regarded as vastly important to stock at least one option who could fill in capably in case he was pressed into extended regular play? This team could easy be a dynamo in the NL with such weakness all around it, but Gillick seems determined to withhold it to the vast pool of wild-card mediocrity. 2007 already looks like one big rerun.

Incidentally, now that Cal Ripken has made it known that he would be interested in buying the Orioles, is there officially a price on Peter Angelos' head yet?

2:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Nothing Gillick has done to date has persuaded me he believes the Phils can make the playoffs in 2007. I believe he remains focused on the next year. It's a shame because the nucleus is present to make a great run and the missing pieces, while not insubstantial (especially in the pen) might have been available via trade rather than the slim FA pool. We will never know, but look at the Freddy Garcia trade as one that came literally out of nowhere. Those kinds of deals for some help in the bullpen might have been available earlier and may still if Lieber can be moved, but I am no longer optimistic help is on the way where needed most.

As for Ripken and Angelos, I've read before of Cal's interest in putting together an offer for the team, but Angelos is one major league egoist and he isn't going to be satisfied with being the biggest fish in the asbestos litigation pond.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet they absolutely *can* playoffs with a little nudge from the front office. Look how close they've been coming. I'm with you; it appears Gillick seems focused beyond '07 for some reason. But when you have a team that's made the playoffs once in what's rapidly nearing a quarter-century, there needs to be a greater sense of urgency with a team stuck in second place.

Pat Gillick is an utter, utter mystery to me.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Well said. He does play things close to the vest, which is appropriate when making deals and evaluating personnel but not the best public relations stance for a chronically underachieving franchise.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

"absolutely can playoffs" is well said? ;)

I seem to have left out a few words in that last post, as well as my name!

6:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Well said, indeed, RSB, since I was able to fill in the missing parts of your post, but not, alas, your name!!!

8:17 PM  
Anonymous enrico said...

Great post.

I just felt the need to point out that the TG over at BS&S has a post titled Comings and Goings.

CRAZY!@! haha

9:43 PM  

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