I have always known that being born and raised a Philadelphia sports fan would be the ultimate love/hate relationship. I bleed the team colors, and watch at the edge of my seat through every pitch, every pass, every jump-shot, and every slap-shot. For years I have heard how this city could never win the big one, and that my teams would always break my heart.
Yes I have had heart break, but yes I have also had some glorious moments. One I am so very fond of was the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series, however since then 2 other teams have won it, and now it is time for the Phillies to get to work this off-season and not so much load up with one huge superstar, but get role players, bullpen help, and a 5th starter to make this thing right.
The Phillies may be losing one of the most highest thought of baseball free agents in this seasons market in outfielder Jayson Werth, who many think can bring in the most money per year of any free agent this season. Despite setting a franchise record in attendance, and sell-outs and also raising ticket prices anywhere from $2 to $5 more for next year, the Phillies claim to not be looking to spend huge dollars.
Funny when you think that they are rumored to be on the list of 7 teams very interested in left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, who many experts see as the top prize on the market. Some also believe, despite the over-load of left handed batters, that the Phillies could be looking to make a move for outfielder Carl Crawford. Now, I will say I love Crawford, but another lefty in this line-up? You’d have to be crazy!
So what I have done is come up with some nice pieces to a puzzle that is aging a bit, but still has enough pop and talent to make another run. The Braves owned this division for many years throughout the ’90s so why not the Phillies right now? Not every team needs to fill a roster with super talent, sometimes you just need that contact, or that ground ball, you know? So here are some suggestions to GM Reuben Amaro and the Phillies. Now I expect some bashing from Phils fans, and some praises from other fans, but heck it is all opinion, and being that Christmas is coming up soon, consider this my “Wish List”.
The Phillies have 3 excellent choices in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, and even a decent 4th guy in Joe Blanton. However 5th starter was a huge problem last year. A 5th starter for a contending team needs to be able to not only start, but is a key bullpen guy come post-season. Here are some options at this position.
Cliff Lee, Rangers: We saw what he can do in 2009, but the Phillies also let him walk this past off-season. He would be amazing to have again, but this could lead to some possible events: The trading of Roy Oswalt or Joe Blanton, or the Phillies spending no money at all on bench players or a big bat to replace Jayson Werth. He will get a huge contract somewhere, and I’m 99% sure this is not the place.
Brad Penny, Cardinals: Penny still has some gas, and throws a nice curveball, but you have to get him cheap. His weight has been an issue the last few years which has led to injuries. If you can get him at the right price he could make a quality 5th starter and emergency bullpen arm.
Vicente Padilla, Dodgers: He seems to have his temper better under control. Still has good stuff, just lets up more home runs now-a-days. He can be an excellent option as a 5th starter, but in a pitching hungry league he will probably get a big 1 or 2 year deal elsewhere. If not, he is worth a look.
Javier Vazquez, White Sox: In the National League he is quite a pitcher, in the American League not so much. It is hard to imagine him taking 5th starter money, but the Phillies can do much worse at number 5. When he was with Atlanta he sure was tough to hit and had the strikeouts.
A team is hard-pressed to win without a good bullpen, and the Phillies could use some strength in this department. Brad Lidge comes back as the closer, at least for one more year, but outside of that, the only real certain spot is Ryan Madson. So the Phils can use some serious work here, and here is some nice names.
Grant Balfour, Rays: He throws a great deal of fastballs, but when you throw them that hard, and place them that well, you can afford too. He is a right handed pithcer that actually pitches well against lefties too. He is an excellent addition to any bullpen, and could serve well here.
J.J. Putz, White Sox: Yes, we remember how poor his last stop in the National League was when he was with the Mets, but now as a strictly one inning set up guy, he seems to have found himself again. No, he will not be a closer anymore, but he has a very live arm, and can help this team.
Brian Fuentes, Twins: Fuentes does not have the gas of a closer, but he is craft, he is a lefty and can get the outs late in a ball game. He won’t be here as a closer, but he could be used as a specialist or set up guy. His 2.81 ERA last year with the Twins shows he holds value, and this team will badly need left handed relief.
Jason Frasor, Blue Jays: Not overly flashy name, but a guy who can gets the strikeouts. In 277 innings Frasor has struck out 275 batters, which are great numbers, and he brings a good fastball with him. Won’t cost much, and can be good in the 7th or 8th innings.
Pedro Feliciano, Mets: Another crafty lefty, and a guy who has shown he can pitch just about every night. He appeared in 92 games last season and is the perfect lefty inning eater for any team. He deserves a chance with a contending team to show what he has.
Jon Rauch, Twins: Another piece of the Twins division winning puzzle, Rauch is tall, and has a big delivery which can be intimidating to hitter. He was a former Washington National, so he knows a little something about pitching at Citizens Bank Park as well. Rauch can be a closer, a situation guy, or even an inning eater. He is high on the list for many teams due to such versatility.
Frank Francisco, Rangers: He has found control, and walks far less hitters then he did a few years ago, He throws hard and has a nice group of pitches to choose from. The negative is, he gets hurt a lot, and Texas can still offer him arbitration, which means he would cost compensation.
Other options: Kyle Farnsworth, Resign Jose Contreras or Chan Ho-Park
Infield/ Bench players
Jorge Cantu, Rangers: Cantu slumped after being traded to Texas, but here is a guy that can play first, second and third and is a great right handed bat. Cantu has shown he can knock in runs and hit to all fields, now he would just have to settle for less money and a bench role.
Jerry Hairtson Jr., Padres: He can be pesky, and he can play a decent infield. Hairston is not a great hitter, but he runs well, and can come off the bench and work counts and make contact. He could be wooed by a team with a starting role, if not he is worth an offer.
Eric Hinske, Braves: Hinske is not a wow name, but he has big time power, and can play some infield at times. Not a great defensive player, but the Phillies have a good enough infield not to make late inning changes.
Cristan Guzman, Rangers: He is much better in the National League, and still has a bit of speed left. Guzman will not be a starter again, and the Phillies don’t need him to be, but they need a guy off of the bench that can contribute. He should have a decent year or 2 left.
Felipe Lopez, Cardinals: He had an off year, and is a bit of a diva, but Lopez can play all the infield spots, and has a coveted right handed bat that this team always needs. Lopez in the past has shown he can be a .300 hitter in limited play he just needs to understand that he is best served in that role.
With the Phillies about to possibly lose Jayson Werth, they will need to look hard and be creative here. Yes, they have Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. in the system but they may need another piece, like one of these guys.
Carl Crawford, Rays: In my opinion, the best position player available this season. He is as close to a 5-tool player as you will see as he hits for average and power, steals bases, plays a good outfield and has a good arm. Crawford is a left-handed hitter, which many think is not needed here, but he is such a good player, he would be worth it. Only problem here is, he will cost a lot which could limit the moves they make.
Jayson Werth, Phillies: We know what he is and what he does. He will command lots of cash, and lots of years, plus force the Phillies to deal with agent Scott Boras, which rarely goes well foe the Phils.
Marcus Thames, Yankees: A guy that can accept a role as a part-timer with real good power and can drive in some runs. His defense improved as well this past season, but some may think he was good enough to ask for decent money. He may be worth it here as he is a right handed hitter, and in a good lineup can do things that Werth did.
Pat Burrell, Giants: It could be a long shot to expect him to take an incentive laden contract in a back-up role, but Burrell still has something left. As a right handed power hitter he is just what this team needs, whether we hold a grudge against him or not. If Pat can still throw up a .260 average and belt some home runs, I don’t see why he is not worth a look.
Rocco Baldelli, Rays: Perfect in the fact that he cannot play every day due to health reasons, but every bit as talented as an everyday player. In this city he can certainly hit one over the fence and can hit to all fields, which this team needs. Baldelli could easily start anywhere if he was healthy enough, but the fact he can’t mean she knows he has limits financially, which bodes well.
Here is my list. Some of you may like it, some may hate it, but either way I think a few of these players can put us back into contention. You can’t just sit back and expect to sign superstars every year, but if you can, then heck maybe my list is way off. You can easily find a list of available free-agents on any sports site, so check it out, and comment here if you see a good fit for our Phillies. We always appreciate feed back! Good Luck in 2011 Phillies!
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