So, it’s been a bit of a strange baseball off-season. The market has exploded. Two years, 15 million for Joe Blanton anyone? But, the hands down best position player can’t seem to land that mega-deal. I’m sure teams are concerned about Josh Hamilton’s history, about his injuries, but at least he’s still Josh Hamilton. The Giants weren’t concerned about Angel Pagan being mediocre for most of his career when they handed him 40 million. Will some team come in at the last minute, Prince Fielder style? Probably, but for now we wait.
Hamilton’s lack of a deal is holding up the whole outfield market, which is of particular concern in Philadelphia, where they added one outfielder, but still need another. Are the Phillies players for Hamilton? They have been cutting that payroll down a bit since the last trade deadline, but with built-in salary escalators and the Cole Hamels deal–there isn’t as much money there as you might think.
I’m still of the opinion that the Phillies are going to add another corner OF (not Hamilton), a depth starting pitcher, and some bullpen help. That’ll be it. I really think the Phillies are trying to patch it together for 1-year and depending on how 2013 goes, they choose their direction. They can shed Utley, Halladay after 2013 if they want too and that’s why Young is a good fit from their perspective, because he’s gone after this season and in a best case scenario provides some of the things they need. Speaking of which…
On The Young Deal:
Michael Young was a true .300 hitter in his prime with good on-base skills and decent power for a middle infielder. But, he’s going to be 36 and is coming off his worst year. For the stat geeks out there, Young’s (-2.4 WAR) was among the worst in baseball last year. He’s terrible at 3B when he plays there, so that’s a concern too. The Phillies are hoping Young can bounce back, hit close to .300 and be what Placido Polanco was in 2010–with a bit more pop. Bottom line, the Phillies still will lack power at 3B and if Young is in a decline that started last year, they’re going to have a disastrous situation at third. Kevin Frandsen cannot play every day.
Young also gives the Phillies a very old and fragile infield. The chances that Howard, Utley, Young and Rollins all play 150 games is miniscule. There is a better chance they all end up on the DL at some point. But, like I said, this is a 1-year move, for a team that’s got a 1-year mentality for now. With all these veterans, you must have winning now as the priority, but 2012 I think at least prepared the Phillies for the possibility that the window could already be closed. So, while they make some short term decisions, there is a small trimming of payroll and an eye to the future with the Ben Revere trade.
On the Revere Trade:
Phillies fans need to get over the loss of Vance Worley. He was an underdog, which people loved, but he’s a replaceable piece. Trevor May is an unknown commodity. It’s what the Phils got back that I have some concerns about. It’ll be great having a center fielder with Revere’s ball skills out there on defense, but he’s a bit of a mystery offensively. He’s one of the faster players in the league, but hasn’t learned how to get on base enough to be a real weapon. He also has no power, not even accidentally run into one, Michael Martinez power. The good news is, Revere is young enough that he could develop. At least they’ve gotten past the whole, “Let’s take a 33-year old guy with a career .330 OBP and hope he becomes a .370 OBP guy.” At worst, you have a cheap, defensive prodigy in center for a few years. If they need to build up the offense starting in 2014, it’ll be a lot easier with Revere’s contract in center than Michael Bourn’s.
Elsewhere Around Baseball:
The Dodgers are Throwing Around Money: Do we have a running tally on LA’s payroll? Zack Greinke, Ryu Hyun-jin and it’s easy to forget that the Dodgers added the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford at last year’s deadline. And there was that 20-million per extension they handed Matt Kemp. Ruben Amaro is jealous of this level of spending. Good news for the Phillies–the Hamels contract looks pretty good. Bad news–the Dodgers are completely loaded if they can make the pieces fit.
The Slumbering Yankees and Red Sox: Are we getting used to the Sox and Yankees not being mentioned with every free agent? Seriously, did you ever think there would be a day when the Yankees weren’t suitors for Josh Hamilton? The Yankees are cutting that payroll. I honestly think they’ve been supplanted by the Dodgers as the team who could always sign anyone, for any amount. Boston is in rebuilding mode, good for them for not throwing money at a stop-gap just for the sake of spending.
Those crafty Rays: The Rays traded away “Big Game” James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals over the weekend. The Royals are making a push to make the playoffs this year or the next while they have control over their young nucleus. The price was steep. Four prospects, highlighted by the phenom, Wil Myers who hit 37 homers between AA and AAA last year at the age of 21. He appeared to fit right into KC’s outfield with Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, but KC decided it couldn’t go another year with shoddy starting pitching. It’s a coup for Tampa, considering their starting pitching depth and for KC to get their money’s worth, they’ll need Shields to be an ace and a lot of growth from Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas. If KC doesn’t make the post-season with Shields and Myers becomes a star, this one could haunt Kansas City for years.