Since their isn't any more baseball until pitchers and catchers report in February 2009, dudes like me who deify baseballers can only partake in the modern luxury of the Hot Stove Report on mlb.com. Imagine, prior to like 1996 young Dan getting up every day of the summer and unfurling the newest edition of the News Journal and huffin' newsprint and staring for hours upon end at the box scores and standings comprised of only four divisions. Then all winter long, daily one inch by one inch transaction reports buried on page six of "Sports." Now it is better, but worse too, colder... you can't really sniff a monitor like you can a paper. That's the only problem with scanned, downloadable comics. My Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #1 from 1989 actually is better for sniffin' then for readin'! BUT, you can get up-to-the-second trade rumors and facts. The Hot Stove has the good writing, but prosportsdaily.com has juicer, sometimes less apt to happen reports. Now, I have the privilege of being a life-long Phillies fan, so as you know, we rule, and won't be doing too much off-season shuffling, but here's my analysis of what we're gonna look like come April.
Starting Pitching - Despite being snubbed at the All-Star game, Cole Hamels is the class of the National League, NLCS and World Series MVP, a true Iceman, callin' 20 game winner, and our Ace. Plus some old lady called me "Cole Hamels" at the Concord Mall. Brett Myers could suck again, but I am an optimist. He is a headie pitcher, and World Series success could translate into a good full season for the oft woe begotten fireballer. League leader in strikeouts? Callin' it. Jamie Moyer will resign with his hometown team, pitch until he's 50, and probably end up as the Phil's pitching coach eventually. Professor Moyer can play baseball forever, because he doesn't use his arm, he uses his brain. Joe Blanton was a bit of a groaner when we heard the trade went through, but Fat Joey pitched great in the postseason and is a really decent #4 starter. That's a one through four who can all eat innings. Now as for the fifth starter, we got with us now Kyle "KK" Kendrick who lost his groove near the end of this year and may or may not ever be good again. J.A. Happ is a Kendrick clone without the unprecedented success or giant fall, so his blank slate can be seen as positive. I do not want to see Adam Eaton on this team next year. With all this in mind, signing a fifth starter would be a great idea. A hot shot lefty would be ideal, but we may need that money later when we get to the outfield. So that rules out dudes like A.J. Burnett, John Garland, etc... and of course those top tiers as well. I don't want some oldster review with Randy Johnson pitching the first half the year and frickin' Curt Schilling the second half. Call me nuts, but I would like to get Randy Wolf and the Wolf Pack back in Philly, but he somehow has a bidding war going, so he might be out. Who knows, maybe we'll try and conserve in the outfield and go for the big market second Ace, but you know what I wanna do? Give it to Carlos Carassco! Bring 'im up! A homegrown fifth starter.
Relief Pitching - The Phillies bullpen was the best in the majors, and very little is going to change. Keep long relievers Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey, 7-8-9 men J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge right where they are. Combined they could be the National League MVP, with notable contributions from Madson and Lidge, 2009 All-Stars callin' it. Scott Eyre was a classic ex-GM Pat Gillick under-the-radar pick-up that worked out great. He resigned with us already. We will be rid of Tom "Trash" Gordon and Rudy Seanez. That leaves Happ or Kendrick or (god-forbid) Eaton to round out the 'pen, and new GM Amaro Junior could always find a nice low-risk, high-reward type guy to insert.
Infield - We are in the glory days of Philadelphia. We have the best infield we have ever had. People will hate, of course, but let it be known, the "Big Man" Ryan Howard is here to stay and will probably be the N.L. MVP later this week, if not, it's a fix! Chase Utley was ice cold during the World Series, but like all Phils, he was why we were there in the first place. Utley is actually the best second baseman in baseball, and will be the all-time second base home run king. Jimmy Rollins. J-Roll. My favorite Phil and the most sabermetrically sound shortstop in the bigs. He's like Snoopy to the Peanuts team in every way. Pedro Feliz aka Pete Happy is a World Series hero and a vacuum at third. He is capable of doing more with the bat than he did this year, but if he doesn't, a more evenly-split platoon with pinch-hittah extraordinaire Greg Dobbs will be ideal. We'll probably retain Eric Bruntlett, who can play almost any position and seems to be able to come up with big hits. "Rad" Tad Iguchi won't be back. Behind the plate, Carlos "Hamster Pie" Ruiz was the sometimes unsung hero of the year. His dismal plate performance was well overshadowed by his superb skills while calling a game. He is probably the second smartest Phil, behind only Moyer. Now, as far as an offensive counterpart goes, Chris Coste is a great back up guy, but with Lou Marson seemingly ready to make the move to the majors, Coste may end up as trade bait. What's more, if Marson delivers on his hype, Ruiz may become a defensive specialist behind Marson's bat.
Outfield - This is the trickiest area for the Phils this offseason, due solely to the fact that Super-Phillie Pat "the Bat" Burrell is up for free agency. I desperately want Pat to stay. Through all the boos he kept at it and I always cheered. Pat Burrell is for baseball fans with heart, and he should stay with us. But, he will probably be hotly sought after. The known chink in his game is his speed and defense, so American League squads may see a custom built designated hitter. But, it is well known that Burrell hates to DH and would always prefer to pay left field (though first base would suit him too). I hear it will come down to a matter of time. The Phils want to give him two years and he wants three, so we wait for Friday for the games to begin. If he stays, we're pretty solid. Center fielder Shane Victorino is another future All-Star who should be sought after but untouchable. Jayson Werth is the same thing to a lesser degree, and if top-tier pitching could be swung, I think they'd deal Werth. Backing the boys up is Geoff Jenkins, whose horror-story 2008 was wiped clean by that big 'ol World Series double. He's still a question mark, but not to trade valuable. Matt Stairs is another post season hero who is really best suited for trying and hit a home run every couple games then playing the field. So "So" Taguchi will probably retire, but definitely won't be back with the Phils. If Burrell does go, they've discussed a Jenkins/Dobbs right field platoon with Werth in left, but they'll almost certainly go after some kind of big name bat. Not Manny, not Holliday, not Adam Dunn, not Bobby Abreu. The name I keep seeing is Rocco Baldelli, Tampa Bay feel-good story and home run hitter. Seattle's Raul Ibanez would also bring the pop. None are "the Bat" but we'll have to see what offers are made.
Overall, the slickest thing would be to trade Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins for top notch relief to super-bolster the bullpen, resign Pat Burell, bring up Carlos Carassco, and get ready for the next parade.
Ari Wallach (TEAM HUMAN)
7 months ago