The first Autumn leaf has done dropped from our Phils tree. Longtime Philadelphia right-hander Brett Myers will not be pursued to return in 2010. After seven years and 73 wins in red pinstripes, the noted hot-head will have a new uniform next year. I always liked Myers, a real red neck who was never scared of Phillies fans, no matter what he did. I liked how he explained his 2006 battery of his wife in Boston, saying he was just trying to get the drunk woman out of the room and it got rough, and that they were both drunk. I understand that. None of the alleged hair-dragging or hitting actually occurred, but Brett is a rough dude. Myers was raised by his father, a boxing promoter and hustler, moving from house to house on the wrong side of Jacksonville. Bad-ass. I like how he saved 21 games in 2007 and was on the hill when we won our first NL East Pennant since 1993. But he'll be in a different city next year, and that is ok. It is super-cool to see a player in any sport that is analogous with a city and uniform and then see him in a different context, a different color. (As long as you can see their face... it's considerably less cool in football or hockey, though the on field ramifications are the same.) It's also nice to not pay him twelve million next year. I hope Brett has a lot of success wherever he ends up pitching. My guess: Detroit What!
Also likely to not be on the roster next year, fan fave Matty Stairs just didn't get it done as well or as frequently as we needed him to, so some other big bruiser or strong righty will probably fill his role. Someone like Jason Giambi or Nomar, vets with good plate discipline for pinch hit situations will be pursued and Matt will be offered a minor league contract, if anything. I loved Stairs' two years with the Phils and his Moonshot in L.A. in 2008 will forever be a part of Philadelphia Baseball lore. He should go DH for some underprivileged club and bestow some wisdom on their young sluggers. My guess: Cleavland.
Our back-up catcher is still and always in flux. Chris Coste was never consistent and Paul Bako is older and even more feeble. So Bako is out and we'll be searching for an actually good backup backstop. Yorvit "El Terrible" Torrealba's name has been bandied about, and we all know it would be good to get him in the second string. If nothing else, he beat the hell out of us for the last two seasons. Too bad we've traded off all our catching prospects behind Chooch - Jason Jaramillo is playing in Pittsburgh and Lou Marson is now famously in Cleavland. Bako should probably retire.
Another guy we got no use for is Eric Bruntlett. Sure, his unassisted triple play was awesome, but that is seriously all he did all year. Any given utility man is worth a try, with Jerry Hairston Jr. being the prime dude. He can play well anywhere and is a serious bench threat. Definitely keep Ben Francisco and Gregg Dobbs on the bench and add Hairston, Torealba, and Giambi/Garciaparra and our second string is doing just fine.
With guaranteed starting pitching in Cliff Lee (picking up his 2010 option was GM Amaro's first order of off-season business), Cole Hamels (simply MUST be better next year than last), probable Joe Blanton's status pending possible arbitration (he'll still be a Phillie next year, he's an innings eater), J.A. Happ (let's see if he wins Rookie of the Year... he's possible trade bait), and Jamie Moyer (needs to go to bullpen), and Pedro Martinez not ruled out for a return bid (also must go to bullpen), Amaro has some decisions to make. So, the Blue Jays still wanna trade Roy Halliday. We'd get him for one year (then he's a free agent) and they'd almost certainly want Happ as well as one of our two outfield prospects and somebody thrown in for good measure. Lee, Halliday, Hamels, Blanton and... let's bring up vaunted prospect Kyle Drabek and on paper we'd have the best starting rotation in the major leagues, well worth the trade with a stacked two thirds young outfield, let's make that deal! And if Drabek still needs to marinate, give Kyle Kendrick or Andrew Carpenter the low pressure five spot.
In the bullpen, Lidge will remain, and it is almost impossible for him to not have a better season this year. Madson will be there. We're in talks to bring back Chan Ho Park, who really did do a good job once he was back in the pen. Scott Eyre is a free agent this season and about to undergo elbow surgery to have those "floating bodies" we've all heard so much about removed. He has stated that if he pitches next year, he wants it to be with the Phils, and we would love to have him, as he was the definition of solid all year for us. With Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin both up for arbitration, Amaro will likely have to cut ties with one of them. Most likely Condrey's smaller price tag and consistency will win him the spot, sending Durbin, a Philadelphia bullpen staple, out into the world. J.C. Romero should be up and running, and with wily veterans Moyer and/or Martinez out there, the pen isn't looking so shabby, if everybody does what they're supposed to... Brad Lidge. Nonetheless, we gotta stock up on possible pen arms for Spring Training and see who sifts out, with J.J. Putz coming off a lame year with the lame Mets he could be affordable and a good rebound, and any other mid-level high possible reward type guys should definitely get a look.
Now, our starting lineup... seven eighths of it will be back for sure. Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz are arbitration eligible this off season, and if last years players were any indication, Amaro will try and sign these two up for a while before any hearing takes place. Without Myers twelve mil, and this year we finally get to stop paying Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins, we can just pay our guys what they want and deserve. Chooch made an astoundingly low $425,000 this year while being absolutely invaluable behind and at the plate. Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez all get raises (as does bench-man Greg Dobbs), and will all be happy and ready to win. J-Roll is of course set at short. The only man out is Pedro Feliz at third. The Phils declined his option and bought out his contract, looking to either pay him less, or more likely find someone who can field AND hit. Pete Happy's disgraceful post season was unacceptable, even to me. Los Angeles Angel's speedster Chone Figgins (pronounced Sean) is at the top of the list, but he is a lead off man, and that is not exactly what we need unless J-Roll or Sugar Shane drop to the seven spot. Adrian Beltre is next in line and possibly the best fit. He can field like Feliz and is a big hitter. Even ex-Phillie Placido "Jawbone" Polanco has been mentioned. Either way it'll be cool to get a little bit of new blood in the lineup and see Pedro successful somewhere else where they need a solid vet at the hot corner.
With our team in such a great position, I don't have any big wishes, most of our wishes are already granted, except to bring in another high-class starting arm, and the only one I respect nearly as much as Halliday is Joel Pinero. Either would greatly solidify the spectacle that is Phillies Basball. Entire coaching staff back next year. 91 days until pitchers and catchers report!!
Ari Wallach (TEAM HUMAN)
1 year ago