Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Let's see, the Phillies re-signed their entire coaching staff for 2008. Good move. I think you have to give credit to a lot of the people that helped Charlie Manuel out in 2007 in coaching the team. Specifically, I’d single out Rich Dubee, the Phillies pitching coach, and Davey Lopes for praise here.
Dubee oversaw an absolute disaster in 2007, watching thirteen different pitchers log starts, nine different pitchers log saves, and twenty-eight pitch at least 1/3 of an inning. Credit Dubee with getting rookies called up from the minors like Kyle Kendrick prepared to pitch in the majors. It was an impressive performance and Dubee deserves a lot of credit for what he did in 2007. I think, under his tutelage, a more stable Phillies rotation will be able to excel and improve on their 4.73 ERA.
Lopes has been a person whom I’ve lavished a lot of praise upon in 2007. He really took charge and worked guys like Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn to become lethal base-stealers. That emphasis on speed and better base-running skills was a big factor in the Phillies scoring an N.L.-best 892 runs in 2007. In fact, the Phillies 892 runs is better than every other team in the Major Leagues aside from the Yankees (969). Even with a pitcher batting ninth, the Phillies bested 13 of 14 A.L. teams. Lopes energy and passion for base-stealing and better base-running I think sharpened the Phillies focus and made them better players.
Second, there are rumors that Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen are interested in returning to the Phillies. This is a possibility, though I highly doubt it. With Rolen, his departure from the team was rather acrimonious and while there is a new regime calling the shots, I can’t see the Phillies having much interest in bringing him back. His skills are clearly in decline – he hit eight home runs and 58 RBIs in 112 games in 2007 – and he left the Phillies under bad circumstances back in 2002. It's just a bad fit and I don't see why the Phillies would go that route.
Curt Schilling is a more likely fit, given how badly the Phillies need pitching. Schilling’s departure in 2000 was less an angry divorce than mutual breakup, and he’s still got skills. He was just 9-8 in 2007, but his ERA was under 4.00: 3.87 in the American League. Schilling’s ability to toss strikes would be a major asset to the Phillies. Schilling allowed just 23 walks in 151 innings in 2007: 1.37 BB/9! Plus, Schilling was usually on good relations with management and helped them during the J.D. Drew saga. I could see Schilling returning to Philly on a one or two-year deal.
Get set for yet another “The Phillies are Trading Pat Burrell” sweepstakes this fall. Desperate to unload Burrell and his $14 million dollar salary, the Phillies have apparently advertised that they are willing to kick in some of Burrell's salary to make the deal happen. If Burrell does leave, I see him heading down I-95 to Baltimore and playing the DH slot for the Orioles in exchange for the O’s sending Miguel Tejada north to play third for the Phillies. The Orioles DH in 2007, Aubrey Huff, hit just 15 Home Runs and had a .337 OBP. Burrell would well exceed that.
According to news reports, Aaron Rowand has asked the Phillies for a six-year deal worth $84 million dollars ($14 million a year), while the Phillies have countered with three-years and $30 million. In terms of amount and length of deal, the two sides are far apart. Very far apart. I really can’t see the Phillies going longer than four years and more than $10-11 million a year after the Pat Burrell experience. If Rowand re-signs with the Phillies it will be a 4-year deal worth $44 million or something in that range. Rowand could easily fetch over $12 million or more and over five years on the open market. My gut tells me he’ll take the money.
Mike Lowell is interested in the Phillies, or so he says. He might just be posturing with the Red Sox.
Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand were named to The Sporting News National League squad, a slap in the face to Jimmy Rollins, who is a viable MVP candidate. If he doesn't win the N.L. MVP award, he'll be fired up in 2008. I agree with Utley, but Rowand was far from the N.L.'s best center fielder.
Rolen? Geez, I hope not. He wouldn't fit in with the current players unless he had a personality transplant. And the fans would eat him alive.
Trade Burrell only if Rowand and/or Werth comes back. I really want to see at least Werth back.
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