So Jon Lieber's out for the season after blowing a foot tendon running to back up the catcher. Freddy Garcia hasn't had surgery -- yet -- but I'm not optimistic and neither is anybody else. According to Beerleaguer, which seems to have scooped everybody (including both Philly papers) on this, J.D. Durbin has been called up to fill the hole.
The Beerleaguer article and what little else I know of Durbin fails to excite me. Former top prospect, history of arm trouble, stats not compelling, etc. Maybe it's the fact that we now have two rookies in the starting rotation -- he and Kyle Kendrick (Who? Exactly!) -- and that Pat Burrell has all but officially been replaced by Michael Bourn, giving us three starting center fielders, but all of a sudden I'm not liking our chances to catch the Mets.
Which leaves the Phillies, as many of the linked blogs to the left have noted, in exactly the same position they've been in every year since Rico Brogna: not good enough to contend, not bad enough to blow up, and not enough payroll flexibility to make any moves big enough to save them.
And why is that, exactly? Why is there never any payroll flexibility? Let's take a look at some of the people they're paying the most. (All salaries courtesy Cot's Baseball Salaries, which might be the greatest site I've found since fleshbot.) I'll stick with this season for now, although a few of these guys will unfortunately be with us next year.
Pat Burrell: $13M / .205/.373/.376, 8 HR, 31 RBI
Freddy Garcia: $10M / 5.90 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 74 ERA+, 1-5 W/L, 58 IP, out for season
Jon Lieber: $7.5M / 4.73 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 93 ERA+, 3-6 W/L, 78 IP, out for season
Tom Gordon: $7M / 4.82 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 91 ERA+, 5 S, 9 IP, out long-term, possibly for season
Jim Thome: $7M / has not played for Philadelphia in a year and a half
Adam Eaton: $6.9M / 5.63 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 78 ERA+, 7-5 W/L
That's $51.4M of mostly wasted money, or roughly 57 percent of the 2007 payroll. More than half of the payroll is tied up in bad, injured, or completely absent players! What, are they taking a page from the Sixers? The only person listed there who will likely contribute anything significant for the rest of the season is Adam Eaton, who's also the cheapest of the bunch. And Pat Gillick is responsible for all those guys except for Burrell and Thome.
Meanwhile, their best players -- for my money, that's Rollins/Utley/Howard/Hamels/Myers/Rowand, not in that order -- make a grand total of just less than $22.5 milly. Granted, those numbers are skewed because Howard and Hamels haven't been in the majors long enough to get what they're worth and are still making less than $2M combined.
But still. The Phillies' payroll could be half as much and they'd be just as good (or just as bad, depending on how you choose to look at it). That's sickening.
Especially when you compare them to a team with a competent front office. For kicks, and because they're one of this blog's favorite teams, I browsed through the Padres' salaries. Here are their priciest players:
Maddux: $10M / 3.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 104 ERA+, 6-4
Brian Giles: $9M / .276/.347/.347, 1 HR, 12 RBI
"Mythical" Mike Cameron: $7M / .261/.322/.468, 8 HR, 34 RBI
Hoffman: $6.5M / 2.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 19 SV, lots of good publicity with his 500th
Peavy: $4.75M for the best pitcher in the NL
Sure, B. Giles is an iffy contract, but that's the only one that's even questionable, and at least he's going to play the rest of the season.
The moral of this post: you can have all the great young players you want (the Phillies have a ton, the Padres have ... uh, Khalil Greene), and if your front office sucks, it doesn't matter. The Padres have a much better GM in Towers, and that's why the Padres are going to go to the playoffs with a $58M payroll and the Phillies won't even though they're spending $89M.