Friday, November 16, 2007

A few last words ...

I don't really care enough about this to do an extended back-and-forth. But a couple scattered observations as my last thoughts on it:

Michael Bourn is not that good right now. Look, he's not a younger Dave Roberts. He could be a younger Dave Roberts in a year or two -- but that's his ceiling, not where he is right now. He could also be Willy Taveras, or Doug Glanville, or Endy Chavez, or your typical fast, slappy, armless fourth outfielder. I think you and Dave Silver and every other prospect guy sometimes (often?) lose sight of that distinction, which is important.

The big difference between Victorino and Bourn is offense. Victorino's better defensively because of his arm, but that's just a bonus -- lots of CFs don't have great arms. The big difference is that Victorino has much more pop, and it's not even just a CBP thing -- he hit half his homers on the road. Bourn has zero power.

Jayson Werth is better offensively than Bourn -- even in your theoretical musical-outfield situation (which, by the way, I disagree with, because it makes no sense to be moving your best outfielder between positions every other night -- that's the kind of thing that sounds great in theory, but loses sight of the fact that we're talking about human beings here, and humans generally do better when they're playing the same position every night), it's not really a choice between Victorino or Bourn, offensively -- it's a choice between Bourn and Werth. And Werth offers a lot more of what they need: a corner outfielder with decent pop, a little speed, and a capable all-around game. If he rakes lefties and is replacement level against righties, that means he's better than replacement, overall. Worst case is you spell him sometimes with Greg Dobbs or some other role player. They'll probably pick up another outfielder, since uberprospect Greg Golson (yet another reason Bourn has little value to the Phils) isn't ready yet.

J.C. Romero -- How the fuck is Eric Gagne worth $6M and Romero's not worth $4M? That's the second time you've said that, and Silver said it too! That is about the least self-evident claim I've ever read -- explain that to me, because I don't believe it. You want to talk about what Romero did in Boston last year? Let's talk about Gagne's BoSox stint!

Also, you keep saying that Romero is somehow not that good simply because he was released twice. According to baseball reference, Romero was only released once last year, and the fact that he was released doesn't change the fact that he pitched extraordinarily well for the Phillies -- (and pretty well for Boston, too, but they have ridiculous bullpen depth, which I guess is why they waived him, so they could trade for the Mighty Eric Gagne).

Bottom line on Romero: they signed the best lefty reliever available for less than a lot of worse pitchers get. Yes, the deal is for 3 years, but he's only 31 (six months younger than your boy Gagne, incidentally, and without that whole history of catastrophic arm injuries). I know you hate free agent signings, but get over it. Not every multi-year signing is a mistake. I haven't seen a single other person mention it as some horrible signing -- some other people have wondered if he's really as good as he showed last year, but nobody else is blowing their stack about the humanity of it all as if it were Adam Eaton Part Deux. If Romero tanks -- which, again, is an if -- then he'll be about the fifth or sixth worst contract on that roster. It's a non-story.

The market price of free agents -- You're also talking all this small-market salary strategy about the Phillies. Wrong team. This isn't the NL West, where a ballpark the size of a soccer field, two great pitchers, and Kevin Kouzmanoff get you a shot at the playoffs every year -- they're competing against the Mets, the Yankees of the NL, which puts them in spend-or-suffer mode. Nobody's itching to sign with Philly for a hundred reasons, but they need to fill holes and compete now, so they have to overpay. I'd rather it be a little than a lot.

All this wait-and-develop shit is fine. In theory.

Myers and the rotation -- It's not any more "asinine" than it was last year, and your guarantee about them not making the playoffs with him in the rotation means exactly zilch after they did it this year while trotting out guys like J.D. Durbin to start. If they sign or trade for a starter like Wolf or Colon or Garland, like they keep saying they want to -- and if Eaton's shoulder doesn't require surgery -- that'll give them six. Which means somebody's going to the 'pen. I'd love to see Eaton banished, but I don't see it happening when he's making $8 milly. (For three more years. Kill me.) Who else? Derail a promising young starter's career (Kendrick)? Force a 45-year-old into a position change? Move Cole Hamels, the future of the franchise? If the following things happen, I think Myers will be the closer:

1. They acquire a starter.
2. Eaton is healthy.
3. Lidge struggles and/or they fail to sign anybody else for the pen.

The bullpen cost them too many games last year, and needs to be a priority. Which it is, as they've repeatedly said. Which brings me to the last reason we won't miss Bourn or Costanzo:

The offense is fine -- They've been one of the two best run-scoring teams in the NL the last two years. They don't need more offense from their outfield (and, for the hundredth time, Bourn wouldn't have provided it, anyway.) They need a guy like Lidge to shore up a train wreck of a bullpen.

To sum up, are they the greatest, most earth-shattering moves the Phillies have made in years? No. Do I think these transactions will single-handedly make them NL East favorites? No. Do I even think they'll be the most significant moves they make this offseason? I'm going to wait and see.

They're completely unremarkable moves (which is why I didn't write about them originally) that you and Silver are making out to be way bigger deals than they actually are. You might not hear Michael Bourn's name once next year if you don't watch the Astros. You sure as hell won't hear Mike Costanzo's. And the other guys we're discussing are above-average relievers. Romero and Lidge might flame out completely, but the organization's not going to miss Bourn or Costanzo all that much. These moves just aren't going to be difference-makers, one way or the other.


Pat said...

Yup, Kevin Kouzmanoff is a bad third baseman.
Wes Helms, Abraham O. Nunez, David Bell, Placido Polanco, Tomas Perez and every other Phillies 3B since Michael Jack Schmidt
PS — The Phillies would have finished in a three-way tie for second place in the NL West, or one game above fourth place, this season. Also, the Mets spent all of $8M more than the Dodgers last year, and $18M more than the Giants.
Right below the Giants? Philadelphia. So I get your point re: the pressure to win and spend money, but let's not assume that because it happens in NYC, it's somehow more important. Or that keeping up with the NYC team is relevant for Philadelphia, PR-wise.

Pat said...

I meant every 3B since Rolen.
I can't even mock accurately.

Pepe said...

Actually, Placido Polanco is better than Kevin Kouzmanoff. But he mostly played second.

I have no idea what you're talking about when you say we shouldn't assume keeping up with the NY team is relevant, PR-wise. Are you saying you don't think that's relevant for the Phillies? Because if so, you're not just wrong, you're really, really wrong. With every Philly sports team, beating the NY rival is goal 1A every season.

Pat said...

What I'm saying is that by no means are the NY Mets an anomoly, as proved by the fact that, in the NL West, the Giants and Dodgers are in the same tax bracket, so to speak.
And while defeating New York is a good thing -- hell, my favorite team chants "Beat LA" —- I would argue that getting into an arms race with the Mets is a poor idea. One, you'll never spend more cash than they will; secondly, just because a division rival takes a Richy Rich approach to baseball doesn't mean the Phillies are forced to do the same.
Hell, I think Philly's got a better team TODAY than the Mets; they don't need to use the Mets as an excuse for how they do things.

Pepe B. Secessionist said...

The Dodgers, maybe, although an extra $8M/year in payroll potentially gets you one extra star free agent, which is nothing to scoff at. I don't think spending $26 million less puts the Giants in the Mets' territory.

I think the Mets' 2007 roster was better than the Phillies'. And I think the difference between the two was small, but lay exactly in the kind of guys the Mets had the cash to go get in free agency: the Beltrans and Wagners and Glavines.

Is the answer for the Phillies to drop an extra $25M this offseason? No, because they can't. But it's also not Doyle's idea to do nothing but hold on to marginal homegrown talent and refuse to ever sign free agents to multi-year deals. That kind of approach just doesn't work, especially for a franchise with four legitimate superstars entering or in their primes.

If they're ever going to break the bank, now's the time. (And for the hundredth time, $4M for JC Romero is NOT breaking the bank!)

Pat said...

Dearest Diesel-
Why you no talk about me?
Luis Castillo and his 4-year, $25M deal.

larry b said...


Seriously though. I'm not a Phillies fan but it's pretty obvious they overpaid for Romero. I think that's a consensus among baseball pundits everywhere. The degree to which they did so depends on what (if any) offers he had going from other teams.

Pepe B. Secessionist said...

Yes, you're right. It's obvious because you say so. Thanks.