187 thoughts on “General Discussion – Week of 12-16-2013

  1. I feel like I’m in a minority here, but does anyone else think the Phils have had a decent offseason? I can’t figure out what else Amaro could have done (he obviously put himself in this box – not your box – so he is still at fault, I should add) with the roster to improve the team this year. Did anyone really want him to spend more money on free agents who were not going to single-handedly bring a WS to Philly again. He could have (and could still) overpay Choo or Cruz or Garza or Jimenez, but they aren’t going to make The Difference with these Phillies. Rather, doing nothing was the best option this offseason because it also means Amaro didn’t add more albatross-contracts to the payroll, giving more flexibility in a few years, and he didn’t trade away any valuable prospects. The Phils are stuck in neutral for the next two seasons or so Amaro has to stick to the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm.

    1. I am with you, unlike most here I don’t think Amaro is doing that bad of a job. People complain about not signing players and then they complain about overpaying players. He can’t do right no matter what he does. They want to throw milions of dollars on unproven teenagers from LA and then if one wouldn’t work out they would say how dumb of Ruben.

      1. Oldtimer….’unproven teenagers from LA and then if one wouldn’t work out they would say how dumb of Ruben.’….no…. people would say how dumb Sal Agostenelli is….but in reality his track record for the majority of measely LA signings over the last decade has been noteworthy. So he is not dumb.
        Only over the last three consecutive years has the LA market commanded an annual monetary expenditure by these frugal Phillies.
        So changes have been enacted to spend more in the LA market with the likes of Tocci, Grullon, Pujols and Encarnacion.
        And every year it should be that way..up to the MLB international allocation at least.

        1. Romus Sal is a scout he makes suggestions and he will even say how high he would go on any prospect but the decision is for Ruben to make. We are not privileged to most of the information so we dont really know what goes on. BTW I think Sal does a great job and finds good players they dont have to break the bank for.

          1. Actually for the most part every indication is that Sal essentially has free reign within his budget. If their is a player Sal wants, then Sal signs him. He does of course have his prices on talent and budget, but with the exception of an Encarnacion level spending he has the ability to make the decisions.

      2. This is a very strange post, which creates its own peculiar strawman. I don’t know anyone among those of us who are pushing for more Latin American spending, who doesn’t realize and acknowledge that the signing of kids is a crapshoot. More will not work out than will work out. That is why you need strength in numbers to succeed. There will be some misjudging of talent, there will be injuries along the way, there will be guys whose ceiling was never more than a bench guy. To be successful, a team needs to take a number of reasonable probability to reach a ceiling of above average starter each season. Spending your full allocation on Latin American talent is a step in that direction. It is good that we have Encarnacion, but we had the cap allocation to and should have added a second primo guy.

        I also don’t get the reasoning that RAJ should be above criticism. His performance the last several years doesn’t have a whole lot to commend it.

        1. He is not nor should he be above criticism but he gets blamed for far to much. He is better then some and worse then other GM’s. How many here wanted him to sign BJ Upton last year and can you imagine what he would hear now if he had signed him.
          I am just saying give the man a break he is not worst GM in history.

          1. Give the man a break!
            The end result every year under his regime the team has regressed one step further down the rung of the ladder.
            Five years that ended in blatant futility each year.
            As some bloggers say…..Ruben Amaro has ruin tomorrow.

            1. Well that’s a flat out lie. The Phillies increased their win total from 08 to 09 to 10 to 11. You can’t count postseason results because the postseason is a crapshoot. I’m not defending Amaro’s track record, it speaks for itself. But to say the team has gotten progressively worse each year is a flat out lie.

            2. What are clueless!……check the end results …each and every year they FINISGED the season one lees rung DOWN on the ladder.
              Seriously, you cannot be that stupid!

            3. Playoff success is not a measure of a team’s strength. Often, it is who has the hot hand at the moment. Our 102-win team was a stronger team than the WC team. They hit a down patch at exactly the wrong time, while the WC team was hot in the playoffs. Who goes to and wins the WS is not a good measure of who is the best team. If it were, you wouldn’t see so many wildcards in the WS. I can’t believe you’d call somebody stupid for stating the obvious. A GM who assembles a team which wins 102 regular season games has put together a very strong team and getting blown out of the playoffs is zero reflection upon the GM. Criticize RAJ for gilding the lily with the Pence deal, but Cholly and the players had every advantage going into that post-season. The playoffs truly are a small sample size crapshoot. If there was any poor performance involved, it certainly wasn’t on RAJ. He built a team geared to the post-season.

            4. allentown….the bottom line is not to ‘win’ the regular season. The year they won 102 games is continually brought up as a barometer of his success. And the series loss is discounted as poor or bad luck. So his last five years is considered a success because the one year the Phillies won more regular season games then ever in their history he was the GM! (tic)
              Further, when someone says I ‘flat out lie’ and is snarky about it ….I come back snarky also.
              Thats all.

          2. Lets put it in a different light.
            What would happen to Ruben if he was the GM of the Red Sox or the Yankees with the same results for the last five years?

            1. Cashman is the best GM in the last 50 years of MLB.
              Does 4 World Series rings in less then 15 years mean anything to you!
              Does any other GM in the last 75 years have 4 World Series rings?

            2. You are kidding are you not? The man has the budget of some countries and gave away AJ Burnett, Russell Martin and others because they continue to overspend. The problem with the Phillies is their ownership as they allowed Ruben to spend to add good players then they cut off the money leaving us with old veterans who the owners are not willing to trade.

            3. Really? He hasn’t won anything lately? His team won 95 games in 2012. In a bad year, they won 85 last season. That would be 14 and 12 games more than the Phillies won those years, while playing in a much tougher division. This habit of judging a team’s success simply by how far they advanced in the playoffs is really a bit idiotic.

            4. I don’t judge teams by success in the play-offs and I am not the one that is unhappy, just responded to Romus who thinks their GM’s are so much better then Ruben. The Red Sox hired Bobby Valentin as manager how brilliant was that for a signing. So dont tell me that other GM’s dont make mistakes.

            5. Look, if y’all are happy with Ruben Amaro and the great job he has done, and the great decisions he has made over the last 5 years ….who am I to argue that…. …go out it.

            6. No, RAJ has made plenty of mistakes. Enough that there really is not need to try to make your case by discounting the achievement of a 102-win season. His mistakes are ample: the horrid Pence trade, sticking with Manuel too long, signing Paps, signing Howard (although I really think the owners insisted), re-upping Rollins (ditto), the past two years FA choices, and the real biggie — massive neglect of the farm when he had every opportuninity and all the money in the world to spend a lot more than he did — both on the draft and internationally. Even last year and the year before, he spent less than he could have, within the rules. He fell in love with a big wallet and thinking he could be Cashman, rather than realizing how the 2008 Phillies came to be. He has a very unproductive $165 million major league roster. But no, the Phillies haven’t gotten worse every year under his jurisdiction. The farm has, and he’s to blame for that. The big league team has gotten dramatically worse each of the past 3 years. He’s also largely to blame for that. In counting 3 years, I’m counting the present roster for 2014 as awful. It is also telling that we can all look at the 40-man roster and identify lots of flotsam. It is not a serious team’s 40-man roster.

    2. As long as he doesn’t overpay big for anyone and doesn’t trade away prospects this will have been a good offseason. People just have to except that we’re rebuilding through draft and good prospects are not being offered in trades for our guys.

      1. I’m in the same camp as the 3 guys above me. This offseason hasn’t been horrible. Not great, either; just OK.

    3. yeah there is nothing he could have done to make us contenders..

      I would argue he should go into tank mode and try to trade players for future assets- Lee for example. We don’t need to save $ but I’m sure some team wouldnt mind taking on one of them (ex- Yankees, Angels, heck even the Nats).

      He hasn’t harmed us which is good. He hasn’t necessarily helped us either. Our farm needs to be replenished and he isn’t fully doing that.

      1. It takes two to tango for trades. Good prospects have not been offered for the Papelbon’s and Lee’s of the team. They also have to worry about the business side of things. Without the Lee’s, Utley’s, Chooch’s of the world there wouldn’t be any fan interest. Without them they are arguably the worst team in the league and without fan favorites. Ticket sales are going to decrease regardless but they don’t have to crash.

        1. Well, I also have not been all that impressed with the known outcomes in Amaro’s trades. Either he can’t negotiate well or his scouting department has not been fantastic.

        2. I hear what people are saying about the offseason, but because this organization is reactive, not proactive, I’m concerned. I’m worried that the lack of additional spend is going to mean the team’s performance will be poor and, along with that poor performance, attendance will shrink and the Phils’ budget will continue to shrink along with those shrinking revenues. I can only remember one time the Phillies spent in advance of an attendance increase and that was the Jim Thome contract that was intended to excite the fans about the opening of CBP. So, yeah, unless the Phils hit it big with some of the existing upper level prospects or get a banner year from aging players, I’m very, very concerned that next year’s budget could be $145 m or less and that a complete rebuild (which never should have happened with competent management) will become inevitable.

            1. These are the Phillies’ payrolls in the last five seasons, according to internal figures leaked to The AP (MLB rankings in parenthesis):

              2013: $168,569,538 (5th)
              2012: $174,523,432 (4th)
              2011: $165,313,989 (3d)
              2010: $145,539,931 (3d)
              2009: $138,286,499 (10th)
              …..and who was the GM during this period?

            2. I’m sorry, but what’s the point of this statement? I think we are mostly generally familiar with the cresting and recent regression of the payroll.

    4. I mostly agree, and share your reasoning, though I still don’t think much of Amaro because of past mistakes which put him in this bind (sounds like you don’t either).

      My biggest reservation would probably be Byrd, though the other options for a corner outfielder weren’t great either.

      1. My thoughts exactly. The offseason hasn’t been bad with the options available, but Amaro’s previous decisions handcuffed him this year

    5. I am on the not so good of an offseason side of things. Giving extra years and easy to reach options to players in their mid 30′s is bad. Going with low risk/low reward Hernandez is bad. I’d rather have gone with medium risk/high reward type like Josh Johnson (although it is impossible to know who was offered what). I too would like to have seen a true #3 be brought inn although Tanaka, Garza, et al. are still out there.

      1. I think Hernandez has high reward potential. Keep in mind the guy’s had fluke years in the past and he pitched last year in the American League East.

        Tanaka is really the only guy out there I’d want them to spend big money on.

    6. I agree. It doesn’t excuse him from his mistakes in the past but he’s seemingly learned from them. I liked the Roberto Hernandez signing quite a bit as he has the potential for a semi flukey season as he’s a ground ball pitcher coming from the AL to the NL and Brad Lincoln is the type of guy they should be acquiring.

      The plan seems to be fill holes for two seasons as the contracts of Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, etc expire or are traded in July while taking a shot at a possible second wild card birth.

      Hernandez and Gonzalez could end up being true bargains.

    7. I think Amaro has done a terrible job. Granted his hands may have been somewhat tied, but that is largely his own doing. I, for one, would have signed Granderson and put him in center. I would have counted on Domonic in right and either Revere or a Revere/Ruf platoon in left. To pay for Granderson, I wouldn’t have tendered Mayberry, wouldn’t have signed Byrd, wouldn’t have signed Nieves (Rupp gets the job), wouldn’t have signed Frandsen (Hernandez and Galvis are on my team). I’m okay with getting Lincoln for the bullpen and even the Rule 5 pick for a tryout, but how we handled the outfield and the age of this team was pathetic. Having roster spots tied up with Mayberry, Nieves, and Frandsen, then losing Rosin (he’s not much but he has more upside than the other three) is unacceptable. First Schierholtz (whom I would have tendered), now Rosin, and only left with a hopeful Joseph makes the two Pence trades equally bad.

      1. Giving up a second round pick for Granderson shouldn’t be an option for a team with a mediocre farm system.

  2. Why do they keep gillies over valle, cant figure out what they see in gillies. he hasnt been able to stay on the field and when he does he cant hit,

  3. Lou Marson is back! Yay. And Tony Gwynn Jr is a great depth player if they can stash him. There’s probably a chance he’ll make the team as the 4th OF over JMJ. Junior vs Junior.
    Think about how few givens we have in our lineup. What will Howard do? Will Chase stay healthy? Will Jimmy bounce back with Bowa pushing him? Will Asche improve and hit like I think he can? Does Chooch have much left? Which month from 2013 will Dom copy in 2014? Same question with Revere? Will we see 2012 or 2013 Byrd? Have you ever seen an entire lineup with so many questions? I guess the starting pitching will carry us.. uh, never mind…

  4. Seriously, the Phils had a good/decent off-season? Byrd is an average player. Hernandez is an average/or even below 5th starter. This team will be LUCKY not to end up in last place. Amaro caused these issues with the contracts for; Papelbon, Rollins and Howard.

    1. Without mortgaging the future by trading prospects, signing long term deals that would cost draft picks and signing every free agent out there – what was the team supposed to do? BeninDC noted that the Phillies problems are because of RAJ and that’s true. So within the confines of the contracts that the team already has, what was the team going to do to dramtically improve off of last year’s performance?

      1. Riggs, you should read an article from Philadelphia Magazine in 2008 called the “The Phantom Five” avaiable via internet and is about the Phillies ownership. It is true Ruben overspent in some cases but the owners stopped the spending after we started which has put us in this situation.

    2. They weren’t going to contend unless they went crazy on free agents. Shin Soo Choo TURNED DOWN $140 million dollars. Is it worth commiting another $100+ million contract or two when you’re about 2-3 years away from having all of these contracts off your books and a chance to start fresh?

      and in all honesty, last place isn’t that bad. If they tank at the deadline as many suspect, they’ll convert Lee into at least one good prospect, would trade Rollins and Papelbon for some type of salary relief and would probably have a top 5-7 pick. Keep in mind, Boston was in last place in 2012. I could see them contending in 2-3 years if they hit on their this up coming draft.

  5. I personally think that he could have spent more to fortify the rotation–the Phillies need a real #3 starter, and there are several good ones still available on the market. Yes, they may not contend this year, but it seems odd to spend $160-some million on payroll, and then buck at paying for the one asset that might–I say might!–give you a chance at contending next year. Yes, I realize it’s a long shot, but you can squint at the lineup and see the potential for an uptick in the number of runs scored. The one area where there is a gaping hole that could still be filled, though, is in the rotation. Tanaka would fit the bill, if available. But I also like Ubaldo Jimenez. Yes, expensive. Yes, he has lost a couple MPH off his fastball. But he was one of the better pitchers in baseball for much of the season last year (his era was inflated by a horrible April). He would look good as a #3, with the Former Fausto and Kendrick or MAG behind him in the rotation.

    So, the money. MLB Trade Rumors predicted before the offseason that Jimenez would get 3 years, $39 million, with an outside chance he could go for something like Edwin Jackson’s four-year, $52 million deal. That’s $13 million a year. The Phillies could absorb that (or even more) without being in danger of incurring the luxury tax. The team could also get some salary relief by trading Kendrick, who is due a large raise in arbitration this year. The Phillies actually have a comparative advantage over other teams in competing for Jimenez, since their first round pick is protected. And outside of Biddle, there’s not really anyone in the farm system that looks likely to step into the rotation in the next couple years, so it’s not like a 3-year commitment will create a blockage.

    There’s always a risk that Jimenez will revert to his 2012 form (5.40 ERA), but I think there’s a good chance that as a groundball pitcher, returning to the National League, he’ll prove quite capable. Not the ace of 2009-2010, but a capable, durable #3 starter with possible upside. When people say “first do no harm”–isn’t there a harm in throwing the season before it even starts?

    1. I agree completely – the team should have signed or should sign Jimenez or Garza. These players have legitimate upside and should be worth their contracts. And if they perform very well and the rest of the team tanks, you should be able to move the contract. Personally, given Ruben’s penchant for pitching (one of his few virtues), I’m shocked they don’t have a solid #3 starter right now. Maybe they’ll still surprise us. There seems no legitimate reason not to add an affordable third starter right now – this is an asset that can benefit the team in the long and short run.

    2. I’m of the opinion that signing any free agent who was offered a qualifying offer would be determental to the team due to losing the bonus pool money. I don’t know how anyone can look at the farm system and say it would be ok to forfeit a pick.

      1. The way I look at it is, yes, there is a cost to losing a second round pick, but what are the chances that second round pick is going to turn into a major leaguer, let alone a #3 starter? It would be different if they were losing a first-round pick, but the draft is such a crapshoot. I have to confess I don’t know all the ins and outs of the bonus pool money issue, but it seems like they would lose something like $1 million. Given the Phillies’ history, though, I’d be surprised to see them significantly bust slot for their top pick. All of that said, I recognize these are significant tradeoffs.

        The bigger issue, though, is that your argument is a rebuilding argument. It’s the reason why, say, the Astros are loath to sign a draft pick with compensation attached, because they are going to have to spend big on the #1 pick. That makes sense, it’s part of a strategy. So far as I can tell, though, the Phillies have no such strategy. If they have decided to throw in the towel on 2014, fine–but then they should trade Lee, Kendrick, Rollins, should never have resigned Ruiz, should be eating all of Papelbon’s salary to get the best possible package of prospects, and so on. None of that seems to be happening.

        David Murphy on Twitter today described the Phillies offseason strategy as “folding with 95 percent of their chips in the pot.” That sounds about right to me.

        1. I’m actually surprised that on a site dedicated to Phillies prospects, that there are advocates for giving away draft picks. Regardless of whether it is a 1st or 2nd round pick, the farm system needs help and the way the Phillies have chosen to supplement that is through the draft.

          I understand what you are saying about trading guys to get talent, but where have you seen other teams giving up significant talent recently? With the new free agent compensatory rules, teams are holding onto prospects like gold.

          1. Well, I’m interested in prospects, but I’m not religious about this–I think every decision is situational and I’m not in favor of hoarding draft picks just for the sake of it. What I’m saying is, if they have a rebuilding strategy, they ought to follow a rebuilding strategy. If they have a plan for contention–however far-fetched–they should be committed to it, and being committed to it means not having Kyle Kendrick as a #3 starter.

            1. Let’s be clear about this, the Phillies do not have a plan for contention. They have a plan for what they think will sell the most tickets for 2014. Think about what they did last winter and this winter. Look how far below the lux tax threshold they are. They are not trying to contend in 2014, but think they need to pretend to in order to sell season tickets. Unfortunately, they also don’t have a 5-year plan to get back to the WS. They are no closer now than they were at the 2012 trade deadline. They will be no closer two years from now, as Utley and Lee both leave the team. They won 73 games with Utley and Lee both having very good years. Now, think whom they have on the farm who can replace the output of Lee and Utley in 2016. Things are grim. RAJ is operating on a wish and a prayer and a big cloud of dust. Having a realistic plan works a lot better. Returning to contention quickly depends on actually admitting in public to your fans that the present team is incapable of contention and you need to rebuild. That avoids wasting resources and working at cross-purposes as you try to rebuild, while maintaining the smokescreen of contention. Given where the major league club and the farm are today, I certainly would not consider giving up a draft pick to sign a comped FA. That would just push contention farther down the highway.

            2. allentown1….Ruben’s contract runs through 2015. If the team actually does plummet in 2014, it is not unlikely for Monty to move on, especially under the constant severe media barage, pressure and criticism of the GM’s past decisions. In fact, it has become more widespread in this last year.
              O if Ruben’s plan is to sell tix, then he better hope that all fall in place. The half-million drop in attendance last year …approx 6K per game…could be worse this time around.

            3. It will be worse this time around. That’s why the Phillies strategy is so stupid. They aren’t going to sell more tickets at 78 wins than at 68 wins. What matters to maintaining the fan base is how long it takes to return to contention. For the non-contending years, the fans will even view 81 wins as awful and totally unacceptable. If management thinks by buying enough Youngs or Byrds each year to try to hang around 80 wins instead of slipping to 70 that they are currying favor with their fans, then they are badly mistaken.

        2. Point is that number 2 round drafy picks may not all be future major league players, but they can be used for trade chips in a package a year or two after they are drafted.

    3. This is a reasonable stance to take. And in fact I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t do that. Why I disagree:

      (1) While I realize you aren’t saying that such a move would make the team a likely contender, just a possible contender, I think the possibility is even lower than I suspect you do.

      (2) I am leery of long term contracts to starting pitchers. Sometimes a team needs to bite the bullet and do so anyway. Given the current state of the team, this isn’t one of those times. Yeah, IF the pitcher performs well the contract is movable. If not, you have yet another immovable expensive contract. It can’t be said often enough – probably the majority of long term starting pitcher FAs end up getting injured over the course of their contract.

      (3) While the second round pick by itself isn’t reason enough not to sign one of these guys, it’s a factor to weigh.

      If you can criticize the organization this year IMO it’s more for a failure to make moves on some high upside discards by other teams. But they haven’t been good in recent years in identifying those kind of players.

      1. I wouldn’t give up the second rounder. We do need a pitcher. Won’t make us a contender, but this year and going forward, we need a good starting pitcher a lot more than we needed Byrd. I’d have gone with Ruf in LF and used the $ on a pitcher. I realize it will take more $ than we spent on Byrd plus Hernandez, but that gets you much of the way there. Garza may well be the guy. I wouldn’t give him more than 4 years, so maybe he’s not gettable on that contract duration. I don’t see much starting pitching coming up from the farm. Martin has shown he lacks both the necessary stamina and control. I don’t trust injured shoulders, so I’m not projecting Morgan to the starting rotation. Biddle I think can make it. Watson, again a shoulder problem. Mecias coming back from injury. Gueller lost velocity and generally just hasn’t performed well. Buchanan is Cloyd — perhaps Worley or Kendrick. So, we are going to need a SP for the next 4 years, at least. During that time, we also lose Lee and Hamels is early 30s.

      2. Larry, in answer you your points, in reverse order:

        3)I agree, it’s a factor to weigh.

        2)I agree, long-term contracts for starters are a poor risk. But in the case of Jimenez, he is only 30 and has a durable history. I haven’t heard any suggestion that the decline in velocity is related to an injury, something I’m sure the Indians would have checked out thoroughly when he was really scuffling. Sometimes pitchers just lose velocity, it’s part of getting older, and there’s actually an interesting Fangraphs article that suggests that Ubaldo maybe just needed a year to figure out how to pitch without a blazing fastball. Again, I look at him as a complementary piece, not an ace. 3 years/$13 million seems like a reasonable risk in this marketplace for that kind of pitcher:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/is-ubaldo-jimenez-back/

        1)You are right, it seems like a long shot that they will contend. I do think that the overall weakness of the division gives me hope–the Braves seem vulnerable to regression due to their ridiculous strikeout totals and general streakiness, and they haven’t really improved this offseason. The Nationals should dominate on paper, but they didn’t last year. The other two teams have a long way to go. I think there’s a scenario in which the Phillies could win 88-92 games and that might be enough against a weak field.

        But really, my point (as I said above) is that management should just develop a strategy. I feel like the last two seasons they’ve just been bumbling around. I think we agree about that.

    4. Jimenez is probably looking for $70-75+ million. If all he wanted was $39 million he’d probably have signed by now.

      1. I guess I’m just going by the MLB Trade Rumors estimates, which are based on reporting and tend to be pretty in line with what the market (for instance, it predicted seven years and $142 million for Ellsbury, and he got seven years and $148 million). But as I said originally, they said the upside for him would be higher, four years and $52 million. Still an AAV of $13 million a year.

        1. There is NO WAY IN HELL he gets 70m or anywhere above it, i’d bet my life savings that he doesn’t get anything over 50m.

        2. Scott Kazmir got an extra $10 million over what they’ve projected. Nobody forsaw the free agent market being this crazy.

          They thought Phil Hughes would only get a 1 year deal.

  6. I just was thinking, if they are out of it by allstar break, and stop using pap so he doesnt get option. Could the union say they kept him out for that reason, or nothing can be done by mlpa if they did what, I am suggesting.

    1. I am pretty sure players can file a grievance in such situations but they are tough to win, especially if he is pitching poorly, unless there is some other evidence of intent on the part of the club. Now if he is pitching great and they do it, he would have a better chance of prevailing.

      1. The team has a history of only using closers in closing situations. They could likely keep him out of that option by being bad enough that he doesn’t “finish” the number he needs because they aren’t save situations. Problem being that this team isn’t going to blow anyone out, so there’s a fair chance that many of their wins are going to be close.

        But really, if he’s pitching great, they should be moving him at the deadline. Maybe he’ll get hot in June/July this year, and then if the team is generally not contending, they can get rid of him for a fair prospect and not have to eat a ton of salary. The salary I care less about, frankly. I would prefer they eat most of his salary and get a decent return, but I don’t think Amaro thinks that way, and if the team is indeed kinda lousy next year and attendance is down, he may not be willing to eat salary to improve the prospect haul.

        1. Not sure about last year but he led the league in games finished in 2012 for a .500 club.

          At this point, we’re just hoping the Yankees are stupid and Amaro is willing to at least pay the option year.

          1. Paps was 12th in MLB with 54 games finished in 2013. He needs to finish 100 total in the next two years or 55 in 2014 to vest 2016. Not out of reach even on a bad club, but any significant stretch on the DL in 2014 and that two year total may be moot. Also if he’s on the DL for a significant stretch in early 2014 he’s going to be very hard to trade at the deadline. Not sure what to root for there, but you have to believe Amaro is serious about wanting to move this guy, and so beyond Papelbon and the club both having an amazing year and seriously contending by mid-July, I will root for good Papelbon and bad Phillies and a deadline trade.

  7. The Oakland A’s have won 94 and 96 games the past 2 years and are again a favorite this year to win their 3rd straight A.L. West title have a payroll of about $60 million. The Rays have a payroll of about $57 million and are always a top team despite losing star players every year. Both organizations have a very good farm system unlike the Phillies.

    1. It’s actually even worse than that. Those teams don’t necessarily draft that well but are oustanding at picking up undervalued players discarded by other teams (Brandon Moss, etc. . . ) and trading players at the peak of their trade value for very good young, nearly ready players in return (Will Myers trade, Gio Gonzalez trade). The Phillies develop young talent in a competent manner (their drafting and player development really is decent), but trade too much of that talent away, almost never trade peak-value players for younger players (understandable, most big market teams do not do this), have a seriously hard time with major league talent evaluation (discard Moss, N. Schierholtz and Grilli, and sign D. Young, M. Young, C. Qualls, T. Wiggington, etc. – it’s a laughable comedy of transactional errors), and in fact do the opposite – trade numerous valuable young players for valuable OLDER players. Combine that strategy with some really bad contracts and you get a too old, underperforming, expensive, mediocre team. Viola – the 2014 Phillies.

      1. Last trade that the Phillies made that really hurt the system was in 2011. They’ve been slowly building up the system since then. It has been a long process though. Especially when you forfeit your first round pick to sign Papelbon.

    2. FWIW- the A’s were ranked 26 and the Rays were ranked 15 in farm system strength according to BA. The Phillies were ranked 17. So neither organization has a very good farm system. You may want to do research before making comments like that.

      1. Riggs, you are actually agreeing with me. The true brilliance of the A’s and Rays is that they’ve been able to rebuild and restructure on the fly without particularly strong farm systems. I think the Rays’ general view is that they always try to get more value than they give up in every trade and signing. Their view is that if they constantly get an incremental advantage, over many transactions, this will amount to a sizable overall advtange, and it does.

        1. These teams, and the Cardinals, highlight the problem with the Phillies approach. The Phillies will always bet on the oldster vs the youngster, always bet on the declining vet vs the rookie or dumpster dive. They spend their money, draft picks, and minor leaguers very foolishly in acquiring not-all-that-good, expensive, declining vets. They negotiate trades badly, with immediate $ always foremost in their mind. We were hurt by the Howard deal, hurt by the Rollins deal, hurt by the Pence trade, hurt by the Papelbon signing, wasted $ on just about every signing last winter and this winter on guys who really don’t fit a rational plan for improvement. All these little things add up. They really come down to where you feel comfortable taking risk. The Phillies feel way to comfortable risking big $ on declining vets. They are allergic to risking the failure of a AAAA guy or a rookie. Their failure, while other teams with a lot less $ are succeeding, is fairly dramatic proof that the Phillies fear the wrong thing. Part of the problem is that they are always in PR mode and now have the $ to fully indulge that approach. Thus Phillies were afraid of PR woes if they didn’t give Howard just about whatever he wanted. An awful baseball decision, which not unexpectedly now also stinks from a PR standpoint. The Cards bit the bullet on possible negative fan reaction and let Pujols walk. They come out smelling like roses. Phillies wimped out to Cholly’s complaints to the press that he just had to have his Pence. Management lacked the guts to take a PR hit. Management feels a need to have a ‘name’ written into every position prior to ST. It can be a hugely fade name, like Young or a super oldster like Byrd, but the Phillies management/owners only feel comfortable selling tickets based on the familiar name and something, even a years ago stretch, from the back of the baseball card that they can sell. People ask, ‘well, what can you realistically expect RAJ to do this winter. Nothing he can do will produce a contender’. My answer is you stop digging deeper in the hole you are already standing in. You stop bringing in 35-year olds to fill ‘holes’. It doesn’t matter whether you can afford the $ or whether or not they are blocking somebody. The money could be better spent on somebody who could help going forward. The team is already too old. You have to stop adding to that. You don’t want a retirement home clubhouse. It doesn’t matter how many $$ you spend on ‘established vet performers’. Like the Yankees $$$$ blowout, it just doesn’t work very well. It is a bad approach to the way that baseball is today. The Phillies keep saying they want ‘quality guys’ and leaders, and yet they bring in Delmon Young and Papelbon, because they need their fix of an established vet. It is seeping out this off-season that the clubhouse atmosphere stank last year. Well, most of those guys were vets hand-selected by management and paid $$ well beyond their performance. It is a wholly self-inflicted wound. They just need to change direction. It wouldn’t have produced a winner for 2014, but it would be a positive step toward the future pennant.

          1. I mostly agree here but the Rollins deal wasn’t all that bad. Especially considering what else was available at the time. Maybe they went an extra year than necessary but that is just Amaro’s MO.

            1. Bringing Rollins back at all was the bad decision.. Let alone giving him the deal they gave him, as his skills/attitude were clearly on the decline. Plus his pop ups and not running out ground balls was at an intolerable level b4 he got that contract. It has only gotten worse since and he is, of course, untradeable.

            2. You’re wrong. It was a good decision. It was also a market average deal.

              Blind hatred of a player can’t be separated from actual analysis.

        2. Yeah, I don’t know where you thought I was disagreeing with anything you said. Was just pointing out that the A’s and Rays farm systems weren’t that good.

          1. It was coming into last season, which matters for 2013 results. BA had Rays ranked #4. The A’s were way down in the rankings at #25, two notches below the Phillies.

            1. You’re touchy. Since Myers graduated their system took a fall. Let’s see where it shakes out when offseason rankings come out.

  8. Baseball America has learned. Rusney Castillo, a 26-year-old center fielder who had been one of the top players in Cuba, has left the country to pursue a contract with a major league team,
    Now I know Ruben’s plan…sign the Cuban National team once they all defect.

  9. Ruben has gone analytic!
    “We think Roberto Hernandez will help us,” Amaro said. “Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters and we felt like he would be a good choice for us.”…………….soon he will be qouting xFIP stats on his pitchers.

    1. what qualifications do you need? he worked with asche, franco, both Altherr and Collier when they had their breakout seasons.

    2. He was the hitting coach for the Threshers. I’m assuming they liked his work with Franco, Altherr, and Dugan this year. I’m not sure if he was with Asche last year.

      Just because he himself wasn’t a great offensive player doesn’t mean he can’t be a good coach.

  10. Note that though the A’s farm system is rated in the middle of the pack now, they developed players well and used already developed or more veteran players w good stats in trades to get better prospects. They just keep dealing even after being successful in ’13 and /12…adding a Cuban OF difference-maker…and excellent evaluations of players that reflects great analyses largely by using those stats, etc. that the Red Sox have benefited from for years. The A’s most often trade a guy a year too early than a year too late. Their payroll remains at a low level. The Phillies have been way behind on this; until they wise up they will be working in the dark.

  11. I haven’t read any of the above yet but i’m pretty sure no one has said what I am about to ask/say/propose. Ok so I think we can all agree that the Phillies are in (or need to be in) somewhat of a rebuild (retool, whatever you want to call it) however it doesn’t look like RAJ is going to move anyone. In my opinion they need to do an about face and rebuild from the ground up. The chance of winning this year is so slim, needing just about everything to go right in order to make a playoff spot. There isn’t any franchise changing free agents, Garza isn’t an ace or imo a #2, he’s an ok to good number 3. Choo is a good player but again he won’t change the Phillies THAT much. Again, REBUILD!

    How?

    This is going to sound crazy but hear me out. Put Utley, Rollins, Papelbon, Lee, Howard and Ruiz on the trade block. Not crazy yet right? I know what you are thinking now, “That’s all and well to say trade them but you aren’t going to get anyone to pay Ryan Howards contract let alone get top players for him” or “A bunch of teams would want Lee but the money is too much which only allows a handful of teams to be in on him”, “Papelbon . . .too much” and so on and so on. Well here is where I get creative or just crazy. We need prospects right? We need top prospect and some that are MLB ready right? Utley and Lee are already attractive to teams who need an ace or a good 2B right? How can we make them even more attractive? and how can we make Rollins and Ruiz attractive as well, maybe even Howard, how is it possible to get the best return possible for them? Eating salary and eating A LOT of it, eating all of it in some cases. What could a Chase Utley get who is being paid by the Phillies? Could Howard bring back a top prospect with 90% of his salary being paid by the Phillies? Cliff Lee could bring back maybe 2 top 100 guys but could he bring back 3 (and another good prospect) if the Phillies paid the duration of his contract?
    What GM, if any would do that. However let’s think about this for a second .

    The ownership would have to eat a ton of money however they have to pay that money regardless so why pay them and watch your team lose when you can pay them and get good prospects in return, Players who can potentially turn the organization around. At this point they are paying a lot of money for a mediocre team. If this was done the luxury tax shouldn’t be an issue, even tho you are still playing the players you traded, they aren’t being replaced by other high salary players instead they are being replaced by cheap, controllable good prospects. I know this is a completely out of the box idea but why sink a ton of money in a losing team when you may be able to use the money you are paying those guys to get good players in return, why not?

    1. Its not the dumbest idea I ever heard and the Sixers are obviously going through this right now. Here’s the problem though. How prepared is this city to be the Astros and win only 60 games? This is a minor league site and we follow our players very closely. How many of the players we’ve been following over the last 5 years have become impact major league players? None by my count. You can’t win in any sport without some stars leading the team and the Phils don’t have any stars in their system meaning we would need the trading of Lee, Utley, and Howard to get us back stars. Obviously, none of Lee’s trades have included anyone who became a star. Most teams don’t like to give up their young and upcoming stars for older veteran former stars. The Royals giving up Wil Myers last year being the exception. Some teams think they’ll be bad for a few years, collect a few top of the draft picks and get back to winning quickly. The Pirates tried that and went 20 years without a winning record. The Royals used to be a top franchise and they went the route you suggested and collected all these top minor leaguers. How many of them met expectations? Hosmer? Moustakas? It looks like they guessed wrong on Myers. Bottom line, how many of us trust that RAJ is the man to oversee the talent selection that we’d want to come back in all these deals you propose? I do however believe they should realize they can’t win now and trade Lee. To do that, they will have to eat half of his salary to make him an asset. At $24M per year, Lee is not an asset. And whatever happens, they can’t sign anyone that will cost them their draft picks, especially selecting 7th in each round.

    2. Of the six you want traded….’Utley, Rollins, Papelbon, Lee, Howard and Ruiz on the trade block’…moving just two,…Howard and Paps would go along way in resurrecting the team from the malaise it currently is in.
      With the upcoming TV deal in the works, the Phillies could eat a large portion of their contracts…Paps being a lot less then Howard’s.
      Unfortuneatly Rollins will refuse…..already said so…looks like we are stuck there.
      Utley has, some say, become a traditional instittution in this city, so it would be a PR disaster letting him go.
      Ruiz would appear to be a bridge to the next future catcher.
      And Lee, thats intriguing. If out by July, then move him for a Grade-A prospect.

      1. At this point what should RAJ really care about PR? I mean we are the public right? Do we want a team who has faces we’ve seen before and lose or would we rather have a plan that is geared towards winning? Boston traded away 3 big players on their team a few years ago and look what happened, not saying it would be the samething but it would at least be with the same idea.

        1. We are a small segment of the fan base. History has shown that the Phillies owners have a humongous concern about PR, so the GM has to have at least a large concern about PR. The Phillies Way was written when the Phillies were an awful team, which couldn’t afford to make even a plausible attempt at contention, and the owners got a lot of flak. PR concern is a huge part of the Phillies Way. Gillick tried to change the organizational outlook, but a lot of the mindset of the 80s and 90s is still with us, just with a bigger (but shrinking) budget. I think management/owners have misread the majority of the fan base and media, in terms of how they would react to an honest rebuild, but they are not going to change their world view.

          1. I do agree that they think about PR (More then they should) and my example of it is one that I don’t think many people think about or realize it being a PR move. When the Phillies traded for Roy Halladay they immediately traded Cliff Lee to Seattle for a package that was well HORRIBLE. Think about what the Phillies game up for Lee, in hindsight it wasn’t much at all but at the time in term of prospects it was a haul. They gave up 4 prospects that were ranked in the top 100 by MLB.com or Baseball America (Marson #66, Donald #69, Knapp #64 and Carrasco #49), think about that, when was the last time a team traded 4 players who were top 70 prospects? I realize that a team may have traded maybe 2 prospects that were in the top say 30 which could be more valuable then 4 top 100 guys but still, trading away 4 top 100 guys just doesn’t happen very often. The Phillies are lucky that that didn’t bit them in the arsh, esp since Lee was moved months later. Anyways back to what I was saying, they traded for Halladay then in the same day moved Lee. Do you realize why they HAD TO move Lee the same day? Why they couldn’t field offers for a few weeks to find the best package for him, there’s a reason why. That reason is PR. Again think about it, if the FO wouldn’t have traded him right away, how many articles would have been written about the Phillies having 3 aces (Halladay, Lee and Hamels), we saw what a big deal they made out of the 4 aces well after Lee’s playoff performance of that year AND adding Halladay the press would have been all over the Phillies about having 3 of the best pitchers in baseball. Now imagine after articles are written, after fans are buying tickets and after fans are buying jerseys, Lee is traded. How do you think the Phillies would come off? The fact that they just traded for Halladay would be almost an after thought, no more 3 aces, just basically what they had for the second half of 2009, 2 aces . . utter disappointment. This is a prime example of a PR move, we have to get Lee out of here NOW so that people can’t dream of what it could be like with Halladay/Lee/Hamels. I could be wrong but I honestly think this was the reason they didn’t get a better package because they rushed the trade due to PR.

            1. I think that’s part of the reason. I think the other part is that dealing for Halladay put RAJ way over budget and the owners take the budget far too seriously to allow RAJ even several weeks of just-on-paper, out-of-whack budget. Your reason and mine merge into one, if one supposes that the owners feared the PR of moving Lee a few weeks later would be so bad that they would have to hold onto him for the year and eat a big budget over-run. Remember, by taking back $6 mill on the Halladay deal (and likely including an extra prospect or two for that $) and then trading Lee, RAJ got Halladay at zero $ impact on the current budget. Giving up Lee and all those prospects was a huge price for budget neutrality, but I believe RAJ was at his budget limit when the Halladay opportunity appeared out of the blue and he badly wanted Halladay. RAJ also took back enough $ in the Pence deal to be current year revenue neutral. Same with Oswalt. In both cases, it was the cash-poor Astros giving up the $. The Phillies do not appear to be an organization which is willing to go over budget for a year in order to seize an opportunity.

          2. They would react by not watching the games and not going to the games.

            All indications seem to be that they’re gearing up for a rebuild starting in July.

          1. I understand that but they were 3 big pieces that they had to man up and say they made a mistake on. The Phillies would still have Hamels and Brown the others while being big home grown names are also older home grown names who well to be honest just aren’t the same anymore (outside of maybe Utley). I really don’t think there would be a huge uproar if the Phillies moved Ruiz, Papelbon, Rollins and Howard. Lee might stir up some of the fan base but again do they want to win or not? And Utley would certainly rile up the fan base but as a GM and Owner you can’t listen to the fan base on everything.

    3. Your crazy, out of the box idea is something that some on this site have been arguing for since the 2012 trading deadline. In retrospect, maybe they should have let Hamels walk and collected a nice draft pick, traded Lee for prospects, tried to unload Papelbon (and his ridiculous contract) at a time when he still was considered elite, sent Halladay back to Toronto last offseason when they were collecting other teams’ broken toys, and so on and so on. The argument at that time was that, these guys had a bit of value left and now was the time to stare the future in the face and admit you could not rebuild around them. I can’t say I was a big proponent of this idea at the time, but in retrospect, it probably would have been the way to go.

      The problem is that now, with the exception of Hamels and Lee, none of the players the Phillies have to offer would bring much in the way of a return. If you eat ALL of Papelbon’s salary, maybe you would get a package in return that would include a decent prospect and some spare parts. But in retrospect it’s clear that Amaro bought at the top of the closer bubble, so maybe you’d just get spare parts. Rollins, Utley, Ruiz–these are all players that are useful, but not so useful that another team is going to part with an asset that gets you excited. Also, keep in mind that Rollins and Utley have full 10-5 no trade rights, which severely limits the Phillies leverage in dealing them. Howard is probably literally untradeable right now–the only way you could get another team to take him is in a package with some other more attractive commodity, or if you ate all the money and took close to nothing in return. And I don’t think Amaro is completely irrational for being reluctant to pay Howard another $85 million to DH for some AL team. While it might be emotionally satisfying to make a break with the past, there’s not a whole lot of strategic advantage for the club, unless you think Darin Ruf is the first baseman of the future.

      The argument for trading Lee and Hamels is better, and that’s why I believe the reports out of the winter meetings that the Phillies were exploring such moves. But again, there’s no such thing as slam-dunk rebuilding trade. For every Wil Myers there’s a Matt LaPorta.

      1. If he plays as he did last season, Utley would be extremely useful at trade deadline. He is exactly what a contender looks for at that time.

        1. The phillies will have some nice chips to trade this year at the deadline, that is if as we expect they are not in the running. Chase, hamels, lee, rollins, even chooch, pap, would be guys teams might want to help them in t here run, the big problem. if amaro is making the deceison, we are in a lot more trouble, he will be giving away these guys for nothing, I just dont trust him at all. hope he is fired before fire sale. I Doubt it ,but maybe some miracle happens and he is gone. early christmas wish, biddle and morgan come up mid year and really shine,

          1. Hopefully if it gets to the point where it’s so bad that Monty orders a sell-off, Amaro will be gone before the deadline. I have no trust in him pulling that off successfully.

      2. Yes these guys have 10-5 rights but most of them want to play right? I know it would be hard to say to Utley “we either trade you or you don’t play” what would he do then? However out of these guys I think Utley would be the one guy who would accept a trade if it was to help out the organization. Rollins would be the guy who you could get away with saying, “We are going in another direction and we are looking to trade you, you can go willingly or you can sit on the bench.” Papelbon and Lee would accept a trade because they both want to win, I would think the same thing with Ruiz and Howard.

        The crazy out of the box idea isn’t to eat just some salary but upwards of 100% on some contracts (Utley, Ruiz, Papelbon and Rollins) and 90% on others (Lee and Howard). Some have said that they don’t think they would get anyone for some of these guys and that MIGHT be the case for some but that is ONLY because of other teams having to pay their salaries. With the Phillies paying them they are getting assets to their teams that cost them ZERO, they can pencil a guy onto their 25man and not have to worry about one salary, that would be huge for some teams, esp with the way money is going out to players now. For a team like the Royals to get a player like Utley for nothing or for the A’s to get an ace like Lee for nothing (in terms of money) would be HUGE for them, these players are usually out of play and now they wouldn’t be. Again, this is just something I would look at if I were the gm, I realize RAJ and MONTY won’t do this but it would be better then what is going on now.

        1. Don’t forget the Phillies would have the added expense that would come with winning 60 games in front of an empty house.

          10/5 rights and no trade clauses are important because guys have to waive them. Players like Utley, Lee, and Rollins are only going to be willing to go to a handful of teams, if that. As a club that significantly limits your options and therefore the package you get for a player. Then of course you are banking on the players you do get back becoming successful major leaguers- a far from certain proposition.

        2. Well, I don’t think it’s good business (either in terms of PR or attracting future talent) to threaten your franchise players with benchings in reprisal for exercising their rights under the CBA.

          1. I don’t know why it would ever come to that. Losing every year gets old. I would think that Utley, Rollins, and Lee would rather take a shot at another WS if the Phillies are out of contention at the deadline and they have a chance to be traded to a contender. At worst, one of the teams kicks in a $million or two to get them to waive their rights. Players as competitive as these guys are not really going to want to subject themselves to another August and September like the last two they experienced. The chance for the glory of lifting another team into the WS, as Abreu did with the Yankees, has got to be extremely appealing. Rollins will have his record then and the gang will have had their half-season farewell celebration/dirge.

            1. To be frank, if the Phillies are out of it in July and the A’s are in first in the AL-West…I could see Rollins waiving his no-trade and go home. But I would not expect a mulittude of prospects in return from Billy Beane, probably just one.

            2. We should never want a multitude of prospects. Best to get a few or just one really good prospect. The strength of a farm is in the guys who can reasonably be projected (as in relatively high probability, not the light may turn on for Altherr in terms of contact and then he’ll be a great CF prospect). This is because low-probability to be better than average starter guys and high probability to be at least a utility guy/middle reliever just aren’t worth all that much. Also, there are only so many spots on the 40-man, so you wind up in the Phillies position this winter of losing Rosin and Valle, because your system is mainly middling prospects with just 3 or 4 guys with the reasonably high probability chance of being at least an above average starter. The goal in trading the vets is to add more of that type of guy. If you just get one of them in a deal for a guy like Lee or Utley, that’s better than getting the typical ‘package’ like we got for Lee last time. Yes, it’s all the eggs in one basket on that particular trade, but if you’re unloading several vets at the deadline, then you have one big basket with several quality eggs in it.

  12. Eric – Interesting posts (I find many of your post to be interesting, so keep them coming). Here are my pros / challenges to the above:

    Pros:
    1) what you highlight above – get rid of players that would, in some cases at least, return viable legitimate prospects to build the foundation for 2016 and beyond

    2) Long term, this approach would provide financial flexibility, I would suspect, for 2016, 2017, 2018, etc (you would, in theory, have a number of young, cost control players making the majors at the same time, meaning you can target one or 2 FA’s, as opposed to needing to rely on FA’s to fill many spots on the roster, or relying on aging, expensive veterans). Think back to the 2007-ish Phillies roster.

    Challenges:
    1) I could see maybe shipping a Lee / Papelnuts / maybe Ruiz or Rollins. I can’t see the Phillies going into total sell mode and getting rid of all of them (nor do I see them packaging Utley in any trade). If they went into fire sale mode, I think the brand would take a significant financial hit which could take several years to repair. So, in addition to losing the players while still paying their salary, I think you could be looking at many millions in gate losses (not to mention the impact to the TV deal).

    2) It would take major – umm – guts, for a GM / Owner to make such a trade. Could you imagine if the Phillies shipped Lee to team X, and paid most/all of his contract over the next few years, and the prospects did not pan out? To make this trade, you would almost need to guarantee that you are getting back future stars. If the return turned into a Gillies / Aumont / Ramirez, can you imagine the uproar? (you traded one of the better pitchers in baseball, paid his salary, and got diddly-poo in return?).

    3) How much value at this point does Howard have? I just don’t know if a team is going to give up much for him, even if his salary was fully paid. I would say the same for Papelbon / Ruiz / Rollins

    Big picture – I agree with your assessment on the Phillies offering $$ in the packages to return better prospects. This will increase the market of teams that would be bidding. I don’t see a total fire sale happening. Nor can I foresee where the Phillies would trade Lee AND pay most of his salary (maybe some, but not most/All). Perhaps they could do this with Papelbon / Rollins / Ruiz, but I am not sure what real return these guys bring at this point.

    1. Oh I def don’t see this happening, no chance in hell however this would be my approach, i’d either be burned at the stake or Brad Pitt would be playing me in a movie. All i’m saying is at this point why not? You are putting money into a sunken ship, you may lose fans in the short term but once a young team starts winning well you gain the fans back quickly.

      Howard getting nothing in return, well think about it . . . If you are paying Howard maybe 2-3 million per year (meaning the Phillie are playing mostly all of his Salary) would you give up a good prospect for a LH Bat who hits a career .295/.390/.606 w an OPS of .996. You have to remember Howard at 25m is an everyday play who can’t hit LHP to save his life but only playing him 2-3m he turns into a LH part of a platoon who RAKES against 75% of the pitchers he faces, he turns into a whole new player. I think you can def get something for him when you shop him that way as opposed to full timer (he also doesn’t have to sit against ALL LHP, there are some LHP who he handles, not many but some).

      1. I don’t think you would need to pay any of Lee or Hamels salary for that matter to a team that wants to go all in now (Dodgers) If you look at what either is owed it’s peanuts for a pitcher of their caliber compared to what is going on in the open market.

        These are cost controlled assets for any club with interest. The idea though is a huge haul would need to be brought in return.

        I would pretty much bank on any of the other players getting moved at some point before their contracts are up but during the season and not now but really their are only two assets that bring you a blue chip star in return.

        1. You are correct that you prob wouldn’t have to pay anything but paying a huge portion would open up the amount of teams able to get in on each player which in turn would have teams bidding against each other and your return would be much much greater.

    2. I think all of these guys have more value at the trade deadline than they do now. Also less money required to move them. They may all be tradable at some point, but many aren’t tradable now. Howard and Paps need to prove that they are healthy and able to perform at least average for their role. Rollins needs to bounce back at least a little from last season. I look at him and see a guy who may be just about toast. Likely many GMs have the same fear. Ditto with Ruiz, and of course as a FA he can’t legally be traded now. Lee and Utley do have value and are tradable now. Since there is more than a little risk of injury/serious deterioration with each of them, they make a certain amount of sense to trade now, as it eliminates the risk of injury before they can be traded. I think they are also worth more at the deadline, if they are playing as well as I expect. I think the team would take a big PR/ticket hit if they traded either of these guys before the 2014 season is proven to be toast. If I were RAJ, I wouldn’t trade either Utley or Lee unless an offer totally blew me away, and I mean totally. I don’t even know who would pitch in Lee’s place, we are so woefully low in major league SP.

      1. I learned something: You said “Ditto with Ruiz, and of course as a FA he can’t legally be traded now.” I did not know that. I did a quick search, and found the following:

        Teams can’t normally trade a newly signed free agent until after June 15 of the following season, unless the player gives written consent.

    1. Yeah, I saw that. It’s not 100% yet, I don’t think, but his team has essentially decided – the way I read it, it would take a dramatic shift in their opinion of their relationship with Tanaka to change it, the way it seems. And frankly, if I’m an NPB team with a big name like that who has 2 years left on his NPB contract, what advantage do I have in giving him away this year versus next year? Won’t he net them the same $20M posting fee next offseason, barring injury or a drastic drop-off in performance?

      Otherwise, it’s not like it gives the MLB team a year less to sign him – he’s a year older, (in Tanaka’s case, 26 instead of 25), and so maybe it lessens his value a bit that way, maybe you wouldn’t give him a last option year, or you’d lessen an option buyout amount, but really, you’re getting a still-young MLB-ready free agent pitcher for $20M and whatever contract you conceive to convince him to sign with you. $20M is not too much to pay a year later. And so for the NPB team, holding onto him makes sense, and keeping the player relatively happy for one year with the promise that he would be posted the next year is probably not terribly difficult.

      Either way, with the new posting system, the Phils landing him would have been a real long shot, since they seem to be up against a self-imposed salary limit. It was nice to dream that the team would say damn the budget in favor of contending with a very nice rotation.

      1. If they don’t post, they are betting on his health and performance as non factors – and that they’ll still sell tickets in Japan and then post him at the end – and get all of the upside.

        I would characterize the fee differently. I think $20M today is different that $20M tomorrow. There is a financial cost to waiting that is known. Second, the injury risk you cite is real – They could get $0 tomorrow. Third, there is a performance risk that means they could get less than $20M.

        In other words, there is no upside to waiting, only downside. That’s what the cap essentially does, it limits the upside. To me this ensures there will be fewer Japanese players coming over today – players will play out their contracts.

        dpw

        1. Points taken, but I’m honestly not sure 2014 performance limits the $20M figure. Injury surely does, but $20M fee not counting against the luxury tax is not going to scare away Texas, NYY, LAA and others if their scouting and anaylsis says he’s still the real deal.

    2. I wouldn’t just yet discount the fact that Masa Tanaka doesn’t get posted.
      If the eleven other owners decide to ‘chip-in’, say one ot two million per team, to the Pacific League’s Golden Eagles’ owner, and boost the $20M posting fee to a larger amount, around $40M or so, that may make things more interesting.
      The eleven other owners do not need to worry about their teams facing Tanaka during their season and get him out of their league.

  13. Again I feel compelled to point out that the A’s under Billy (whom I think is awesome) and the Rays will never win a WS. Never is strong I know. The reason is they can’t pay their stars. yeah give them the championship for continuing to turn over their rosters with good young players if you like but is that really the goal?

    I mean really should you be lauded for trading big game James Shields and soon David Price? A championship team requires high price veterans some where along the way e.g. Big Papi. the SABR nerd way of doing things would say the Sox never pay him that last contract but facts are they don’t win that WC without him.

    1. First, I think one of these teams – or a team like them – will win a WS along the way; it’s inevitable. Second, I laud them because, unlike the Phillies, their revenues are so low that they don’t have any other choice. Also, they have been very adept at getting good immediate value in trades or having a replacement lined up in the wings and ready to go. The Shields trade didn’t hurt the Rays last year, it helped them because they had the pitching and needed the hitting Myers provided. And they will continue to reap dividends in the future when Odorizzi and others come up and make a differenece and Myers turns into a star.

      I don’t disagree with you about established stars for teams that can afford them. Teams with the optimal model would be the Cardinals – who keep payroll at a reasonable level and pay most of their top stars assuming the price is fair.

    2. DMAR…. ‘A’s under Billy (whom I think is awesome) and the Rays will never win a WS’ – odds are with you when you say that. The AL-East is stacked with the Sox and Yanks leading the way every year and the Rangers, Mariners and possibly the Angels are a tough road for the A’s in the West.

    3. That’s correct but beside the point. Their approach points the way to what can be done with more money. Follow their approach, but use your money to keep those of your own stars whom you want to keep because they are worth keeping. The points to take from some other teams like the A’s, Rays, and Cards are 1) you must grow your own stars or you will never own stars in their most productive seasons at reasonable cost, 2) you have to unsentimentally shed your players when they are on the downhill and not worth their cost, even if this annoys some fans, realizing that those fans will be a lot more annoyed about losing, 3) the players you fill in around your stars and above average starters can be young and cheap and still be as productive as the expensive old vets. They also will stay on the field more and add some energy to your clubhouse. All of this says you must 1) try to get extra picks by offering arbs to your declining stars you don’t mind parting with, 2) not lose draft picks to sign comped FA unless the guy is a true star with prime years left, 3)spend every penny you can on international and draft bonuses, 4) have a great development and scouting staff, 5) not be afraid to give a job to a kid at the start of the season.

      1. Good plan allentown…send your resume and above info for your cover letter to Mr David Montgomery, One Citizen’s Bank Way, Phila PA 19148.

  14. Comparing the Rays/A’s and the Phils is wrong for this reason. With the financial resources, 3.5 plus Million in attendance, a new cable deal looming, very low debt service, etc., the Phils have had the opportunity to do it both ways. They could have added to their farm assests by not adhering to the Selig fake draft pick salary cap, and had the guts to hold on to Cliff Lee after 2009. Oswalt would not have been needed. They also had the LA market, Japan and other avenues to spend money on that they chose not to. This has been a self-inflicted dessimation of the franchise. The front office does not believe this team is a contender any more than we do.

  15. The Phils are a house of cards that has fallen down due to the lack of the minor leagues to produce any talent. Its not the trades either since none of the players we’ve traded are starting anywhere, other than Cosart in Houston and he still really needs to improve his ball/strike ratio. If Dom had done well initially, we wouldn’t have traded for Pence. If we had known he was going to not make it for a few years we may have resigned Werth when the price was still reasonable. Not that we gave up that much but we wouldn’t have needed Revere if one of Gillies, Hewitt, Collier, James, or Castro had showed major league ability. Remember when Colvin was going to be a stud? Either the drafting has been bad or the development has been awful but the minor leagues, what we all love to follow, has been a recent failure to the major league team and needs to turn around quickly if we’re going to become a winning team again. Both Phillies successful eras of recent times (1976 – 1983 and 2007 – 2011) were fueled by home grown talent ascending to all star level combined with a few pieces. Schmidt, Bowa, Luzinski, Boone and the trade of Wise for Carlton, and Howard, Utley, Rollins, Chooch, Burrell, Hamels and adding Victorino and Werth. Do we have those caliber of players now in the system? Can a 2017 team made up of our prospects be a contender? I don’t see it there now but that’s what we have to hope for as we follow the minor leaguers. Who has the ability to ascend to all star status and carry the team. While Howard’s success this year might determine whether we can even win 81 games, I’ll be watching Dom and Asche to see how they’re improving while hoping that some of our minor leaguers continue to develop. We need Dom to become a legit all star bat, we need Franco to put up AAA numbers that will force himself into the majors, we need Crawford to be the best SS in his league, we need Biddle and Morgan to stay healthy and end up in Philly, we need Joseph to stay healthy and to remember how to hit again, we need Tocci to put on 20 ponds of muscle and to be able to reach the fences with his line drives, etc. The minors have to produce players or we’re going to be bad for years to come.

    1. Unfortunately, we have yet to have a rebuilding year. It is a mistake to equate a dreadful year, in which the team happened not to commit to expensive long-term FA deals as rebuilding. It isn’t. It’s just business as usual on the cheap.

  16. It would be cool to see that “Everyone guess who will be a breakout prospect in 2013″ thread results now that the season is over. Should definitely do an article on our most popular guesses

  17. Waiting until the trade deadline seems to make sense. By then, Lee may have continued to be one of the best lefties and MAYBE Howard can by then recovered sufficiently to be a power bat against righty pitchers…sufficiently to interest some AL teams in search of that kind of help. Of course, we’d have to pay a substantial part of his salary, but if we could get back a good prospect or two, the deal should be made. MAYBE that could happen.

    OTOH, Lee MUST be traded then. I believe his has a contract that goes through ’15, so he’d be there for 1 1/2 seasons. There is absolutely no good reason to hold on to him. We know that this team is going nowhere due to the over-the-hill gang and precious little oncoming from the pharm. There is no reasonable hope that the team could be a candidate for the playoffs; on such a team, Lee is surplusage: he must be used to help the team beyond his contract’s end. And we know he is a gem that is capable of bringing a couple very good prospects to build on.

    I’m hoping that this is within the FO’s plan; further that they rely on Sabermetic advice in choosing the prospects. plan

  18. This is the worst collection of non-roster invites that I could ever remember. Not one single person to get mildly excited about. The pitchers are all awful.

  19. Yes, I’ve covered this before. But let’s revisit, as there seems to once again be unrealistic expectations regarding returns on trades for veterans.

    First, my opinion. Second, support for it.

    The only veterans on the team for whom a good prospect may – and I emphasize may – be available in return are Lee and Hamels. Hamels the more likely, though his semi off year last season may (irrationally, in my view) depress even his market some. No one else will get us more than a lottery ticket or minor piece (i.e., not a potential regular or front end starting pitcher), even if we pay most of the remaining salary. Lee and Hamels AT BEST get us one good prospect each. At best.

    Now, why is this true, and why do many people who comment here have unrealistic expectations of trade returns for veterans? The 4 reasons (aside from just plain over valuing our veterans, which also happens), in descending order of importance:

    (1) People focus on the exceptions, ignoring the norm: yes, sometimes good prospects are traded for veterans.. That’s not the norm, partly for reasons further discussed below. But when it does happen, it usually represents an error on the part of the GM trading for the veteran, not brilliance by the GM trading the veteran. And you simply can’t depend on the other guy making a mistake.

    (2) Many or most of the best examples of teams acquiring good prospects for veterans are cases of young, pre-FA veterans at below market salaries being traded. Does not apply to Lee at all. Hamels is still youngish, but with a market value contract.

    (3) Many of the best examples are (in essence) successful lottery tickets, either players int he upper minors who were much better than anyone expected, or players int he lower minors whop beat the odds and became successful major league players.

    (4) Times have changed – the relative perceived value of prospects has gone up; most teams are less likely to trade them.

    Now, even with all of that said, arguments can be made to trade the veterans – Hamels and Lee because you might get a good prospect in return, other veterans for other reasons. But please, please, let’s abandon the silly idea that we can rebuild the system with a bunch of good prospects by trading our veterans. Not possible.

    A brief related point about the Lee trade, which still gets listed here as one of Amaro’s biggest mistakes bit IMO doesn’t make the top 10 (and likely not the top 20). What we got for him is actually a pretty typical haul for a pitcher of his stature with only one year of control. True, it hasn’t worked out for the team, but Aumont is a guy with fantastic stuff, and COULD have ended up being really good. And Gillies is a guy who, even after years of injury setbacks, STILL gets talked up around here as a possible major leaguer. He isn’t IMO, but without the injuries he’s a guy who could easily have been a decent major league regular. Gillies avoids injury and xxx discovers some command/control, and that deal could like like an incredible steal for the Phillies. Hindsight is 20-20.

    1. In regards to the Lee trade, I think most people were upset that they traded him at all. The fact that they resigned him a year later made even less sense to make the trade in the 1st place. If you look at the haul the Phils traded to get Halladay on that same day, the deals weren’t even close in value. I know the Phils were able to work out an extension w/ Halladay beforehand but they were both considered #1 starters.

      1. That extension is (mainly) what made the difference. 4 years of control at a below market price (even if the last 2 didn’t end up that way, one reason I am skeptical of long term deals for starting pitchers) versus one year. And Halladay was probably a little more well regarded at the time.

        Also I think the differences in the value of the deals, while significant, probably isn’t as great as it appears, either in hindsight or given what was known at the time..Gillies and Aumont were both regarded as good prospects. Not as good as the three guys the Phillies traded, but really not that far behind Drabek and Taylor. Ironically Aumont despite all his problems,still has a chance of having the second most long term value of the players in the two deals.

        As a side note, both these deals support my main point. 5 well regarded prospects. 2 have flamed out, 2 have encountered numerous set backs, and the best of the lot still, 4 years later, still has only 112 unimpressive major league PA.

      2. The Phillies didn’t have the budget that year for both Lee and Halladay. It was one or the other. The following year, with a year to rejigger the budget, we had both. So, really other than that one season it is like we didn’t even trade Lee and what we got for him was gravy.

        1. How did they not have the budget for Lee, also when his 2010 salary was only $9 Million? They paid $8Million for Joe Blanton. Lee was a steal at 9! Even if it cost them $2Million extra for going over the luxury tax, which they could have easily avoided, it was worth it. They are a big-market team who keeps act like penny pinchers, and there is still no excuse for that move.

          1. “They can afford it” and ‘it puts them over budget’ are two very different issues. The Phillies set their budget at the end of the season and simply do not go over it. Nor do they pay luxury tax. That is their operating philosophy. It is not a function of how much money the owners have in their investment portfolios. Plus, I think Bill Giles needs a minimum annual draw to support his lifestyle and the other owners accommodate him, which sets the minimum annual profit that the team can produce. Btw, Blanton did not cost them $8 million that year. They were responsible just for the last two months and may even have taken back money in that deal, as they have in most of their deals, including Halladay. If money was no object, why would the team have taken back $6 million from Toronto? Surely that cost them extra/better prospects. They took back that money, just as they dealt Lee, because it was needed to make the budget work with the acquisition of Halladay. It doesn’t matter what a steal Lee was at his salary. RAJ could not afford both Lee and Halladay. Look, RAJ has a consistent habit of taking back money in such deals. He did so with Pence and he did so with Oswalt, and that was when dealing with the cash-short Astros. Do you think he does this because he wants to sell extra prospects for cash? No, he does this because he is not allowed to exceed his budget.

            1. They already had Blanton 2010 is when they gave him a 3 year/24Million contract. And, what you are saying concerning the ownership is probably correct. They deserve more of that blame then Amaro does, granted. It does not change the fact that that approach short changes a fan base that has been as good as anyone’s. I am happy to dislike the ownership as much as Amaro.

            2. Yeah, you’re right on the Blanton timing. That means that he was signed before Halladay became available, doesn’t it?

            3. Cliff Lee was traded around the 15th of December, 2009. Blanton was signed mid-January 2010. Halliday was traded for right at the same time of the Lee trade. Anyway, I disagree with LarryM only to the extent that I think the Phils failed to get the best deal that they could. And, I believe it was because management did not want the public to get outraged over trading Lee. Aumont already had been moved from a SP to a RP by Seattle, and Gillies was not by any means a top prospect.

    2. I disagree completely about the value of what you can get for some of the players. I’ll use 2 players as my example . . James Shield and Carlos Beltran. Beltran was traded for one of the better pitching prospects in the game. James Shields (And Wade Davis) brought back one of the best prospects in baseball. I can’t see how Lee couldn’t bring that back either, barring the Phillies chipping in a good amount of of his contract. Lee is a better pitcher then Shields and he would give potentially 3 years in stead of Shields 2 years. Lee also brings a proven track record of top performance in the postseason (an ERA under 3 for Lee in the postseason to an ERA just south of 5 for Shields). Again I can’t stress that money HAS TO be thrown into the trade for the Phillies to get the most out of Lee, not only because teams don’t want to pay 25m for Lee but only a handful of teams (if that) can afford that. Therefore chipping in the majority of Lees salary does 2 things 1. it brings back a greater return and 2. which is the most important part, Lee can now be shopped to every team. Don’t you think the A’s and Royals would jump at the idea of getting Cliff Lee for said 5m a year? You could target the teams with better farm systems that are potential playoff teams such as the Royals, Pirates or Cards. The Royals would jump at the opportunity to add Utley or Lee to their team but only if they didn’t have to worry about a high salary. Or how about Seattle? They are clearly trying to win as soon as possible and to have Lee or Utley (Lee and Utley) or even Papelbon would help them out a lot and they have the prospects we would be interested in.

      Sorry for all this being scatterbrained, was in a rush. The Phillies need to get Proefrock or Arbuckle in here as the GM, then Monty needs to give them the option of trading whoever they want and allowing them to eat however much of a players salary up to 100% of it in Utleys, Papelbon and Rollins case and 85-90% in Howard and Lee.

      Why pay for players that are going to give you a .500 teams when you can pay these payers and turn them into real good prospects who could help this team develop a solid new core.

      1. I think I can safely say that, next to you, I likely am the second leading proponent of rebuilding, going with youth, spending more internationally and through draft on this site. I think the Phillies are in dire need of youth. Still, I find this proposal just stunning. How much is a prospect worth. If you pay 100% of what we owe to Utley, Papelbon, and Rollins, even ignoring that their options may be earned, that is picking up $26 million for Paps, $30 million for Utley, and $11 million for Rollins. Utley is clearly worth his contract, based upon last season. Rollins is worth the bulk of his contract in the current market. Even Paps is likely worth half his contract. So, with Utley, for example, you are essentially paying $30 million to buy a prospect. Is that wise? You can buy a number of Cubans for that.

        1. Btw, Lee was a way above average pitcher last season, certainly worth what he was paid. Seriously, you’d pay $50 mill to ship him out of town. What would you get by way of prospects that could be worth $50 mill?

          1. Dodgers may give you Joc Pedersen for Lee, since it looks like their target of Masa Tanaka is off the market for another year and with the surprise 2013 surge of Puig to their outfield mix, they have the luxury of an untested but hot prospect like Pedersen to dangle.
            I am quite aware that Kemp is the guy that they would like to unload however.

          2. You are paying these players regardless so you can’t say that doing this would take money out of their pockets to dip into the international market.

            Is this wise? My question to you is this . . . You HAVE TO pay these guys their contractual money no matter what, hell Cliff Lee could have his left arm cut off tomorrow and the Phillies still have to pay him. So if you are paying these guys money to finish under .500 why would not pay their contracts for them to go to other teams if that could bring back good prospects? I understand that this IS NOT going to happen, I get that but at this point what they have been doing HASN’T WORKED and what they are doing now, well no one really knows exactly what they are doing now. If you were to believe RAJ, what they are doing now is sticking with the same team thinking they can still win, more then likely not going to happen.

            Is Cliff Lee worth what he is paid? I think he is def a pitcher that pitches to his contract however his contract can only be absorbed by a few teams and even those teams would be wary of adding 50 plus million to their payroll but if you take a ton of that money away teams would be lining up at RAJ door to offer players for Lee and EVERY TEAM that is a contender would offer players and good ones. They would be acquiring an ace for at least 2 years for basically peanuts when it comes to money, if that cost them a few good prospects so be it. You can’t tell me that if David Price (who has 2 more years left before he’s a free agent) was offered to a GM for say 3-4m a year (instead of prob `16m and 19m which are reasonable guesses to what he’ll get in arbitration) that he wouldn’t fetch at least 2 good prospects. Price and Lee are comparable, yes Price in younger then Lee but they both have 2 years left before being a FA (Maybe 3 for Lee) and both have preformed at a high level (You can argue that Lee is better then Price since Price regressed last year, although not by much).

            Again you have to think about what players are being paid right now and how valuable the Phillies guys (Lee, Papelbon, and Utley) would be to other teams at pennies on the dollar. Even Howard at 3-4M is worth a good prospect in return bc at 3-4m he CAN BE a LH Platoon partner who would still be playing in 75% of games or ABs considering 75% of pitchers that are faced are RHP. Rollins at his current salary isn’t attractive because he isn’t worth that but at 2m he would be worth every penny.

        2. ‘You can buy a number of Cubans for that’…Kramer did just that to roll his cigars…or crepes as it may be.

      2. I hate to beat up on your about this, but Larry is right. He said at the beginning that there are counterexamples you can cite where a really good prospect got packaged in a trade, but generally that is because the other GM made a mistake. Brian Sabean, despite the 2 WS rings in recent years, has made some of the more boneheaded personnel decisions in baseball–yes, maybe even worse than Amaro’s. A lot of people at the time were scratching their heads about the Beltran deal, and it was considered a major steal on Sandy Alderson’s part.

        Your other example, the Royals trade, was pretty much universally interpreted as a panic move by a front office desperate to field a contender while their core was still young and cost-controlled. It was roundly criticized as an overpay at the time, and it turned out to be one.

        So, you’re right in saying that it’s not impossible, but it’s not as simple as saying: “Cliff Lee is better than James Shields, he should get back someone like Wil Myers.” It takes two to tango, and to tango like the Rays did you need a really, really bad dance partner.

        That said, I noticed that the Mariners are still in need of a closer and could use another power hitter, so who knows–maybe that idiot will take Papelbon and Howard.

        1. The Beltran is an even better example because in that trade what did the Mets do? They paid for the majority of Beltrans contract in order to get back Wheeler. I’m not sure where there was such an outcry in that deal either, at the time it was looked at as a good trade on both parts. The Giants were looking for win now help and the Mets were going for the long term. The Royals trade wasn’t looked at as bad because of Wil Myers leaving the Royals but because the Royals also sending 3 more prospects to the Rays and even then ( http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/12/reaction-to-rays-royals-trade.html ) you can see a handful of scouts and other baseball people don’t feel it was lopsided.

          Once again Lee would fetch a lot barring the Phillies pay a lot of salary and so would the others. The way we see players is as “Ryan Howard is making 25m a year to not produce as a 25m a year player”, At 2-4m a year he is outperforming that by far.

      3. Eric, you’re unintentionally illustrating my points. Shields is a little bit # 2 and a little bit #3, and Beltran is a little bit 1, 2, 3 AND 4. And when you add Papelbon and Rollins and Howard into the mix you’re also making the other, unnumbered mistake of over valuing our veterans.

        Let’s look at two classes of players – star veterans and decent or worse veterans. Lee and Hamels are int he first category. Utley also, though for a variety of reasons I think he’s borderline in terms of being in this category. Howard, Rollins, and Papelbon are no longer stars or even close. We can qucikly dismiss the latter category – ALL of the examples of good prospects changing hands are for star level players, or at least players perceived as such. No one is giving us a real prospect for any of those guys. Of that I am 100% sure.

        That leaves Lee and Hamels, and maybe Utley though I doubt it, as players who maybe could get a good prospect. But EVEN FOR THOSE TYPES OF PLAYERS, getting a good prospect is the exception not the rule.

        It seems to me really bizarre that, with a front office that has SO many problems in terms of talent evaluation and development, that some people, want to indulge in unrealistic pie in the sky type scenarios where other teams stupidly trade us a bunch of good prospects for washed up veterans. I mean, if that’s you thing, go for it, but when I indulge in unrealistic fantasies I like to keep it grounded in the at least conceivably possible, like winning the lottery or trading Galis straight up for Trout.
        \
        But to answer your last question, the answer is “because you can’t.” Two or MAYBE 3 could get you a good prospect – and by good, I mean a guy who could become a decent regular, NO ONE is trading a potential future star for even Hamels or Lee. The other guys, IF you pay substantially all of their salary, MIGHT get you a decent middle reliever or bench player.

        1. You make good points, but even good GMs make mistakes.

          Billy Beane traded Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street for one year of control over Matt Holliday.

          Surely, if half his salary is eaten, three years of Cliff Lee right now is worth more than one year of a 29-year-old Matt Holliday at $13.5 million headed into the 2009 season.

          Shopping Cliff Lee is a good idea. If another team makes a mistake, the Phils can pounce on it. Otherwise, they shouldn’t move Lee.

          1. The problem, to state the obvious, is that you often don’t know if the other team has made a mistake until years later. All trades of this variety, whether it’s Cliff Lee for a bunch of stiffs (twice) or Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell, are big gambles. I’m not saying the Phillies shouldn’t gamble at this point–I just hope everyone has realistic expectations about what the potential payoff may be.

            1. It is possible that Profar, for example, could be a flop, but a trade of Lee for Profar would be deemed by most to be a mistake by the Rangers right now. It would be a mistake based on the expectations that most have for Profar’s future.

              Another factor to keep in mind is that, to a team that is on paper close to making the playoffs, wins are worth more than they are to a team that is likely not going to make the playoffs. Picking up a pitcher like Lee, who should be good for 4-5 extra wins in 2014, would be worth a lot to teams like the Yankees and Pirates, that might need those wins that Lee could provide to make the playoffs. While the Yanks don’t have much to offer, the Pirates do, and if the Phils were able to get a very good prospect for Lee from the Pirates, that would not necessarily be a mistake by the Buccos. If Lee gets them back to the playoffs, the Pirates will gain enough extra revenue to justify giving up one of their very good prospects.

              For all the stated reasons, I am saying that a good return for Lee is a possibility, not a probability, but I do think the odds of a good return for Lee are a lot better than the odds of the Phils’ making the playoffs in ’14.

            2. Don’t disagree with this. What I’ve been pushing back against are two popular notions on this site – (1) the idea that of course Lee will get us back a very good prospect, and thus the failure to trade him necessarily represents a failure on Amaro’s part. I mean, I’m the last one to defend Amaro, but in this case it is merited. (2) The notion that the current team should be dismantled, because all or most of the veterans would get us good prospects in return, and we could rebuild over night. In this case, I was responding specifically to Eric who was making both arguments., the first implicitly and the second explicitly.

              Some people – not Eric in this case – refer to a Boston “model” – but Boston’s turn around had a very different set of causes. The trade all your veterans for prospects instant rebuild isn’t really a thing … maybe you could stretch one of the Mariner’s fire sales to fit that model, but the dynamics of the market have changed a lot since then.

        2. Future stars? No one knows who is a future star or not. Outside of Brice Harper and Steven Stras, who over the past 10 years or so was seen as a can’t miss guy? There aren’t many that are can’t miss. Also i’m not saying you need to get the best prospect in the game but you do need guys who are top prospects. The Phillies can look at players who are towards the mid to back end of the top 100 in baseball (I realize that top 100 lists are end all be all, esp guys towards the back, a lot of them are interchangeable with fringe top 100 guys) and here’s an example of what i’m saying.

          Here are some guys who were in mid to back end of BA top 100 list prior to the 2009 season:
          #97 Gio Gonzalez #91 Chris Perez #88Gerardo Parra #87 Freddie Freeman
          #81 Brett Lawrie #80 Desmond Jennings #79 Jeff Samardzija #70 Jordan Walden
          Prior to 2008 Season
          #93 Neftali Feliz #91 Nolan Reimold #81 Jordan Walden #74 Dexter Fowler
          #Jed Lowrie #Manny Parra #Max Scherzer #65 Chris Davis
          #64Justin Masterson #63 Luke Hochevar #61 Neil Walker

          There are prospects that aren’t top 10, top 20, top 30 or even top 40 guys who would could be core guys of the future. I honestly don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to think that Cliff Lee (and 45m towards his salary) could fetch (and i’m just throwing out numbers for the sake of this discussion) a 20-30 prospect, a 50-60 prospect and 90-100 or fringe guy. Ryan Howard and 85% of his contract for a 70-80 guy. Chase Utley and his contract for a 30-40 guy, 60-70guy and a fringe 100. Papelbon and his contract for 2 70-100 guys. Just examples but i don’t think it’s out of the realm. What is hard to believe is that the current FO guys and scouts are good at evaluating talent. I think Sal A. should have a bigger role in evaluating players, not just LA guys.

          1. Let’s separate this discussion into three parts:

            Lee/Hamels/maybe Utley – these are guys for whom a top 100 prospect is a potential return. With Lee in particular, I think you are wildly optimistic. There’s two ways of looking at this. MAYBE, maybe you get someone to drastically overpay for him. Then your scenario is .. still optimistic, but in the realm of the possible. (Let’s keep in mind that he is 35 years old, which impacts his trade value.) But to EXPECT that – well, that gets back to my original comment, you’re making the mistake of conflating the best deals with the normal deals. Hamels is in the same category as Lee, albeit younger.. Utley maybe gets you someone at the back end of the top 100. Maybe. Keep in mind that he needs to approve of any trade, and the fact that he signed what was a slightly below market deal with the Phillies is a sign he would like to end his career here.

            Rollins/Ruiz/Papelbon/Howard. It is unreasonable to expect to get a top 100 prospect for any of these guys. For three of them, there is an outside chance that a stupid and desperate GM sends you a back of the top 100 prospect if you kick in a ton of salary. But it’s not reasonable to expect that. The one guy that absolutely under no circumstances gets back a top 100 prospect even if you pay substantially all of his salary is Howard. He is no longer good enough to help a contender, and there’s no reason a non contender would send us a prospect for him.

            Now, it’s true that your idea of kicking in a ton of salary makes getting good prospects back merely highly unlikely, rather than completely impossible. But look at what you are proposing. It’s unprecedented in baseball history. Oh, teams have paid salary for traded players in deals before. It’s the SCOPE of what you propose that’s unprecedented. Both in terms of number of players and amount of salary paid. There are many reasons why, in the history of the free agency era, no team has ever done what you propose. Some good reasons, some not so good. But it would be a first. And when one’s idea of what the team should do – and, if I’m reading you right, what you think they should OBVIOUSLY do – is unprecedented in baseball history – well, maybe you need to reevaluate your proposal.

            It really gets back to my original comment. You’re looking at the rare exception and assuming it to be the rule.

            1. I understand that it won’t happen and I think I said that a bunch of times but my opinion is that if we are paying them anyways why not get something out of them besides just a .500 team.. I also didn’t say we would rebuild overnight but over a period of a few years.

  20. Some of the players you mentioned above did move up in their BA ratings as they progressed in their minor league careers. Though they all started at that rating at one time or another.

  21. I understand that but that’s where the phillies would need to shoot for. Players who are as highly rates but are guys who are going to progress.

    1. wow that made no sense, I was training one of my players when I wrote this, it should say: I understand that but that’s what the Phillies need to do, shoot for players who are rated high (end of the top 100) and guys who are still going to progress.

  22. Anyone hear in the latest rumor mill….since the O’s failed on the Balfour deal due to injury concerns, that Papelbon has been discussed in a deal with the O’s, with of course the Phillies picking up a large portion of the $26M left on the contract?
    Just wondering if a prospect from their org will be coming back to the Phillies.
    Phillies once had interest in Jonathan Schoop a few years ago.

    1. I for one would take Balfour for the deal he had with the O’s and dump Paps. But knowing RAJ, he couldn’t pull a trigger on what beverages be made available in his office. Keep the 4A bus rolling along, woot woot.

  23. There is no defending the contract for Papelbon because those in the know warned that overpaying a closer is potential suicide for a GM. Its recognized as a frivilous waste of payroll. Yet, he ignored that and did it anyway. Furthermore, he threw the last pitch in a WS and that team was smart enough to shun loyalty and say bye-bye, but not Rueben because he is smarter than all of them. Face it, our GM is an arrogant dope. This is a rare situation in sports where a good percentage of fans would make smarter moves than that city’s GM. He’s really, really bad at his job.

  24. Anyway, I’ve been keeping close tabs on Freddy Galvis in the Venezuelan winter league. He’s doing a very nice job at the plate down there. I’m particularly happy that he’s drawing a ton of walks. If Galvis can slightly improve his plate discipline and his hit tool, he becomes a truly viable option at short very quickly because he’s probably a 1 to 2 WAR defensive player, so if he hits to even a 1 WAR, he’s a great option. I hope that, in terms of playing guys, Sandberg has an open mind – we simply can no longer afford the approach taken by Manuel. If this team is to get the most mileage from its roster, it is going to have to be flexible and give young players a chance to play and prove themselves.

    1. He’s killing it in the VZL. The walks are very nice particularly after watching him flail a bit during his time with LV last season. And I agree that Galvis is truly an option at SS as a full-timer. The glove is that good. He just turned 24 a few weeks ago so he still has time to develop the bat further. He should also be an absolute lock for a bench spot – and I don’t care if he hits .120 in ST

  25. I casually began scanning the Phillies roster for veteran players who may be movable at next year’s deadline while also bringing value back in return. Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd should have been obvious choices for this list, but since RAJ again outbid himself they now fall into the list of players who would require the Phillies to eat a good deal of money if they are to get any value in return (e.g. Papelbon, Lee). RAJ has really handcuffed this franchise for the next few years and it will take nothing less than a good number of players playing at a level above reasonable expectations if they are to compete. Wishful thinking. It’s truly sad that RAJ still has a job, but what is even more depressing, I being 42 years of age and a Phillies fan since I knew how to speak, is that the past run of success is atypical for this franchise and the current is in fact the norm.

    I made this contention on more than one occasion – don’t give a whole lot of credit to RAJ for any past success this team has had. You have franchise cornerstones at a number of players who all peaked at the same time – and this for one of the oldest organizations in sports. The short-time success of this franchise was more happenstance than design – but the flexible spending that followed should have put the team in position to truly create a short-term dynasty. Given the dollars RAJ was given to spend, and the ‘then’ high-performing core that he inherited, and the fact that this franchise is in an aimless downward spiral, who in their right mind other than a casual Phan can say anything to defend RAJ’s record? Rhetorical question – RAJ is a baffoon

    1. I generally do not subscribe to wishing the team I fancy to lose, but in this case the faster the Phillies are out of it early on in 2014, the sooner I wouild think Monty has to pull the trigger on Ruben. Though GMs are normally never let go mid-season but after the season completes.
      And as for Ryno S. as a ‘rookie’ manager, he gets a free pass

    2. A reminder to some too; RAJ was promoted to GM in November 2008 following the franchise’s World Championship season and Gillick’s resignation. The team won the World Series with a payroll under $100 million. In every succeeding year under RAJ’s lead, the Phillies made it one less step closer to a championship at the same time the payroll skyrocketed. I could go on and certainly have many more turds to sling RAJ’s way, but think about that comment for a moment. He inherited a championship ball club and then was given an open check book *and* freedom to trade away young talent in order to keep the team a contender – and here we are five years later.

      1. Also did not realize….but Ruen is holds the additional title of Senior Vice-President in the organization.
        Meaning he can fire himself as the GM and still maintaIn a salaried position within the company.
        Now thats what very well may happen.

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