No, I am not going to write a post about the Texas Longhorns or the Duke Blue Devils. What I am going to present to you is the USA Today Sports Weekly (January 18-24 edition) Top 50 players in baseball last year regardless of position. The parameters that he USA Today staff writers used included postseason play, awards won, and intangibles such as leadership. Not your normal parameters to be sure, but I think that is why I found this particular list so intriguing.
There was a tie at the top between Albert Pujols (no surprise there) and Derrek Lee (surprised me). Players of mention from the NL East include Andruw Jones (6), Dontrelle Willis (8), Pedro Martinez (15), Carlos Delgado (18), and Miguel Cabrera (20). Needless to say a nice array of talent that the Phils have to deal with on a regualr basis, but what I found most interesting was the fact that the only Brave (you know the team that won the division last year and for like 13 years straight) in the top 25 was Jones. I guess this proves that talent is not everything when it comes to being a successful team.
Where are all the Philles you ask? Well I admit the deck is stacked against them in this list due to the lack of postseason play, but there are plenty of players whose team did not make the playoffs in the top 25. The highest ranked Phillie is, envelope please, Bobby Abreu at number 29. Billy Wagner (although not a Phillie anymore this list was based on last years numbers) checks in at #31. Jimmy Rollins is number 41, while Pat Burrell is the final Phillie on the list at number 47.
The point here is that Gillick better wait for a top of the line starter if he is going to trade Abreu. I think we tend to take Bobby for granted. I concede that his numbers did drop dramatically in the second half last year, but unlike those who blame it on his home run derby performance (really how could that affect him or anyone for more than a week or two after the game. I mean the guy takes BP EVERYDAY and he is a pro with pro coaches) I contend that Bobby was playing hurt in the second half. His power numbers were not the only to drop. Even when he got on base he was tenative to run. His legs were clearly ailing and for anyone who knows anything the power and quickness in the baseball swing comes mostly from the legs.
The other thing to take from this list is that Rollins and Burrell were in the top 50. With a young core of player that also include Utley and Howard we should not complain so much about Bell and Lierberthal (who by the way I am picking to have a sneaky good year. He did come on strong in the second half last year and I just ahve a feeling that will carry over this year). What we do need is for Gillick to not just admit that we need a pitcher, but instead go out and get one. Or maybe, just maybe, for once a young pitcher can emerge and surprise us. I am thinking along the lines of Dontrelle a few years back. Hey I can hope, right?