An Early Look Ahead

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, October 25, 2010 08:06 AM | Comments: 68
Analysis, Free Agency, News, Opinion, Payroll, Posts

After a full day to digest the Phillies season-ending loss to the Giants in the National League Championship Series, it’s time to thoroughly assess the past, present, and future of this franchise. In the coming days we’ll look back on the season that was, all while preparing you for what should be an interesting offseason.

Preliminarily, there are several questions heading into the winter. Here are a few of them:

-Will Jayson Werth return?:

It’s unlikely in my opinion, but not out of the question. With Scott Boras now representing him, the picture got cloudier recently as we know Boras’s mantra: take as much as you can get for as long as you can get and don’t look back.

The numbers he has put up over the last three years along with the numbers Jason Bay and Matt Holliday received in free agency are the ones to look at. During Werth’s career, his 162-game average comes out to .272/25/85 with a .848 OPS. It’s the damage he’s done recently, both in the regular season and playoffs, that makes him a hot commodity. He’s now the Phillies all-time leader in home runs n the postseason, and is a very good patroller of right field. Someone will pay top dollar for him.

What exactly is top dollar? Everyone believed Matt Holliday’s seven year, $120 million contract from last offseason was a bit much. However, it was Boras that executed it with the Cardinals. Bay netted $66 million from the Mets, with a vesting fifth year option that could raise it to about $80 million. I think you’ll see Werth get something closer to Bay’s deal than Holliday’s. Four or five years at roughly $15-16 million per season is about right. Boras, however, will see to it he gets every last penny.

The Phillies have negotiating rights for the five days following the World Series, but it’s highly unlikely anything will be done in that time. Werth’s impending free agency will resemble opening a fine bottle of wine; let it breathe for a while before you jump in. Unless the Phillies max their payroll out at $170 million – and there has been no discussion of this that I’ve read, seen, or heard – then Werth is most likely on his way out.

-The Bullpen:

Three relief pitchers are headed for free agency from the Phillies bullpen. J.C. Romero has a $4.5 million team option on his contract that will not be picked up, meaning he’ll be bought out for $250,000. He likely won’t return unless it’s a minor league deal with Antonio Bastardo now the lefty out of the pen.

Chad Durbin made over $2 million a year ago and will ask for a multi-year deal this winter, but with the Phillies salary rising into uncharted territory, it’s unlikely they can provide him with such a contract. Right now, I’d say Durbin is out, too.

Perhaps the most important of the three is Jose Contreras. He really blossomed as a relief pitcher, his first attempt at it after being a starter for the first seven seasons in the majors. Big Truck made only $1 million and is sure to get a raise of about double that. I think the Phillies do their best to keep Contreras, perhaps on a one year deal similar to what Durbin made in 2010.

I think you’ll see a lot of David Herndon, Scott Matheison, and Mike Zagurski next season. They are cheap and under team control. Besides, you can’t have a team filled with multi-million dollar talent. The bullpen is the place where you might see them try to go cheap.

-Can they unload some weight?

Obviously, the regressions of Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton (and in some cases, Shane Victorino) were detrimental to the outcome this season. Ibanez struggled mightily in the postseason – his swing was so slow you could time it with a sun dial. He still has a year left on his contract with the Phillies at $12.16 million. Unloading that sort of deal will take a Copperfield-like magic trick from Ruben Amaro. If he can get some of that money off the books – it might take something like eating 70% of the remaining money – then he’ll look into it. It’s just not all that likely, so a Raul platoon could be in order for 2011.

Another deal that might hamstring the Phillies is Joe Blanton, who is owed somewhere in the $17 to 21 million range (haven’t been able to find the correct number, I see many others using different numbers. Dave Murphy of High Cheese says $8.5 million next season while Cot’s Contracts says $10.5 million). If they can find a taker for Blanton, while paying about 20 percent of the remainder, they might be able to open their wallets up in free agency a bit to someone like Werth or even Cliff Lee. Again, it’s not likely, but it’s something this team will surely look into.

-Crazy Moves:

After last offseason, the realm of possibilities is quite large with Ruben Amaro and his team. He unloaded Cliff Lee to get Roy Halladay, which many saw as a ridiculous move. That mistake was admitted when the team acquired Roy Oswalt at the deadline.  Could another such move be on the way? And where do you think it comes from if it does occur?

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1674 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 PhillyPhan331

    Karen ,….worst fans? Really???? Sell out every single game the entire season and you call us the worst fans?? DO YOU SEE THE EMPTY SEATS IN TAMPS, ATLANTA, ST LOUIS AND EVRY OTHER PLACE IN THE LEAGUE???


  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Utley in the outfield may make sense. He so much as admitted that he possibly wasn’t long for the secon base position. The outfield is earier to play and would extend his career. I would think he could do it.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Why would you repost my post? Thats just a waste of time. Yes. I still think Michael Cuddyer would fit in well here if we can’t have Werth and yes, I wanted Brian Fuentes for the pen. If we had him, maybe we wouldn’t have seen Oswalt in relief. Kapeesh?

    The Dipsy

  • Werth says he’s in no hurry to make a decision on next season

  • Posts: 0 biz

    # The Dipsy Says:
    October 25th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Why would you repost my post? Thats just a waste of time. Yes. I still think Michael Cuddyer would fit in well here if we can’t have Werth and yes, I wanted Brian Fuentes for the pen. If we had him, maybe we wouldn’t have seen Oswalt in relief. Kapeesh?

    The Dipsy


    Do you think I retyped it word for word? I rolled my cursor over it, hit ctrl c, than hit ctrl v and pasted it. It took all of 3 seconds.

    You know Vic makes 5.5m. You think thats too much for a 2 time GG CF? We can’t resign Werth because of Ibanez and Blanton. And if some of the idiots on here get their way, we’ll be paying a 35 year old, mediocre fielding 2B, to bat .270 with 15-20 Hr, something like 15m per year.

  • Posts: 0 Nunzio Scholeri

    I could go either way on a lot of what’s being discussed here, but I have to agree 100% with Manny that Cole Hamels is a hugely important part of this team to hold onto. He’s young, he’s already great, and this season showed that he’s only becoming more dominant.

  • Posts: 0 mg52

    It seems fair to raise Charlie as another issue here. We’ve gone through the questionable moves: no Doc in Game Four, Francisco instead of Sweeney, Vic leading off as long as he was, the Oswalt relief appearance and so on. Everybody knows that Charlie is the guy everybody plays for, but that won’t get it done every time. The best managers are those who find ways to win even when the team (in this case, the offense) isn’t at its best, not just when it IS at its best – and that comes through a strong grasp of the fundamentals of baseball. It’s important because the league knows this is a fastball-hitting team, and for Charlie to continue his success, he has to be able to roll with the punches that the league has leveled against the Phils to keep them out of the Classic again. We know that he’s a player’s manager, but is he a players’ manager – the kind of guy who really challenges the team as a whole to step in and perform? That’s hard to say because of how little some parts of the bench were used in this past series and, really, for much of the regular season. I’ll give him credit for taking Vic out of the leadoff spot on Saturday and making small changes here and there and for keeping the even temper that he’s usually had.

    I don’t want Charlie to be fired now, necessarily, because he’s kept this team together through injuries, adversity, criticism and what-have-you. He’s won us a title – and made this team Philly’s team. And some of the problems in this NLCS were out of his control. But many were not, and whether or not he’s to blame for not helping the offense to adapt itself to the Giants’ pitching and to manufacture more runs, we have to wonder how much longer this team can keep playing in his style without changes. If they run into another long lull next year, they may want to consider a change because there’s no telling how many more of those they can go through and how long they might last. Clearly, the run they went on got them into the playoffs, but the same long stretches of almost no offensive production returned – as they did in the Classic last year – and they could return at any time in future seasons and we just don’t know when. In fact, the team seemed to be at its best in early August, when some of the big “guns” were out of the line-up and Valdez, Ruiz, et al were picking up the slack and doing at least a somewhat better job of scratching out runs than had been the case in the weeks prior. That may have forced Charlie to do something different – but not this October.

    But that’s just me. Whatever it is, I’d be glad to hear what you all think.


  • Werth already turned down 4 years, $64 million and then switched agents to Boras.

    He’s gone…move on. If there is money to spend, it will be spent ON THE BULLPEN!!

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Reality is that Utley is going nowhere.
    Cholly is not going to change up his leadoff -
    And Jayson, well who really knows?
    But shoring up the BP is big and I agree with Pat in that Durbin and Romero are gone. I dont agree to seeing more of Herndon and Zagurski. The Phils need fresh blood in teh BP.

  • When I was at the game Saturday night, it dawned on me who Utley reminds me of, Nomar Garciaparra. He was an absolute stud for years, all of the fans loved him, and then BAM! all of a sudden something happened and he was never quite the same player. The hip injury Chase had a few years ago was pretty serious.

    I’m a big Utley fan, although it drives me nuts how he gets the Golden Boy treatment in this city and never gets criticized for anything. But man, he looked pretty craptacular in the playoffs. Not only did he make errors, he did not get to a lot of balls. The hit by Sanchez in the 3rd sticks out the most. He looked really slow running for that ball. And he had a chance, and next thing you know the ball is in the outfield. And his plate appearances were not anything special.

    Also, it’s time to let go of the Blanton pitching game 4 move. It had no effect on the outcome of the series. The Phillies did not score in this series. Pitching was not a problem.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    I agree with Morris.

    There’s no way Charlie was going with Halladay in a non-elimination game. It was the right decision when he went with Blanton (who had a typical outing, which the OFFENSE should have easily overcome) and it’s still the right decision in hindsight.

  • Posts: 0 therookie300

    @ Morris

    I like the comparison to Nomar. Hopefully Chase will prove us wrong, but it is an eerie thought. Something is clearly not right with him. Maybe some off-season rest is sorely needed and maybe no further injuries with him.

  • Posts: 0 mg52

    Morris and Kate, I actually do agree with both of you about the Game Four starter. I just put it out there as something that had been debated. What happened with the offense throughout the series and the season is still more of my concern too. I’ve heard Charlie say that Jimmy’s the leadoff hitter and that they’ve got to hit better and to deliver with RISP. But I’m yet to see guys like J-Roll and Vic and, really, most of the line-up make significant changes in their plate approaches – both between games and within games. Not enough of hitting it where it’s pitched, not enough level swings, maybe too much bailing on some outside pitches. I don’t know – it’s hard to tell what Charlie, Gross, et al have been doing with them, but whatever it is, it doesn’t come across very clearly to me. What do you guys think?

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Talk of getting rid of Chase – everyone – that is not going to happen.
    There were 2 players who had comperable if not better seasons this year offensively – mostly due to injury and some, just an off year – it happens.
    The Phils:
    2009 – 224 hrs led the league .447 Slugging % also led the league
    2010 – 166 hrs 5th in the league .413 Slugging % also 5th in the league.

    The entire team bar Chooch and Werth had down years offensively. Chooch hit a career best .302 with 53 rbi.
    Jayson improved in all offensive categories except for hrs (a respectable 27) and RBI (85 and hard to understand why so low).

    I, and probably a few others on this site thought we would see offensive numbers from 09 that would compliment the great pitching we saw in 2010. If 09′s numbers were a 1 time fluke that would be another story but they were a progression from the 07 and 08 numbers.

    Now I’m getting myself worked up for the 2011 season! Hoping there is a way to keep the Werth!

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    I’m hoping too Brooks, but this doesn’t sound to promising to me.

    “Those fans in right field; I’ll probably never be in that position again … I’ve had the best time of my career playing baseball in this city … I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get to play with guys like this again,” Werth said.

  • Posts: 0 Al

    So far we have these on the books (from David Murphy at High Cheese):
    SP (4):
    Roy Halladay
    Roy Oswalt
    Cole Hamels
    Joe Blanton

    RP (3):
    Brad Lidge
    Ryan Madson
    Danys Baez

    IF (5):
    Ryan Howard 1B
    Ross Gload 1B
    Chase Utley 2B
    Placido Polanco 3B
    Jimmy Rollins SS

    C (2):
    Carlos Ruiz
    Brian Schneider

    OF (2):
    Raul Ibanez
    Shane Victorino

    And that’s 16 players at about $135.5 million. Add in those likely to receive arbitration:

    Ben Francisco
    Kyle Kendrick

    Francisco is probably going to get around $1.5 million, and Kendrick would likely get around $2 million. Francisco is definitely a keeper, and I would keep Kendrick as well (~180 IP is not bad for $2 million), though perhaps Worley would be cheaper and as capable in the 5 starter role. Let’s just say that Kendrick stays.

    Now we’re at 18 players and $139 million. Non-tendering Dobbs, buying out JC’s option, and letting Durbin and Contreras walk will probably mean that the RP slots will be filled from the minors. Re-signing Valdez will cost, at most, $1 million.

    Scott Mathieson (7th inning set-up/middle relief)
    Vance Worley (long relief)
    Antonio Bastardo (7th inning set-up/LOOGY)
    Wilson Valdez

    That’s 22 players for $141.5 million. This leaves 3 spots open for anywhere from $5 million to $15 million – pinch hitter, RF, and backup corner infielder.

    Option 1 is to resign Werth, probably for around 5/80. If we pay him ~$10 million the first year and back-load the contract, then sign Sweeney and back-up 3B/utility guy for close to the minimum the payroll sits at around $153 million. That’s probably as high as it will go for 2011, and that gives the Phils limited payroll flexibility, but it keeps Werth.

    Option 2 is that RF could potentially be a Francisco-Brown platoon, leaving room to re-sign Sweeney for ~$700,000 and a cheap 3B/utility man, putting the payroll at $143 million.

    Option 3 is that Brown could also platoon with another RH bat in right. Some people have mentioned Magglio Ordonez and Cody Ross, but I think that Ross will be given an above-market extension by the Giants and Ordonez will likely cost around $10 million. Jermaine Dye is an interesting possibility, but he’ll likely ask for too much money and he’s been out of baseball for a year. I think that the Phillies may go after Andruw Jones. Jones has an abysmal line against RHP, but he mashed lefties to a .256/.373/.558/.931 line this year. Plus, he was paid only 500,000 this year.

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