Yesterday’s Moves Weren’t Half Bad

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, January 22, 2014 10:30 AM | Comments: 28
Offseason, Opinion

Abreu’s return improves Philadelphia’s bench in 2014.

When I was a young, impressionable teenager watching SportsCenter, there was a phrase often uttered by Stuart Scott, and later repeated deadpan by Kenny Mayne: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” I had no idea what that meant and, if we’re being perfectly honest, I still am a little shaky on the meaning. Since I have gotten a little more responsibility on the site recently, maybe it is now my responsibility to know what that phrase means.

Either way, there was a lot of uproar yesterday over the two moves that the Phillies made yesterday. In the first move, the Phillies signed sometimes starter, sometimes reliever Chad Gaudin to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Gaudin, 30, comes with significant recent recent baggage, but is coming off two of the best seasons of his career, including career lows in ERA and WHIP.

The other signing was 39-year old Bobby Abreu. Abreu, unlike Gaudin, hadn’t played in the Majors since 2012. Abreu, who played with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. on the 1998 Phillies, is seemingly in the twilight of his career. Sure, there is very little financial commitment, Abreu can opt out if he’s not on the Phillies by March 26, but the fact remains that Amaro signed one of the Phillies’ top, albeit unpopular, players from the years 1998 through 2006.

A lot of folks expressed their dismay of both signings on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed, placing the blame solely on Ruben Amaro Jr.. To those folks I say, don’t hate the player hate the game: yesterday’s moves weren’t half bad.

Let’s start with Gaudin: Gaudin turns just 31 and comes to a team void of a solidified fifth starter. The team currently features Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, and… well, that’s where it gets hazy. It’s not entirely clear what the plan is beyond those three. Sure, the team signed Roberto Hernandez and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but to expect anything specifically from those two would be taking a shot in the dark. Meanwhile, it is unclear if Jonathan Pettibone will be healthy for the entire season. There were absolutely worse choices than Gaudin available.

Abreu, on the surface, provides less upside than Gaudin. But the veteran Abreu can provide value if he makes the team. A quick look at the Phillies current bench, which will likely be comprised of some sort of combination of Wil Nieves, Lou Marson, Kevin Frandsen, John Mayberry, Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, and Freddy Galvis, reveals that the Phillies lack anyone who primarily hits left-handed. Abreu, in his worst season, had a higher OBP than any Phillie last year. There’s reason to believe that Abreu the pinch hitter and sporadic starter will be able to perform just as well.

While fans and observers alike have much reason to question the direction of the Phillies in 2014, these two moves represented a cunning shrewdness. As my colleague Corey Seidman pointed out over at CSN, if Gaudin and Abreu make the team out of camp, they will make less than John Mayberry.

So as you read through this, hold your frustration for one day. Both of these signings have the potential to improve the Phillies for 2014 and worse, if neither make the team, do nothing at all. The Phillies, at this point, don’t really have any young players that either player would be taking time away from in Spring games. These moves weren’t half bad.


Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 892 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

  • Posts: 0 Alex M.


    I would completely agree with you on this one. Where does it hurt to sign these two guys? Honestly this team is not going to win a WS so who cares about them adding an insurance policy for the rotation and a lefty bench bat? I read somewhere that Abreu wanted to retire as a Phillie so why not let him come back and play one more season here and let him retire on his terms. He was showing some decent power and consistency in winter ball so what is the harm? I would still like to see them make one or two more moves but something tells me that Madsen on a minor league deal may be the only potential signing left.

  • Posts: 0 mudmin

    Ditto Alex.

    I’d like to add that even if we don’t win the world series (which baseball nation had us at 33:1 odds to do :), these moves pose basically zero risk to the Phils. Even if we just wind up in the wild card race late in the season we could potentially lure some free agents with some of that TV contract money.

    BTW, does anyone know what these guys make for being at spring training? Just curious.

  • Posts: 0 Scotty Ingerton

    A lot of Amaro’s moves can be justified when individually looked at in a vacuum. It’s the end result that has the fanbase in an uproar – a team that is top 5 in payroll yet nowhere close to being a top 5 team on the field. If we’re going to have a 70 win team, it could be done a lot cheaper than for $165 million dollars. Maybe some of that extra cash could be used to evaluate and revamp the scouting and player development departments. This team really needs to emphasize building a strong farm system once again. It still remains the most cost effective method of player acquisition.

  • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    I agree with these moves based solely on the direction the team is going anyway. I mean, one could argue that this offseason has been lackluster and without any sense of really improving it so what’s the big deal now in giving these two a shot. It’s not like Ruben has some sort of great plan and is now going against it by making these moves.

    Guadin presumably is an ass but if he can channel some of that into a positive direction when he pitches then i will look the other way (think Brett Myers here…)

    And Abreu…well, Raul Ibanez is still hitting those clutch bombs at 40-41 so why not see if Bobby can provide some bench pop and depth? He HAS to be better than Laynce Nix, right?

    All in all I see a net zero gain/loss with this. Maaaaaaaybe they scratch out 80 wins instead of 77 but that’s about it.

    How’s that for being positive?? …..

  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    Chuck I agree with your comment. I’ve been indifferent lately. Mainly because I have already resigned myself back to the fan mode of the mid to late 80′s and the same in the 90′s. I read and see the moves they make and just shake my head. It seems to me they (Rube) are just like a fish out of water floundering around with no direction and not knowing where they’re going to end up. Which brings me to the lighter side of fish Chuck. Did you know that a fish doesn’t know he/she is a fish until you take them out of the water? Sort of like if you took Rube out of the GM job……..Happy New year Chuck.

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    Three fifths of the games this year will be extremely difficult to watch as they get blown out by their opponents. The remaining two fifths that are pitched by Hamels and Lee will be extremely frustrating as they continue to struggle to score runs and lose games by scores of 3-1 and 1-0.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      I can’t wait.

      No, seriously. I can’t wait. Ps & Cs 3 weeks from today.

      • Posts: 212 photoFred

        Avatar of photoFred

        Just the thought of spring training makes looking at these 4 foot icicles almost tolerable.

      • Posts: 0 lefty

        Same here

      • Posts: 0 Chris

        But in all honesty, when Kendrick pitches I usually leave the game on and just sporadically check in every once in a while. I can’t stand Kendrick with a passion…never could. I don’t like to watch him pitch and I like his interviews even less. He never holds himself accountable and acts like he pitched great but they just hit good pitches. Of course watching Hamels and Lee is fun and I am excited to see what Gonzalez has to offer. Pettibone, not so much. So maybe 3/5 of the time I will be watching:-)

      • Posts: 0 G. Washington's Ghost

        Unless the Nationals suffer serious injuries to key players, the Phillies won’t even sniff first place. The Nationals are superior to the Phillies in every way.

    • Posts: 0 Chris

      I’m looking forward to it to. But when they come out and stink up the joint, all my excitement will be gone. Remember last year when they lost on opening day 7-5 to the Braves and then lost 9-2 the next game with Halladay on the mound? 2012 was more of the same thing…they lost 3 of their first 4 and effectively deflated our balloon.

      • Posts: 891 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        2007: lost the first 3, 6 of the first 7, and 8 of the first 10
        2008: lost the first 2, and 4 of the first 6
        2009: lost the first 2, and 3 of the first 4
        2010: started well, but still had two 3-game losing streaks in April

        They may very well stink this year, but come on. We’re Phillies fans — we’re tougher than that.

      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        Do you have a crystal ball and know the outcome of those 3 out of every five games or are you just sad because they didn’t go out and spend money on money on a shiny new Tanaka or McCann or Elsbury? I for one am not. They needed a consistent RH outfielder and they went out and got an affordable one in Byrd. They needed a catcher and resigned the guy who was arguably the best catcher not named McCann. They signed a cheap, high reward pitcher in Hernandez ( or Carmona if you prefer) and bench player in Abreu. I for one am looking forward to a healthy and effective Howard and improved Rollins and Revere.

      • Posts: 0 Frank

        If you are happy with the moves this organization made this offseason, then you are in the minority. Most websites and tv analysts are giving them an “F” for their offseason moves or lack thereof. The bottom three pitchers are Kendrick, Fausto Carmona and Gonzalez/Pettibone. Oh and our bullpen is bad and we can’t score runs. Did I leave anything out? There is a very good chance that they will stink and continue to stink for the next several years.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Frank, are there moves you wish had been made, and what do you see as the benefit from those moves?

  • Posts: 0 mudmin

    Obviously RAJ made these moves and dug these holes. At the time we were all looking at a core that we thought would still be competing the last two years.

    So what would you guys do if you were GM (other than fire yourself?)

    I think we would all agree that not handing out any more payroll shattering long term contracts would be step one. So far so good on that one in the 2013-14 offseason.

    Hopefully draft well.

    As much as we would love it, there are no 2012 LA Dodgers out there who are going to take all our big contracts.

    Any other ideas?

    Otherwise, we can just save our pennies and give Mike Trout 400 million in 2017.

    • Posts: 0 hk

      I agree with your post and I don’t think there’s anything he could have done this off-season to quickly fix the hole that he’s dug during his tenure. I think that this off-season is his best yet….which is not saying much, but at least he has realized that buying free agents – and relinquishing 1st round picks in the process – is not the way to go.

    • Posts: 0 Vinnie

      I think guys like Abreau, are ok to fill in holes, he will probably do better than Nix as a lefthanded bat off the bench.

      But, instead of using up a roster spot on him, why not give a kid a chance instead? Guys like Cesar Hernadez ?

      • Posts: 0 George

        Abreu isn’t on the roster. He signed a minor league contract.

      • Posts: 0 Vinnie

        If he makes the team, he will be taking a roster spot.

      • Posts: 891 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        Right, but do you really want Hernandez sitting on the bench all year waiting for the occasional game or PH appearance? I’d rather have him in AAA learning center field to make him more valuable.

      • Posts: 0 DavidE

        Better than Laynce Nix. Does that mean he will strike out 1 out of every 3 at bats rather than 1 every 2 at bats. Nix was just abysmal in the last 3 months of last year.

        Abreu is what Bill James would refer to as free talent. It’s basically a no risk move. Either he hits or he doesn’t make the team. It’s possible that as a pinch hitter, Abreu could help the team. It’s possible that Abreu saw the Phillies as the easiest team to make. He would be better than Delmon Young in the outfield because he can still run better.

      • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        My dead grandfather can run better than Delmon Young.

  • Posts: 0 Joe a

    Just read this depressing article that grades all of the mlb teams offseason moves. Nats got an A+, Mets and Fish got a B+, Braves got a C-, and our Fighting Phil got an F. We’re the only team that got an F. Any chance Sam Hinkie can be gen manager for Sixers and Phils?

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      The article and a buck will get you a Wawa coffee (although, since it’s a B/R article, you might need two bucks to make up for it).

      Everyone who thinks, like the author, that they should have blown it up, rates the off-season badly, but it’s not the off-season that he’s rating, it’s the entire strategy of filling in pieces around the aging core over the short term to try and remain competitive as they’re rebuilding. (he also doesn’t mention Gonzalez)

      I think this one by Bill Baer makes much more sense: http://crashburnalley.com/2014/01/21/the-phillies-have-had-a-relatively-good-off-season/

      • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        I want to believe this schmenk…. I really do. I’ve been guilty of bashing Amaro, too. Some of it is justified and some of it is just reactionary. I would love to believe that they can improve on those 73 wins, have things break just right, and compete for one of those playoff spots. But that would require AT LEAST a 15 game turnaround. Doesn’t seem likely…but I suppose stranger things have happened.

        Pitchers and catchers in what? …. 3 weeks or so? ….

  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    Like Schmenk and pretty much every else here, I honestly can’t wait for the Ps & Cs to report to Clearwater. I love this game and this team no matter the prospects in any given Spring.

    That said, there are a few IFs this season, but I believe the Phils can win the division…

    IF Howard can convince Bud Selig to recategorize left-handed pitchers as a growth hormone.
    IF Utley can avoid using his knees when bending for ground balls.
    IF Rollins can confound opposing defenses by grounding out for a change.
    IF Asche can do a Mike Schmidt impersonation by occasionally wearing a wig.
    IF Byrd made a TWO-year pact with the Devil.
    IF Revere doesn’t accidentally make a 1-way run to India while chasing down a routine fly.
    IF Brown doesn’t break his glove hand by catching a ball in it.
    IF Chooch can avoid a collision at the plate with accidental tourist, Revere.
    IF Mayberry decides to return to Stanford for his doctorate.
    IF Hamels can hit just 4.5 home runs per start.
    IF Sandberg remembers to take the ball out of Kendrick’s hand BEFORE the first pitch.
    IF Roberto Hernandez returns to his 20th century form.
    IF Papelbon can shut up long enough to use the saved energy to throw an actual fastball.
    IF the team allows Mike Adams to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
    IF the Phillies didn’t accidentally sign Elian Gonzalez instead of Alfredo Gonzalez.
    IF every star player on the Nats and Braves seeks asylum with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
    IF the Mets decide to reinvest with Madoff.
    IF Ruben didn’t miss some clause that allows the Pirates to return Mini-Mart to Philadelphia.


    Okay, granted, there are a few “IFs” this season – but darn it, it’s baseball!
    I’m pumped for my boys in the red pinstripes.

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