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Arbitration

Tender Frustration and Finding Upside

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 04, 2013 08:56 AM Comments: 33

The deadline for tendering contracts has passed and the Phillies have elected to bring back John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen and Kyle Kendrick. Both Mayberry and Frandsen were solid bets to get non-tendered. Their salaries were likely to outweigh their contributions and there were better uses for Frandsen’s $900K and Mayberry’s $1-$1.5 million.

The Phillies should have non-tendered Mayberry.

That adds up to $2-$2.5 million for two 30+ year old reserves who hit something like .230/.285/.370 last season. Amaro defended his decision by citing their versatility and said there was never any thought to non-tendering either player. There should have been plenty of thought to that effect as Frandsen defined the replacement level while Mayberry fell below.

Mayberry was serviceable when he made the league minimum and showed flashes of being able to hold down a semi-regular role. Those days are gone. He has no upside. He is not going to break out a la Jayson Werth.

Frandsen had a terrific 2012 season driven by a .366 BABIP and he was worth bringing back last year to see if he really had improved. He ended up posting very similar walk, strikeout and isolated power rates but his BABIP fell closer to his career average. His offensive production predictably plummeted. He has no upside. His 2012 campaign was a fluke.

While both players may be versatile, there was absolutely no reason for the Phillies to bring them back. For a team with so much money concentrated in select spots, finding value players with upside is integral to short- and long-term success.

For this Phillies team, two of the spots to use on value players with upside are the ones that Mayberry and Frandsen will once again occupy.

Some have questioned the Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz deals but this is the headscratching decision of the Phillies’ offseason so far.

By bringing back Mayberry and Frandsen the Phillies are exhibiting zero creativity and further illustrating their faulty means of evaluating talent. Whether to retain Kendrick is more complicated but committing to Mayberry and Frandsen is problematic.

Continue reading Tender Frustration and Finding Upside

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, November 14, 2013 10:40 AM Comments: 18

It’s time to roll out the offseason plans, where a few members of the PN writing team build their ideal 2014 Phillies Roster, taking into account team needs as well as payroll and luxury tax ramifications.

The Marlon Byrd signing foiled my initial plan for the Phillies to trade Jesse Biddle, Cody Asche, Jonathan Pettibone and Cesar Hernandez to the Angels for Mark Trumbo and Chris Iannetta.

That would have been a hefty price, but you’d fill your catcher vacancy for a set cost — Iannetta is due just over $10 million in total the next two years — and also acquire a building block for the future in Trumbo who could have also helped the Phils win now. He’s 28, not overly expensive yet and would have 40-home run power at Citizens Bank Park.

Alas, the Phils chose to hang onto their prospects and sign the 36-year-old Byrd for $8 million a year. Oh well. That would have been a hefty package to part with anyway.

Here’s the rest of my plan:

1) Sign relievers Joaquin Benoit and Scott Downs

One elite righty in Benoit, one elite lefty in Downs. The Phils have been connected this offseason to the underrated Benoit, who from 2010-13 had a 2.53 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and just 2.5 BB/9 in 268 appearances. He has experience closing and setting up, and could be a Ryan Madson-like swingman in the Phillies’ pen.

He’s going to be in line for at least a two-year deal worth $12 million, with probably a third-year vesting or player option.

Downs quietly dominates every year. He has a 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances dating back to 2007, and over the last three years has limited lefties to a .209/.272/.261 batting line. He’s 37, so he’s probably going to find only a two-year deal. Maybe two years, $10 million for Downs.

Boom, boom, bullpen solved for $11 million this year. Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, Benoit in the eighth, Downs as the lefty specialist, which allows Antonio Bastardo to ease back in after his suspension. If Mike Adams is healthy, that’s an old, but top-notch bullpen. That’s what this team had from 2008-11, and what it needs again.

2) Sign Matt Garza

I’d prefer Garza over Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. Santana and Jimenez would force the Phillies to forfeit their second-round pick, but Garza would not. He wasn’t extended a qualifying offer because he was traded from the Cubs to the Rangers midseason, and under the new CBA players dealt midseason can’t be extended QOs.

Garza hasn’t been a picture of health the last few years, but he still has a mid-90s fastball and biting offspeed pitches. He’s a low-end No. 2 starter with upside. He may cost as much as four years, $64 million.

The Phillies have liked Garza for years. In Jayson Werth’s walk year they tried to trade him to Tampa for him, but the deal fell through.

Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

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Ross’s Pricetag Doesn’t Match His Upgrade

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 12, 2012 03:00 PM Comments: 71

The Phillies acquired Ben Revere to play centerfield for the foreseeable future but question marks remain in the corner outfield spots. Odds are that Domonic Brown starts in one of the positions on an everyday basis. The other post is likely up for grabs. John Mayberry and Darin Ruf represent internal options while Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross are the oft-discussed available free agents. With plenty of money leftover after the Revere deal the Phils have an opportunity to allocate resources wisely and upgrade the rotation and bullpen in addition to the other corner outfield spot.

However, in reading between the lines, it sure seems that the Phillies are hard after Cody Ross. The former Marlin, Giant and Red Sock, who has surely struck fear into many a Phillies fan over the years, is said to be seeking a three-year deal in the $30 million range. That isn’t Hamilton money but it’s a pretty nice annual stipend for someone who doesn’t get on base all that much, doesn’t hit righties (who throw 70% of the pitches in a season) particularly well, and literally defines the term “mediocre fielder” with a career +0.2 UZR.

The idea that the team covets him, as has been reported, is alarming when better options exist on the market and a borderline equivalent internal option existed when the offseason began. To illustrate the point, let’s play everyone’s favorite game: Guess…. That…. Player!

Here are the overall stats of two players from 2010-12:

Player A: .260/.324/.434, 8.2% BB, 22.2% K, .330 wOBA, 104 wRC+, -0.3 Fld
Player B: .257/.317/.446, 7.7% BB, 21.6% K, .331 wOBA, 107 wRC+, -0.7 Fld

Almost identical, right? But wait, this gets even better…

Continue reading Ross’s Pricetag Doesn’t Match His Upgrade

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The Schwimer Controversy

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, August 29, 2012 10:00 AM Comments: 4

The Phillies activated Jeremy Horst from the paternity list on August 23 and demoted Michael Schwimer to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man-roster. The move seemed relatively harmless. Schwimer had been effective over the last few months, but he hasn’t established firm job security. Further, this mess of a Phillies season has enabled the team to call on various relief arms to see which ones figure to pitch out of the bullpen next season. Sending Schwimer down so that Josh Lindblom can continue to work out kinks, or Phillippe Aumont can face some more major league batters is perfectly fine.

It isn’t the bets decision ever made, given that a few other relievers were far more worthy of a demotion, but we’re talking about August 23, eight days away from the September 1 roster expansion.

Schwimer reportedly didn’t take the demotion well, indicating that a disabled list stint made more sense given his elbow soreness. The team didn’t agree and the righty reliever decided to seek a second opinion from a list of Phillies-sanctioned physicians. Teams can’t demote injured players, but injured is a rather subjective term. Schwimer would continue to earn his major league salary while accruing service time if he stayed with the Phillies on the disabled list.

The situation took a turn for the even stranger on Tuesday when it was learned that he hasn’t yet reported to his Lehigh Valley assignment.

We have to be careful not to make judgments or react in a kneejerk fashion, because there are several unknown variables to this equation. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to understand each side’s motivation. It’s also easy to paint either side as the victim or villain. In any event, the bottom line remains that the Phillies shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to injuries.

If Schwimer is hurt and in need of medical treatment from the major league training staff, any type of service time gaming gets thrown out the window. It wouldn’t look too good if Schwimer misses time due to an injury because the team thought him to be The Boy Who Cried Elbow and didn’t want to pay him the pro-rated portion of a relatively measly $480,000 for eight days.

Continue reading The Schwimer Controversy

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Phils Would Be Unwise To Offer Oswalt Arbitration

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, November 01, 2011 09:00 AM Comments: 14

As divulged by MLB Trade Rumors Monday, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt have been classified as Type A free agents, while Brad Lidge and Raul Ibanez garnered Type B titles.

Offering Roy Oswalt arbitration would be way too risky.

Type A free agents, if they are offered and decline arbitration, bring back two early draft picks if signed by another team. The top 15 teams in baseball surrender their first round pick and a sandwich pick (between first and second round) to the old team if they sign the free agent, while the bottom 15 teams give up their second round pick and a sandwich pick. So if the Phillies offer Ryan Madson arbitration and he declines then signs with the Nationals, the Phillies would get the Nats’ second-rounder and a sandwich pick. Make that first-rounder and sandwich pick, because the Nationals had the 15th best record. (Why did I have to pick the most confusing example?)

The Phillies will almost certainly offer arbitration to Rollins and Madson. If either accepts (which they won’t), they would be back with the Phillies next year for a salary that cannot be lower than 80 percent of last year’s figure or 70 percent of the figure from two years prior.

Neither player would accept arbitration because both Rollins and Madson are seeking long-term financial commitments. But how about Oswalt? Would the Phillies offer him arbitration?

Continue reading Phils Would Be Unwise To Offer Oswalt Arbitration

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Phillies, Francisco Agree to Deal, Avoid Arbitration

Posted by Paul Boye, Sat, January 15, 2011 04:21 PM Comments: 16

The Phillies and outfielder Ben Francisco have agreed to a $1.175 million contract for the 2011 season, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process.

Francisco hit .268/.327/.441 in 197 PA in 2010, and has a .272/.323/.471 line in 301 Philly PA since coming over with Cliff Lee from the Indians in July 2009. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011, and his signing leaves Kyle Kendrick as the lone unsigned arb-eligible player. Francisco figures to see a bump in playing time this season, being a right-handed complement to both Raul Ibanez and top prospect Domonic Brown in left and right field, respectively.

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Carlos Ruiz Signs

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 26, 2010 03:14 PM Comments: 65

Originally posted Jan. 23 at 12:44 p.m.

According to a source close to Phillies Nation, the Phillies and catcher Carlos Ruiz have agreed on a contract. Ruiz, who turned 31 yesterday, enjoyed a breakout season in 2009, posting career highs in on-base percentage (.355), slugging percentage (.425) and OPS (.780).

Some advanced metrics also favor Ruiz defensively, as he is among the top 10 catchers in runs saved over the past three seasons. Had he and the Phils gone to arbitration, Ruiz was seeking $2.5 million, while the team offered $1.7 million. While it is currently unknown whether the deal is for one year or multiple years, it is widely believed that Ruiz was the one arbitration-eligible player most in need of a multi-year deal, given the lack of advanced catching prospects following the trading of Lou Marson and Travis d’Arnaud.

UPDATE, 3:15 pm: The Carlos Ruiz signing has become official according to a press release from the Phillies.  It is indeed 3-years, $8.85 million, however, the yearly breakdown has not been announced.  The fourth year of the deal is an option for $5 million with a $500K buyout.

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Shane Victorino Signs Extension

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, January 21, 2010 08:13 PM Comments: 130

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports is reporting that a source has told him that the Phillies and center fielder Shane Victorino have agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension.

The report continues a flurry of contract news for the Phils, who just announced the extension of pitcher Joe Blanton earlier today. Victorino, 29, hit .292/.358/.445 with 10 homers in 2009. This was his second year of arbitration eligibility.

With extension talks in progress for Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies would likely have seven of eight positional starters under contract for at least 2010 and 2011.

UPDATE, 10:10 am: The Victorino press conference will be today at Noon at Citizens Bank Park.

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Important Dates in the MLB Offseason

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, November 11, 2009 12:51 PM Comments: 8

Just because the season is over, doesn’t mean there is not a lot going on in baseball.  The Phillies have made some moves with Cliff Lee and Pedro Feliz, among others, and there will be plenty more following these upcoming dates.  All the major individual awards will be announced by Thanksgiving.

Nov. 9-11, 2009
General Managers Meetings, Chicago

Nov. 10-11, 2009
AL, NL Gold Glove Award winners announced

Nov. 12, 2009
AL, NL Silver Slugger Award winners announced

Nov. 16, 2009
AL, NL Rookie of the Year Award winners announced

Nov. 17, 2009
AL Cy Young Award winner announced

Nov. 18, 2009
AL, NL Manager of the Year Award winners announced

Nov. 18-19, 2009
Owners Meetings, Chicago

Nov. 19, 2009
NL Cy Young Award winner announced

Nov. 20, 2009
Reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels filed

Nov. 23, 2009
AL MVP Award winner announced

Nov. 24, 2009
NL MVP Award winner announced

Nov. 30, 2009
Players union executive board annual meeting, Scottsdale, Ariz

Dec. 1, 2009
Last date for former Club to offer salary arbitration to receive compensation

Dec. 7-10, 2009
Winter Meetings, Indianapolis

Dec. 10, 2009
Major League Rule 5 Draft — Winter Meetings, Indianapolis

Dec. 12, 2009
Tender deadline

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Big Names Top Offseason Wishlist

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, November 09, 2009 02:05 AM Comments: 120

Coming up two wins shy of another World Championship was, indeed, a tough pill to swallow, but the Phillies were simply the second best team in 2009. All of the ugly flaws of this team made their way to the surface in the World Series, whether it be a lack of situational hitting, a decrepit bench, or the continued struggles of ’08 heroes and ’09 goats, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge.

Brian Cashman, along with whichever Steinbrenner is currently running the Yankees, spent close to $210 million on the 2009 payroll to limit weaknesses, field a near-perfect team, and win a World Series. Congratulations to the two men and their quarter-billion dollar payroll. The money was thrown around properly and resulted in celebration, and a flustered Mark Teixeira running around the field exclaiming, “We did it!” as if this was a bunch of rag-tag players nobody believed in. To that, I “LOL.”

Room for Improvement

But what I took from the World Series is that, as incredible as the Phillies were this past season, there were still many aspects of this club that needed, and will need, improvement. It’s truly amazing to me that I even sit here writing this piece, as a fan and analyst of a team that had a better year than 28 other clubs, all of which were surely envious of the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.

Alas, here we are, entering a great time of the year – the offseason. Some call it the “hot stove,” although I don’t really understand why. It’s one of those unexplainable things, you know, like the nickname “Melky” being derived from Eudernyi Cabrera.

The Phillies have the chance this offseason to transform into a near-perfect team. With two consecutive World Series appearances, exponential growth in local and national popularity, and some hefty contracts coming off the books in 2010, Ruben Amaro will have some serious cash to spend in the coming months. If spent properly, there is no reason the Phillies cannot wrap up the NL East early, sweep through the playoffs, and reclaim their rightful trophy from the feminine hands of Johnny Damon and company.

Off the Books

First, let’s take a look at which contracts come off the books next season.

  • Brett Myers is gone, which is sad in some ways, but necessary in others. The long-time Phillie understood how to endure the expectations and tough-love from Philly fans, probably because he was such a blue-collar guy, himself. I, like all of you I’m sure, wish Myers all the best in his future endeavors, but am glad to see his $12M salary erased from the Phillies payroll.
  • Also subtracted from the payroll are the $8,833,333 the Phillies were still paying to Adam Eaton, and $6.75M to Geoff Jenkins. Due to buyout provisions, the Phils are still on the hook with both players in 2010, but only for a combined $1.75M.
  • Matt Stairs made $1M in 2009, but due to declining power and usefulness, he will only receive a minor-league contract from the Phillies next year, if he receives one at all.

Quick math shows that this is $26,833,333 coming off the books in 2010. The Phillies opening day payroll in ’09 was $113M, fifteen million dollars more than the 2008 opening day payroll. But, according to Mat Swartz, a Phillies fan and writer for Baseball Prospectus with a doctorate in economics from Penn, the Phillies have shown in recent years that they value marginal wins over strict payroll trends.

What this means is, under Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro, the team has shown a willingness to add players who can contribute a win or two (think Kyle Lohse, Joe Blanton, etc.), because the difference of winning 90 games instead of 88 will also boost regular season AND playoff revenue, making the added contracts well worth the price of admission.

For this reason, it is not unrealistic to expect the Phillies to spend MORE in 2010 than they did in 2009. A payroll between $125M and $135M is, by no means, unreasonable.

Plenty of Raises

Just so we’re all on the same page at this point, let’s recognize that the subtraction of $27M from the contracts of Myers, Eaton, Jenkins, and Stairs would leave the 2010 payroll at $86M. But, we then have to factor in the raises that certain players have that will increase the ’10 payroll.

  • Jayson Werth made $2.5M in 2009, and will make $7.5M in 2010. He’s a steal at both prices.
  • Ryan Howard goes up from $15M to $19M, once again, a steal at both prices.
  • Chase Utley goes from $11.3 million to $15.3 million.
  • Raul Ibanez goes from $7.167M to $12.167M.
  • Cole Hamels’ contract is raised from $4.35M to $6.65M.
  • Ryan Madson goes from $2.33M to $4.83M.
  • Finally, Greg Dobbs goes from $1.15M to $1.35M.

All of these raises equal a $23 million payroll increase from 2009 to 2010. When subtracting the $27M from Myers, Eaton, Jenkins, and Stairs, then adding the raises, as well as the $8M option that was just excercised on Cliff Lee’s contract, the 2010 payroll is $108M as of today.

The Arbitration Guys

However, this leaves out the contract statuses of Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Joe Blanton, Clay Condrey, and Chad Durbin, all of whom are subject to arbitration this offseason. Last year, the Phillies successfully avoided arbitration with guys like Hamels, Howard, Madson, Blanton, etc. by working out deals prior to the hearings.

The following are merely educated guesses based on what players made in 2009, what they will be worth next year, and Ruben Amaro’s preference toward locking guys up during several arbitrations years.

  • Shane Victorino will likely be signed to a deal similar to that of Jayson Werth (2 yr/$10M.) I could see Victorino getting a two-year deal as well, between $8-10 million. So, his 2010 salary will be in the $4-5M range.
  • Carlos Ruiz will also likely be signed to a two-year deal, totaling $6M. Can you believe he made $475,000 in ’09?!
  • Joe Blanton made $5.475M in ’09, he will probably settle for around $6.5 in 2010.
  • The Phillies will likely only keep Chad Durbin OR Clay Condrey, not both. Based on the fact that Durbin would command at least $2.25M next season, while Condrey would make $1M or less, Condrey looks like the more efficient, safer choice.

These theoretical raises to Victorino, Ruiz, Blanton, and Condrey would add approximately $15M to the 2010 payroll, making it $123M.

The Undecideds

This leaves three guys – Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, and Pedro Feliz. The Phillies have already contacted Scott Boras about re-signing Park, which, if accomplished, would be a deal worth about $3.5M. Eyre has said that he is undecided, but if he returns, it will be with the Phillies. I’m guessing that he comes back after a stellar 2009. He’ll match his 2009 earnings, making $2M or slightly more.

The decision to decline Feliz’ club option was made over the weekend. If the Phillies had exercised his option, he would have made $5M; the buyout costs just $500,000. Based on a bad offensive second half and a lack of postseason production, I think Ruben Amaro will explore other options at third base. Feliz has been a great defender at the hot corner, but the Phillies could greatly improve their offense by signing or acquiring a better offensive third baseman who will get rid of the “black hole,” as my brother calls it, in the seven-spot.

The Wishlist

Now that the boring part is over, let’s take a look at potential upgrades the Phillies could make. If the contract issues are worked out similar to my hypotheses, the 2010 payroll would be around $125M, before any additions are made. Some tinkering needs to be done, and I believe Ruben Amaro is the right man for the job.

Roy Halladay

You thought you were done seeing his name on this site? Think again. The Blue Jays STILL need to rid themselves of Halladay while he still has some value, and this winter is the time to do it. The pricetag on Halladay will not be as high as it was several months ago, because now the team that acquires him will only have his services for one season. He is a free agent after 2010, a season in which he is scheduled to make $15.75M.

The idea of trading for Halladay is not as unrealistic as you may think. He would be a MUCH better option than John Lackey, the top pitcher on the market that every Phillies writer is seemingly already calling for. Why? Because, A) he is undoubtedly better, and B) he’ll be cheaper.

Lackey likely won’t earn $15.75M or more in 2010, but he will receive a five or six year contract, similar to the value of what A.J. Burnett made. It would be unwise for a team like the Phillies to commit five or six years to a pitcher like Lackey, who will likely not be worth the money several years down the road.

New Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous has subtly stated that the Halladay talks will only involve a few teams, because many do not have the finances or young talent to acquire the former Cy Young winner. The Phillies are one of those few teams.

What would it take to get Halladay? After consulting with several other prominent baseball writers, the consensus seems to be J.A. Happ, either Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor, and a fringe prospect. This probably sounds similar to the deal that was once on the table, but keep in mind that Kyle Drabek would stay put, as would either Brown or Taylor.

To those thinking that Happ and Brown/Taylor is still too high a price to pay for one season of Roy Halladay, let’s take a look at a little bit of logic. Having an outfield of Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth means you do not need two great outfield prospects, you only need one, at most. If Brown/Taylor gets traded to Toronto and becomes an all-star, very well. That doesn’t change the fact that both face major roadblocks.

Losing a very good rookie like Happ would be hard, but is there any doubt whatsoever that Halladay is a massive upgrade over Happ? Sure, Halladay would only be around for one year while Happ could be for five, but isn’t the goal to win now, while this nucleus is in its prime and still intact?

At first glance, the notion of trading for Halladay may seem unrealistic, but due to his impending free agency, he is actually a relatively cheap acquisition. Expect the Phillies to once again make a serious push for him.

Adrian Beltre

For a while, I was calling for Chone Figgins. During Game Six of the World Series, I wrote on the Phillies Nation twitter that I would be the campaign manager for “Figgins to Philadelphia 2010.” But Figgins is coming off of a career year, will likely carry a price tag greater than his actual worth, and would realistically be a weird fit with the Phillies. He is more of a leadoff batter than a seventh hitter, so either he, Jimmy Rollins, or Shane Victorino would have to drop in the order. It wouldn’t be an ideal situation.

Adrian Beltre, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia. He is an incredible defensive third baseman, ranking in the top three in all of baseball in Ultimate Zone Rating in five of the past six seasons. Not only would there be no dropoff in the field from Pedro Feliz to Beltre, there would actually be an improvement. With the exception of 2007, Beltre has finished with better defensive metrics than Feliz in every season since 2004.

Beltre is also a much better hitter than Feliz. Discounting this past season, in which Beltre was limited to 111 games due to injury, the former Mariner and Dodger has compiled a slugging percentage above league-average every year since 2001, hit 25 or more homers four times, and better than 35 doubles three times.

Beltre’s clear flaw is plate discipline, but he represents an upgrade over Feliz in THAT category, too. Beltre’s career .325 on-base percentage is not ideal, but it is a massive improvement over Feliz’ unbelievably low .293 OBP.

Since Beltre is coming off a down, injury-riddled season, he will be much less expensive than Figgins. At age 30, with better speed, power, plate vision, and defense than Feliz, Beltre would be a very nice addition to the Phillies.

J.J. Putz

Putz was awful for the Mets in 2009, so it was no surprise when New York declined his $9M option for 2010. Despite never finding a niche with the Mets and missing half the season with an elbow injury, Putz would be a good low-risk, high-reward signing.

The flame-throwing righty would serve as an insurance policy to Brad Lidge, should Lidge struggle again. Putz’ presence would also allow Ryan Madson to remain the setup man next season, even in the event of continued scuffling from Lidge. As we saw this past season, taking Madson out of his eighth inning role creates a domino effect where every reliever must begin pitching outside his comfort zone. Adding Putz would aid this potential problem.

Since so much uncertainty surrounds the former Mariners closer, Putz will likely command an incentive-laden contract. If he meets many of the incentives drawn out in his contract, you will know that he’s done his job as a late-inning reliever. Signing Putz and letting Durbin or Condrey walk would significantly improve the bullpen.

Yorvit Torrealba

Torrealba is the prototypical backup catcher: he is a powerful right-handed hitter who can be very dangerous when in the midst of a hot streak, but below average defense subtracts some of his value. He would be the ideal understudy to Carlos Ruiz, because he could step in several days a week and actually provide some offense, unlike Chris Coste and Paul Bako in 2009.

Torrealba would also add another semi-dangerous bat to the Phillies thin bench, which was an evident weakness all season.

Nomar Garciaparra/Jason Giambi

I list these two former superstars because the Phillies need experienced offensive threats on the bench. Even at age 36, Garciaparra is still a very good right-handed bat off the bench, and could be had for a reasonable price. He can play first, third, and even shortstop, if necessary.

Should the Phillies choose not to re-sign Matt Stairs, Giambi would be an adequate replacement. Despite our collective affection for Stairs, it should not be overlooked that everything that Stairs does, Giambi does better. The one thing Stairs did do well in 2009 was work deep counts and take free passes, but plate discipline is also Giambi’s strong suit.

Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Hairston is a utility man that can play the infield and outfield. Due to his superior speed and offensive ability, Hairston would be a massive upgrade over Eric Bruntlett. He is also a decent option as a pinch-runner or late-inning defensive replacement.

If the Phillies cannot land Hairston, other upgrades over Bruntlett include: Adam Kennedy, Mark Loretta, Wilson Betemit, and every other living human.

LOOGY

Ruben Amaro should pursue a Joe Beimel-type just in case Eyre retires and/or J.C. Romero fails to recapture his mojo from seasons past. Guys like Beimel can be signed to very cheap contracts, so there should be no excuse to entering next season with few options outside of Romero, Eyre, and guys like Sergio Escalona.

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