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Posts Tagged ‘Free Agent Market’

Rollins Signing Overshadows So-So Papelbon Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, December 19, 2011 09:53 AM Comments: 28

Amaro gets his guys. (Photo: SI.com)

When Ruben Amaro wants a guy, he goes and gets the guy. That’s been his Modus Operandi since he took the reigns from Pat Gillick just prior to the 2009 season. We can hardly fault him for that line of thinking because it has worked out pretty well for the Phillies; a team that has made three playoffs appearances in three seasons under his watch.

The Jimmy Rollins signing on Saturday was a wonderful mix of Amaro “getting his guy” and waiting it out to let the market dictate what would happen. Had Amaro done that with the Papelbon signing, he would almost certainly have saved a boatload of money on a really good closer of some sort.

So, the J-Roll deal, in my estimation, is an A-deal. The Papelbon signing was about a C-minus right off the bat. We don’t know how either will shake out, but from just a contractual standpoint, and in the context of how the free agent market has looked all offseason, I think those grades are fair assessments.

Continue reading Rollins Signing Overshadows So-So Papelbon Deal

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Ramirez Declines Option; Scutaro Stays in Boston

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, October 31, 2011 12:05 AM Comments: 10

Is Aramis Ramirez an option for the Phillies? PHOTO AP

Those pining for a hard-hitting, run-producing third baseman, you’re day should be a little brighter. Aramis Ramirez declined his part of the mutual option with the Chicago Cubs for 2012, meaning he will now become a free agent. By doing so, he has forfeited a $2 million buyout.

That matters not, because Ramirez is in for a payday as the only real power threat in free agency at the hot corner. The Phillies could very well be in the market for Ramirez, as the front office made it known that, while Placido Polanco could be in their plans, nothing is out of the question.

With the Cubs in 2011, Ramirez hit .306 with 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in. However, in 2012 he’ll be 34 years old. That doesn’t make the Phillies any younger and could present more aging issues down the road; the same issues the team is trying to combat.

Either way, look for the Phillies to be involved, although to what extent remains to be seen.

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Marco Scutaro is sticking with the Boston Red Sox. They exercised their $6 million team option on the veteran shortstop on Sunday. Scutaro, 36, was looking like one of the better names on the free agent market at that position, but now makes it a little thinner.

His name had been thrown around by some as a possible replacement should Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies part ways, but that’s certainly off the table now.

This just reiterates the idea that the Phillies will push hard for Rollins.

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PN Writer's Roundtable: Which Reliever to Sign

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, November 30, 2010 08:23 PM Comments: 21

Question: Of the currently available free agent relief pitchers, who should the Phillies attempt to sign ?

Paul Boye: Scott Downs.

He holds righties down as well as lefties, he’s arguably the best reliever in a relatively weak free agent market, and he’s an upgrade at a position of sore need for the Phillies. Of course, all of that won’t come cheap; Downs (right) will likely cost around $7M or so per year over two or three years and is a Type A free agent. If the deal is three guaranteed years, I balk. But two years – Type A and all – at that price should be well worth it. It’s also worth remembering that, because Jayson Werth is likely to depart, the Phils would be trading their first round pick with a team further up in the first round (unless the Angels grab him).

It’s a risk, but a risk the Phils should probably take to shore up a bullpen whose lefties consist of Antonio Bastardo and…no one else. He can’t do it all himself, and Downs would be a big addition worth his price tag.

Jay Floyd: NONE OF THEM. Free agent relievers are too hit or miss, as the Phillies and their phans saw last season when Jose Contreras and his statistics were a pleasant surprise, while Danys Baez and his weak production proved to be money virtually wasted. With the Phillies’ current crop of solid pitching prospects, I don’t feel it is necessary to sign a potentially costly free agent.

Sure, there seems to be a need for an additional lefty reliever, but is Scott Downs and the draft pick he could cost the Phillies, as a type A free agent acquisition, absolutely worth the big money he is poised to draw from a potential suitor? Maybe…maybe not. Relievers’ numbers go up and down from year to year and while Downs has posted great stats in recent years, his career ERA is 3.79, which means his output prior to his recent 1.78 and 2.64 ERA seasons was considerably far off.

And what sort of contribution would Chad Durbin offer, if the Phillies re-signed the righty veteran? It’s hard to tell, as he has posted ERA’s of 4.72, 2.87, 4.39 and 3.80 in his most recent four seasons.

The Phillies have several up and coming prospects as well as some familiar big league types that could make a considerable impact out of the bullpen in 2011. Among those pitchers are Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Eddie Bonine, Justin De Fratus, Sergio Escalona, Ryan Feierabend and Mike Zagurski. In addition to those guys are a few more young hurlers who might be just a step behind, like Michael Schwimer, JC Ramirez and Austin Hyatt.

With such a full crop of relief talent waiting to step up and contribute behind the core of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras, as well as the other members of the big league pitching staff (Baez, David Herndon and the “loser” of the proposed 5th starter duel between Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley) already in place, I don’t think the Phillies need to spend money on more risky bullpen arms.

Jeff Nelson: The Phillies definitely need a lefty. They can’t afford to have Bastardo as the lone LHP in the pen all by himself, especially when the manager doesn’t fully trust him yet. Although the price tag on Downs is very high – he’d come at the expense of the Phils 2011 first rounder plus a multi-year deal – there aren’t many other good options on the market. And let’s be honest, good left handed pitching doesn’t exactly fall off trees these days.

If this team was looking to get by for a season and plug someone in to complement Bastardo, then I could see them plucking someone from the farm. But this organization needs to win now and Downs or to a lesser extent, Hisanori Takahashi, are probably the best options out there. I’m not sure if Takahashi is looking to start in 2011 though, but I’m assuming he’s still a BP option as of right now. Basically I agree with Paul, but to a certain extent.

Kieran Carobine: Antonio Bastardo has been cutting up the Winter League thus far. Bastardo looks to be a lock as one of the lefty pieces coming out of the bullpen for Charlie Manuel next season. But who will the other pieces be?

Now while I agree with Paul, Scott Downs would be a good addition to the pen but I am not sure if it is worth spending that type of money and losing the draft picks. In the past two seasons Ruben Amaro Jr has sent a handful of prospects packing in acquiring Cliff Lee and then Roy Halladay. It would be nice to save as many picks as possible.

Now, the market for reliable relievers may not be as small as some people think. I think there are still a couple good options out there.

I feel Pedro Feliciano should be tops on the Phillies radar. He is a guy who was very dependable for the Mets last season despite his 3-6 record. In 62.2 innings pitched he had a 3.30 ERA and only allowed one home run. Also, he had almost a 2:1 strikeouts to walks ratio in 92 appearances. The only thing with Feliciano is whether or not he will accept arbitration from the Mets. He is in line for a raise this season and may want to test the waters after earning $2.9 million last season.

A right hander on the market coming off a very good year is 34 year-old Kyle Farnsworth. The Phillies got to see him first hand towards the end of the season last year when the Braves acquired him from Kansas City. He did struggle a bit pitching in the NL posting a 5.40 ERA in just 20 innings but overall boasted an ERA of 3.34 and a WHIP of 1.14 in 64.2 total innings with the Royals and Braves.


Pat Gallen: While I’m not a fan of signing free agent relievers to extended contracts, there are a few intriguing names available this year. Scott Downs has been mentioned and as great as he’s been, he might be a little too expensive. Rafael Soriano is out of the Phillies’ league contractually and Jason Frasor and Grant Balfour are solid options, but maybe not solid enough to suck a top draft pick from the Phils due to their type-A status.

I’m a fan of Jesse Crain (left) on the right side. The ex-Twins relief pitcher has a fine resume and is only 28-years old (he’ll be 29 in July). His career WHIP is 1.26 over parts of seven seasons and he does a great job of keeping people off the basepaths via the walk. Crain would be a solid choice and is a type-B free agent. He’s declined his free-agent arbitration today and is getting a hard look from the Blue Jays. J.J. Putz would be a fine choice as well, provided it’s to a one-or-two year contract.

As for the crop of lefties, Downs certainly stands out. Other than Downs, I think taking a flier on a guy like Will Ohman or Dennys Reyes is more beneficial. Of all the lefties available (with the exception of Downs and Pedro Feliciano) their stat sheets are littered with up and down seasons. It’s too hard to tell which will sink and which will swim and that to me says buy low with relievers.

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The Candidates for Righty Relief

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, November 23, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 7

On Sunday, we took a look at four southpaws who represent the cream of the free agent lefty relief club, so it’s only fair that we pay some attention to their counterparts.

Right-handed relief appears to be a less pressing than lefty relief – or, depending on your faith in Antonio Bastardo, perhaps more pressing – with Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson topping the current roster, and recently re-signed Jose Contreras providing support. Bullpen depth is never a bad thing, though, and filling out the roster with effective pitchers could go a long way toward eating innings and providing solid injury replacements.

The Phils could be looking for up to three right-handed replacements for 2011. Chad Durbin is a free agent and rumored to be getting interest as a starter; David Herndon, whose Rule 5 status has expired, will likely start the year in Triple-A, possibly to be stretched out for starting; Danys Baez is Danys Baez.

Who’s out there on the free agent market that could be a fit? Let’s take a look at some players who, while not all elite or big names, could provide stability to the Philly ‘pen. Again, these are four free agents. For trade possibilities, stay tuned to our Trade Option series.

Continue reading The Candidates for Righty Relief

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Ben Francisco Needs ABs

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, May 29, 2010 03:34 PM Comments: 4

Had the Phillies traded the package of Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, and Carlos Carrasco for Cliff Lee alone, the deal would have been lopsided. But the incomprehensible addition of Ben Francisco by Indians GM Mark Shapiro made the trade an absolute fleecing.

Francisco had put together several productive seasons in Cleveland, playing nearly everyday and hitting third. In 2008, Francisco hit 15 homers and 32 doubles in 447 at-bats for the Indians, compiling a league-average .332 on-base percentage in his first full season as a major leaguer.

The next year, a June slump skewed Francisco’s numbers – he hit .141/.221/.176 in 95 plate appearances during the month. But once June turned into July, Francisco started hacking. He hit .321 with a 1.043 OPS in July, slugging five homers and nine doubles in 94 plate appearances.

And then Mark Shapiro traded him to the Phillies, a team that killed two birds with one stone by acquiring an ace in Lee and a much-needed righty bench bat in Francisco. It defied logic. Had Francisco’s June slump carried over into July, maybe it makes a smidget of sense. But Shapiro essentially gave away a young, productive, cheap outfielder for nothing.

Francisco will make $470,000 this year. He has such little big-league service time that he has not even entered his arbitration years. From 2011-2013, it would be a shock to see Francisco make in excess of $1M. He won’t be eligible to test the free agent market until 2014. Francisco is the ideal fourth outfielder; a cheap, high-upside player.

Even if Shapiro believed that Francisco did not fit into the Indians immediate future, there was such a small cost in keeping him that Francisco could have easily stuck around and been a fourth outfielder in Cleveland. It’s like if I traded you a roll of paper towels for $20…and then you also threw in a roll of paper towels.

Francisco made his Phillies debut last year in time for a road series in San Francisco. He started three of the four games (two in centerfield) and went 4-for-12 with two doubles. In his second start – which also happened to be Cliff Lee’s first – Francisco hit a double that just missed leaving the massive AT&T Park, and twice crushed fly balls that fell just short of the left field wall. It was quite the first impression.

All told, Francisco hit .278/.317/.526 with the Phils in the final months of 2009, with 14 extra-base hits in 97 at-bats. If you were to extrapolate Francisco’s numbers with the Phillies to a season of 600 plate appearances, he would have projected to hit 29 homers and 50 doubles. This is not to say that he definitively would have produced those figures, just that he was very productive in limited time.

This year, Francisco has struggled a bit, mostly due to the fact that he has only seen 32 at-bats in 47 games. He has started only five times despite the fact that Raul Ibanez has gotten off to a slow start, especially against same-handed pitching.

In his career, Ibanez has not been one of those lefties that struggles against southpaws, but this year has been a different story. Ibby is hitting a mere .214/.283/.357 against lefties with only three extra base hits. May has been kinder to Ibanez than April was, but it still is not as if he represents a massive upgrade over Francisco, especially against lefthanded pitching.

So, why hasn’t Francisco gotten any tick? Well, first off, the Phillies have only faced lefthanded starting pitchers in 13 of 47 games. Of those 13 games, Ibanez has started nine and Francisco has started four. Francisco has not exactly made the most of his limited opportunities, going 3-for-16 in those four starts with two doubles.

But Francisco has an OPS 10% better against lefthanded starters than his career mark, so that 16 at-bat sample size is the definition of useless. The man needs at-bats to be effective as a pinch-hitter and provide value, so giving him more opportunities against lefthanded starters seems to be the best way to accomplish this. A former pinch-hitter himself, Charlie Manuel has stated often that keeping a non-starter fresh and able to produce in such situations requires somewhat frequent at-bats.

It doesn’t need to be a strict platoon, but a more favorable ratio must exist for Francisco than one start every three or four times the Phils face a lefty.

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Year in Review: J.C. Romero

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, November 24, 2009 02:40 PM Comments: 5

It didn’t start well, and surely didn’t end well for J.C. Romero in 2009.

Romero began the season by sitting out the first 50 games after Major League Baseball suspended him due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.  By the time the Phillies regular season ended, Romero had again been shelved, this time for a season ending elbow ailment.

When he was able to contribute, Romero did fairly well, although he was not the same lights-out pitcher that took over as the lefty specialist in 2007.  In 21 appearances, “Romeo” tossed just 16 2/3 innings in between layoffs, which basically gives him an incomplete grade for the year.  He struggled with his command (13 walks, 12 strikeouts), and his WHIP was sky high (1.56).  For someone who had been one of the lynchpins of the Philadelphia bullpen, his absence was a major factor in why that crew struggled all season.

Looking ahead to 2010, Romero will once again be counted on to be the thurd guy behind Lidge and Madson.  You’d better believe he will play an important role following a season full of rest.  That job becomes even more crucial should the Phillies decide against bringing back Scott Eyre.  Eyre took over as that specialty left hander and did well, but is currently considering retirement if the Phils don’t re-sign him.

It’s been a downhill trend since Romero was picked up in 2007, an amazing waiver-wire find by Pat Gillick at the time.  After 81 games in ’08, perhaps Romero’s arm was blown out, which was a precursor to the flameout in ’09.

Whatever the case may be, expect to see a lot of J.C. in 2010, provided his health is no longer an issue.  The Phillies certainly need to bolster their bullpen on the free-agent market as the off-season progresses, but adding Romero back to the roster is a decent pickup itself.

2009 numbers: 21 games, 16.2 inn., 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 12 K, 13 BB, 1.56 WHIP

GRADE: INCOMPLETE – Romero never did get settled in following his suspension and lost pretty much all of the season due to the injury following the 50-game setback. Better luck next year, J.C.

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