Monday, November 30, 2009

Bullpen Talk

The greatest need for the 2010 Phillies is the bullpen. The rotation, while not spectacular, is solid. The lineup is close to spectacular regardless of who plays third base. The can get anyone to backup Ruiz. The bullpen, however, needs a touch-up.

Brad Lidge is facing surgery after an absolutely horrid season. He has a ability to bounce back to 2008 form but he could also repeat the (injury plagued?) disaster of 2009. No one knows how Lidge will perform in the coming year so I l think a reasonable back-up plan needs to be in order. Is Ryan Madson an exceptable Plan B? No. He proved last season he cannot be counted on to close more than a handful of games. So, the Phils need to sign a relief arm that could close if Lidge isn't capable of getting the job done.

I want to see the Phils do what the Mets did last offseason when they signed K-Rod and JJ Putz. I want the back end of the bullpen to go from a liability, or at least a concern, to a strength. Granted, it didn’t work out well for the Mets but that doesn’t mean the strategy is flawed. A strong bullpen is a necessity, not a luxury.

There is a plethora of free agent closer arms. Many will not be good fits for the Phils because of salary, role demand, etc. Also, many of the arms are Type A free agents but that shouldn’t necessarily scare the Phils. They can only lose one first round draft pick and if they are considering a Type A third baseman (Beltre, DeRosa), they might as well grab a Type A pitcher too.

Here are some bullpen arms broken down into categories based on compensation.

Type A Free Agents I Don’t Think Can Be Signed:
Billy Wagner – Can you imagine the Rat back in Philadelphia? I can’t either.
Jose Valverde – Probably the best closer on the market, which means he’ll command a ton of money. He’d be great but unlikely the Phils have the cash or the save opportunities to satisfy Valverde.
Mike Gonzalez – Probably back with Atlanta next year.
Rafael Soriano – Similar situation to Valverde. He’s looking at a big pay day and should want to close.

Type A Free Agents That Could Be Signed:
Latroy Hawkins – I would love to have Valverde or Soriano or Gonalez but that isn’t happening, so my next choice would be Latroy Hawkins. Hawkins has been an on/off closer for year with many teams, so I don’t think he will be looking to be given the ninth inning like some of the established closers will be. He’s coming off of a great year (2.13 ERA), has post season experience, and hasn’t made over $4 million since 2006 so they may not have to break the bank.
Kevin Gregg – Don’t be fooled by the Type A status, Gregg was pretty brutal last year. 4.72 ERA and multiple blown saves. I don’t think many teams will be lining up to make him their closer, but that is the good news. He “only” made $4 million last season and given that his performance and Type A status, the Phils may be able to sneak in and grab him on the cheap.

Type B Free Agent:
Fernando Rodney – He may have converted 37 saves last season, but his other numbers don’t support Rodney being a dominant closer. He’s never had more than 13 saves in any other season. His ERA hasn’t been under 4 in the last three years. He averages a walk every other inning. He’s only pitched more than 50 innings in a season twice. That means he won’t (or shouldn’t) get paid like a closer. It’s unknown whether he would accept a non-closers job, however. If he would, he could be a great addition to the Phils staff.
Kiko Calero - This guy made $500k with the Marlins last year and posted a 1.93 ERA over 60 innings. He doesn't have much save experience but he may be a great bargain for the 7th inning.

No Compensation Required:
JJ Putz - The Mets paid Putz Eaton-like money and got an Eaton-like season. Injuries played a large part and I don't know if he could bounce back, but it would be nice to see a NY failure succeed in Philly. It would be a big gamble but depending on the price tag, one that could be worth it.
Brandon Lyon, Octavio Dotel, Rafael Betancourt, Takashi Saito - Closer pasts...are in the past for these guys. Like Calero, nice additions to the pen but certainly not closer insurance.
Chad Cordero - Teams have tried taking fomer closers off the injury pile before with limited success (see: Eric Gagne, Danys Baez, etc.). Cordero has had two years off so he should be well rested. And he could be signed real cheap, possibly even on a minor league deal. He's worth that.
Brett Myers - I know. I know.


GM-Carson said...

I'd like the Phils to try for Brandon Lyon and Kiko Calero.

Matty said...

You break it all down real well. The only issue here is that the Phillies play with a "warm and fuzzy" mentality. Meaning, we're all good buddies and we won't hang Lidge out to dry. After what he did for them in 2008, an unspeakabale perfect season, they still see the potential and are hoping that he will regain his form. I don't see them doing anything to speak of for the back end of the pen. I think they rely on Lidge and hope for the best.

GM-Carson said...

Chris Coste signed with the Mets...ugh!

Bob D said...

If the Phils sign 2 type A's they lose thier 1st and 2nd round picks both. Gregg and Hawkins may not be offered a contract by thier teams so may end up not costing anything. The trick is to wait a bit longer before signing one of them. The Phils have some choices to make about if they should offer contracts to Durbin, Condrey and others or just non-tender them. Just like those guys many other teams will likely let a good/decent reliever go to cut salary or go in a different direction. Also look for more trades to happen and the Phils have what it takes to make a trade for a reliever,3B, or whoever.

SirAlden said...

Beltre and DeRosa are Type B

SirAlden said...

Jose Valverde may not be offered Arbitration.

Gregg certainly will not.

Dr. Steve said...

The Phillies need their first round pick for an infielder.


Bob D said...

I agree with Dr Steve avoid signing a Type A freeagent as the team needs thier draft picks.

The pen already has Lidge, Madson, Romero, Durbin, and Condrey (if offered a contract.). Thats a good base for a pen. They also have in the mix Zagurski, Escalona, and Bastardo as leftys, Carpenter, Kendrick, and Matheison as righys.

the player to watch is Matheison as he has closer potential and is that good. After being hurt for 2 years he seems ready for the majors from everything reported from the minors and fall league. I could also see some of the other pitchers mentioned being used as trade bait.

GM-Carson said...

I say bring Condrey back, but he's still relatively cheap probably (around $1M). Durbin lost control last season and will likely get $2M+ through arbitration, so let him walk (since that's what he does best anyway).

Andrew said...

Agreed. I like Condrey to stay too. I like his mentality on the mound and general personality (thank you ESPN's The Pen). Durbin has shown a trend of late season breaking down, let him walk.

Bob D said...

I agree that Condrey has the best upside between himself and Durbin. Park is also available if they can sign him. But there should be atleast a handful of decent to good players available after Dec 12 when teams offer/decline contracts for players.

GM-Carson said...

Bottom line, bullpen must be addressed. Probably 2-3 quality arms brought into the system.

1. Lidge
2. Madson
3. Romero (if healthy)
4. Condrey (if offered arbitration)
5. Escalona/Bastardo/Zagurski (2nd lefty)
6. Mathieson?
7. Park?/Eyre?/Durbin?

Preserve Jon said...

LaTroy Hawkins is like a stick of dynamite on a hair trigger. He is the epitome of unpredictable. His name is always out there in the blogosphere and it drives me crazy. I want no part of him. 7 teams in the last 6 seasons! I see his numbers, but I don't trust them. Yes, he hasn't had an era over 4 since 2006, or over 5 since 2001 and his WHIP was a low 1.2 last year. There's just something about LaTroy Hawkins that turns me off. I couldn't find his IRS number, but I would bet it is considerable. Put me down for, "No thank you!"

GM-Carson said...

I like LaTroy Hawkins for a few reasons.

1. With the Cubs, he tried to pickoff Jose Offerman and the throw bounced off of Offerman's helmet allowing a run to score, which lead to a Phils win.

2. He has 2 capital letters in his first name.

3. He sucked as a Yankee.

Lance said...

Beltre and DeRosa are Type B, and Type B free agents don't cost their new teams anything more than money, so the category featuring Rodney and Calero is sort of unnecessary to distinguish.

GM-Carson said...

We understand that compensation goes to the other team, but no draft picks are taken away from the signing team with Type B's. Listed their status though because it shows they've been in the upper echelon of their roles the past 2 seasons.