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Free Agent Open Season

Thankfully, on Sunday the Red Sox ended the charade that was the Colorado Rockies autumn baseball season. After weeks of steamrolling teams, the Rockies got a taste of their own medicine and were handedly beaten by a far superior team. The Red Sox World Series also heralds the annual opening bell for the free agent season. It was rung loudly on Monday by Alex Rodriguez’s announcement that he will opt-out of his remaining contract with the Yankees and test the market. No doubt a shrewedly calculated move by Scott Boras, but one I hope will ultimately backfire now that the market is deflated with the Yankees out of the picture. As this creates a prospect for the Phillies hole at third-base, the World Series outcome may have closed the door on another more likely candidate. Mike Lowell took home the World Series MVP – hitting .400 with 6 runs and 4 RBIs and a .500 on-base percentage – and quite possibly raising his value high enough to out price the Phillies. Nonetheless, the Red Sox have always had a strong interest in resigning Lowell and he will probably remain in Boston despite their policy not to sign catchers approaching 35 years old.

Then there are some of the other high profile free agents like Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling, and Andy Pettitte.  All are high priced and should be avoided unless the Phillies are willing to offer a Mets-like deal.  But that would be unwise.  Torii Hunter is a potential replacement if the Phils lose Aaron Rowand, and he has signaled that he would like to play in a city with large African-American population in order to grow the game within that demographic.  Although he’s leaning to DC to be with his buddy Dimitri Young, there’s no reason Philadelphia wouldn’t be on that short list.   Pedro Feliz and Mike Lamb are also candidates to fulfill the third base job, but might not be a large enough improvement to warrant the spending.  Really, though we all know the priority will be pitching this off-season.  Pat Gillick has hinted a pitcher would more likely arrive in Philly via a trade than through free agency, but there are definitely some worthwhile arms out there – Josh Fogg, Bartolo Colon, and Russ Ortiz come to mind.  We’ll delve more into those scenarios in the coming weeks.  For now though, those are the rumors du jour, soon we’ll also discuss the chances the Phillies could potentially resign some of their own free agents, most notably Aaron Rowand, and JC Romero.

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  1. Craig

    October 30, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Brian: Are you serious…Russ Ortiz? I really would like to know what the criteria is for being able to write on this site. The Phillies need Russ Ortiz like they need another Adam Eaton. Stop throwing out names of pitchers you have in baseball cards and get real. Ortiz would be a TERRIBLE signing. The Phillies will need to upgrade their rotation through trade and Eric Bedard is available. Don’t quit your dayjob because your knowledge of baseball and players the Phillies should persue is terrible.

  2. Brian Michael

    October 30, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I was thinking of Ortiz more as a setup man. However, as part of my day job, I was casually talking to Mr. Angelos the other day about the O’s prospects of resigning Bedard. He said they will try to resign him to a 2 year deal and then let him pursue free agency after that. But even if that doesn’t happen, Bedard has an unfriendly reputation with teammates and the media and may not fit in well with this team.

  3. Matt

    October 31, 2007 at 10:23 am

    I’d guess that the Red Sox will resign Lowell and probably Schilling (they’ll lowball him and make him choose whether he wants to uproot his family again for $1-2 million more, my guess is he’ll stay). They’ll overpay for Lowell, but with the WS cash they can afford it.

    Craig: Bedard (and Santana for that matter) would only be available if the O’s/Twins are overwhelmed with an offer, which from the Phils would probably have to include Hamels. The Phils just don’t have the top-notch pitching prospects to get a deal like that done. The second tier group of Colon, Fogg, etc. is the most feasible option. And as an aside Craig, I think you should spend a little more time researching the ‘players the Phillies should persue (sic)’ to get a more realistic view of the market.

  4. Todd

    October 31, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I agree with Brian, there aren’t any top-level pitchers out there to grab without giving up everything the Phils would want to keep. I spend a lot of time in Baltimore, and as I would agree that they would love to trade both him and Tejada, it’s not going to be for nothing. That team needs to rebuild ASAP, and they need MLB ready guys to step in. They know what they have in Bedard, the Phils aren’t going to get him for Victorino and someone like Carrasco. Yes, Angelos has proven to be a terrible baseball guy, but Andy Mcphail isn’t. He knows what he has to get back for either of those guys and Angelos has (supposedly) given him the room to do so.

    More than anything, I would think the Phils need a few veterans that can handle a big game and aren’t coming off (or into) major injury. Colon is a sexy name, but he’s got Freddy Garcia written all over him. I do like Fogg, he earned something this season… but he was average before that and probably won’t deserve the big contract he’ll get. I don’t know how many times Gillick is willing to get burned by deals similar to Garcia and Eaton. Colon and Fogg could be the 2008 versions.

  5. Andrew

    October 31, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    It seems clear that the Phillies have very little to offer in trades. Trading Burrell for next to nothing (draft picks or third tier prospects) would free up some spending money, even if the Phils must eat 4 million or so of Pat’s juicy contract. After Bonds signs somewhere in the AL, another team in the league will probably want to compete at DH. Trading Victorino would be a huge mistake, as I wouldn’t bet against him lighting things up elsewhere.

  6. Craig

    October 31, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Matt: You are wrong about Bedard being available. I agree that it makes no sense to trade Hamels for Bedard…that’s a wash. But the Orioles are in need of a change and have let it be known that Bedard and Tejada are available. I am sure the Phillies could put together a package to pull Bedard and would be in favor of using Victorino if that is what it took. Don’t get me wrong, I like Vic but with the offense that is already in place, it is pitching the Phillies need and pitching that wins in the playoffs.

  7. Chris.I

    October 31, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    I think Bourne or Victorino is a good trade possibility if we can somehow pick up a CF (Hopefully we re-sign Rowand). Alot of teams will be looking for a speedy OF with a good arm, and decent bat, and Victorino and Burrells name will probably be thrown out there alot this offseason the most. I like Victorino alot, and Burrell as well, but let’s face it…We need pitching. If thats what it takes, we’ll have to take a shot in the chin, and move on. As much as we would all love to have Rowand back, It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. So we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

  8. hoey

    November 1, 2007 at 5:14 am

    anyone know roughly what the phillies salary level will be? 90 mill? 100 mill?
    if they resign rowand do they have enough for two pitchers?
    can they have one of their bench guys take third so they can save money for quality pitching? can they reassign adam eaton to the cleaning crew and finally get their money’s worth with cleaner toilets for the fans?

  9. Andrew

    November 1, 2007 at 10:09 am

    The Phillies have said they’re willing to bump payroll up to as much as $105 million. A lot of players will be getting raises, however, so you have to factor that in.

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