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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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