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Phillies Offseason Plan: Ian’s Version

Morrison is wild, talented, and is my pick to bring to Philly. Photo: AP

This week, you have seen Eric, Pat, and Corey unveil their offseason plans for the Phillies, which have included Nick Swisher, Peter Bourjos, Denard Span, and others. I’m a little bit of a Wild Card compared to the rest of the gang – somewhere in between “Vice President Biden with a live microphone” and “Jeffrey Loria with a baseball franchise” Wild Card. I’m the guy who told Phillies fans to “Get Excited About Chad Qualls” and wrote thousands of words about the possible contributions of guys like Joel Pineiro, Scott Podsednik, and David Purcey. While I got some wrong, I did successfully nab Juan Pierre as not only a starter but a big time contributor and nailed a few roster moves. Being the Wild Card doesn’t mean you have to be the Joker all of the time and it has helped me view the Phils a little differently.

Keeping with the theme, Wild Card should be the name of the game for this team. As is, this team, as constructed, can compete for and win the first or second Wild Card with a dash of health and luck. These additions, with health and realistic luck expectations, should push them to the NL East crown again.

Outfield: Sign Torii Hunter Trade for Logan Morrison

Many fans know that LoMo is one of the most entertaining and outspoken players on Twitter. When Morrison was called up in 2010, he hit, and hit, and didn’t stop hitting. In his first full season in 2011, his plate discipline decreased but his power increased.His OBP dipped 60 points while slugging quietly increased 21 points. Morrison played only 93 games last year, fighting injuries, and presents a perfect buy-low opportunity for the house-cleaning Marlins. Morrison has four more years of team control, becoming arbitration eligible for the first time in 2014, making his services even more desirable.

Morrison is projected to have a bounce-back type year by Bill James (23 HR, .256/.347/.460) and I believe he will as well. Miami was a particularly unstable place to play last season and a focused, but fun locker room may help the soon-to-be 25 year old outfielder remain on track. Perhaps offering the Marlins a young reliever or two who are still cost controllable, preferably Josh Lindblom, would get the deal done. Including a player like Lindblom, who similarly has four more years of team control, may sweeten the pot enough for the Marlins to bite.

My original plan for filling an outfield spot was Torii Hunter, but he was snatched up by the Tigers on Wednesday.

Infield: Sign Jeff Keppinger (Two years, $8 million)

Keppinger was an absolute steal for the Rays in 2012 for one year, $1.5 million. Keppinger’s very good .325/.367/.439 line in 2012 was comparable to his numbers in 2007 in 276 PA and 2010 in 418 PA. Phils fans shouldn’t expect that should they sign Keppinger that he will be that fantastic much like they shouldn’t expect the numbers Kevin Frandsen put up in 2012 to translate fully into 2013. However, they can expect something closer to Keppinger’s career lines at worst: .288/.337/.396. Keppinger, over his career, been slightly above average defensively at third base and in the outfield but is not a viable defensive option at second or short over the long term. He is, however, just close enough to average to fake it there.

Bullpen: Sign Jeremy Affeldt None

Since Affeldt re-signed for three years, $18 million with the Giants, I really see no difference makers available at a price that is digestible for the Phillies. Is the bullpen an area of need for the Phillies? Absolutely. Do they have pieces that could develop into solutions? Absolutely. Will it all come together next year? Probably not.

There is only one reliever in the MLB Trade Rumors Top 25 Free Agent list, but I don’t think, he, Rafael Soriano is a good fit price or year-wise with the Phillies. Carlos Villanueva would be a nice fit as a long man, but, as the Top 25 points out, Villanueva is seeking a rotation spot. If you held a gun to my head and told me to pick a reliever, I would hope the Phillies sign Jason Grilli who had a bit of a renaissance season in 2012 and could be the veteran set-up man the Phillies are looking for. But honestly, I would rather let Phillippe Aumont cut his teeth as the set-up man in 2013.

And…

Sign Josh Hamilton (Four years, triggered option for year five, average annual value: $26 million per year)

It wouldn’t be a Phillies off-season without a big splash. The line-up is lefty-heavy, but you know what? One of them (Ryan Howard) is particularly unreliable at this point in his career and the other (Chase Utley) is a perfect number 2 hitter for this line-up.

Here’s why Hamilton fits:

  • The Phillies need an outfielder – Hamilton is an outfielder
  • The Phillies need an impact signing to keep pace with fan expectations – Hamilton is an impact signing

Listen, I’m not advocating the signing of Hamilton for the sake of signing an impact player. Hamilton is intriguing on so many levels other than contribution but contribution, far and away, is the biggest factor. So long as Charlie Manuel is in charge, Hamilton fits directly into the Phils’ game plan: get extra base hits. Hamilton was 10th in MLB in OPS and 4th among outfielders.

For the immediate future, Hamilton had a marginally better year in 2012 than 2011 (4.4 v. 4.1 fWAR) and bounced back from a down year in 2011 with a career high in home runs (43) and his second-highest wOBA (.387). Hamilton is among the most-feared hitters in the Majors and the fact that only 37.6% of the pitches he has seen are strikes demonstrate that pitchers are avoiding him. Hamilton has continued to swing at more pitches, particularly more outside of the zone (a career high 45.5% last year), so even a dash more patience will help him draw more walks and see better pitches to hit.

The transition from the Ballpark at Arlington to Citizen’s Bank Park won’t be seamless or flawless but the parks play relatively equal in terms of power, so Hamilton’s Ruthian power will not likely be lost due to park factors. Take, for example, their positions on the home run probability park factors (Arlington – 7th, CBP – 11th). Arlington is slightly more favorable for doubles (5th v. 15th for CBP) but think about Hamilton’s power: he led all of baseball in No Doubt About It home runs, with 15 of his 43 HRs in 2012 being truly tape-measure shots.

The question becomes: how will Hamilton age? There are two schools of thought: the more popular theory is that because of Hamilton’s substance abuse history, Hamilton may break down quicker. There is the second, less-popular theory that Hamilton will age more gracefully because he had time away from the field. Hamilton has had between 7-9 steals in the last five years and has added 3.6 runs per year with his legs for the Rangers which adds to his value but may be something that slowly moves away from Hamilton as a plus.

Hamilton was worth $19.6 million according to FanGraphs in 2012 and it would likely take an overpay to secure his services. I am OK with this – Hamilton is a relatable figure, the picture perfect imperfect human, who could symbolize Philadelphia’s working class and their struggles. Hamilton’s signing would not come without cost, however: the Phillies would forfeit the 16th pick in this year’s draft and may be less likely to exercise Roy Halladay‘s 2014 option, which may or may not happen at this point regardless. However, if Hamilton can add 4 Wins, Halladay gives just a “better” set out outings in 2013 and is able to add even 1 Win to his 2012 totals, if Howard plays to a 1 Win first baseman (a net gain of 2), that in itself adds 7 wins, exactly enough to tie the second Wild Card Cardinals in 2012.

Resulting Roster:

After adding these players and the Phillies payroll would be ~$176 million. Though the threshold is $178 million, 1/30th of player benefit costs are added to each team’s payroll, and that figure is generally around $10-11 million, meaning my Phillies would be around $8-9 million over the luxury tax. I fully expect to make up the luxury tax payment in Hamilton merchandise, including bobble heads, temporary tattoos, and figurines and LoMo merchandise featuring his Twitter handle.

Here is the roster after these moves are made:

SP: Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley
RP: Jonathan Papelbon, Aumont, Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, Tyler Cloyd
C: Carlos Ruiz, Erik Kratz
IF: Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Keppinger,  Frandsen, Freddy Galvis
OF: Hamilton, Morrison, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Darin Ruf,

Off roster: Laynce Nix (cut), Nate Schierholtz (non-tender), Lindblom (traded), Michael Schwimer (minors, first reliever up), B.J. Rosenberg (minors, second reliever/first long-man up), Mike Stutes (rehab, mid-season call-up)

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0 Comments

  1. schmenkman

    November 16, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if LoMo turns into a decent hitter, but he’s pretty bad defensively, and given the logjam of ok but not great outfielders, the price would have to be reasonable, in which case I don’t know why Miami would do that. He’s another lefty, but could platoon with Mayberry in Left.

    I don’t like the Hamilton signing. I assume he would play CF, where he’s a below average fielder, but probably no worse than Mayberry (who’s pretty good in the corners).

    As for his move from Arlington to CBP, one-year park factors are not reliable because the samples aren’t large enough. Over the past several years, Arlington is the MUCH easier hitter’s park, both overall and for home runs specifically.

    For lefties in particular, CBP allows more home runs than Arlington, but is tougher for doubles, as you noted, and overall a tougher hitter’s park. His hitting should decline some at CBP (and will likely decline some anyway, as he’s coming out of his peak).

    The Phils would also lose their 1st round pick.

    Agreed on the bullpen and Keppinger.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

      Honestly, with LoMo, he would be tougher to acquire as you mentioned but I’m banking on the pipe dream that they are in a true fire sale and that he has overstayed his welcome as was implied last year. I think for Lindblom, who I don’t think has a place in Philly but would pitch better in Miami, and a throw-in, Austin Hyatt-type player, the Marlins may bite depending on their situation but I think the Phils would have to act fast. The more that word gets out that they are listening, the better the offers will get.

  2. FACE

    November 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Well…this scenario would be fun.

  3. Manny

    November 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Call me crazy but I would consider getting s starter a priority for next season…

    We’re assuming Halladay will be good again… But if he’s not we only have Cliff and Cole as the reliable 2 out of 5. That sounds like a repeat of last season.

    I’d go for a guy like Anibal Sanchez to solidify the rotation. Letting Worley and Kendrick battle it out for the 5th spot.

    Besides a good SP, I’d go for BJ Upton (or LoMo as plan B). Dom Brown HAS to play as a starter. Mayberry, Ruff et al can share duties for the last spot in the OF. Theres always the potential to upgrade via trade as the season chugs along,

    And Keppinger for 3rd base.

    That would be my offseason: Sanchez, Upton/LoMo, and Keppinger.

    I’m ok with the bullpen as it is. DeFratus is gonna be our bridge to Papelbon. Bastardo, Aumot, Stutes (?)… We have good options there.

    • Ken Bland

      November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Crazy,

      Good first sentence. These boys had fun with this exercise (I guess), but didn’t one of ’em alter the rotation. You could do worse than lining up with Worley and KK in the low slots, but it’s chancey, let alone the health of the Big 3. I agree, and thanks for saying we could call you crazy. I can die a happy man now.

      Seriously, good point.

      • Ian Riccaboni

        November 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        All of the folks here actually picked up on this as we were writing these – this isn’t the last you have heard of the subject and one of top guns (Eric) has something in the works for VERY soon.

  4. Brain

    November 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I am in favor of shipping lindblom off.

    LoMo… Are the marlins in true fire sale mode? If so I agree, a young controllable talent like Lindblom would probably secure that trade. IF the marlins truly are fire saling.

    Hamilton… The jury is out for me. I both love and hate this idea. I love that he’s a power hitter, that he’s not 35, that he’s an OFer, that he brings a certain presence that would certainly energize fans after this last awful season.

    I hate that he’s over 30, possibly declining, has a negative history, a rising SO rate, he hits from the left when we need a rh batter, he’s not particularly fast and he’s only an avg Fielder. Plus… That salary is a HUGE crush after dumping all that payroll this year.

    Agree on the BP though. I think they might come together. Though I would like to see them try for Madson. I hear he wants to close but after TJ, he’s gonna be a question mark. I think hell be ok and if hell take the set up man, awesome. Probably just a pipe dream.

    • schmenkman

      November 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

      “Are the marlins in true fire sale mode?” They’re dumping salary, so no, in LoMo’s case I don’t think they are. He’s been a bit of a loose cannon, but given their lack of major league talent, I don’t see them moving him until they absolutely can’t stomach him any more.

  5. Bob in Bucks

    November 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    None of the above excites me. Keppinger does not really give us any advantage over what we have.

    Logan Morrison
    2012 was his third MLB year and he has declined in the last two –
    His avg for the three years is 250/339/442
    Mayberry’s avg MLB is 254/313/448

    Why do you see Morrison as better than Mayberry? Morrison is younger but Mayberry is a better fielder. I don’t see a reason for this trade. I had Hunter on my list also. But sometimes if you don’t get what you want you just need to fold rather than go for just something.

    Hamilton is simply too expensive and too risky for my taste. I don’t know how he would hold up to the Philly fans and media. Doing something for a “big splash” is not a good reason. And lastly we need RH power not LH power.

    Not a good plan in my opinion.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      “Why do you see Morrison as better than Mayberry? Morrison is younger but Mayberry is a better fielder. I don’t see a reason for this trade.”

      Morrison was worth a win or more in his first two seasons and battled injuries in the last two campaigns. Absolutely reads as a change of scenery case where a change of location will enhance his play. Morrison is bad defensively, yes, per UZR, however, the Phillies got to World Serieses with Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez in left.

      Don’t count out “younger” either – Morrison is significantly younger. Mayberry is entering his age 29 season where we should know if he is the real deal or not. Morrison is entering his age 25 season and has already demonstrated he is an above average player in age 22 and 23 seasons. If you’re going to take a chance, I would much rather chance left on Morrison, who did it twice and younger than Mayberry, whose freak, platoon enhanced age 28 season that was worth 2.5 wins is the only evidence of him being a starting-caliber player.

      Appreciate the comment about folding – it’s a fair point that most GMs don’t consider. I considered the Morrison and Hamilton moves genuine additions rather than abstract “Do it to do it” moves but a Hamilton signing could appear as that.

  6. Ken Bland

    November 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I’m less than a week away from landing my new glasses from Doc Latham. Says they’ll help me see better. Hugely solid idea. But in the meantime, I coulda swore I just read above here that the Phils should ink up with Josh Hamilton because the splash is one reason would be a good idea. Are my eyes playing THAT degree of trickery upon me?.

    Please tell me that after spending 20 mil plus like 3 years in a row now on pitching that I didn’t really read it. Please, baseball gods, please.

    Somewhere in this troubled land, the sun is shining bright. There’s a father who told his kid that just because he had a Lamborgini for his Friday night dates, he had to live with that, and couldn’t plan on a new Mazzaratti for his Saturday night hookups for the sake of variety.

    If ya think Hamilton is worth a bundle cause he brings baseball skills worth beaucoup mils, then maybe. Maybe, said the judicious spender. But if the Phillie fans really and truly need more juice for emotional high with that rich a contract and a resultant fired up splashmeter, then they are higher than the highest high Josh ever got on.

    For some reason, spending large bucks on others seems more plausible. For 26 mil a year, I’m learning to hit the curve ball if it kills me.

    • rc

      November 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Does it ever stop with Hamilton? Now he just made a deal to be involved in a movie about his life with Casey Affleck writing and directing it.

  7. bacardipr

    November 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I would like the idea of having another vet bullpen guy. The younger arms need more experience. However i dont want the Phils to overpay with are already tight constraints. This may force Rube to think outside the box which maybe a good or a bad thing.

  8. Don M

    November 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Melky Cabrera to the Blue Jays …. 2 years, $16 M …. they are loading up

    • rc

      November 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      so hunter and melky signed and upton visited Phils and Braves this week…wonder if Upton signs over weekend or has any other visits.

    • Ken Bland

      November 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I think a common denominator between anyone that follows the game, and allof us that exressed views here was that Melky appeared headed for a 1 year deal. Even 8 mil per seemed higher than most speculators offered.

      I wonder if Alex Anthopolis bid against himself. I suspect not. This is pretty much spaghetti against the wall in a way, but we hear so much about improving TV packages, either recent, or coming up, and it makes me wonder if the money is really going to flow this off season. 26 mil for 2 years certainly wasn’t inexpensive for Hunter. And in a relatively barren market, the supply and demand could really be a factor.

      • hk

        November 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        Fortunately for the Phils, the supply and demand at CF, possibly the most important position for them this off-season, seems to be favorable. However, you make a great point about the money flowing this off-season, which is a negative for the Phils unless they are willing to pay the luxury tax. It should be interesting.

    • EricL

      November 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Aww, man.

      I wanted Melky. Even though that contract is on the higher end of what I thought he might get, it still has the potential to be an absolute steal if he comes anywhere close to his past two seasons.

  9. PhxPhilly

    November 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I like Logan Morrison but no way Phillies get him for Lindblom and junk. Morrison is cheap. Only reason he’d get traded is due to his twitter. Not sure he is a good fit for Phillies clubhouse in that regard either.

    I liked Hunter but 13M per is steep. I’d have put him in CF. Brown can run, just can’t catch. Schierholtz (if kept) and a top notch RF so then Brown moves to LF. Mayberry is good at the corners as well. Only Ruf is terrible. I think Hunter would have been okay.

    Hamilton is probably a worse CF defensively than Hunter. I just do not think he fits. I’d rather spend that money on Grienke.

    Keppinger is a smart move. I think he is a bit redundant to Frandsen but will be an okay stop gap if not Youkilis or Chavez or trade for Headley, Gordon. And he could give you a couple games at SS or 2B. He can hit lefties at least.

    Phillies must get a stud vet reliever. Pick from Uehara, Adams, Burnett, Soria, Broxton, Madson.
    Peralta I liked quite a bit, smart signing by Tampa Bay.

    My Current Thinking
    Like Youkilis as the first signing. 2yr/18M and add option year if needed.
    Leaning toward sign of Victorino (I think he will bounce back to .750 OPS) or trade for Span (hoping he can repeat last seasons production at least). Vic for 3yr/$25M. Span and Carroll for Worley, Valle, and Jiwan James.
    Uehara 2yr/$8M or Adams 2ys/$10M or Burnett 2yr/$11 with option year if needed to get them.
    Get another infielder like Theriot so Galvis can be in AAA and Martinez can rot.

    Other possibilities:
    Ryan Dempster to replace Worley?
    Grady Sizemore for CF (platoon with Mayberry)?
    Ludwick as a power RH bat?
    Pavano as minor league FA for starting pitcher

    Rollins, Utley, Ruiz, Howard, Youkilis, Victorino, Brown, Schierholtz
    Kratz, Frandsen, Mayberry, Nix, Theriot
    Hamels, Lee, Halladay, Worley, Kendrick
    Papelbon, Uehara, Bastardo, DeFratus, Horst, Stutes, Lindbolm

  10. Ken Bland

    November 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Let’s get back to Giancarlo here. . Lefty defended his mention the other day by saying he was kidding, but I’ll take some liberties with this piece by Jay Jaffe from Sports Illustrated.

    “I wrote last week that he’s a prime candidate for a long-term extension worth well over $100 million, but there’s no earthly reason for him to negotiate with the miserly Marlins given the likelihood that they’ll trade him the moment that he gets expensive. Stanton knows this as well as anyone; via Twitter, he expressed his frustration regarding the blockbuster — “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple” — and changed his avatar to remove the team’s uniform. His value may never be higher, and while a report quoted a source inside the team saying he’s “pretty much untouchable,” the recent events have shown that there’s little reason to take anything said by a Marlins official at face value. Still, the franchise needs some semblance of a gate attraction, particularly one who can make that absurd home run sculpture do its thing, so any potential suitor will have to empty the vault to acquire him.”

    The message I take out of this is interesting. Firstly, in no way,shape or form are you gonna make him happy near term. But it’s not so much that he’s cheap right now as it is that the Fish could get a superior package by dealing him while he has inexpensive time left. That would improve their return. This is a young Josh Hamilton, and a righty swinger to boot. I’ve seen him make some nice defensive plays, and throws, so I’m not on board with what a defensive atrocity Brooks thinks he is. That doesn’t mean he’s good. Ruben needs to be all over this and at least explore it. Even if it doesn’t materialize, you have to aggressively pursue it. Want the truth? Ruben’s probably on it already, it just hasn’t reached a point where anyone wants to guage public sentiment, so nobody of weight has planted seeds. But I firmly believe that good GMs have already kicked the tires. You could turn around and say if there was a chance they’d trade him, Anthopolis would have gotten him, and I’d be speechless, but it’s worth a phone call and some aggressive thinking. Freaking absolutely love watching this kid at the plate..

    • hk

      November 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      If the Marlins put him on the market, 29 other teams will be interested, many of which have better prospects and/or good, cheap MLB players to trade.

      • Jeff Dowder

        November 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        Besides the Phillies not having enough young talent to get Stanton, the Marlins would never trade him within the division.

    • Lefty

      November 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Whoa nelly! I feel the uncomfortable sensation of words being put in my mouth. I never said I was kidding Mr Ken, I want our GM to think out of the box and explore all options.

      After posting Stanton’s twitter reaction, I intimated that the likelihood of it was nil by answering JeffD – quoting- “Absolutely none. I’m just having some fun”

      Having Giancarlo Stanton play for the Phils would be fun, right? But not even close to likely.

  11. psujoe

    November 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Reality be damned.

    Trade for Span and Willingham. LT hit $10.25
    Sign Adams 2/$12 LT hit $6
    Sign Sanchez 5/$90 LT hit $16

    Trade: Worley, Brown, Mayberry, May, Valle, Gillies and 2 relievers.

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