Phillies Need Starting Pitching

There’s a poll going on over in the right column where you can guess what Pat Gillick’s first move might be – I had hoped to have pulled it down by now but we’re still waiting.  There’s plenty of opportunities out there and there has been a lot of talk since he’s arrived, just no action yet.  If we can’t get some moves soon I would at least like to keep the conversation relevant.  This means less gossip about Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu moving and more talk about the incredible lack of consistent starting pitching.  Today we will look at the Phillies Win Shares in 2005 to elucidate this point.  (Check out Hardball Times if you need clarification on win shares.)

This off-season 4 of the Phillies top 6 leaders in win shares have been rumored to possibly leave the team.  Lofton and Wagner might flee due to free agency which I can understand since it is their right to leave, but I have yet to fully comprehend the dangling of Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu.  With 28 and 26 win shares respectively this would deal a huge blow to the Phillies.  I realize the Phils are strapped for space under their self imposed salary cap of $95 million, but thinning the club would not make as much sense as keeping the money in the pockets of those that produce.  The converse is obviously true, too, meaning we need to dump the salaries of Bell, Thome, Lieberthal, Cormier and Tucker.

In terms of starting pitchers, we all know the Phillies are severely lacking.  Brett Myers was the best starter for several reasons including being the leader in win shares, but this still only places him 7th on the team (14).  In terms of ERA+ (ERA measured against the league average) Myers (130), Lieber (115) and Lidle (107) were above average, the others weren’t even on the list.  Overall the Phillies finished in the middle of the pack (8th) in the NL in win shares by starting pitchers with 42 – only Washington finished behind them in the NL East.  Here’s a nifty chart of win shares by NL pitching staffs based on the top 6 starters:





St. Louis




New York








San Francisco






Los Angeles




San Diego






So how can the Phillies make the jump into the upper echelon of productive starting pitching?  Well, to start they should start talking about free agent A.J. Burnett whose 12 win shares helped put Florida near the top.  Burnett is supposedly looking for a 5 year deal, but it seems the market is only willing to give him 3.  Last year he made $3,650,000, so the Phils would likely have to scrap together at least a 3 year, $15 million deal most likely with an easy option for a 4th year.  Or the Phils could start talking about a trade for Javier Vazquez who compiled 14 win shares in 2005.  Now like A.J., Javier has been a bit outspoken and might be uncomfortable in the clubhouse, but if the Phils are willing to resign Wags this shouldn’t be a problem.  Plus A.J. just plan doesn’t like the Larry Bowa style of Jack McKeon so he might fall in love with dear old Uncle Charlie.  We’ve discussed the difficulties and the negative rumors surrounding these guys in the last post, but I would really like to hear Gillick’s thoughts on these starting pitchers.  The Thome and Wagner situations will resolve themselves for better or worse.  Let’s get down to the real business of starting pitching.

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