As most of us get back to work and real life for the first time since Wednesday afternoon, the Phillies get back to business. Welcome to the offseason.
The Phils made their first moves of the offseason, moves which were also Pat Gillick’s last as general manager. They declined the options of outfielder So Taguchi and reliever Tom Gordon, assuring they won’t join the 2009 Phillies.
As we begin the offseason and Ruben Amaro Jr. assumes the role of general manager, few other players will be cast aside from the 2009 roster. Currently the Phils have five free agents: infielder Tadahito Iguchi, outfielder Pat Burrell, starter Jamie Moyer and relievers Scott Eyre and Rudy Seanez. Burrell, Moyer and Eyre have expressed a desire to return to the defending world champions; only Burrell remains a lofty possibility. The veteran has already declined an initial two-year offer for $22M.
If Burrell leaves, that opens an outfield spot and a substantial offensive spot — right-handed power bat. Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz would remain the only true right-handers capable of a 20-HR season. With a stacked left-handed offense, the Phils need balance from the right side.
The Phils could re-sign both Moyer and Eyre cheaply enough. The latter is a necessity — having a second left-handed arm in the bullpen opens JC Romero and makes opposing managers think twice about lineups. The former isn’t so much — while Moyer proved fantastic in 2008, it’s still a lot to ask the 46-year-old to duplicate his success. Meanwhile, young arms JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco wait to take rotation spots in 2009, and don’t forget about Kyle Kendrick. Iguchi and Seanez aren’t big deals, but both could be had on the cheap and would probably fit nicely as AAA-level veterans.
Currently the Phils could use another arm or two for insurance purposes. A dominant arm of the CC Sabathia level isn’t a necessity, but would send a message that the champs are squarely ready to defend. More than likely I see the Phils lining up a back-end starter or extra reliever.
But the focus of this offseason is twofold. Burrell is the prime matter, and that result will dictate how the Phils attack further. The other matter is the financial health of the present roster. Look more for extension talk (Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth) and arbitration mutterings (Ryan Howard, etc.) as this offseason turns.