Phillies Nation Mailbag: Third Edition

This mailbag, among other things, contains references to Sid Vicious, 32nd-place MVP finishes, when Charles Rocket really wanted to know who shot him, and the time Joe Carter was traded in a salary dump in 1998.

A lot of Phillies news and rumors this week as we head into the Winter Meetings in Nashville. This week, the Phillies nearly acquired Astros’ closer Wilton Lopez for starter Tyler Cloyd and top position prospect Sebastian Valle, Chooch was suspended 25-games for unapproved adderall use, Ryan Madson signed with the Angels on an incentive-heavy deal, B.J. Upton signed with the Braves for $75.25 million, the Nats got even better with the acquisition of Denard Span, the Phils brought back Pete Orr and found a replacement-level catcher, Nate Schierholtz was not tendered a contract for 2013, the Phillies are in on Angel Pagan, and a couple of IronPigs signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. Phew, that was a mouthful.

Since our last Hot Stove update yesterday, things have gotten even more exciting: the Phillies appear to be a good match with the Cubs regarding Alfonso Soriano per Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi and Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the Phillies appear to have offered the bigger contract in regards to annual value to Pagan. Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, let’s check the mail!

@SonofWinter via Twitter asks: What type of package would (the Phillies) have to put together to acquire Soriano?

This one opens up a sore spot for me. One of my biggest baseball-related prognostications that fell flat, even bigger than this one about Chad Qualls, was that the Phillies not-signing Alfonso Soriano in the winter of 2006/2007 was the biggest mistake they could have possibly made and that, despite being so close to the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, this was the biggest non-move that would haunt them for the next decade. Turns out that when I’m right, I’m right and when I’m wrong…

Anyhow, Soriano is due to make $36 million over the next two seasons. Those next two seasons are his age 37 and age 38 seasons. According to Baseball-Reference, the three most comparable players to Soriano through age 36 are Matt Williams, Joe Carter, and Torii Hunter – the first two absolutely fell off a cliff in their age 37 seasons but the latter is entering his age 37 season in 2013. What does all this mean? I still think Soriano has a lot of value, but certainly not $36 million worth. He’s not the defensive maven he once was, but in his last three seasons, Soriano saved the Cubs 23.3 runs in the outfield according to FanGraphs. And while he’s not the masher he used to be, Soriano has hit .255/.312/.489 with 82 HRs in the last three seasons.

With all that said, I think the Cubs will take an almost ready, replacement level player back – I look to the 1998 trade of Joe Carter from the Orioles to the Giants as an example where he and his, at the time, gigantic $3.1 million contract were dumped for career-minor leaguer Darin Blood. Without knowing too much about the Cubs other that their rotation is looking full, I think a player like Michael Schwimer or Mike Stutes would get the job done. If the Phils sweeten the pot, they would obviously eat less of the contract.

@yearinbaseball asks via Twitter: What are the odds the Phillies ink Pagan and how much $ will it take to get done?

This, pun fully intended, is the multi-million dollar question. As mentioned earlier, per Olney, the Phillies are becoming the aggressors on Pagan, offering the bigger-in-annual-value four year deal. The earliest reports, however, said the Giants were far and away the favorites to sign Pagan. Since those reports, the landscape has changed incredibly, and Pagan is viewed to be the best available full-time center fielder via free agency, presuming Josh Hamilton is a corner outfielder. I think, to an extent, the Phillies have played it cool in regards to their center field need; this extra bit of urgency in attempting to sign Pagan shouldn’t be seen as desperation but rather as the team going hard after the player they covet the most.

This is all speculation and all in good-natured fun, but I would put the Phillies chances at signing Pagan at about 25%. Pagan, per FanGraphs, has been worth, on average, over $15 million per season over the last four seasons. Based on Upton only getting around $15 million annually from the Braves with a longer track record, I think the Phillies will offer Pagan somewhere between $45 and $50 million but Pagan will turn down slightly more money to stay in San Francisco and chase more championships there. I wouldn’t offer much more for someone who finished 32nd in MVP voting.

Side note: Chris Singleton, according to Baseball-Reference, was the most comparable player to Pagan. Singleton was almost out of baseball after his age 30 season and never was able to cash in on a big contract because his career had an almost identical inverse-arch to that of Pagan.

Chris J. asks on our Facebook Page: Are the Phillies still in on Mike Adams? If not Adams, who will be setup man? Would Wilson accept a one year deal as the setup guy, $6.8M minimum with incentives?

The Phillies have not been linked to Mike Adams this off-season, at least very strongly. There is Philadelphia interest in bringing in Koji Uehara, however, who posted a 1.75 ERA in 36 appearances for the Rangers last year. Brian Wilson will not be an option: Jim Bowden of ESPN reported yesterday that The Beard is interested in signing with the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Angels and is likely not to return to the Giants after being non-tendered.

Who will the set-up man be? I believe he’s already on the roster. I think Phillippe Aumont‘s 2012 call-up was an audition for the role – his crazy curveball-that-looks-like-a-slider-but-is-really-a-curve-because-Aumont-himself-said-it-is pitch is a very dangerous weapon and he’s got sharp movement on his fastball. I would bet that Aumont is your 2013 bridge to Jonathan Papelbon, with Antonio Bastardo and Jeremy Horst for tough lefty match-ups, even if the Phils do pick up Uehara.

Hamilton and Bourn = Power and Glory?

Chris S. asks on our Facebook Page: If you could break the bank on two players who would they be?

I’m a big, big professional wrestling fan. My favorite tag team ever was the team of Power and Glory, Hercules and Paul Roma. Hercules Hernandez was this big dude billed from Mount Olympus, which is apparently in Tampa, FL, who carried around a giant chain and he was the power man, hence Power. Paul “Romeo” Roma was a finesse guy, body-builder physique, and the pretty boy of the team, hence Glory. In this regard, if I had unlimited funds and no repercussions, I would sign Hamilton and Michael Bourn, my own version of Power and Glory, immediately.

That being said, despite the schnazzy name, the cool glasses, cut-off belly shirts, weight lifting gloves, and victories over the Rockers, Legion of Doom, and the Bushwackers, Power and Glory was only together for about a year before Roma moved on from WWF and Hercules got himself fired for nonchalantly popping back up from a Sid Vicious powerbomb. My strategy and the real tag-team’s outcome sounds a lot like what happened in Boston with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez so it is probably better that I don’t have unlimited funds and no repercussions.

Speaking of Sid…

Dawn M.B. asks on our Facebook page: Here’s my question: why don’t the Phillies spend some money for an outfielder and third baseman?

Dawn, if only it were that easy. For the sake of transition, I’ll address the second position in your question first. At third base, there is really only the equivalent of Sid Vicious at third base available right now: Mark Reynolds. How are the two equal? Sid Vicious, the wrestler, had only a handful of moves, but the three he did have were awesome: the chokeslam, a big boot, and his aforementioned powerbomb. Reynolds, in this regard, is a lot like Sid, he’s got three moves: the walk, the home run, and, the most frequently used move in his arsenal, the strike out. Reynolds is likely the best available free agent third baseman right now, has a career .235/.332/.475 line, averaging 187 strikeouts per year in his first six Major League seasons, while also averaging 30 HR a year.

Reynolds doesn’t play much third base, or play it well for that matter, anymore. When he’s your best option there, things get complicated and you start to like giving Kevin Frandsen the keys to the car there for the start of 2013.

Outfield is definitely a more realistic question. A lot of folks asked this week about Hamilton and Nick Swisher, and rightfully so. The market seemingly is getting thinner and thinner with Upton, Span, and company off of the board. But I like Ruben Amaro‘s approach this year: wait out the market. Amaro in previous seasons has seemingly been too quick to pull the trigger, he’s conditioned us as fans to expect a bold move right out of the gate. This year we didn’t get it and it has been the right move; there are too many similar players to set the market per say. Amaro’s strategy seems to be wait until the first strikes are fired and price his wishlist accordingly.

To answer your question, which boils down to “Why don’t the Phillies spend some money?”, they will and it may even be this week when the Winter Meetings start. Phillies’ fans, myself included, are starting to feel the anxiousness that Charles Rocket portrayed on the episode that got him fired from SNL whereas the Phillies are just playing it cool this year and I think they’ll find a relative bargain for it.

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