The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster “in flux”. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.
Jerome Williams was plucked off the waiver wire by the Phillies on August 10. The Phillies were Williams third team in 2014, seventh overall, and not much was expected from the now 32-year old journeyman righty. Williams had been released by the rebuilding Astros after going 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA in 26 appearances and was the victim of some pretty horrible luck for the last-place Rangers, posting a 9.90 ERA but a much smaller 2.83 FIP. After joining the thin Phillies rotation, Williams posted a 2.83 ERA with a 4-2 mark in nine starts with a tiny 1.134 WHIP.
Was it a fluke or did Williams suddenly find some mysterious talent that was hidden away?
The Case For
Well, the case for re-signing Williams has a number of layers. First, consider the depth of the Phillies rotation. Cole Hamels and David Buchanan are the only presumed healthy, signed rotation pieces headed into 2015 with Cliff Lee and Jonathan Pettibone question marks and A.J. Burnett thinking about retiring.
Second, Williams definitely earned another look with his play, at least viewing his standard stats. His 2.83 ERA with the Phillies was a career low as was his 1.134 WHIP and Williams averaged over six innings per start.
The Case Against
A look at Williams peripherals paints an odd picture. Williams’ Sierra and xFIP were the second lowest of his career but he has decreased the amount of ground balls he is getting and hitters have increased the amount of line drives they are hitting off of him. Both have been steady trends and, with some really bad luck, like he had as a Ranger (.462 BABIP), things could get real ugly real fast. With a Phillies defense that was in the bottom half in Major League baseball in 2014, and is a year older in 2015, this probably isn’t the type of trend you would put money on.
Additionally, Williams will command something north of the $2.1 million he made last season in his third year of arbitration. Williams’ career averages suggest he would win 10 or 11 games and post something near a 4.40 ERA, which this year was comparable to Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson but is more likely to be somewhere between Eric Stults and Jeremy Guthrie.
With the price tag, likely at least $4 million for one season, and the his peripherals headed in the wrong direction, Williams is an easy release for me. If Williams can be had for under $3 million, he would certainly be a solid, cheap rotation piece but I believe his numbers have earned him something higher than that for possibly more than one year and that’s not a contract I would offer if I were the Phillies.