As late-inning arms find new landing spots, Jonathan Papelbon must wonder if the Philadelphia Phillies will lock one up. In other words, who will cover the eighth frame in April?
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles.
There will be a published storyline each week.
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When a last hurrah is the only possibility, a franchise envisions the horrors of the rebuilding abyss ahead.
What is the goal after the run is over? The first successful stretch was from 1975 to 1981 with pennants in only 1983 and 1993 before the recent championship period of 2005 to 2012. After the first victorious spell ended, the Wheeze Kids made a World Series appearance with older stars than the current squad, and the ’93 team bottled lightning for only the second triumph during those 23 otherwise uninspiring summers. That knowledge screams to Ruben Amaro Jr., the front office and the consultants, which explains their decisions in a sport that is 40 percent luck.
According to Matt Gelb of Philly.com, the Phils are neither rebuilding nor contending: partially correct. The design of the amateur draft, a competitive-balance threshold and multitiered playoffs achieves parity. After many cellar-dwelling campaigns, multiple October berths happen when draft picks like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper join Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. That was method behind Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt for the 1980 club; and that produced the current core four of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels.
Strategy and Dollars:
Getting creative involves unusual planning and tactics to battle for the available talent: That personnel begins with the second echelon. The topflight consists of Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Trout and other 20-something standouts with their first teams. In other words, those franchises are willing to pay millions for years of their retention. Most remaining players are too expensive or too risky, while others require a lengthy commitment or a final contract.
$189 Million Maximum Before the Luxury Tax Ceiling:
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When the situation warrants it, the head honcho with higher initial offers has avoided haggling and has simultaneously moved with all due haste. He has employed this method with Marlon Byrd, Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz, while other re-signings required patience: Hamels and Rollins. Amaro’s thinking depends on many variables: his rivals, roster shortcomings, the cost, the athlete and other factors.
After the Fall Classic, the brain trust reviewed their inventory for improvements. They needed a right-handed power bat, a catcher, a five-slot starter, a setup man, a middle reliever and left-side bench lumber. That stated, the market is not awash with perfect fits because organizations proactively protect their young stars.
Answers and Questions:
For this offseason, the higher-ups decided to upgrade right field offensively and defensively. Obviously, Ben Revere and Domonic Brown are stronger with stick and leather than Darin Ruf. However, the only two-way options besides Byrd were Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Céspedes, who have not relocated. Alternatively, when you consider that $15 million annually purchases a free-agent outfielder, the general manager with other holes to plug saved $7 million per season and inked a solid defender to boot–for only a two-tour commitment.
A familiar face will receive the aces and the green fireballers of the relief corps because he filled the bill: a right-handed batter with excellent glove work. Other than a switch-hitting backstop with uninspiring right-handed stats, the available catchers were left-handed sticks or were looking for more than four summers. Therefore, this was a positional consideration that wasn’t a difficult choice.
If Rob Rasmussen ever reaches the majors, will he become another Gio Gonzalez? The Marlins, the Astros and the Dodgers have traded Rasmussen, while Gonzalez worked his way to the A’s through the White Sox, the Phils and the Pale Hose again. Before leading to Brad Lincoln, the new Blue Jay was the return for Michael Young. Meanwhile, Lincoln–an insurance policy for the inexperienced arms from the last two campaigns–fills the role of veteran middle reliever.
The decision-maker passed on free-agent hurlers in the $10-15 million range because they were not his desired fifth-rung starter. At first glance, the Roberto Hernandez move looks questionable; however, he has eaten 150-200 innings in three of the last four years. That said, an American League ERA is 0.50 higher due to the DH, and the right-hander will face senior-circuit offenses for the first time. In other words, after recording a 4.89 ERA for the Rays, he could roughly produce a 4.00 ERA, which is adequate for the bottom rotation spot.
The bench has three reserve infielders with Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Cesar Hernandez, while Wil Nieves is the backup receiver. Mayberry has reached his peak, while Ruf has some unexplored potential. Both, however, are right-side batters, and the club needs a left-handed long-ball threat. After the failed attempt last season with Roger Bernadina, January’s wish list calls for someone with left-handed pop who can average .250 and play center field.
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Amaro had hoped that Mike Adams would have sealed this hole for three summers, but his health betrayed him. After a $7 million investment for Adam’s next 162, management doesn’t want another pricey specialist. However, the opinion here is that he will bounce back this year. .
The GM wants a right-hander that is not in the latter stages of his career, eliminating Scott Downs and the now Yankee Matt Thornton. Amaro also doesn’t want closers who command over $7 million per tour.
Although Ryan Madson and Brett Myers are available, the head honcho will not pursue them and others who are coming off an injury without some game-action samples. For instance, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez started two games in Mexico, which proved he’s healthy enough for a team-friendly deal.
Eliminating the poor fits narrowed Amaro’s choices to four bullpen arms before Matt Albers and Jose Veras signed respectively with Houston and Chicago (NL). Previously, the Tigers had passed on Veras’ $4 million option, coloring his asking price.
Before the Cardinals handed Mitchell Boggs the ninth-frame job, he was successful in the eighth inning and also did well with that responsibility after joining the Rockies. Lastly, Luis Ayala is a typical fallback plan.
Boggs is the targeted acquisition for the setup role, and the red pinstripes want to land him before January.
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