People seem to be enjoying these 2007 outlooks I’ve been doing by team, so I’ll keep ’em coming. Check out the new 2007 Team Outlooks link to see all of the past ones.
C – Carlos Ruiz – $0.33MM
C – Chris Coste – $0.33MM
1B – Ryan Howard – $0.355MM
2B – Chase Utley – $0.5MM
SS – Jimmy Rollins – $7MM
1B/OF – Jeff Conine – $2MM mutual option
IF – Abraham Nunez – $2.1MM
LF – Pat Burrell – $13MM
CF – Aaron Rowand – $3.25MM player or $5MM club option
RF – Shane Victorino – $0.33MM
SP – Brett Myers – $3.3MM
SP – Cole Hamels – $0.33MM
SP – Jamie Moyer – $6MM
SP – Jon Lieber – $7.5MM
RP – Tom Gordon – $7MM
RP – Ryan Madson – $0.4MM
RP – Geoff Geary – $0.35MM
RP – Fabio Castro – $0.327MM
RP – Clay Condrey – $0.33MM
RP – Matt Smith – $0.33MM
RP – Eude Brito – $0.33MM
Current obligations, once raises come in, look to be a touch over $60MM. The Phils began last season with an $88MM payroll, so there should be money to spend this winter.
Mike Lieberthal’s finally off the books, and it does not seem like the Phils will bring him back in a part-time role. Pat Gillick hasn’t fully committed to it, but he is open to the idea of going with the low-cost Ruiz/Coste tandem. Ruiz will be 28 next season, and he hit a robust .307/.389/.505 at Triple A this year. He’s gotten only 59 big league ABs to prove himself this year. Coste is a minor league lifer who bombed in a Triple A stint this year but had a great July and August for the Phillies.
The Phils have a great infield core, but have lacked a league average third baseman since David Bell’s 2004. They’ll probably look to the free agent market for their next 3B. Options include Pedro Feliz, Aubrey Huff, Joe Randa, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, and perhaps Aramis Ramirez. Not all of those guys can post an .820 OPS (league average) as well as handle third base regularly. Gillick will just have to do the best he can; I can see him ending up with Hillenbrand. If Ramirez hits the market, it will be tough to outbid the Angels and Dodgers. The longshot solution: trade for Alex Rodriguez.
Pat the Bat has an untradeable contract and a no-trade clause, so the Phillies will have to be happy with Burrell in left. Maybe Gillick can get creative and make something work, but the odds are against it. Though Burrell’s 2006 may seem disappointing, it’s been very similar to his ’05. He’s still hitting better than the average NL LF.
Some Phils fans envision Victorino in center and Rowand moving to right, but the above arrangement seems most likely. Gillick will have to choose between using Victorino as a subpar offensive RF or a very good fourth outfielder. In a perfect world, he’d sign a better RF and choose the latter option. The market does contain some useful right fielders like Jose Guillen or Gary Sheffield. This could be a creative way to compensate for the weak 3B market.
Pitching staff: the current version of Jon Lieber isn’t a great way to spend $7.5MM, but it’s been an inflated pitching market for years. You could do worse for your fourth starter. A front two of Myers and Hamels is impressive. When he traded for Moyer, Gillick worked out a mutual option for 2007 with him. I guessed around $6MM. Right now it’s just a possibility that Moyer returns. Given the short-term commitment and Moyer’s success, the Phils really need him to stay.
If Moyer stays, the Phillies can get by trying Brito, Gavin Floyd, or a retread in the fifth starter slot. Carlos Silva’s name has also been mentioned. If Moyer leaves, they need to hit the market and spend some money. The market offers options aplenty, depending on what Gillick wants to spend. Big names, medium names, former Phillies, it’s all there. The club could opt to retain Randy Wolf, but I don’t see it.
The bullpen looks fine to me. Gordon, the emergence of Geary, the re-establishment of Madson – they should be OK. Maybe one low-level signing.