Rumor Royalty: Todd Zolecki (Phillies)

Todd Zolecki is our Rumor Royalty recipient for the Phillies.  Todd covers the team for the Philadelphia Inquirer and also keeps a blog, the soon-to-be-renamed Zo Zone.  Todd has kindly agreed to answer a handful of reader questions for the series.

MLBTR: Does signing Ryan Howard to a long term contract make sense for the Phils?

Zolecki: It depends what price we’re talking about. Before and after winning $10 million in arbitration, Howard is seeking major money. Maybe in the $200 million range. The Phillies are not the Yankees or Red Sox, so if they commit that type of money to one player, it almost certainly would cost them elsewhere. That could mean Cole Hamels going elsewhere. Or Brett Myers. Or others. I’m not sure the Phillies want to do that, and get stuck in a contract they hate like the Rangers and A-Rod.

MLBTR: For many years, the Phillies’ farm system has been lackluster with respect to pitching.  Why is this the case, and do you think the farm system is improving in this respect?

Zolecki: There’s no question it’s been a source of frustration. The Phillies haven’t had a homegrown 20-game winner since Chris Short in 1966. That’s remarkable. There are millions of theories out there, but lately it seems like they’ve had better success. Hamels. Myers. Kendrick. They like Carlos Carrasco, Joe Savery, Josh Outman and Kyle Drabek (who’s recovering from Tommy John) in the minors. Will these guys pan out? We’ll see. But it seems like they are turning some things around. Of course, things would be easier if they spent a little more money to sign players in the draft.

MLBTR: Do the Phillies have the goods to acquire Joe Blanton without hurting the ’08 team?

Zolecki: I don’t think so. The Phillies are very hesitant to give up some of their top talent because they don’t have much at the moment.

MLBTR: What was your opinion of the Brad Lidge trade?  Do you think he can handle Philly?

Zolecki: I like it. They got him relatively cheaply — Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo. If Lidge pitches like they think they can, the Phillies improved their bullpen and rotation with one move. That’s tough do. Fortunately for them, Myers is versatile and should transition back into the rotation.

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