Brad Lidge Rumors
Let's round up the latest links on the National League's top team....
- Ruben Amaro Jr. told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that, before the season, the Phillies expressed a desire to "continue the relationship" with Ryan Madson. An extension before season's end is probably unlikely though. Madson's stock is improving with his ninth inning success, and agent Scott Boras figures to want to test the open market.
- Even with Chase Utley on his way back, the Phillies may need to acquire a bat to help jump-start their offense, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes did last month, Brookover takes a look at a few potential targets for the Phils, who could be facing luxury taxes if they make a midseason move.
- Within the previously linked FOX Sports piece, Rosenthal speculates that a healthy Brad Lidge could become a trade chip for the Phillies, to make room for an offensive acquisition.
- In a separate Inquirer column, Brookover explains why Cody Overbeck is considered a better prospect than Double-A Reading teammate Matt Rizzotti.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff is betting on Roy Oswalt turning down his 2012 mutual option if he enjoys a successful 2011 season. Davidoff thinks the right-hander, who has previously discussed the possibility of early retirement, "probably won't be in position to get a five-year contract but should get significant dollars" on the open market.
- The contract Ron Villone signed with the Nationals is non-guaranteed and worth $750K, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman.
- Padres chief executive Jeff Moorad has officially vested himself of the portion of the Diamondbacks he owned, reports MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com profiles a handful of prospects, including a pair of Royals, who could have an impact for subpar teams this year.
- One scout discussed Brad Lidge with ESPN's Jayson Stark: "If I were the Phillies, I'd be worried. He's having a tough time getting his arm strength this spring." 2011 is the last guaranteed year of Lidge's contract, with the Phillies holding a $12.5MM club option ($1.5MM buyout) on 2012.
- Ozzie Guillen says he doesn't care who emerges as the White Sox closer, since he has full confidence in both Chris Sale and the recently extended Matt Thornton, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
- For the latest updates on the closer situations in Philadelphia, Chicago, and everywhere else, be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter.
Links for Saturday...
- The time Scott Schoeneweis spent with the Brewers in Spring Training likely gave him a leg up on Alan Embree this season, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Embree was DFA'd yesterday by the BoSox in order to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
- Dodgers prospect Andrew Lambo was suspended 50 games for his second violation of baseball's drug policy, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Prior to the 2009 season, the outfielder ranked 49th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list.
- Jim Bowden of XM Radio (via Twitter) spoke to Adrian Gonzalez, who says that he's not looking at Ryan Howard's new contract.
- With a good outing for Double-A Harrisburg tomorrow, the Nats will promote Stephen Strasburg to Triple-A Syracuse, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- The Mets' Triple-A affiliate cut lefty Travis Blackley loose, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The move will make room for the returning Elmer Dessens.
- ESPN's Buster Olney notes that Barry Zito has reinvented himself this season, and is starting to deliver a little of what the Giants were expecting when they signed him for $126MM.
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution doesn't believe the Braves can compete with the lineup as constructed.
- Within this piece, Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle mentions that prior to trading Brad Lidge to the Phillies, the Indians were willing to part with Cliff Lee to obtain the All-Star closer. That was the offseason prior to Lee's breakout Cy Young season.
- In an article for ESPN Boston, Mike Andrews of SoxProspects.com looks at the Red Sox depth and what the backup plans are should any of the regulars get injured.
With the signing of Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125MM deal, the scope of what the Phillies can do heading into the 2012 season has come into greater focus. And at the risk of hyperbole, the key takeaway may be: when the Mayans said the world would end in 2012, were they specifically talking about the Phils?
Let's take a look at what Philadelphia will be spending money on as the 2012 season dawns. Roy Halladay is signed for $20MM. Howard, too, is signed for $20MM. Chase Utley is signed for $15.3MM. Joe Blanton is signed for $10.5MM, Shane Victorino for $9.5MM, Placido Polanco for $6.4MM, Carlos Ruiz for $3.7MM, and almost certainly, Brad Lidge will be given a $1.5MM buyout.
That's $87MM going to seven players to play and one player to not play. And for their money, the Phillies will receive:
- The age-32 season of a first baseman whose numbers overall have been in decline through age 30, and whose difficulties against lefties make him a good deal less valuable against situational relievers late in games (Howard).
- The age-35 season of a pitcher who is dominant now, but will be 35 years old (Halladay).
- The age-33 season of a second baseman, a position that is notoriously tough on aging players (Utley).
- The age-31 season of a pitcher with a career 4.21 ERA (Blanton).
- The age-31 season of a center fielder whose value is largely tied to his legs (Victorino).
- The age-36 season of a third baseman whose value is largely tied to his defense (Polanco).
- The age-33 season of a catcher whose career OPS is .720 (Ruiz).
Now obviously, the above list merely points out the red flags of the players under contract. Perhaps all seven of them will perform in 2012 as they did in 2009.
The problem is that even if they do, the Phillies will need to make a relatively small amount of money go a long way.
Consider that the team traded Cliff Lee this past offseason, passing up a chance to have a 1-2 punch in the rotation of Halladay and Lee over concerns that Lee would cost C.C. Sabathia-type money ($23MM annually). It seems fair to assume that the money that would have gone to Lee went to Howard instead. In other words, the $140MM threshold the Phillies find themselves at right now isn't far from where they expect to be in 2012. Certainly, they had no intention of being at $160MM, which is where Lee plus Howard would have landed them.
But we want to be fair to the Phillies, so let's split the difference, and plan for a $150MM 2012 payroll. With $87MM gone, Philadelphia has $63MM left over for: three starting pitchers, six or seven relievers, a shortstop, a left fielder, a right fielder, and four or five bench players.
In other words, even without any decline from any of the seven players under contract that year, the Phillies are going to need a lot of their prospects step up. And if they decide to sign current right fielder Jayson Werth and shortstop Jimmy Rollins- both likely to cost $10MM or more annually and both entering their age-33 seasons in 2012- the entire remaining team will have to be low-cost options fresh from the farm system to make the numbers work.
And we haven't even discussed what Cole Hamels, signed for $9.5MM in 2011, is likely to get in 2012 in what will be his final year of arbitration.
With so many holes to fill, it is hard to believe that Philadelphia decided to put so much of its 2012 payroll into Ryan Howard. This analysis doesn't even get into the problems for the team when Howard pulls down a cool $25MM annually from 2014-2016 for his age 34-36 seasons.
For a team that has managed to position itself as the clear favorite in the 2010 National League, such success may be fleeting.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but these links are so delightful...
- Don't count on Erik Bedard signing anytime soon, says Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Until teams get a better handle on when he will be healthy enough to pitch again, you won't see money being thrown his way. When he does sign, Baker expects his deal to be heavily loaded with incentives - even more so than the contract given to Rich Harden by the Rangers.
- With Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero recovering from elbow surgeries, the Phillies are turning their attention to the bullpen, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. While common sense dictates that GM Ruben Amaro would sign two relievers to fill the void, he says that the team might just ink one and let their younger pitchers take the remaining jobs. Zolecki floats the names of three potential free agent targets: Bob Howry, Miguel Batista, and Kiko Calero, adding that the club has liked Howry and Batista in the past.
- The Cubs are in need of a center fielder after the trade of Milton Bradley, but they are not leaning towards any particular candidate, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. According to sources, Marlon Byrd and Scott Podsednik are the strongest options on the open market. However, the duo writes that GM Jim Hendry may also look into striking a deal with the Yankees for Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera if they become available.
- Speaking of Bradley, Steve Henson of Yahoo Sports says that the Mariners will come to regret dealing for the troubled outfielder.
David Murphy offers up an insight into the Phillies issues this week, stating that the Phillies will likely be far less active than last year, when they signed Raul Ibanez, set their sights on Chan Ho Park, and extended Jamie Moyer. The Phils have already signed Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, and Juan Castro this offseason, leaving general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. with fewer needs during his trip to Indianapolis:
- Despite locking up Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and J.C. Romero over the past few seasons, the Phillies find themselves in need of relief help. As we all know, Lidge was dreadful in 2009 and is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery. Romero is coming off surgery as well and could miss a month of the season. Brandon Lyon is the team's primary target.
- Amaro has said adding a bench bat is bottom on his list of priorities, as the spot could be filled by recently-signed minor league free agent Dewayne Wise, or prospect John Mayberry Jr. Still, a move shouldn't be ruled out, according to Murphy.
- In regards to a No. 5 starter, the Phillies haven't ruled out a return for Pedro Martinez, but Murphy feels it is unlikely. While Kyle Kendrick was impressive late in the season last year, an alternative to him and Jamie Moyer wouldn't hurt.
- Murphy is interested to see the outcome of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday this week, given the Phillies' success there in the past. Perhaps you've heard of Shane Victorino? He turned out to be an OK selection.
After falling short in their quest to repeat as world champions, Ruben Amaro Jr. & Co. are charged with the task of putting the organization in position to take the crown in 2010. Buster Olney, Baseball Prospectus and the Insider Staff reviewed the Phillies' '09 campaign and discussed what might be in store for them this winter. An Insider subscription is required, but here are some highlights for those without:
- With $11.5MM committed to Brad Lidge in each of the next two seasons, the Phillies are likely to keep him penciled in as their fireman. However, the club could seek out a veteran set-up man who could step into the closer role if "Lights Out" gets lit up again.
- Using J.A. Happ as the centerpiece, the Phillies could have the goods necessary to snare Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. Halladay, like Cliff Lee, will be a free agent after 2010. Therefore, the Phillies would have to make sure they can keep at least one of the two pitchers before making such a deal.
- If the Phillies choose not to pick up Pedro Feliz's 2010 option, "don't be surprised" if they pursue free agent Adrian Beltre. Olney recently wrote that the 30-year-old third baseman would be a "spectacular fit" for the club. Dan Uggla is also mentioned as someone who could fill the void. Uggla played a less-than-stellar second base this season but could find himself more comfortable at third.
We haven't had a World Series rematch since the Yankees and Dodgers squared off in 1977 and then again in 1978, but that doesn't stop ESPN's Buster Olney from looking at what stands in the way of another Yanks-Phils Fall Classic in 2010.
Let's round up some hot stove talk...
- Olney guesses that the Yankees won't tender Chien-Ming Wang a contract, but they may decide to pursue another starter through trade or free agency.
- Given Brad Lidge's awful year, Olney thinks the Phillies "will be diligent in internally identifying a solid Plan B." He notes that there are plenty of pitchers available this offseason with experience closing games.
- The Phillies hold a $5MM option for third baseman Pedro Feliz ($500K buyout), so the team must decide what to do there. He mentions that free agent Adrian Beltre "would be a spectacular fit" for Philadelphia.
- Olney believes it's a lock that the Yankees will offer Andy Pettitte arbitration. Pettitte had just a $5.5MM base salary in 2009, but he brought home over $10MM thanks to incentives. An arbitration case would be based on the actual money earned, so Pettitte could be in line for $12-14MM if he accepts.
Links for Tuesday...
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- The Hanshin Tigers are interested in Kenji Johjima, according to Kyodo News.
- The Rockies are expected to re-sign GM Dan O'Dowd and manager Jim Tracy this week, according to Patrick Saunders and Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
- Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times says the Dodgers "are mindful that [signing Yusei Kikuchi] could harm the club's long-standing ties in Japan." Kikuchi told Kyodo News that interviewing with 12 NPB and eight MLB clubs made his decision even more difficult. NPB Tracker has more.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says Brad Lidge for Michael Bourn has been "the perfect trade." In that November 2007 deal, the Phillies also received infielder Eric Bruntlett and the Astros also acquired Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo (Geary is now a free agent). I'd say the Astros may ultimately win the deal if Bourn's breakout season holds up, since they gave up one year of Lidge for five of Bourn. But, as Justice noted, the Phillies have a ring.
- Always fun...Dave Cameron's 2010 offseason plan for the Mariners at U.S.S. Mariner. My one beef is the John Danks acquisition...I don't think it fits from Chicago's point of view.
- Viva El Birdos takes a look at the Cardinals' 2010 commitments.
- MLB.com's Mychael Urban discusses Justin Duchscherer's future.
Let's kick off the day with links...
- Yahoo's David Brown caught up with Pedro Martinez as part of his Answer Man series.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes about the Astros' mistake of ignoring pitching.
- Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Chronicle notes that the Michael Bourn-Brad Lidge swap no longer looks lopsided. The Astros sent Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to Philly for Bourn, Geoff Geary, and Mike Costanzo in November of 2007.
- Rany Jazayerli has an open letter to Royals owner David Glass regarding the Dayton Moore extension.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times writes about Bobby Abreu's influence on the Angels' other hitters. In the article, Abreu says, "I definitely want to come back."
- Chuck Finder of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discusses the legend of Garrett Jones. The 28 year-old Rookie of the Year contender has crushed 18 home runs in 237 plate appearances. What kind of numbers do you see him putting up next year?
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels that Johnny Damon makes more sense for the Yankees next year than Hideki Matsui.