The Phils appear to be spinning their wheels this offseason.
Plan A was to get Alfonzo Soriano to supplant fan pariah Pat Burrell to "protect MVP Ryan Howard". Soriano signed an eight-year, $136M contract with the Cubs.
Enter stage right, Plan B: Sign Carlos Lee to (again) replace Burrell. Lee gets six years and $100M from the Astros.
Next, insert foot in mouth.
The best remaining free agent left fielder is Barry Bonds, who is, of course, the greatest player of his era, but is also 42, is oft-inured, and comes with a ton of baggage.
Frank Catalanotto? Already signed with Texas.
There's always David Dellucci but he played for the team last year and couldn't displace Burrell in either left field or in the lineup. If he re-signs, it will probably be to play right with Shane Victorino is center (and Aaron Rowand reportedly traded back to the White Sox).
Meanwhile, the catcher the Phils reportedly were interested in, and who expressed interest in playing in Philly, Johnny Estrada got traded to the Brewers. The only desirable catcher on the free agent market is aging future Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza. But why worry about a catcher when we are trying to get a marginal improvement in left field?
At third, the Phils have plugged in career backup Wes Helms coming off a career year. He'll platoon with Abraham O'Nunez. Lovely, and you thought they couldn't do worse than David Bell. Never mind that Aramis Ramirez was a free agent for a short time until he re-signed with the Cubs.
So what's next?
The Red Sox are reportedly shopping Manny Ramirez in anticipation of signing Phillie favorite J.D. Drew and potential woe fellow Scott Boras client Daisuke Matsuzaka. There are a number of teams interested in Ramirez but apparently the Phils are not among them.
I just don't get it. If the highest priority is to replace Burrell with a bigger bat, Ramirez is the ideal choice. And the Red Sox are motivated to move him.
So it appears that the Phils master plan to get a negligible improvement in left is going to fall through. They have already consigned the starting rotation to mediocrity by signing another tail-end starter in Adam Eaton (reportedly at three years and $24M). Unless Cole Hammels because a staff savior in 2007, their rotation may continue to be an immense problem.
Then there's the starting catcher. The Phils have only career minor-leaguer and 34-year-old rookie sensation Chris Coste or 27-year-old untried rookie Carlos Ruiz to depend on.
There's another hole in right. A lineup with both Rowand and Victorino in it will be problematic.
Then there's the depleted bullpen.
That's what happens when you put your eggs in one, or in this case two, baskets. The Phils would have been better served foregoing the fan sop of replacing Burrell and instead could have fixed the actual problems on the team.
But now it appears to late even though it really isn't. That's what a bad plan does to a team.
I thought Pat Gillick was an improvement over Ed Wade because he had a) a plan and b) some competency. But maybe a bad plan is worse than no plan at all. The Phils seem like a lock for another win total in the mid-80s next year. The older pitchers and lack of talent at key positions might cause an implosion, but then again how badly can a team collapse with two stars of Howard and Utley's caliber in the lineup?