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Mulligan Stew-pid
2007-11-08 11:56
by Mike Carminati

Headline: The Phils to Remove Third Base from New CBP "Diamond"

The Phillies made a trade yesterday picking up Brad Lidge and allowing Brett Myers to move back into the rotation. Sounds good, right? Well…

They gave up Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn, and Mike Costanzo. Costanzo was the best third base prospect in the system and the only one with power. On a better organization, he would be the leading candidate for the third base job. He has problems with his footwork at third (34 errors) but reportedly has a good arm. He strikes out a bit, has problems with lefties (he bats left), and was just at Double-A, but even so is probably an upgrade over the current drek.

Even the Phils would have been forced to call him up to replace the Helms-Dobbs tandem by the All-Star break. They have announced that they have no plans to pursue another third baseman and have no one ready in the system. So that's one position that they are taking a mulligan on. I guess Bruntlett gets thrown in that mix, but he's no more than a part-timer/utility guy.

Now right field: With Rowand almost certainly gone, Victorino shifts to center. Right field would then fall to Werth and Bourn. With Bourn gone, it's just Werth with no other major-league OFs on the roster. Werth is no more than a platoon/three-quarter player. So there's mulligan number 2.

The rotation becomes Hamels, Kendrick, Myers, Moyer, and Eaton. They are all signed and the only one they would consider replacing is Eaton, but he has two years and $16M left on his contract and this is the Phils, so don't bet on it. So that's the rotation.

The bullpen will be Romero (if they can resign him) to Gordon to Lidge. With Geary gone, and Mesa, Alfonseca, et al gone, there aren't even enough arms to fill out a pen. (Wade had to get a reliever in the trade. That's his MO.)

So what was the goal here? Lidge is relatively cheap (under $6M in 2007), and instead of looking for a starting pitcher to improve the rotation, they found a cheaper option. This team has shed salary like a lhasa apso sheds fur (or Britney Spears sheds children). They lost Lieber, Freddy Garcia, Lohse, Barajas, Nunez, Alfonseca, Mesa, Geary, probably Rowand, and possibly Romero, all with decent major-league salaries. They lose Burrell's contract no later than the end of this season. Rollins, Utley, and Howard will get a bump up but will still be affordable.

The goal was to fill a few holes (rotation, closer, utility inf) relatively cheaply. It creates more holes than it fixes but since the Phils don't recognize those holes, it doesn't matter. And they got rid of one of the better prospects in a wasteland of a minor-league system. Did they have to give up so much to land a player the Astros have been trying to dump for almost a year? If Lidge can't close and Costanzo can hit for power in the majors (even if he has to shift to a corner outfield spot), this could be a monumentally bad one.

And what might be even worse, in Ruben Amaro Jr.'s first trade as the GM heir apparent, he got duped by his old boss Ed Wade, not exactly known for his trading prowess. But like an under-armed fantasy GM, Amaro was ecstatic over the deal:

"We're getting one of the premier closers in the game," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "The marketplace, as we all know, is a little scary out there as far as pitching. We felt this was one of the best ways for us to really improve." Re. Myers, "Amaro called him his No. 2 starter behind Cole Hamels or possibly even a 1A."

I grieve for the future.

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