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Paul ByrdAs I previously noted, I had mixed feelings about the possibility of the Phillies signing Curt Schilling. Fortunately, I won’t have to worry about it any longer. He’s going back to Boston.

And in other news, Indians pitcher Paul Byrd and his HGH rumors are returning to Cleveland for one year and $7.5.

So now, as a Phillies fan, I’m stuck wondering: where will the Phillies find more pitching?

There are, as I see it, three options.

1. They can promote a prospect. The Phils have a couple of promising pitchers in the minors. The first is Josh Outman, who should make the major league roster just because he’s got a great, great name. He also led the A-league last season with a 2.45 ERA, and earned a promotion to AA.

The second is Carlos Carrasco. Here’s how Phuture Phillies describes Carrasco:

Carrasco is a long ways from a finished product, but he does have a pair of major league pitches. He throws a plus fastball that sits at 91-92 mph and touches 95 with good life, as well as a quality changeup. His mechanics are nearly picture-perfect, as he looks like he’s throwing an easy side session while popping 92s and 93s.

It’s possible both Carrasco and Outman will see time in the bigs next season, but it’s doubtful either one will start the season in the majors.

Kris and Anna Benson2. They can sign a free agent. But who’s available? Andy Pettitte says he’ll only play for the Yankees, so he’s out. Kris Benson is a free agent. The Phils probably won’t sign him, because he’s coming off Tommy John surgery. On the other hand, I think Anna Benson would be a big hit in Philly. I’m secretly rooting for the Bensons to come to town. And by secretly, I mean openly.

If not Benson, there are the following guys to consider, according to MLB Trade Rumors:

Shawn Chacon (30), Matt Clement (32), Bartolo Colon (35), Josh Fogg (31), Jason Jennings (29), Kenshin Kawakami (33), Joe Kennedy (29), Hiroki Kuroda (33), Brian Lawrence (32), Kyle Lohse (29), Rodrigo Lopez (32), Mike Maroth (30), Odalis Perez (31), Kenny Rogers (43) – Type B, Kazumi Saito (30), Carlos Silva (29), Jeff Weaver (31), David Wells (45), Kip Wells (31), Randy Wolf (31), Jamey Wright (34), Jaret Wright (32).

Randy Wolf would seem to be a good fit, since he has pitched in Philadelphia his entire career, except for last season, when he briefly chased his dream of pitching in L.A.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the team roll the dice with Matt Clement, who clearly has some upside. Lohse would be welcome back, but he will probably be looking to make more money than the Phils will be willing to pay.

3. They can trade for a pitcher. But who’s available? The names floating around include John Garland, Noah Lowry, Dontrelle Willis and Johan Santana. Let’s assume Santana is a pipe dream. Willis, as Paul pointed out in a previous post, isn’t a good investment. Lowry won 14 games for the Giants in 2007, so he must be doing something right.

(But will somebody please explain to me how Lowry won 14 games, despite the fact that his WHIP was an unsightly 1.55 and he walked as many guys as he stuck out? Moreover, Matt Cain managed to lose 16 games pitching for the same team, and his WHIP was way lower — 1.26 — and he stuck out twice as many guys as he walked!)

Tim LincecumThen there’s the rumor that the Giants are shopping rookie phenom Tim Lincecum. Word is San Fran is looking for a big bat. I’ve been killing myself trying to figure out somebody the Phillies could swap for Lincecum, but I just don’t see it happening. I think the Giants would want more in return for Lincecum than Pat Burrell and the one year he has left on his contract. Shane Victorino is a fun player, but hardly a “big bat”. Chase Utley is going nowhere. You hear me, Gillick? NOWHERE.

That leaves Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Howard is a former NL MVP and Rollins is a candidate for MVP this season. Can the Phils trade an MVP for a pitcher who has yet to prove himself at the big league level?

Probably not. Well, they certainly can’t trade Howard. He is one of those once in a lifetime players.

But Rollins is just very good, not great. More than anything, he’s very well rounded. He’s a good fielder. Good base stealer. Good hitter. But not irreplaceable. Moreover, after his big-talkin’ big hittin’ 2007 season, Rollins will never be more valuable.

Plus, Lincecum is still making rookie money, so acquiring him for a high priced player like Rollins would free up money to sign a guy like Aaron Rowand. Or another pitcher, like Wolf, Clement or Lohse. OR — dare to dream — Mike Lowell.

And the idea of pairing Lincecum and Cole Hamels is tantilyzing. All of a sudden, next year’s starting rotation look like this:

Cole Hamels

Tim Lincecum

Kyle Kendrick

Jamie Moyer

Adam Eaton

Ok, so ending that list with Adam Eaton leaves a sour taste. But, like I said, there’s no reason the Phils couldn’t sign a guy like Wolf to replace Eaton, bumping the disappointing starter to the bullpen.

Of course, the Phils would be giving up on Rollins (who is my favorite player in the universe). And they’d have to find a new shortstop, either via trade or free agency. And it’s a thin free agent crop. Let’s say they go with David Eckstein, who is supremely overrated, but would be a hit in Philly. That would leave them with a lineup that looks like this:

1. Shane Victorino CF

2. Chase Utley 2B

3. Ryan Howard 1B

4. Pat Burrell LF

5. Jason Werth RF

6. Mike Lowell 3B

7. Carlos Ruiz C

8. David Eckstein SS

Not bad, right?

Now if the Phils can just figure out how to fix the bullpen.

44 Responses to “Schilling, Byrd are off the market. So what now for Phils?”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Absolutely. Which is also why even statisticians love to watch the game. Look, there’s no way to predict exactly what’s going to happen at any given moment. No one ever claims to be able to do this. But here are certain things that happened in 2007 that stats predicted:

    1. The terrible White Sox season. All the key players overplayed their projected numbers in 2006. Therefore, it was expected they revert to their career norms, which will lead to much fewer wins.

    2. The Cleveland Indians much improved record. They had a positive run differential ( 88) last year and inexplicably finished 6 games under .500. As long as each player performs at the projected level, they will be playoff contenders in 2007 without changing a thing.

    3. The Mariners falling out of the race in the AL West. Their run differentials are far inferior to their actual record.

    4. The Rockies resurgence. OK, so no one in their right mind would have guessed in early September that they’d be in the playoffs. But again, their on-field performance was far better than their actual record. So while it was a total surprise that they won so many games at the end, it wasn’t a surprise that they improved their winning percentage considerably.

    On the flip side, no one can seem to pin point how the Diamondbacks won the NL West, aside from the fact that the entire division was crappy. That’s a situation where a lot of stasticians picked the D-Backs to win but no one guessed correctly how they’d do it.

    So stats can fairly accurately predict how things can play out over 162 games. It’s far more accurate than anything I can predict in my head without stats. But stats cannot predict what happens in any given game. It can’t predict what happens over seven games. There are far too many variables. Again, no one using stats should even try to say that it can be done consistently. So if you ever see something like it, don’t even bother reading it. It’s pointless.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Those are some great points in your last comment, Sarah, of which I agree 100 percent with all. Just to be fair to the BP guys however, you are taking a rather old quote from them. One of the BP guys just wrote an excellent column about how Coors Field has consistently provided the Rockies with the greatest home-field advantage in all of baseball. So Nate Silver might have changed his tune by now (like the rest of us he also probably never dreamed the Rockies would make the playoffs anytime soon).

    Here’s that article:

    http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6898

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Nick, it’s not accurate to describe that quote as old. It was from mid-September of this year! And while I’m always interested to see things like run differentials and projected records, those things are only compelling when you compare them to what actually happens and when you try to explain *why* a certain team underperformed or overperformed. As anyone who suffered through Introduction to Literary Theory with me knows, I am a bit of a literalist.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    One last interjection – I think.

    I think it’s important to remember that a lot of the studies that the good statisticians are doing have never been done before. There are bound to be mistakes. You start with a hypothesis, and you do your best to see if it holds true. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it looks like it works and then someone or some event goes and disproves it. Then you go back and see where you went wrong. Again, I don’t think of the things that SABR guys do as fact. Ultimately, they’re all theories. Some make sense to me, others don’t.

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