The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies didn’t have a lot of work to do this offseason — but the work they did was pretty lame.
The team’s only major free agents were LF Pat Burrell and SP Jamie Moyer. They opted to resign Moyer to a two-year deal, but let Burrell walk and replaced him with Raul Ibanez.
The net result? The Phillies will be almost exactly the same team in 2009 as they were in 2008.
True, Ibanez brings a little less power than Burrell, and a little more average. But at the end of the day they’re two LF with above average OBP and below average defense.
Moyer, for his part, led the Phillies in wins last season and posted a 3.71 ERA — nearly 1.5 runs lower than his 2007 ERA. Plus he’s a great guy, hometown hero and valuable mentor to young pitchers. It’s not hard to figure why the Phils really wanted him back.
What do Moyer and Ibanez have in common? They both refuse to act their age. Most players begin to decline around 28. Moyer didn’t hit his stride until his mid-30s, and he had one of his best seasons in 2008, at age 46. Ibanez, at 36, played in all 162 games last season and hit 23 HR with a .358 OBP.
The Phillies are betting that Moyer and Ibanez can continue to defy the aging process in 2009. And you know what? I think they might. I wouldn’t bet money on it, but stranger things have happened. The problem is, the Phillies signed Moyer to a two-year deal and Ibanez to a three-year contract and that’s a lot of years to be handing out to guys this old — especially when it’s become painfully clear that the market didn’t warrant giving them that many years or that much money.
The Phillies also made a few smaller moves, like signing Chan Ho Park, who can pitch as either a fifth starter or out of the bullpen. It’s hard not to like this signing.
The world champs also signed ace Cole Hamels to a three year contract, which buys out his arbitration years. I guess this is a good thing. It’ll no doubt make Hamels happy, and maybe more likely to sign a longterm contract with the Phillies when his current deal expires. But Hamels was going to be in Philly through 2011 regardless, so this really isn’t a biggie.
Hamels was one of eight Phillies who were arbitration eligible entering the offseason. After the team signed Greg Dobbs to a 2-year deal, they’ve got six arb players left. One of them is Ryan Howard, and he’s going to get another huge raise.
Oh, Philly acquired Ronnie Paulino from the Pirates, and he’ll compete for a backup catcher job. Paulino had a breakout 2007, but showed up to camp fat in 2008 and quickly fell out of favor in Pittsburgh. He’ll get a second chance in Philly.
Long story short, the Phillies offseason moves will likely do nothing to improve the team in 2009 and probably will hurt them in the long run, as Ibanez and Moyer are likely to decline, maybe very quickly.
Acquisitions: OF Raul Ibanez, C Ronny Paulino, Chan Ho Park
Losses: OF Pat Burrell
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Pedro Feliz
C: Carlos Ruiz
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
RF: Jayson Werth
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Brett Myers
SP: Joe Blanton
SP: Jamie Moyer
SP: Chan Ho Park/J.A. Happ/Carlos Carrasco/Kyle Kendrick
CL: Brad Lidge