This is the first in UmpBump’s Hot Offseason Action series, where we crucify teams for their crappy acquisitions and praise them for their prudent pickups.

Ruben Amaro Jr. is a man who knows what he wants. Last winter, he didn’t waste any time looking around for bargains. He didn’t wait to see if an outfielder like Bobby Abreu would end up without a job and willing to sign for cheap. He went straight out and signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $30M contract.

This winter, Amaro had the opportunity to upgrade at third base, and he didn’t flinch. The Phils landed Placido Polanco for three years and $18M.

Personally, I didn’t think the Ibanez signing was a good one, and I didn’t agree with bringing Polanco back to Philly. It’s not that either is a bad player, it’s just that there were better options available. Since both players are in their mid-30s, both represent a significant injury risk. Signing them both to three-year deals seemed like an unnecessary gamble. If the Red Sox could land Adrian Beltre for one year ($10M), why did the Phils have to give Polanco three years?

While I’m still scratching my head about the length of the Polanco and Ibanez deals, I’ve got to admit Ibanez was pretty money in 2009, and I’m crossing my fingers the oxygen tent will continue to keep him young. Moreover, I’m thrilled with the Roy Halladay signing. Three years and $60M (with an option)? That’s a screaming deal for baseball’s best pitcher. Like most Phillies fans, I’m still a little mystified that Amaro decided three Seattle prospects were more valuable than a full season of Cliff Lee (and the two draft picks he’d net after he departed via free agency). But while I don’t necessarily agree with his thinking, I do appreciate his dedication to maintaining a deep well of minor league talent. And maybe this Phillippe Aumont guy will turn out to be a lights-out starter after all?

The Phils also signed utility infielder Juan Castro and bullpen arm Dennys Baez, two underwhelming but historically reliable players who should provide stability if nothing else.

The only hole the team has yet to fill is fifth starter, and there are several candidates. Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras, and Ryan Vogelsong are all contenders (though Rob Neyer isn’t too impressed with any of them).

Long story short, the Phils made a couple of moves this winter that will give them an excellent chance to repeat as NL East champs. Beyond 2010, when Jayson Werth is a free agent and Ibanez and Polanco likely start showing their ages? That’s another story.

Acquisitions: 3B Placido Polanco, IF Juan Castro, RP Dennys Baez, C Brian Schneider, and 1B/OF Ross Gload.

Losses: 3B Pedro Feliz, RP Chan Ho Park, RP Clay Condrey.

1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
C: Carlos Ruiz
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
RF: Jayson Werth

SP: Roy Halladay
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Joe Blanton
SP: J.A. Happ
SP: Kyle Kendrick/Jamie Moyer/Jose Contreras/Ryan Vogelsong

CL: Brad Lidge

Grade: B+

-Hot Offseason Action Index-

10 Responses to “Hot Offseason Action: Philadelphia Phillies”

  1. In what way are Juan Castro and Danys Baez “reliable” players? Unless by “reliable” you mean “reliably terrible” or “reliably a waste of money and a roster spot”…

  2. Actually, that’s pretty much what I meant.

  3. Baez, to his credit, has managed to induce more ground balls as his K/9 numbers have worsened. And he’s always done pretty well against right-handed hitters. So if the Phils use him properly he could be valuable. At least, I hope.

  4. Barry Johnson says:

    You forgot about one big loss for the Phillies: Scott Eyre. Finding that type of left hand relief specialist is not east and Scott really did the job for us. He was like the Graeme Lloyd type when he pitched for the Yankees

  5. You’re right, Barry. Eyre will be missed, though I’m not 100 percent convinced that he won’t rejoin the team midseason.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    Say, why did the Phillies give so many random guys 2-year deals? Was there really such competition for guys like Brian Schneider, Danys Baez, and Ross Gload that they couldn’t have been signed to one-year deals but had to be all given 2 guaranteed years?

    And wait, did Amaro really give Ross Gload of all people, the definition of “below replacement level”, a 2-year 2.6 million deal? Wow. I mean, just wow.

  7. I agree that Amaro overpaid for all those guys, especially Gload. Amaro has this obsession with cost certainty, but he’s left himself very little payroll flexibility in 2011.

  8. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, it’s crazy. He’s already got almost a full 25-man roster under guaranteed, major league contracts for 2011. He’s not only got no payroll flexibility – he’s also got hardly any roster flexibility.

  9. Yeah, but as long as nobody gets seriously hurt or starts sucking, the Phils are golden. And what are the odds of one of the Phils getting hurt or sucking? It’s not like they’re the oldest team in baseball…oh wait.

  10. *It should be noted that the Phils probably wouldn’t be the oldest team in baseball if they didn’t employ one Jamie Moyer. But if they cut Moyer, they’d still be old. Just maybe not the oldest.

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