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