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The Phillies are having a woeful winter

Dec 4, 2011, 10:15 PM EDT

Ruben Amaro Jr., AP

The Phillies may yet be the class of the National League, but it’s no thanks to GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s moves so far this winter.

Already Amaro has committed $50 million to a closer and now at least $7 million and three roster spots to two on-base challenged role players and a future Hall of Famer who hasn’t played an inning in the field in five years.

Now, Jonathan Papelbon should be pretty great in 2012. But Ryan Madson was pretty great in 2011, finishing with a 2.37 ERA and 32 saves in 34 chances. How much better can Papelbon really be?

The new position players are Laynce Nix, Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome. Nix and Wigginton may be just good enough to start on bad teams, but it’s questionable whether either has anything to offer a contender. The left-handed-hitting Nix is 31 with a career .288 OBP. He’s barely any better against righties at .296 lifetime. He has legitimate 25-homer power, but he’s also struck out twice for every one run he’s driven in as a major leaguer.

Wigginton has always gotten points for versatility, but he’s dreadful at second base and well below average at third base these days. At least he is consistent: he’s finished with OBPs from .312-.315 and slugging percentages from .400-.416 the last three years. Wigginton will probably end up logging the bulk of the time at first base while Ryan Howard‘s torn Achilles’ mends. He won’t embarrass himself, but he won’t be a real asset either.

And then there’s Thome, who is hoping to go out a winner. Everyone is rooting for him, and it’s likely that he’ll produce when he’s able to play. Still, even if the Phillies only ask him to take the field once or twice a week, it’s far from guaranteed that he’ll stay healthy.

The Phillies’ rivals should be smiling about the way the winter has gone to date. Amaro has thrown away a great deal of his budget room without doing much to improve his team’s chances. An old team is getting older, and now it’s pretty much guaranteed that Dominic Brown will start in Triple-A. John Mayberry Jr., who looks like a potential breakthrough candidate, should still have a chance to win a starting job in left field or at first base, but a poor spring may find him buried behind one of the newcomers. These Phillies are the definite favorites to win the NL East anyway, but the team looked stronger a year ago than it does now.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Dec 4, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    Matthew,
    Outside the Howard injury, which the Phillies had no control over, I think you are dead wrong. The bench trio of Thome, Nix, and Wigginton are clear upgrades over Francisco, M.Martinez, and Gload. Furthermore, Madson to Pappelbon is probably something of a lateral move. If you want to say they are weakened because of the impending loss of Oswalt that is fine. Also, the team should be immediately strengthened by the subtraction of Ibanez.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:06 PM

      I’m just really skeptical that Nix and Wigginton will thrive in lesser roles. In theory, Wigginton will be an asset against left-handers. In practice, he’s hardly been one lately. And I’d take Francisco over Nix.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:22 AM

        You’d take Francisco over Nix? Really? At the plate they may be fairly equal but at least Nix is competent in the field. Francisco is a butcher out there.

      • spudchukar - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:08 AM

        Obviously, you haven’t seen Nix play, no assume, the left field position.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:35 AM

        Baseball references dWAR says otherwise Spud.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:03 AM

        Yeah, Nix doesn’t look good out there, but he gets good jumps and covers a good amount of territory. Part of the problem of the standardized D metrics is that for some positions, like LF, average = horrible. There might be 2 actual good LF in MLB….the others only look good compared to the rest of the bad defenders standing out there.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:03 AM

        Hmm.. that being said, what you’re saying is that most LF in Baseball are bad. Then doesn’t it follow that if you get a “Less Bad than Average” LF then you’re ahead?

    • phillyphreak - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:27 PM

      It’s just not what they need- another (really really) bad OBP guy who strikes out a bunch but has some power. While I agree that anything is an upgrade over Gload at least Franscico got on base a little bit (i.e. more than Nix). My question is why sign him now? There really wasn’t a need for him.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:25 AM

        Because it seems that they are intent on having Brown spend a full year at AAA. So, right now the only outfielders that are locks for the 25 man are Victorino, Pence, and Jr….and Jr. might be playing some first. Need somebody to throw out there.

      • phillyphreak - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:32 AM

        Yea, but the point is that they didn’t have to sign him now. I’m sure he’d be there in a few weeks and if not, someone comparable probably would.

    • chaseutley - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:18 AM

      Quote: ” Furthermore, Madson to Pappelbon is probably something of a lateral move.”

      I think a lot of people are underestimating the upgrade at closer that Papelbon represents. With all due respect to Madson, he’s a career middle reliever who…..

      A) Had years with the team to prove he could handle the closer role, but didn’t.
      B) Got the job after 2 brown bananas hit the IR.
      C) Held down the role for 3 months.
      D) And did it in a contract year which could mean a diminished return on your investment after you pay the guy.

      Papelbon has held down the closer’s role on a contender for 6 years. Knock the length of the deal. Knock the money. But which guy do you trust to get the job done?

      I like Madson. In a perfect world, I’d love to bring him back as a setup man. Won’t happen, but that’s baseball. As a closer? I’ll take the guy with 219 career saves over the one with 52.

      • djpostl - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        I’ll take Bell for half the money lol. The point isn’t just the contract, it’s the fact that deal was given THIS year rofl. It’s like Amaro’s dumb ass didn’t realize a dozen closers of various ilk were available as free agents, then another half dozen are available through trades.

    • djpostl - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:17 AM

      A lateral move that cost twice as much as it needed to. Did you see how cheap the Marlins got Bell, every bit the closer that Papelbum is.

      This team IS getting older and more fragile by the minute and has done nothing to improve itself over last year. And he is spot on that they shot their load budget wise in doing so.

  2. leftywildcat - Dec 4, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Yes, Francisco, Gload and Martinez were awful at the plate this past season.

    Re-signing Oswalt ought to be the next do-able priority.

    The Reyes deal probably increases Rollins’ market value. I now suspect that J Ro will sign elsewhere. If he goes to the Cards, Furcal might be available cheap.

    • siftin thru nonsense - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:55 PM

      You think they will re-sign Oswalt? I doubt that. They needed to improve bats and now main focus is JRoll or another ss. Oswalt aint comin back.

    • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:33 AM

      I also doubt they have interest in bringing Oswalt back, his back condition isn’t going away, and starting pitching isn’t really a need.

      Reyes’ deal will not affect the Market for Rollins at all, Reyes is young and at present a much better player. If Rollins keeps pushing for a 4-5 year deal, his market will continue to be very small….approximately 0 teams.

      Furcal won’t be that cheap, did you see the crap contracts given out to Carrol and Barmes? Furcal will be at least $6-7M per for 2-3 years. While that may seem cheap, it is probably more than teams are willing to spend on a player his age with his injury history.

    • foreverchipper10 - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:50 PM

      If you sign Furcal don’t forget to sign another SS to play the inevitable 60-75 games he will miss due to numerous injuries.

  3. schmedley69 - Dec 4, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Have to disagree. Madson was good last year, but he’s only closed for 3/4 of a season (after failing in the role in past years) and he hasn’t proven that he can do it over the long haul. Madson and Boras wanted HUGE money for a guy who has only closed for a part of 1 season, and the Phils decided to give that money to Papelbon, who has proven it over the long haul. That was a plus move.

    The Phillies were stuck with Wilson Valdez (who has no power) playing a lot of 3B last year while Polanco dealt with his usual myriad of injuries. Wigginton is a huge upgrade over Valdez. If the Phils had Wiggington last year, they beat the Cards in the playoffs. Polanco played with a double hernia and was an automatic out. Charlie was too afraid to use Valzez. Wigginton is another plus move.

    Mayberry really came into his own last year and was basically platooning with Ibanez by the end of the year. Nix is essentially Raul’s replacement. He’s not as good as Ibanez, but he’s a lot cheaper. Anyone who actually watched Domonic Brown play last year knows that he is not close to being ready for the majors, and in fact, he’s looking like a complete bust. The guy cannot field his position and has zero baseball instincts. The Philles want him to spend the entire year at AAA, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never makes it back to the majors with the Phils.

    Thome is a cheap PH off the bat. IMO, these have been positive moves.

    • phillyphreak - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:17 PM

      I’m so tired of hearing that Dom Brown is a complete bust when he never even got consistent playing time.

      • schmedley69 - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:58 PM

        It was hard to give him playing time the way he played. Last year he was sent home early from winter ball because of his horrible play. He was also booed off the field in Lehigh Valley (see below). The guy can’t field at all and he looks to have a very low baseball IQ. The Phillies tried to include him in the Pence deal, but the Astros didn’t want him. Sorry, but he looks like a complete bust from all indications.

        http://www.thefightins.com/meechone/dom-brown-had-a-particularly-rough-night-in-the-lehigh-valley/

      • phillyphreak - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:30 AM

        The problem is, though, that he’s going to have “growing pains.” He’s not going to hit .300 with 30 HR and 25SB in his first year or his first few years. Part of the problem has been the fans unrealistic expectation of him.

        “It was hard to give him playing time the way he played.”
        – He had a higher OBP than Ibanez, and Raul got plenty of playing time. He walked more and struck out less than Mayberry Jr. He needs to improve his OF defense sure but he does that through playing. And not playing at LV.

        “Sorry, but he looks like a complete bust from all indications.”
        -From the limited indications of playing time he’s gotten? His tools haven’t changed and people still believe that he has a really good skill set. Will he put it all together? We won’t know unless he gets playing time.

        “he looks to have a very low baseball IQ”
        – Expand on this. How do you know? This is just one of those things people stick on the typical Dom Brown rant (particularly on the “insightful” comment section of Philly.com) without ever detailing why. .

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:38 AM

        I’m with Phillyphreak on this one. I would have given a 25 man spot to Brown. I think the kid will come good. As PP said, he wasn’t as bad as some would like you to believe last season… particularly at the plate.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:52 AM

        He was actually getting better. He also had the highest Pitch count per at bat with the team.

  4. badmamainphilliesjamas - Dec 4, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    Woeful? A bit strong, I think.
    They needed to strengthen the bench, and they’ve done that.
    Any idea about the $$ for Nix?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:03 PM

      Nope, no terms yet. I’m guessing about $2 million per year.

  5. danbeachler - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Considering the Phils are devoting maybe 3% of their 2012 budget to the 3 bench guys, I don’t think it much to worry about. They’re basically lateral moves. The overpay for papelbon will likely hurt them in the future and potentially in 2012 if they can’t afford rollins.

  6. xmatt0926x - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Agee that “woeful” is a reach bordering on the rediculous. Have they greatly improved over last year? No. Considering they were a 102 win team that played out the string for the last month, it’s not a bad position to be in if you are not going to improve. Don’t get me wrong. Any Phillies fan would love to see big improvements at the positions that need it but I’ll still take my chances with this team. If they aren’t the top team in the NL then at least they are right there with any other team in the NL and all that buys for any one of those teams is a shot in October. As this years Cardinals, last years Giants, and the 2008 Phightin’ Phils proved, that’s all you need.

  7. flyerscup2010 - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    jeez, did craig ghostwrite this for you?

  8. steelerchicken - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Do the Pirates even have a 50 million payroll? Oh, wait this is the league that extended their collective bargaining agreement. Same big markets will be back next year

    • Reflex - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:22 AM

      Must suck to be in a tiny market like Pittsburg. Er, wait, thats not actually a small market. Always funny to me how teams like Cleveland go from ‘big market’ in the 90’s to ‘small market’ in the 00’s. The size of the percieved market seems to directly corrolate with the local teams success factor.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:43 AM

        Pittsburgh has less than 1/2 the population of the Philly area and is more of a blue collar town….it is the type of city that is struggling because of factory/industry shut downs related to US companies deciding to build over-seas instead of at home. Compared to LA, Boston, NY, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and LA….yeah, it is a small market…in more ways than one.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:49 AM

        And yet the Steelers have had no issues contending in the last decade or so. Small market or not, that’s NOT the reason the Pirates are perennial losers.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:05 AM

        Revenue sharing.

      • cshearing - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:31 AM

        Yeah, you cannot compare baseball to the NFL. There is so much revenue sharing and such a large TV deal, NFL teams make a profit before one person buys a ticket. MLB is nowhere near that.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:06 AM

        Be that as it may, the Pirates are not paupers, they’ve had some revenue sharing of their own. And with all that losing LOTS of years of top picks. And of course we’ve witnessed Florida win 2 World Series titles on shoe-string budgets, sure they become bottom feeders the next year, but at least they having a winning cycle every 7 or 8 years. The Pirates have been at it for almost 20.

        Once again, small market is NOT the reason Pirates are losers. Try Again.

      • Reflex - Dec 6, 2011 at 2:18 AM

        The Pirates are not a small market. No, its not New York. But then neither is Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, or even LA. I mean geez, if the Yankees are the standard than *every* team aside from the Mets are small market. Lots of teams have managed to be competitive, at least for periods of time. Hell, the Brewers have a worse market than Pittsburg, yet they pull it off.

        The problem is the Pirates have been a poorly run team for about two decades now. They draft badly, deal their prospects before they need to and are as a result constantly in rebuilding mode. They never get fair return on thier trades or find creative ways to maximize revenue.

        BTW, baseball has plenty of revenue sharing. Wanna bet the Pirates don’t have a lower payroll than their share of the revenue sharing deal? Seriously, want to take that bet?

  9. siftin thru nonsense - Dec 4, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Stronger a year ago? A year ago ,they didnt have Hunter Pence and didnt have Thome and Wigginton on the bench. They did have Oswalt I guess. Team seems stronger now. Madson was good ,but Papelbon is better. I wish they couldve traded Howard though. He is good for homers, but one dimensional and lefties completely destroy him. Anyway, our offense seems better than a year ago. Mayberry has more experience now than a year ago. Utley should be healthier. Polanco was hurt last yr. I would like a hitter that hits for avg and can work a pitcher and get on base though. Seems like we signed all boppers. At least Thome walks sometimes. Nix hit .111 vs lefties last year so that wont cut it. He has to be platoon only or pinch hit vs rightees.

  10. Old Gator - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    I think it’s a bit early to pillory Amaro. They guy has proven he can build winners, and it’s a long way to the close of spring training.

    • siftin thru nonsense - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      Maybe RAJr is up to something more? like Carlos Beltran? Idk. Not sure what people disagreed with in what I said above. It is all truth. Nix is a lifetime .181 hitter vs lefties and his pinch hitting is under .200 as well. Strictly a reserve or backup guy. vs Rightees, not bad last yr. I guess people dont like the Howard trade remark. It is true though that he is wayy overpaid and is not even one of the top 1b’s. That is just a fact. Lots of money for one-dimensional 1b. Good power,but declining and real good lefties or good pitchers in general can get him out. Also, the team is stronger than a year ago offensively. If any1 doesn’t think they are, prove why not, dont just disagree.

  11. andyreidisfat - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    I still don’t get the Madson over pap. Like another person said the guy is older than pap and has more or less had a track record of fail as a closer. He had ONE good year in that roll after many many fails. Pap has been pretty good his hole career and he is YOUNGER than madson.

    Also not to mention pap is making around the same money as lidge was. So you may think they over payed or whatever but apparently the phillies think that’s exactly what a closer is worth. Figuring they have many. Division titles and a world series ring, I am going to stick with Rubens opinion of who worth what.

    To your basic point. The phillies, the best regular season team and probably the best team overall in baseball ( with all due respect to the cards who were no doubt the hottest team in baseball during the playoffs) and they haven’t lost anything but dead money so far and gained what on paper looks like one of the better benches in all or baseball. They added by subtraction in letting Oswalt go so the vanimal can move up a spot in the rotation. I would in fact say this has been a productive offseason. Just because the phillies arn’t like the Yankees who just sign any monkey because they can Ruben has a plan and he is working it.

    Also don’t be shocked I the phillies make a trade with Dom brown for 3rd basemen or starting pitcher.

    I also hope they don’t sign jimmy. I would much rather see jimmy gone and the phillies go out and find a more true lead off guy. I know I am some national reporter who watches 3 phillies games a year and formulate all my opinions based on what others say and sportscenter highlights , but jimmy is crap as a lead off guy. The guy can’t hit for average( I should say wont). If the phillies had a true table setter at the top of the order , Howard could be closing in a RBI record.

    • genericcommenter - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:33 AM

      The Yankees sign players that are good. These are the types of players that would get a Spring Training invite and have to compete for a job with the AAA role players. Maybe get a minor league deal with incentives. They don’t sign below average role players with sub .300 OBP for million$. Yeah, they spend the big millions- but on guys that are worth it. Why spend it on guys that aren’t any better than minor league journeymen and non-prospect AAA players? If they do spend on reserves, they get someone proven at a specific skill- whether it is mashing lefties or fielding a specific position.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:46 AM

        You mean guys like Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Eric Chavez, and Andrew Jones? Guys that are good….like that?

      • Kevin S. - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        Three out of those four were actually quite good last year.

    • Alex K - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:36 AM

      Papelbon is only three months younger than Madson. Their ages for this discussion are the same.

      • kcq101 - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        Although their age may be similar, Madson has over one extra full year in the league, having faced 2663 batters in 630 innings pitched over the course of his regular season career. Whereas, Papelbon faced only 1729 batters in ~430 innings. That’s approx. 33% less ‘work’ than that of Madon’s.

        I’m not sure if the extent of a closer’s previous body of work, in terms of pitches thrown, innings pitched, etc. has any predictive value as to any decline in his performance. But, if so, Papelbon certainly has the “younger” arm.

        On the face of it, reading those numbers, I’d have to think that it carries some meaning.

  12. xmatt0926x - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Who are all the great free agents that the Phillies are missing out on? We’re talking about bench players and role players getting 1 or 2 year deals here. To say it’s been “woeful” is to say that it should have or at least could have been much better. who are these guys that would have been so much better? Maybe there are a few better bench players here and there but would they have made so much a difference to the Phillies chances that their winter would then be described as tremendous instead of woeful? And what other teams are having these “tremendous” winters? Outside of the Marlins who are building from scratch basically with new stadium projected revenues and signing sexy starters, who else is having such a great winter or will have one? The 1 or 2 teams that will get Pujols or Fielder? The Phils weren’t in position to go for them anyway. CJ Wilson? Do the Phillies need him? So again, who out there would make this a non-woeful winter for the Phillies and would make them so much better than the 100+ win team they already were?

    • phillyphreak - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:33 AM

      1) Woeful may not be the most appropriate term. Maybe head scratching? Sure they didn’t miss on any big free agents or anything. But they’re targeting the type of hitters who don’t get on base. Wiggington and Thome aren’t exactly solid defenders either.

      2) Did they really need to spend that much on Papelbon? If you say yes because of “closer mentality” in the response I will hunt you down and make you drink a Natty Ice. No, two. (I like Papelbon, he’ll do well in Philly. It’s just too much money. And why do it that early, before the new CBA?)

      3) They have bigger needs: SS and resigning Cole would have been my two top priorities.

      • paperlions - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:58 AM

        That is how it looks to me as well. I suppose they could use a LF if they aren’t going to give Brown a shot. Mayberry may be useful, but he’s already 28 yrs old….he may be a late bloomer, but he looks more like a bench player.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:56 AM

        Phreak, Which high OBP guys were they supposed to pick via FA? I’m curious. The guys you’re bitching about are going to be bench players where they could use more power. Martinez as well as Valdez had no pop, and Valdez was almost a guaranteed DP waiting to happen. And as far as Papelbon goes, you act as if it’s your money and as if his signing is going to hamstring Philly which it’s not. His salary is easily made up for by Lidge and Ibanez leaving, plus Oswalt. They still have plenty more $$$ left over. Even if they resign Oswalt it won’t be for what he made last season. They wanted to put the best reliever on the market on YOUR team, and you bitch about it because “it’s too much” of some other persons money. I don’t get it. Are you a fan or a GM who could do it better?

      • phillyphreak - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:35 AM

        Jonny

        I think that one can be critical of the team they like and still be considered a fan. In general, I don’t like giving relievers long contracts for lots of money. Will it hurt them this season? No but it probably will limit flexibility in a few years (see Lidge, Brad). So if they can’t put the best players on my team in a few years because they’re paying an ineffective reliever a ton of money that will bother me.

        And just because I’m not paying the money doesn’t mean I have to like the move. As I’ve said before I like Papelbon, I think he’ll do well. Random question, though I’m not sure how likely this is, what happens if Madson accepts arbitration? That’s a lot of money in two relievers.

        “Which high OBP guys were they supposed to pick via FA?”

        I don’t know really, but they’d probably have to spend a little more money for one. But if, as RAJ claimed in his press conference after the season, the goal is to get better at bats, it’s hard to see how that philosophy is playing out with these signings. Bench players still bring a skill set, and if they can’t get on base it doesn’t do anything to solve the issues that have haunted the Phillies in the playoffs the last few seasons. It shouldn’t be “hey this guy can’t get on base but he hits HR off of right handed pitchers so let’s give him a two year deal.”

        Wiggington and Thome are just not solid with the glove. Just because Wiggington can play many positions doesn’t mean he plays any of them well (or even average). Defense is equally as important with this pitching staff. And while Martinez and Valdez had no pop, at least they were capable/good defenders.

        And why give two years to Nix? Is RAJ effectively trying to stunt Browns development?

        Look I know they are all bench players and I really don’t do more than say eh oh well and shrug my shoulders. But the approach is just head scratching to me- like RAJ really doesn’t value important skill sets. To me it just seems like all of these moves are lateral moves and none really improve the team.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Phreak, Papelbon isn’t going to cause the Phillies to run out of players to buy in the future, they have plenty of money ( I know, it’s tough to get used to as a Phills fan). As I mentioned above, they dropped quite a bit of salary this season, and Madson would be an idiot to accept arbitration, as he’d surely get a one year deal well over what he’d get in arbitration, that’s ridiculous actually. If anything the Phillies would probably love that. As far as as High OBP players are concerned, there weren’t any that play positions the Phills can use. By signing these guys they did, they made the bench better on offense as best they could. Also with the Phillies pitching staff, defense isn’t a huge factor when it comes to bench players. And I’d take the offensive upgrades any day. On Nix, Nix is a pinch hitter, and that doesn’t impede Brown’s development, being a pinch hitter for the Phillies will though. Brown is best served in AAA all season long imo with regular AB’s.

        On a side note, it would be nice to get those high OBP players you mentioned, but with the FA men available it would take blowing up the team in trades to do so.

      • xmatt0926x - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:45 PM

        Agree totally with Johnny5. Nobody is disagreeing that the bench players they have signed won’t set the world on fire and that yes, they have higher priorities if they want to improve. But these are the bench players who are just going to be replacing the other barely useful bench players they had from last year! If they don’t improve on their higher priority areas this offseason it wont be because they signed Thome and Lance Nix. That’s the point I’m making. Neither player will make more than an innefective Ross Gload would have made. I just don’t get why so much has been made of these insignificant signings that every team makes every year. Either way you can quote all the OPS figures you want. Lets wait until after the year to see if these guys helped or not. Now, if you want to say that in general that Amaro has hindered the gteams chances at improving because of the major contracts he has given out than be my guest. It’s been questionable at best. But these latest bench signings will likely barely make a ripple one way or the other.

    • siftin thru nonsense - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      After the playoff loss, Amaro Jr. was saying we need hitters that work the pitcher, draw walks, get on base.. but he hasnt signed guys like that. I do like the Thome signing and dont mind Wigginton, but we didnt really address the glaring problem. I guess they will train old dogs to do new tricks? I dont know. This isnt that type of team I guess.

  13. cleverbob - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Future is looking murky at best…

    • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:58 AM

      The only thing that is going to be murky is the view in the locker room after numerous champagne celebrations.

      • spudchukar - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:19 AM

        What the Pheelies get poor TV reception in their home locker room?

  14. Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Woeful?? We haven’t even reached the end of the winter meetings yet…. Trolling??? could it be?

  15. Francisco (FC) - Dec 5, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Woeful? LOL! Craig you are not, Matthew. Stop pretending… :D

  16. mojosmagic - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    One All Star closer and improved power off the bench.Last time I checked Utley plays second and Polonco is at third. Platooning Nix and Mayberry in left is an upgrade over Ibanez. You can’t have All Stars coming off the bench but they sure have added power and versatility. The Phil’s won 102 games last year without a contribution from the bench . Does the writer know that there was concern with Madson losing feeling in his right hand for half a season? Madson misses games every year and that played into their thinking.

  17. mojosmagic - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Brown isn’t ready and needs a full year in the minors before being written off. Francisco is a right handed bat while Nix is a lefty so comparing the two is a joke. Oswalt was hurt most of the year and Blanton will be Bach pitching on a contract year. All of these move don’t add up to what they were over paying Ibanez last year which means they should be able to sign Rollins. What’s the problem?

  18. mojosmagic - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    Bell is 7 years older and was starting to lose velocity last year. It is really a shame Ruben can’t grow up and emulate the Marlins. Lol. The Phil’s need to get younger and they aren’t going to do that via trades for bench guys but rather through expiring contracts.

  19. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 5, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    That’s normally a headline that would make me angry, but I can’t say I disagree with a single thing written by Matthew in this article. The Phillies had a woeful NLDS and this winter is only making it worse.

    I have said all along…the Phillies need to build a team to win the World Series, not the NL East. Signing a closer to a $50 million dollar 4 year deal is NOT something you do to win the World Series. How many games did the Phillies bullpen blow in the NLDS? Oh yeah…zero. Why blow $50 million on Papelbon?

    Now, if Ruben wants to tell me that the payroll is unlimited, then fine. Go out and sign Pujols then if it is unlimited. He’d be a pretty nice big right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup wouldn’t he? Oh yeah, the Phillies do not want to go above the luxury tax. I get it. I also get the Howard signing and will always back them on it. But I will NEVER see the reason to sign all these middling bats and a closer for an outrageous amount of cash when, at least as long as you have a healthy Doc, Lee and Hamels as your top 3 starters, there is no way in hell you are losing the division.

    Sadly, as the biggest Phillies fan on this board, I am starting to see them becoming the stinking Braves from 1991 to 2005, except with a much shorter window and even less success than they had.

    • spudchukar - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Fior, Kudos. Unlike many of your Brethren (that is the correct term in Philly is it not), you are able to look at the current squad with critical eyes. Polanco will probably begin the season healthy, which should help, but he still offers no thump from 3B. Rollins may not be resigned. Utley is a year older and cannot be counted on to play everyday. Howard, will begin the season on the DL. Chooch needs a contract extension, and a back-up is still needed.

      This is a team that was offensively challenged in the post-season, and during spells in the regular season. So far, they have not done anything to improve that, and if Rollins leaves, they will be taking a step backwards. If Rollins’ exit is combined by an Oswalt defection, then the starting pitching will be weakened, and the recent signees have hurt the D, which will also negatively impact the starting rotation.

      If the signing of Crapelbon depletes the available funds, it is hard to see how that move can be justified with the aforementioned issues. Plus the division is certainly going to be tougher. The Nationals may only be one bat and one arm away from contending, and they have indicated they are players this off-season. The Marlins will certainly be better, maybe way better, and if the Braves move a couple of their expendable arms for some thunder, they too will be contenders.

      They need an impact bat, and to this point the acquisitions have more resembled a team devoid of any serious weaknesses. That is not a critical assessment of the 2012 team, with or without Rollins and Oswalt, but a view of denial by fans and management.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        Like I say below, potatoman…if they sign Ramirez and keep Rollins, then that would be fine with me. But don’t sign Ramirez and let Rollins go and say “We couldn’t afford J-Roll.” No way…don’t want to hear the words “We couldn’t afford” coming out of Ruben’s mouth when they blew $12.5 on Papelbon. He could be the greatest closer of all time and it doesn’t matter. This isn’t the 2008 team with Moyer, Myers, Kendrick and Eaton in the rotation. They didn’t need Papelbon…he was a luxury and all I was saying is that he shouldn’t have been signed in lieu of Rollins + a bat like Ramirez.

        We’ll see if NinJr has something up his sleeve…..

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        Chris, they can afford it when you think of a rotation of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley, Blanton. with Kendrick to fill in for injuries. Oswalt cost 16 m. Ibanez 12 m. And Lidge made 12m. Lidge money went to Papelbon. That’s 28 million left over and they’re still under the luxury tax. I think people assuming the Papelbon signing hamstrung them is wishful at best. I even think they don’t mind flirting with the luxury tax as first time offenders anyway as it’s easy on them.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM

        We’ll see J5. If they sign Ramirez and Rollins, then it’s much ado about nothing. But if they let Rollins go for money reasons…and if he signs a 3 year deal with a vesting option for a 4th somewhere else, then it will be because of money reasons…then the Papelbon deal will come back to bite them. Especially since, again, he is a player they just didn’t need. They are easily 8-10 games better than the rest of the division with their sick starting pitching. It’s the playoffs that they have to start worrying about.

  20. badmamainphilliesjamas - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    @Chris – I’m not sure that any GM can build a World Series champion at the winter meetings. One can build a team to win the division, but too many things change over the course of a long season. With a team than won 100+ last year, I’d rather see RAJ make judicious moves now to bolster the lineup, then make additional adjustments in July

  21. Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Amaro isn’t finished, winter is not over just yet folks.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      If they can get Ramirez and keep Rollins, then I believe they have an unlimited payroll. I don’t want to hear any BS about getting Ramirez and then having to let Rollins go when they wasted 12.5 on Papelbon. Period. They could have put anybody into the closer role this year…I’ll say it again…THE PHILLIES CLOSER ROLE IS THE LEAST IMPORTANT ROLE IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. The bastid could have been a fine closer with another year under his belt. But again…sign Rollins and get Ramirez, and everything is back to being OK with me.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:39 PM

        Not unlimited Chris, aw hell, look at what I posted above. Minus the money spent on the Utility guys of course.

  22. spudchukar - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Ramirez’s bat sure would be a needed score, but if that means Rollins goes, your team ERA, just jumped about 1/2 a run per game with which once was a pretty darn good defensive infield, and now could be one of the MLB’s worst, depending on the SS scenario.

  23. rc5000 - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Can’t say it’s thrilling but it’s way too early to be making stupid comments that the offseason is woeful this early especially after they signed a closer. Call him crapelbon or overpaid or whatever, he is one of the most accomplished closers and still young enough.

    Wigginton and Nix moves (if official) aren’t great or bad. For whatever reason, they have always seemed fascinated with Wig.

    Personally I consider the Pence trade part of this offseason, getting him early was a bonus. I really did not expect anything major in this offseason besides filling the closer spot and keeping or replacing Rollins and some possible bench moves and MAYBE a lefthanded reliever to add to Bastardo.

    As far as the team getting older, that really has little to do with the offseason considering the overall makeup of the team. That’s how it is. Unless they forego signing Jimmy and trade for a younger SS or 3B, not sure what you do to make the club younger. Are you going to trade Chase? Obviously you can’t trade Rhino. Polly has a year left so there isn’t much to do there. Mayberry is still young. Pence is in his prime and Papelbon isn’t older like a Heath Bell.

    Think the expectations are way out of whack. Expect them to re-sign Jimmy or get some help at SS or 3B. That’s really all that’s expected. Whining about bench signings whatever. They aren’t great moves but when are they ever?

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