Maybe I’m still riding a high from the Phillies world series victory, or maybe I’m just crazy.
But here it is mid-November, a time when baseball is on sleep-mode, and I am still glued to MLB.com (cheap plug), ESPN.com and any other web-site that could potentially provide info on recent free-agent news.
I’m excited because this is such an exciting time of year for so many teams, a time when everyone can put last years failures behind them and look forward to 2009 with all the hope in the world. It is a time of year where the makeup of a team can change over night and one player added or subtracted can turn a pretender into a contender.
Here are a couple of off-season stories that I find particularly interesting:
Holliday to the A’s, who’d-a-thunk it?
I really wasn’t aware the A’s were a player in the Holliday sweepstakes, but then again, none of the Oakland A’s transaction make sense to me. What blows my mind every season is how the A’s can trade away another solid player (Jermaine Dye, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Rich Harden, Dan Haren) and somehow replace him with someone you’ve never heard of who’s just as good. There’s something in the water in the Oakland farm system because it appears anyone you plug into the A’s lineup comes out solid.
The problem is while the team always come out solid, it’ amounted to a big goose-egg in the playoff series win column. This year, however, they’re the ones adding the all-star and former MVP candidate. Maybe this can give them the spark they need to put them over the hill. Who knows?
Is Peavy going to the Braves or not?
Atlanta is another one of those teams in the NL that looks good on paper but just doesn’t seem to be able to pull it together at the same time. They’re another one of those teams with a solid farm system to plug in a new guy when an old guy leaves, most recently, Jeff Franceour. But most of that farm system, if not a whole Single-A franchise, went to Texas for Mark Texieira last season, so that’s another big question mark.
Chipper Jones could have hit a bottle cap with a pencil in April-early June, and they’re hoping he can do that for a whole season again in ’09. Hampton’s contract is up so he’s looking for somewhere else to go collect $100 million for doing absolutely nothing.
Simply put, they need pitching to compete in their division against the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies (I’ll take any excuse to throw that in there) and the New York Mets who are becoming the Junior Yankees by spending ridiculous amounts of money each season resulting in absolutely no change. Peavy might be a good fit, but they have more problems, like finding a new Single-A team.
Who are the Yankees gonna buy for Joe Girardi for Christmas this year?
“The Boss Jr.” seems to be sticking by George’s old philosophies that haven’t worked since the 90’s and this offseason shows no indication of that changing. In my mind, I see Hank going after Merk Texieira and C.C. Sabathia who might be the two best free agents not named Manny Ramirez. Both players fit their needs (a power-hitting first baseman and a solid starter) and Texieira gives them the powerful switch hitter they haven’t seen since Bernie Williams. But he’s not the second coming of Mickey Mantle and won’t hide the fact that the team is not as much of a team as they are a collection of All-Stars wearing the same uniform. There’s a reason they haven’t won it all since 2000. It’s time for a change in philosophy from the top-down.
Manny will be Manny no matter where he is.
LA wants him, there’s no doubt about it, but like I’ve said before, the Dodgers need more than him to get any further than they did last year. Manny’s probably the best hitter in baseball, but if I were the Dodgers, I think I’d rather spend $100 million on 3 or 4 solid players than one superstar. Maybe they can get him to sign for less, maybe not, but Manny wants years.
Yes, I’d love to see him in a Phillies uniform, there’s no doubt about it. Anyone have a problem with that?
Manny’s won rings, so he’s not looking to get any monkeys off his back. He wants a home. He wants to settle in somehwere to end his career on a high-note instead of becoming a slugger-for-hire. Whoever can offer him five years or moe will get him regardless of the dollar figure, I think.
Any disagreements? I would love to start a discussion. Please comment.
In case you have never read my blog, I am a Phillies fan, so I am predicting some of you may chalk up this post as bias, but I pray you, read on.
The Phillies have just come off of a World Series Championship, and what has been a trend for world series teams the year after?
Colorado, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston, Chicago, Florida, San Francisco, the list goes on.
The exceptions are Boston and Anaheim, who were able to stay in contention following a world series appearance. The Rays are a young team under contract and look to remain a core group for at least the next couple seasons. The Phillies, however, have the potential to be broken up and sold piece by piece withing the next year or two. Their time to win is now or they may suffer another rebuilding phase.
The funny thing about Philadelphia is once we get a few wins under our belts, we are spoiled. It happened with the Flyers, Sixers, the Eagle most recently, and now the Phils. So my guess is that anything less than another championship next year will be seen as failure in the eyes of Philadelphians.
What can I say?
We have high standards.
I know a little too much about sports business to know that’s much easier said than done; and while my love for the team is greater than most, it isn’t enough to blind my judgment.
I heard someone on ESPN say that the Phillies dubbed Manny Ramirez as “too expensive” for the club. Well, that may be, but now is not the time to get cheap, Ruben. If it’s money you’re worried about, don’t. Philly fans would hand over their mortgage to see him in left field. I know I would (if I had one). We’re that phanatical.
Pat Burrell may or may not sign. If he does, great, he’s a cornerstone to the organization. But if he doesn’t, they need to go after Manny and go after him aggressively. Burrell leaves a big hole in the field and in the lineup. Manny’s not the type of player to fit into the 5-spot but that’ll be Charlie manuel’s problem.
The Phillies would also need more power from the right side of the plate without Burrell. Utley and Howard who provide most of the lineup’s power hit from the left and the switch-hitting Rollins and Victorino hit for more power from the left as well. Werth is a solid role player but isn’t consistent enough as a power-hitter to fit the need. If they can’t replace Burrell with a righty of comparative power, they’ll have more trouble against leftys in 2009 than in 2008. Overall, even the left-handed hitters in their lineup had good numbers versus southpaws in ’08, but the absence of a righty may change that.
If I were in Ruben Amaro Jr.’s position, I would want Manny just to show the organization, the team and the fans that winning is his prime objective.
But I’m not Ruben Amaro Jr., and maybe I’m not in his position because I’m a complete moron and I should stick to blogging. I have faith that the team will do what they can to continue to win championships. I don’t want to see a great team like the 2008 Phillies be dismantled like the 1997 Marlins. I know that won’t happen this year, but I am more than familiar with the rise and fall of Philadelphia teams.
The window of opportunity is small and closes fast. That is what I think the true curse of Billy Penn. The Phils were able to get a championship in before the window closed but who knows how much longer it will be open?
As a fan of the game, I normally advocate a different team win every year, but that was before my team won it all. I don’t want to be a spoiled fan, but I know in the back of my mind that if we don’t win another one soon, it could be another 28 years.
I don’t want this city to go through that again.
Make a play.