|Does this guy have a place in Philly now?
Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.
Nieves for Kratz is almost negligible. Nieves had some success with the stick, but allowed a lot of passed-balls, which basically makes him similar to Kratz. Lincoln is young enough, cheap enough, and good enough (3.98 ERA in 31.2 innings) that i'm fine with picking him up, but he really doesn't strike out many guys, so thinking this is a high-leverage pick-up is stupid. As for sending Rasmussen in the deal, I don't care much, but that a.) we just added him to the 40 man roster and didn't add Seth Rosin, and b.) I actually don't care at all, so whatever.
These are not big upgrade kind of moves. The Phillies are not better or worse for these moves. I mean, Lincoln hopefully is helpful in 2014, but he's not an 8th inning guy, or even a potential one unless he learns to miss more bats. Like I said, Nieves for Kratz is like trading four quarters for a dollar. The Phillies were a 73-89 team last year. Coming just after tendering contracts to the likes of John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen, this just continues to show a GM in denial. Ruben Amaro thinks the Phillies will just be healthier in 2014, and turn into a 90 win team as a result, despite two years of evidence otherwise. Next thing you know, he'll bring back Roy Halladay to "upgrade" his rotation.
One potential target in free agency is gone though after tonight, and that is Jacoby Ellsbury, now a New York Yankee. Ellsbury got seven years and $150 million, neither of which are smart or reasonable, and I'm glad we didn't spend that on him. With that said, right now we would enter the season with Dom Brown, Ben Revere, and Marlon Byrd as our outfielder, and despite Ellsbury's injury history, you could make an argument that he'd be our best, or second best outfielder. Guys like Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson are still out there, and may be available for better deals, but none appears cheap.
At this point, the best option to upgrade probably is still in the rotation, the one area that Amaro hasn't seemingly blocked up with goo. I'd love to see Masahiro Tanaka in Philadelphia, and would not have major issues, cost not considered yet, with Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon, or Matt Garza. I'm not as excited about Bronson Arroyo, despite his durability (he's still a 200 inning guy). I just feel this team needs a guy it can slot in the 1-3 slots with Lee and Hamels, not a guy who's just about the same as Kyle Kendrick.
I'd like to see them look at the non-tendered market for relievers as well, though I'd probably shy away from paying John Axford's likely price. Ryan Webb would be solid on a one year, and I would be intrigued by a minor league deal for an Andrew Bailey (much like a Ryan Madson or Joel Hanrahan). Daniel Bard and Mitchell Boggs are risky, but probably risky at a better price than Axford or Edward Mujica.
I keep telling myself that it's not even the winter meetings yet, and I should be patient. I could feel a lot better about this off-season two weeks from now than I do today. We could shed a terrible contract, pick up a top of the rotation starter, sign a one year deal with a set-up type guy, or do something way beyond my comprehension right now. I also realize that's not likely the case, based on what Ruben Amaro Jr.'s actions this off-season suggest. Amaro is going to send Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Darin Ruf to compete for limited spots, while giving the inside track to clearly mediocre or worse players in John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen, the quintessential "replacement" players. He apparently seems to believe that this team is just "better health" from being a playoff team. I think that's a fundamentally flawed view of this team's status. At least if he had dropped Mayberry and/or Frandsen to make room for Galvis, Hernandez, and Ruf, I'd say he's taking a chance that these guys can show at least as much talent as their numbers (even if scouting disagrees) in the minors suggest they have, in a limited role. Right now, he appears very stuck in his ways. I hope I'm wrong.