On the night of Thanksgiving, the only discussion piece in the NL East was the Marlins giving up for the next 7 to 10 season. No major moves were being made. No trades were being conjured up. No Greinke. No Upton. No Hamilton.
Things have changed.
On Wednesday night, Atlanta won the bidding war with the Phillies and signed free agent outfielder B.J. Upton to a 5 year, $75 million deal. However, it may not have been as big of a bidding war as previously believed. Several sources have said that the deal the Braves eventually signed Upton to was $20 million more than what Ruben Amaro and company were willing to offer. Yeesh. That means that either Upton was overpaid, or Amaro changed his mind in terms of a new center fielder.
After this signing, the Braves then traded away RHP Tommy Hanson to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden. I actually like this move a lot. The Braves have had a pretty solid bullpen the last two years, with Cy Young candidate Craig Kimbrel shoring up the closer’s role. Now they’ve added the impressive arm of the 25 year old Walden. After the Phillies deal for Wilton Lopez fell through, I hoped they would go after Walden, who became expendable after the team signed Ryan Madson (sad face).
Following this move, the Mets would go on to sign star third baseman David Wright to a whopping 8 year, $138 million extension when combined with his contract for next season. Someone isn’t leaving the division any time soon. It’s a great move for the Mets, and an obvious sign that any slim chance there was for the Phillies to trade for him is now obliterated.
Last night, the Nationals made a move that, for some reason, has blurred the vision of some baseball fans. The leading members of NATITUDE pulled off a deal that would send speedy outfielder Denard Span from Minnesota to Washington. And in that one moment, Span turned into one of the best players in the game (kidding). But there are people who are making a huge deal about this trade, claiming it all but secures the NL East crown for the Nats next year. I just don’t see it. As Rich mentioned earlier, their adding Span’s bat to the lineup, only to lose a more powerful guy in Morse or LaRoche, plus RHP Alex Meyer, a highly touted prospect.
As for the Marlins, they’re done. They are, in no way, in contention this season. 5 of their highest paid players were shipped north of the border, and fans of the team are not happy. At least we won’t finish last this season.
This offseason, the Phillies have managed to lose Carlos Ruiz for 25 games, sign catcher Humberto Quintero (who I will now call BERR because of his Wikipedia pronunciation: [oom-BERR-to kin-TAIR-o]), and bring back Kevin Frandsen for another season, among other minor moves. I’m glad to see Frandsen back, but everything else is just disappointing. Ruiz will never be the same, and Quintero just sucks. I don’t need to give you stats to prove that. Erik Kratz could help, but the days of an offensive catcher are gone.
With all these moves made by division rivals, the Phillies must do something. I’ve got three moves the team must now make to stay competitive.
3. Get Mike Adams
There hasn’t been much buzz on Adams this offseason, but he would be a pretty good signing. He’s got a lifetime 2.28 ERA and averages a strikeout per inning pitched. Other than Papelbon, our bullpen was anything but good this year. Now, I do expect it to improve already, with names like Stutes and Aumont being a part of it. Bringing Adams in gives Charlie another option out there, an option with experience that can really shut things down. I would also still be open to bringing back former Phillies Brett Myers. He doesn’t have the same numbers as Adams, but he can be as effective when he’s at his best.
2. Trade for Chase Headley
A couple of days ago, I wrote about a potential trade for Padres third basemen Chase Headley. There’s no guarantee that Amaro has asked about him, but he should. Guys like Trevor May and Cody Ache are expendable, so giving them away for Headley would greatly improve this lineup. His ability to hit homeruns in Citizens Bank Park over his old home in San Diego would be dramatic. I’m not quite sure what spot in the lineup he could take, but that would be the least of our worries if he could drive in 100 RBI’s over the season. Wherever it would be, I would put him just ahead of this guy…
1. SIGN JOSH HAMILTON
I know that in my wish list, I gave several reasons as to why I didn’t want Hamilton in Philly. But after the moves we’ve seen the other teams have made, I think it’s a necessity. I have no desire to bring Angel Pagan here. Nothing about him impresses me. I’m a numbers guy, and I don’t like any of his. Michael Bourn would be entertaining, but he’s past his prime in uniform. Hamilton is a very high risk signing, but if the MVP caliber player arrives, Amaro will look like a genius, as long as the initial deal is no longer than 5 years.
There you have it. These are the most critical moves for the team to make right now. Each of these moves addresses a major need for the Phillies. While Amaro must make the best moves to improve this team, he must also act quickly. If a major move isn’t made any time soon, players will get picked up and the Phils will have no more options. And that, my friends, just can’t happen. So please, RAJ, if you’re reading this, do us all a favor. Give us some glimmer of hope as we head into the final month of 2012.
Follow Andrew Gillen on Twitter @BigGillen48