On my morning drive to school, my friend and I are usually tuned into Preston and Steve because, well, it’s Preston and Steve. But this morning, I happened to stumble upon Todd Zolecki, Phillies beat writer for MLB.com, being interviewed on 94.1 WIP. I’m glad I detoured my normal routine because I was able to hear some pretty interesting tidbits from the esteemed writer. Hosts Al Morganti and Angelo Cataldi were on their game, getting Todd to unveil some very intriguing thoughts on the Phillies’ current situation. Here’s a bit of what Zolecki had to say:
Hamilton: Of course, with some of the best outfield options off the board,
Josh Hamilton was the first topic. The Phillies are in extreme need of at least
one outfielder, and bringing Hamilton is something Zolecki says has been
discussed. They are not front runners, and Hamilton’s past is playing a role in
both the money and years they are willing to give him. As of now, the Phillies
already have $130 million committed for the 2012 season. Ruben Amaro has
expressed that the team’s goal is to reach just about $170 million by season’s
start, much like they did last season. Signing Hamilton to a 5 year, $100
million contract (as is expected) would only leave about $20 million free to
spend on a third baseman, another outfielder, and some relievers. Plus, the
team is not too comfortable giving him so many years.
Bourn: With Angel Pagan and BJ Upton already signed, Michael Bourn remains
as a second or third tier option compared to Hamilton. We all know that Bourn
began his career with Philly, and has spent the majority of his superb years in
other cities. While he still has some great attributes, Bourn is on the
decline, and the Phillies see that. There was some initial interest between
both parties, but between Scott Boras’ high asking price and concerns over
Bourn’s production, the interest from the Phillies perspective is slowly
Victorino: Angelo Cataldi said it best. “One tour of duty with him is
enough.” When Victorino’s name was brought up, Zolecki did not seem to think
there was much of a chance at a reunion. Shane seems to be asking for $10
million a year, which would have been plausible 2 or 3 years ago. But not now.
Any team that spends that much will be over spending, and the Phillies probably
know that better than anyone. They also know that the Flyin’ Hawaiin probably won’t
be coming back to Philly, as their relationship as also diminishing.
Granderson: This was the most interesting part of the interview for me.
Zolecki acknowledged that there is a chance Granderson, an MVP candidate the
last couple of years, could be put on the trading block by the New York
Yankees. The Yankees are always in the hunt for high-priced free agents, but
they’ve also been interested in shedding some of their extra money. First, it
was A-Rod rumored to be on his way out. Now, Granderson could be playing for a
new team in 2013. Zolecki states the obvious, saying it would take a lot to
bring in a player of his caliber. But in my opinion, it would be worth it.
Ellsbury: Another AL East center fielder could be on the move, as Ellsbury’s
name has come up on the trading block. Al Morganti proposed a straight-up trade
that would ship starting pitcher Roy Halladay to Boston for their center fielder.
In response, Zolecki says the trade would fill each team’s needs, but it
probably wouldn’t fair well for the Phils. Losing Halladay would move everyone
up in the rotation, meaning Kyle Kendrick would become the third or fourth
starter. Let that sink in. In the end, Zolecki called the trade “stupid”.
Youkilis: We haven’t heard much about him lately, but Youkilis is still
garnering interest from several teams. The issue for the Phillies, Zolecki
says, is the recent contract given to Placido Polanco. Polly signed a 3 year
deal before the 2009 season, and performed well that year. However, the final
two thirds of the contract were nothing but disappointment. Injuries plagued
him and essentially ended his impressive baseball career. In the Phillies eyes,
it would be worrisome to bring Youkilis in for too long. They don’t want to be
stuck with another Polanco in the coming years.
Brown & Darin Ruf: Right now, the Phillies are comfortable with having
Brown and Ruf in the outfield positions, according to Zolecki. However, the two
are better seen as a platoon until Ruf becomes an everyday player.
- Cody Asche: Instead of being mentioned in potential trades, Asche’s name was brought up as being a possible major leaguer this season. Zolecki notes the potential of Asche playing third base for Lehigh Valley, as well as getting a chance with the Phillies. This would be an interesting tryout, as Asche could become a major player for the team in the near future.
There was a lot to take in from this interview, and I had no desire to focus on my class, which gave me a chance to ponder the talk. The one thing that jumped out the most for me was the possibility of bringing Granderson to Philly. I’m not sure just what it would take to bring him here, but you can be assured that names like Cloyd and Biddle would be involved. There is both upside and downside with the Grandyman coming here, as there is with any player. While he’s been in MVP talks recently, Granderson is aging and is known to strike out quite a bit. Pairing him with Howard would bring on enough strikeouts to go around. However, I would be more confident in Granderson’s ability than Hamilton’s.
Some names that Zolecki did not touch on included Giancarlo Stanton, Nick Swisher, Jeff Keppinger, Chase Headley, Michael Young, and Mike Olt. Stanton is the most impressive name here, but the Marlins outfielder more than likely won’t be traded this offseason. His continued voicing of displeasure, though, could lead to some changed minds. Nick Swisher, a free agent corner outfielder, could also be brought in as a cheaper option. Putting him in center/right would allow for the aforementioned Ruf/Brown platoon. Jeff Keppinger is a very cheap option as an infielder, but recent interest in him may hike up the price. I would love to see the journeyman in a Phillies uniform. I’ve discussed Headley in previous posts, and my belief that he may be traded has all but vanished. One can only hope, though. The final two names, Young and Olt, are two infielders in the Texas Rangers organization. Both players have been brought up in trade rumors, and both could fill the empty slot at third base. While Young is the more seasoned veteran, Olt has been seen as a highly touted third baseman of the future. Both guys could come in and perform well in Citizens Bank Park.
There are many options left for the Phillies, as long as they act soon. Plenty of guys could be available in the trade market, and I fully expect Ruben to shock us with a major move or two in the coming days.
Follow Todd Zolecki on Twitter @ToddZolecki
Follow Andrew Gillen on Twitter @BigGillen48