Buyers or Sellers? Playoffs or Golf? Uncle Cholly or Leyland? The staff of the Good Phight got together during the All Star break for its first roundtable to discuss these issues and many more.
[DonCarman] So, midpoint of the season, 45-44, do the Phils buy or sell?
[DSC] I think the Phils should sell some very attractive pieces with the intent to get better both this year and next; I'm talking Thome and Wagner. Thome can be attractive if enough money is eaten. But the team can still contend this year, and there's no way the Phils trade Wagner if they think they're in it.
[Laaaaazzz] I'd sell Wagner (preferably) or Urbina, and Bell or Thome if people would want them. The Phillies would absolutely never trade Thome. That's a problem with the Phillies, though, not the concept.
[Lethal] Thome, with his salary, wouldn't pry anything away from anyone except for a guy like Chan Ho Park. No thanks.
[Bakestar] I think things would have to be disastrous over the next two weeks (3-10 for instance) for the Phillies to be sellers. But will this team (specifically Wade) ever eat any significant salary?
[Alex Falzone] Even if they're not in it, do you really think Wade runs up the white flag by trading Wagner?
[Laz] Wagner could theoretically get traded, just because he's being a prick.
[JonK] Wagner has to be dangled to the Yankees - that is how we get the Red Sox to react.
[DSC] How attractive do you think UUU would be in the trade market?
[Dajafi] I think Urbina has some value. What's interesting is whether his value is greater or lesser than it was when we got him. I'd do Urbina to Boston for Shoppach straight up.
[Laz] UUU has to have less value now than when we got him. I'd rather keep UUU because you can offer arbitration to him and at least get draft picks. Wags is gone after 2005.
[BS] Some might write his struggles off as the CBP Effect.
[PhatJ] Anybody looking for bullpen help could use Urbina. He's a good pitcher, and probably overrated.
[DSC] That's the thing - Urbina still has lots of draw in this market. Wade has to see that he's a big draw.
[Shore] Baltimore is `dangling' Julio to the Marlins in a Burnett deal. Let's dangle UUU.
[PJ] Who's Julio?
[Shore] Jorge Julio- think Antonio Alfonseca with fewer fingers.
[DJF] Urbina has to have more value than him, right?
[DSC] OK, how about the Cubs for Wagner? They need a closer; Dusty is a traditional manager who likes guys like Wagner; they've got pitching; how about Zambrano? They've got other young studs and now Williams to go along with the veteran in Maddux.
[Shore] I'd move Wagner and Howard both for Zambrano, but that's just me.
[DC] DSC, good one, I actually thought about Zambrano for Wagner earlier in May. I think it's not unreasonable, but I wouldn't do the deal if I was the Cubs GM.
[BS] I think it depends on where the Cubs are...they look pretty stinky right now. What good is Wagner to them?
[PJ] Well, the Astros were buyers last year.
[Laz] Yeah, I don't think the Cubs would mortgage the future to get a closer at this point. The Cubs might get a reliever; I just don't think they'd give up Zambrano for one.
[BS] But they (the Astros) went on an historic run last year.
[DJF] Billy Beane said in that great Athletics Nation interview
that the A's are always both buyers and sellers at the deadline, which to me is the approach that always makes the most sense. Most teams try to balance long- and short-term goals.
[DSC] DJF - that's exactly how Wade should look at this. But we know he won't.
[Laz] I've mentioned the "being buyers and sellers" thing before and got some inquisitive looks. It's not a tough concept.
[DC] I think everyone generally agrees that the Phils still have a chance but should look to sell pieces that will get them better, not just in the future but today - acquiring pieces in positions where there are already holes, like 3B or catcher.
[DC] So let's go another direction that Bakestar led us. Where will the Phillies stand on July 31? And let's take it a step further: what's the Phillies' record at the end of the year and, based on that, will Ed Wade be fired?
[AF] July 31 - Still middling along, in the hunt but not quite there.
[DSC] 6 games back; Howard is gone for someone like Jamie Moyer. Wade will be fired in the off-season. This management group has never done something in the middle of the season and won't do it now. They see it as a weakness.
[Shore] 13-4 to close out the month; 58-48 record, in a virtual deadlock with Atlanta and Washington. [JK] 13-4 huh? 13-game winning streak after the Marlins series?
[Shore] 3 of 4 from the Marlins, who suck (outside of Cabrera). [edit: congrats, Shore]
[DJF] Phils will be three or four games over .500 on July 31.
[Shore] My year-end prediction: the Phils win 91 games, including 3 Hamels starts in September. They make the playoffs and win at least one playoff series. Wade stays one more year, then moves aside for Amaro.
[BS] I think they're going to be about where they are now; not bad enough to wave the white flag, not good enough to be for real. And I agree with Dave; Wade is fired in the off-season unless the Phils make the playoffs, which I don't see happening.
[AF] If Wade is fired, who's the new GM? I think Amaro is a lock.
[DSC] You're right. Amaro's going to be touted as young, smart, Hispanic, and he's going to be just as bad as the old, dumb white guys.
[DC] 88-74, miss the Wildcard by 2 games, Wade does NOT get fired.
[JK] Wade is fired if the Phils don't make the playoffs.
[DJF] Yes, Wade is fired. The team will take a huge PR/season tix sales hit if they fall short and Wade stays on. He's become the lightning rod. The irony is that he's done a better job in the last nine months than in the previous years.
[Laz] I'm pretty sure Wade is fired-but not until the off-season-if we don't make the playoffs.
[DC] So am I the only person who thinks that they can miss the playoffs and still have Wade stay on? As for the Amaro guys, are you saying that Montgomery will recognize that there's a PR hit if Wade isn't fired, but he WON'T recognize the PR hit that would happen due to the Phils not picking someone from outside the orginazation? I don't get that.
[Shore] There IS no PR hit for not going outside the organization. The WIPdiots think we only need to hire people associated with 1980.
[AF] Actually, other than phans who pay attention, who will be against them staying in-house? If Wade's fired in the off-season, then Amaro takes over with Dallas Green and friends still whispering in Ruben's (instead of Wade's) ear.
[JK] Most phans only know Wade...they don't really know Amaro.
[DSC] They're going to talk Amaro up as being just like Beane and Epstein since he's young and Stanford-educated.
[DC] Oh jeez, Falzone, I would argue that we're some of the bigger Ed Wade fans in Philadelphia. I think the general public is clamoring for the management to go outside the organization.
[AF] No, most phans are just anti-Wade...that's it. The public is not anti-inside the organization.
[DJF] I think the hit would come a year later when people realize that there's little difference between Wade and Amaro. Don, I think you might be assuming a degree of sophistication/knowledge beyond what people actually think.
[JK] Green is another option at GM - I heard them talking about it on WIP - it's gotta be true.
[Shore] Most phans want Dallas Green, for Pete's sake. I have a reasonably intelligent neighbor. He hates Wade, hates Abreu, and can't see why they don't clean house and hire Green to rebuild. He's buried in my wife's new flower garden, btw.
[DC] Yes, that's true, but Green would be different than Amaro.
[PJ] Is Gerry Hunsicker a real option?
[DJF] I think Hunsicker at least interviews.
[DSC] Hunsicker didn't see the value in Bobby Abreu. Cross him off the list.
[PJ] Would Gerry be a good choice? Other than the Abreu mistake, he built a pretty good team, no?
[DJF] I stand second to nobody in veneration of Abreu, but it wasn't clear at the time--or years later--whether he or Hidalgo was the better player.
[Shore] Yeah, but the right answer was to keep both.
[DSC] Protect them both and ditch Meluskey.
[Laz] The mistake was in not protecting both Abreu and Hidalgo over some vets they did protect.
[AF] Really, who knew Abreu would blow up? Hidalgo's minor-league numbers had been better than Bobby's at that point.
[DC] Okay, new topic. Shore has predicted that the Phils make the playoffs. Has Shore smoked crack today?
[Laz] I think that they can make the playoffs (as in, it wouldn't be a shock if it happened). But I wouldn't expect it. The Braves organization is just unstoppable.
[Shore] The Phils are good. Their offense is strong enough; Abreu/Burrell/Thome/Utley is formidable as hell. Jason Lofton (aka Kenny Michaels), Jimmy Rollins, and the catchers can all be well above league-average at their positions. Bell eats it. The pitching TALENT is there, and I believe they'll acquire another pitcher. Oh yeah, and the Nats suck; I'll defend that separately if I need to.
[DC] Shore, I know the Nats suck, we all know that. I look at it this way: the Phils are 5 games out of the division lead and 7.5 out of the wildcard (because I believe the Braves fly right past the Nats).
[DSC] I think that the Phils are perfectly positioned to make a great run at this thing. They have a good base of talent and can make some trades to get better. BUT, with Wade in charge, he's going to ruin the last two months. He's going to trade for an awful middle reliever and a starter who pulls a Paul Abbott. He can't make in-season adjustments that help this team. That's one of his biggest weaknesses.
[JK] No way Wade gets a Paul Abbott. If we get a pitcher, I think we get a good one and Howard is gone. Wade's got nothing to lose.
[BS] The Phillies' best hope is the wild card. I have a hard time imagining a non-NL East team winning the wild card this year.
[DSC] Wade will get someone who he thinks is good. But he'll wind up pitching like Paul Abbott. It's what happens to Wade's mid-season acquisitions, both good ones and bad.
[Shore] Don't forget that the Braves have injury problems, which they normally do not.
[AF] The Braves' team VORP is identical for hitting/pitching...154/155, way ahead of other teams...and that's with 9 rookies.
[DJF] But those injuries haven't hurt them, and they'll get healthier with Larry Jones, Hudson, and Hampton coming back. And who on the braves has over-performed? Andruw is having a career year, but Furcal, Giles, et al, have been just so-so.
[Laz] The Braves' injury problems aren't stopping them. It helps that the Braves actually use their young talent.
[DSC] Exactly - replacing their dead weight corner outfielders was huge for the Braves.
[Laz] Sadly, the Braves make a silly mistake (like Mondesi/Jordan) but realize it and adjust. We keep David Bell around.
[AF] So the Braves go from Mondesi/Jordan/Chipper to Chipper/Betemit/KJohnson; not a bad trade-off.
[DJF] To be fair, Schuerholz probably wasn't counting on a full year from Mondesi/Jordan; he probably knew his kids would be ready at some point this season. Wade, of course, doesn't think that way--he sees the vets as full-year solutions, not band-aids. The Braves plan; the Phillies hope.
[Laz] Wade is too rigid; he makes a plan and doesn't adapt. That's suicide in baseball.
[DSC] There's so much the Phils could learn from how the Braves do things. It's completely unfathomable to me that they don't look south and observe a little.
[JK] Well, Howard is in there in place of Thome and Tejeda is there in place of Wolf.
[DSC] And as soon as Thome comes back, Howard is traded. And if they get a starter in a trade, Tejeda goes to the minors.
[Laz] Howard and Tejeda were accidents, not due to advanced thought.
[JK] Do you think the Braves won't bench their youngsters when Jones comes back?
[DSC] Of course they will, but they won't bring back Mondesi and Jordan.
[DC] Okay, I think we've established that the Braves won't be caught easily, but we don't have to catch them; who beats us for the wild card?
[Laz] I think we have a reasonable chance for the wildcard, but so do other teams.
[Shore] We're "contending" with an absolutely historically bad season from Thome. If I told you that Thome would enter the All-Star break slugging .352 in 59 games, you'd think we were 30-57.
[JK] We haven't gotten much from Rollins either. The Phils win if both Jimmy's play well.
[Laz] Actually, Shore, I wouldn't think our record would be that bad -- because I'd figure that Howard would have been playing long before he did.
[DJF] So Shore, you see a big second half from Thome?
[DSC] But Shore, does Thome get better? I'd love to see him get better too, but I'm concerned he'll continue to play through injuries without telling people and wind up hurting the team. It's the veteran mindset he learned from David Bell.
[Shore] Of course, unless he's actually injured beyond repair.
[PJ] I think Thome will get better. He's not old enough to drop off a cliff that way.
[BS] I wonder if Thome's not done for the season?
[DJF] I'm not sure Thome will play out his contract. If Thome does come back this year, what happens to Howard? I think the Phils are worried enough about Thome that they might not trade Howard.
[Shore] Howard gets traded.
[AF] Manuel said Howard sticks around on the bench when Thome returns.
[BS] I'd rather keep both Thome and Howard until the end of the year and then sort out the problem.
[JK] Howard CANNOT stay on the bench...he either has to play or get traded.
[Laz] Jon -- I don't agree. Howard on the bench is better than a lousy Howard trade.
[JK] I don't mean just this year, I mean in the long run...Howard has decent value as a bench player, but MUCH more value in a trade.
[DJF] For this year, Howard=Brian Giles on the mid-`90s Indians.
[DC] Like DSC, I don't see a chance in hell that Thome plays more than a week before July 31, and certainly not enough to show that he's healthy; so how does he get traded mid-year?
[DSC] The big problem here goes back to what I wrote earlier - the Phils have a lot of options because they have some redundancy at key positions. Unfortunately, they have someone in charge that will not make wise choices. That's the team's downfall.
[DSC] Thome can be traded to a team that is not contending this year (or a team desperate for first base help) if the Phils eat enough money. He'll be very attractive for his potential if they eat $30M.
[AF] Speaking of injuries - what do we think about the status of Padilla this year and what do we do with him next year?
[DC] All right, I'm giving a thumbs down to Padilla. I would send him to the bullpen this year and get Madson in the starting rotation. If it doesn't work out for Padilla in the bullpen, and the chances are good that it won't since it takes him a while to warm up, I wouldn't be against him being non-tendered at the end of the year.
[DC] So does anyone disagree with me, that Padilla getting DFA'ed at the end of the year isn't the worst idea in the world?
[BS] I'm with you, Don.
[PJ] DFA Padilla, why not? I like Padilla, but I don't trust him anymore.
[Shore] I like Padilla.
[Karn] I like him too, and I would not DFA him - he has value.
[AF] Don, they should at least explore trade options for him before DFA'ing him.
[Laz] I wouldn't DFA Padilla. How much can he earn in arbitration? It can't be too much; I'd rather have him in the `pen next year than releasing him for nothing.
[DJF] I don't want to see Padilla leave for nothing, but if the options are paying him $4M next year or DFA'ing him, I DFA. Padilla usually takes an inning to warm up; it would be like having Tom Glavine in your `pen.
[AF] I'm against Padilla in the `pen.
[JK] I wouldn't mind Padilla in the `pen and letting him go all out for 1 inning.
[Lethal] Padilla is not worth 4+ million next year, especially if you can get a better guy like Lidle for about 3-3.5 million.
[Shore] I'd give him an MRI tonight; if his arm is healthy, I'd keep him.
[DC] Karn, I think you're wrong; I think Padilla COULD be valuable, but what are you going to get for him now? I mean okay, fine, you could trade him for an Allen Davis-like player on another team; big whoop.
[DJF] It really is amazing that the Phils are so reluctant to find out what's going on health-wise with their guys.
[Karn] Padilla's value now is nothing. If he has 2 good starts after the break, he has trade deadline value. If he pitches well the rest of the year, you keep him around.
[AF] If Padilla is DFA'ed, and with Wolf out, who's in the rotation in 2006?
[DJF] The Phils actually have a lot of options for the `06 rotation: Lidle, Myers, Madson, Floyd, Hamels/Tejeda
[AF] Lieber, Lidle, Myers, Hamels? Floyd? Dave, where'd Lieber go?
[DJF] Lieber's hurt, IMO, so I didn't count him.
[Karn] I'd say it's even odds that if he's healthy, Padilla puts up better numbers than Lidle; Lidle isn't as good as he's been thus far.
[DC] Lieber, Lidle, Myers, Hamels, Floyd; now you KNOW that rotation isn't making it a full season, and can you contend with that? There's some value in certainty.
[Shore] They need to pry a big arm away from someone, and it's going to take Howard to do it, I'm afraid. I mean a BIG arm. I'd have gone after Sheets, if he hadn't re-upped.
[AF] Dave, you may think they have a lot of options, but they'll most likely pick the wrong ones.
[PJ] Throw the idea of Floyd in the rotation out.
[AF] Why's that, phatj? Control?
[PJ] I don't see him being ready.
[Karn] You can't just throw out Floyd as an option.
[DC] Last topic: I'm curious about our managing situation. We all agreed with the Bowa firing. Does ANYONE think that if we had Leyland we'd be a few games better than we are with Cholly?
[Shore] No, Leyland won 1 time. and that was with a rent-a-team.
[BS] No, Leyland might be the most overrated baseball mind of the last half-century.
[Lethal] No, we could actually be worse.
[DSC] No. Leyland would have quit by now. Pendleton would have this team winning.
[Laz] I don't think the manager would make much of a difference, and Leyland was awful with the Rockies and then quit on them.
[Shore] Agreed, Bakestar.
[DJF] There is little if any difference between Leyland and Cholly. Great point Shore--that Marlins team was easy to win with.
[AF] Terry Pendleton...what could have been.
[DC] Yeah, I'm of the mind that managers just don't make much difference, but damn it, Cholly makes mistakes that even my wife could pick out.
[Shore] The Pendleton love is a little overboard, though. He might've sucked, too. We embrace the IDEA of Pendleton.
[BS] I think we embrace the IDEA of the team being bold.
[AF] Shore, the IDEA is all we have.
[DJF] He just seemed like a winner, and a guy who, like Cox, got more out of his guys than you'd expect.
[Laz] Agreed, Shore. I think we like that he has been exposed to the Braves' braintrust.
[DSC] You're right Shore, but it would have been a great risk worth taking. He comes from an organization that knows what it takes to do to win.
[Brendan] Leyland is overrated but Cholly has blown a few games that nearly any other manager would have won.
[JK] Anyone else think that this team would be better with Bowa OVER Manuel...in terms of wins?
[Shore] Manuel's blown fewer games than Bowa did.
[JK] I'm not sure about that, Jon.
[DJF] Manuel has made some really bad decisions--not so much recently, though.
[Shore] Bowa simply handed the other team the end-game moves. I'd love to play him in chess, though I assume he'd try a triple jump and shout "King Me!"
[DSC] The losses in the first week with Worrell on the mound were squarely at Cholly's feet. It was obvious to the world that Worrell was terrible.