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Phillies sign pitcher J. Santana

No, not that J. Santana.  They signed Julio Santana to a one-year, $800,000 contract on Wednesday.

The Phillies were already familiar with him as he played in AAA with the Red Barons in 2003.  He followed that by going to Japan in 2004.  Perhaps he learned something out there as his numbers with the Brewers in 2005 were much improved: increased K/9, better H/IP and K/BB.  His ERA wasn't that great but it seems out of proportion to his peripherals.  It should be lower this season if he pitches as "well" as 2005. Baseball Prospectus lists his adjusted runs prevented as 7.1, good for 98th among all relievers in 2005.

I really like the signing.  It's a cheap, 1 year deal.  If Santana prospers, like Aaron Fultz last season, then we have a bargain.  If he fails, he's easy to cut.  This is the type of player who is excellent for bullpen depth -- some upside, little risk, cheap.

I'm glad to see Gillick have a plan for the bullpen that doesn't consist of "sign any available veteran arm for 3 years".  Furthermore, no draft pick was given up.  We may still lose one for signing a "proven closer", but at least doing so isn't compounded by giving up a second round pick for bullpen filler as we have done in the past (e.g. Jose Mesa and Rheal Cormier after the 2000 season).