There's actually a lot going on these days with the Phils for late December, so it's time for . . . a bullet point list! (AKA, the lazy-man's blog entry.)
- Yesterday, the Phils signed Rod Barajas as a backup catcher. The good news is that the Phils got a backup catcher with a bit of pop in his bat. Over the past three years, in just about 1100 at-bats, Barajas has hit 47 home runs. However, what's horrible about this signing is that Barajas has a career .282 OBP. Yes, you read that right. I'm not confusing on-base percentage with batting average here. He gets on base only 28% of the times he appears at the plate. To put that more dramatically, he makes an out 72% of the time he steps up to bat. I guess Pat Gillick thought that Barajas would help bring back the 2005 black hole at the bottom of the Phils' lineup.
- The Phils also signed outfielder Jayson Werth yesterday. With his goatee (at least on his ESPN picture, I have no idea if he still has one), he has the requisite gritty Phillies' look. (He also has the required skin color for the current crop of Phils' outfielders. Is there a whiter outfield in baseball than Pat Burrell, Jeff Conine, Jayson Werth, Aaron Rowand, and Shane Victorino? Yeah, Victorino is Hawaiian, but very light-skinned.) Werth has some moderate power and moderate on-base skills, but he also has an injury history to put JD Drew to shame. Is this what the salary flexibility of trading Bobby Abreu gets us in the outfield?
- I often don't like his columns because they're too cliche ridden and doom-and-gloom, but Phil Sheridan has a very good column today about Philly teams trading or throwing away superstars. The list he has is impressive and sad: Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Wilt Chamberlain, Reggie White, Randall Cunningham, Eric Lindros, Dick Allen, Scott Rolen, and Curt Schilling. Conspicuously missing from the list, although not surprisingly so, is Bobby Abreu, who is every bit as good as the players on the list. His trade also accomplished just as much for the Phils as all these other trades did: nothing. Don't these GMs look at the track record and see that trading superstars has never achieved the desired result of getting the team over the hump? I guess it's easier to blame the superstar than to blame team management for being incapable of bringing in the right spare parts to complement the superstar. (On a side note, do other teams in other cities do this so often?)
- Finally, lots of commentators have noted that the Phils' offense led the league in runs scored last year so it should be the least of the team's off-season concerns. I've done so myself at times. But, the more I think about it, the more I'm concerned that the offense just won't be as good this year. Yes, Utley, Howard, and Rollins should continue to improve, and Burrell, if he remains here (as it seems now), will be solid, if still disappointing. But, all those parts were here last year with one other part - Bobby Abreu. He'll be missing this year, and the team has not done anything to compensate. Wes Helms getting significant playing time over Abraham Nunez and in place of David Bell will help a bit, but whoever fills in for Abreu from the melanin-deprived outfield crew will definitely not produce the way Bobby did. Over the entirety of the season, the team is going to miss him.