If there's one area of GM work where Pat Gillick has excelled with the Phillies, it's finding cheap/free talent. In addition to purchasing Chris Snelling last week, Gillick might have panned more gold in signing a half-dozen minor-league free agents, led by outfielders Brandon Watson and Michael Restovich.
While both players might well wind up starring for the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, they'll also get the chance to compete with Snelling and, perhaps, others for a spot on the Phillies' bench. And they both have qualities to recommend them--speed and defense in Watson's case, power with Restovich. Watson, 26, has a career .305 average and nearly 200 steals in the minors, and hit in 43 straight games for triple-A Columbus last season. As with Eric Bruntlett, he would seem to be well positioned to replace Michael Bourn as Pat Burrell's late-inning defense/base-running caddy. Restovich, who turns 29 in January, was once a highly regarded Twins prospect who never developed into a regular but has more than 170 minor-league home runs.
Pretty much any of these guys would have looked swell on the Phillies bench during the late Wade era, when our pinch-hitting options included non-entities like Tomas Perez and Ramon "not the pitcher" Martinez. Gillick seems to grab players who fill limited roles, and has a manager in Charlie Manuel who's grown into the understanding of how to use his spare parts to best effect.