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Not Gillick's Guys: an Ex-Phils Update

Update [2007-6-1 13:57:45 by dajafi]: My initial published version of this story didn't include Justin Germano. Obviously, that's a pretty bad oversight, and changes the picture somewhat. He's now been added.

Earlier this week, we looked at GM Pat Gillick's acquisitions to see how the Phillies' remaining additions since the start of the 2006 season have performed. Today, it's the other side of the coin: how the players Gillick has traded away or allowed to sign elsewhere have done for their current clubs.

Not all ex-Phils are of equal importance, of course: trading Sal Fasano for essentially nothing--a minor-league infielder who's currently serving a drug suspension--meant little other than freeing up playing time last season for Chris Coste and Carlos Ruiz (and, less happily, helping to add Rod Barajas this year). The Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu trades, on the other hand, substantially remade the roster, committing or freeing up millions in payroll and changing the identity of the team on the field and in the clubhouse. Somewhere in between are decisions such as trading away Jason Michaels, a useful spare part outfielder, and Robinson Tejeda, a young starter with promise who has yet to reprise his strong 2005 campaign for the Phillies.

Here are the numbers. Again, VORP is "Value Over Replacement Player," a Baseball Prospectus measure of performance.

C Mike Lieberthal Dodgers 24 6 1 0 1 0 0.25 0.28 0.292 -0.6
C Sal Fasano Blue Jays 33 4 3 1 2 0 0.121 0.194 0.273 -3.1
1b/DH Jim Thome White Sox 80 24 16 6 16 0 0.300 0.509 0.575 16.3
1b/OF Jeff Conine Reds 102 28 10 2 17 0 0.275 0.333 0.412 2.5
OF Bobby Abreu Yankees 197 45 32 2 22 8 0.228 0.313 0.289 -5.0
OF Jason Michaels Indians 92 25 12 2 13 1 0.272 0.320 0.413 1.1
OF David Dellucci Indians 138 33 23 2 10 2 0.239 0.303 0.377 -0.3
OF Kenny Lofton Rangers 165 43 31 4 13 16 0.261 0.347 0.388 7.5

I'm not quite ready to declare that I and everyone else here was totally wrong on last summer's Bobby Abreu trade, which at the time looked like one of the great fleecings in recent baseball history: an all-around offensive star at a fairly reasonable contract sent away for four guys who will count themselves lucky to draw a major-league pension. But I'm getting there. Abreu's power seems entirely gone, and his walk rate isn't as great when he's hitting a punchless .230. I think it's possible that he tried to come back too soon from a spring injury and his awful numbers reflect that he's considerably less than 100 percent--but it's also possible that he's declining fast, and that Pat Gillick was uncommonly shrewd in dumping him when he did.

As for the rest of the position players, Thome has the highest VORP by far on the White Sox, but he's missed more time than Ryan Howard and you never know when his back will act up again. Given how Aaron Rowand has performed for the Phillies, this deal looks like a draw right now, though the fact that we're still paying a good chunk of Big Jim's price tag gives Chicago the edge. The rest of these guys, with the current exception of the always-streaky Dellucci, seem to be pretty much what they were as Phillies.

(I could have included Endy Chavez in this list, but that wouldn't have been fair: there wasn't a Phillies fan alive, to my knowledge, who wanted him back after 2005. That he's played so well for the Mets over a season and a third is a kick in the gut, but strikes me more as the baseball gods giving us the finger, again, than a mistake on anyone's part.)

So how about the pitchers?

Vicente Padilla Rangers 2 8 0 6.45 67 78 9 31 32 1.63 -12.8
Rob Tejeda Rangers 4 5 0 5.75 51.2 54 10 24 37 1.51 1.6
Randy Wolf Dodgers 6 3 0 3.41 66 60 6 19 71 1.20 14.2
Billy Wagner Mets 0 0 13 1.50 24 17 2 6 30 0.96 9.2
Aaron Fultz Indians 3 0 0 1.88 14.1 6 1 7 11 0.91 6.3
Ryan Franklin Cardinals 1 0 0 1.27 21.1 15 1 2 12 0.8 9.7
Rick White Astros 1 0 0 6.00 24 28 1 12 11 1.67 -1.4
Justin Germano Padres 3 0 0 1.08 25.0 17 2 2 9 0.76 11.0

After the Abreu deal, the trade for which Gillick has been most raked over the coals was the December 2005 dump of Vicente Padilla to Texas for the quickly released (and now, I believe, out of baseball) Ricardo Rodriguez. And make no mistake about it: this was a horrible exchange. Padilla's 15-10, 4.50 campaign in 2006, if conducted for the Phils in place of the parade of disasters at the back of that club's rotation, would have put the team in the playoffs. But that good work for the Rangers threatens to be positively obliterated by the three-year, $33.75 million deal they signed him to after 2006. Chris Wheeler's favorite pitcher is among the very worst in the bigs, and a major part of the reason why Texas has been such a disappointment.

(Side note: has there been a worse GM in the majors than Jon Daniels? This guy not only concluded the Padilla contract, he dealt Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Termel Sledge to San Diego for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka after the 2005 season. He traded Alfonso Soriano to Washington for a package headed by Brad Wilkerson, and dealt away ace closer Francisco Cordero and other useful players for Carlos Lee--who stunk and then left. The Rangers are 19-35, worst in the majors.)

Randy Wolf is having an all-star caliber season for the Dodgers, but I hold the Phils blameless here; they wanted him back and offered a much sweeter deal than did LA, but Wolf chose to go home. Good for him, and I'll always root for the guy--except, of course, when he pitches against the Phillies.

Billy Wagner continues to excel in his closing role for the Mets. I can't bring myself to believe he was worth what New York paid for him, but he's taking a long time to decline...

Aaron Fultz and, ugh, Ryan Franklin are pitching very well in situational roles for their current teams, but their peripherals scream "small sample size." I'm starting to believe the Phillies are positively cursed on all matters to do with relief pitching: when they overspend, the older guys stink, and when they try to staff a bullpen on the relative cheap, those guys stink.

And then there's Justin Germano. I don't think this guy is really anywhere near as good as he's pitched thus far for San Diego--but I also think he's much better than the sort of guy you put on waivers a week before the season starts. Obviously, he would have been an asset in the Phillies bullpen, and cutting him was probably the team's worst misstep of 2007 thus far.

But other than Germano, it's hard to argue that anybody Gillick has "let get away" really is burning the team right now. Fultz would have looked nice in the bullpen over the first two months, but I don't think anyone thought he'd be so much better than Matt Smith--the guy the Phillies viewed as their situational lefty. In general, I don't think the team evaluates pitchers very well--a point smitty has eloquently made in comments to several recent TGP pieces--but there's no smoking gun that nails the front office for their sins of commission or omission. What seems increasingly clear is that it's just not that good of a team.