Posted by Kevin Durso
Jim Thome could be one of the Phillies' more successful minor signings (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News)
Late last night, Jonathan Papelbon arrived in Philadelphia, ready to take his physical, and officially become a member of the Phillies. He is just another superstar name joining a club that's had a knack for landing the biggest names every time moves are made, whether it be as free agents or trade acquisitions.
However, the Phillies' biggest strength will fall on their luck in finding gold in a scrap yard. The signings that don't cost as much, yet still perform like stars are the ones that will help define this team, and not only add to their success, but possibly make them a force to be reckoned with once again.
It's no secret that the Phillies have some interest in Michael Cuddyer. That's exactly the type of player the Phillies need to make a subtle move successful. Cuddyer, should the Phillies get him at the right price, could cost no more than $5 million next season, a bargain compared to the near $10 millions he is said to be asking. Cuddyer has averaged 20 home runs and 85 RBIs in the past three seasons. That kind of production for that price is not only exactly what the Phillies need, it's the only way they will win.
Look at the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Who ever heard of David Freese or Allen Craig before this series? What about the small players like Rafael Furcal, Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker? It is the no-name players that sometimes make a championship team. Freese is a prime example of that, entering the Postseason virtually unknown, and coming out a World Champion and MVP.
The Phillies, then, need to take their focus on the top and turn it down a notch. Being able to have the financial status to sign anybody is a great thing, but it is the little things that set a team apart.
Jim Thome's signing is one that strikes me as just that. You don't really have expectations, but you know the leadership, will to win and work ethic you're getting.
The Phillies have been linked to Grady Sizemore and Jason Kubel, and those are exactly the kind of players the Phillies need.
Time will only tell how the Phillies decide to set themselves apart from the rest of the league. The players that become members of the Phillies remains to be seen. But instead of ignoring those minor signings, pay close attention. They could just be the game-changers of 2012.