- I did want the Lopez deal to go through because he's pretty good, young, and cheap. With that said, it's obvious that either the asking price got too high, or he failed his physical, which in either case should force Ruben to put the brakes on this move. All-in-all, I think he's right here.
- The Phillies best offer to Upton was $20 million below the Braves eventual deal with him. In other words, the Phillies feel the Braves wildly over-paid for the center-fielder, which again, indicates that Ruben was smart to not move. I'm not going to second guess him when he's that far apart from the final offer. Obviously the Phillies can outbid the Braves if they want to, and didn't want to. While Upton was the guy I wanted, I consider this open and shut. Don't tell me how much better the Braves got either- while I like Upton more than Bourn, that's who he replaces in Atlanta, which is hardly a high-impact change.
- When did Denard Span become Mickey Mantle? I've heard a lot of people angry that he let the Nationals get in front of them on this one, but again, is Span a difference maker who you would have traded a Biddle, May, Martin, or Pettibone for from your system? The Nationals traded a highly regarded arm to get this guy, and he's not a bad ballplayer, but I question the wisdom. Once again, the Nationals were running out an outfield of Werth, Harper, and Morse at the end of the year, with LaRoche at first. Now this means that they will trot out Werth, Span, and Harper, and either they trade Morse and re-sign LaRoche, or they let LaRoche walk and move Morse to first, but ultimately this is a Span for either Morse or LaRoche in the line-up, and a top prospect out. Doesn't seem like an upgrade to me, without digging real deep.
I don't feel like either team became a 100 win team by doing the moves they did, and I still think the Phillies could with the right moves and good health. That all said, i'm not concerned about 100 wins now, I'm concerned with them getting back to the playoffs and winning there, and it appears that their needs are a center-fielder, third baseman, set-up man, and possibly another outfielder. Here's my thoughts on these:
- Center-Field- My clear preference now, if money weren't an issue, would be Josh Hamilton. Knowing that it isn't that simple, they have two roads to go down- one being sign Hamilton and go budget on the other spots, which is probably fine for opening day, or sign another player here and try to piece this together. I could deal with Michael Bourn though I don't love it, and Angel Pagan isn't my dream here, but he would fit in the two hole. I'd also like to see them at least kick the tires on both Dexter Fowler and Peter Bourjos, though both probably cost too much. I guess my order of preference is Hamilton, Bourn, trade, Pagan, and last, Victorino, who I'm not crazy about re-signing, but does make some sense in this crowd.
- Third Base- I would actually be content to start the year with a Frandsen/Galvis platoon here and hope one wins the job, but my guess is that's not their pathway. Kevin Youkilis and Jeff Keppinger are my free agent names to watch, and I could be happy with either. Youkilis high on-base-percentage and solid power numbers make me get over his average, and Keppinger's versatility and good average make me accept him too. I'd like to see them kick the tires on Chase Headley again, he's one of the best out there, and I'd have to think he's obtainable.
- Set-Up Man- I think they have to take a look at Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, though neither is young, and they should take a look at Mike Gonzalez. While the Lopez deal looks dead, the Phillies should definitely call the Angels about their 25 year-old Jordan Walden, who is apparently out of the closer's job with the signing of Ryan Madson this week to close there. Particularly if they go the free agent route on the other two spots, this would make perfect sense.
- Other Outfielders- I think that the Phillies should, as a matter of trying out younger guys, plan on Dom Brown and Darin Ruf getting every chance to start this year, but it's not a bad idea to kick the tires on players who would be willing to share time with them. With that said, I'd probably skip this and go in-house. Nix, Schierholtz, and Mayberry are all on the roster, and while I don't love any of them, they're all average major-leaguers with some pop, who can spell Ruf a little bit. The reality is that if Brown and Ruf both bomb as starters, this team's probably not good anyway.
I'm just not all that worried about what I've seen. I think the Phillies will be fine, and I think Ruben will act. My guess is that they will make plays at Hamilton and Bourn, while staying in on Pagan, for center, and they'll make a push at the third baseman above. My dream scenario? Hamilton and Headley on their way to Philly. I won't get greedy though- yet.