A blog about the Phillies and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Jayson Werth Vacuum

Everyone loves the Phillies 2011 rotation -everyone who doesn't have to face it- but the lineup is a completely different story. Anyone who watched the Phillies a lot last year knew the Phillies needed another big right-hand(RH) bat. Instead, Dave $$$ Montgomery pushed Jayson Werth into the arms of Scott Boras, who then made Mr. Werth rich beyond his wildest dreams (guess who is representing about to be a free agent Ryan Madson?).

Now we find out that for the third year in a row Chase Utley is looking at a lot of D.L. Time. And with a painful injury like the patella tendon how good is Utley going to be when he is in the game? This is important as Utley has hit left-hand (LH) pitching much better than right-handers the past two years.

The pink elephant in the room of this discussion is of course Ryan Howard, who sports a Pujols like career OPS of 1.038 against RH pitchers, and a Polanco like .766 against LH pitchers.

So what is the solution? A trade! The Phillies need at least one big RH bat.

So who might be available and who should the Phillies go after?

David Wright.

The Wilpons are in the middle of a major league meltdown in New York. We've known for years that they were incompetent and probably nuts too (see Jackie “The Dodger” Robinson memorial in center field at Citi Field). Now we know that they were hooked up to Bernie Madoff. They are being sued for a billion dollars and probably should have been indicted for fraud by the Feds (FBI is too busy chasing big time crooks for uploading DVD screeners and mp3 files).

Rumors in New York have the Wilpons ready to do a full sell off of talent and go into a full rebuild mode. Probably not a bad idea since that team is at present unfixable without taking the payroll to $180 million next year and then making it climb from there. Since the Mets spending on the draft is as tight as Dave $$$ Montgomery, but with far less success, their farm system is in poor shape. That means they can't trade for the talent they would need to form the team into a contender. There is little to no chance for them to do so purely through the free agent market.

So what does David Wright have to offer the Phils? How about a career 1.041 OPS against LH pitching?

That made you whistle didn't it?

Wright is signed for three more seasons counting 2011. He's 28 years old this season.

And what of Polanco? Well, he plays 2B, and Utley frequently does not. Polanco can also play LF. He can pinch hit. What he can't do is produce a 1.041 OPS against LH pitching. The past two seasons Polanco's OPS against lefties is .668 (2010) and .738 (2009).

What might it take to get Wright? A lot. Figure either Domonic Brown or Jonathan Singleton plus two of the Phils best pitching prospects -whoever that may be at the time of the trade- and possibly taking a contract off the Mets hands like K-Rod and his father-in-law.

A 1.041 OPS against LH pitching from the 3B position is not cheap!

Option number two.

Matt Kemp.

Not a Philly kind of guy. Recent column about him from Jerry Crasnick makes him out not to be a baseball guy either. This is good as well as bad. He won't cost nearly as much as David Wright. He's also more likely to be available before the trade deadline.

One big reason Kemp could be available is he had a real bad year in 2010, yet his OPS against lefties was .809. The year before it was a David Wright like 1.045.

Kemp can pretty well play any outfield position. He could basically replace Jayson Werth. The Phillies snatched both Werth and Victorino from the Dodgers, it may be time to go for the third grab.

Here's a deal where Matt Rizzotti could come into play. The Dodgers are not real high on James Loney anymore either. His salary has increased a great deal, his power has not.

Rizzotti, one of the Phils A-ball “toolsy” outfielders, a good pitching prospect and a 2nd rate arm. In other words the Phils would still be alive for a David Wright trade either during this season or this winter.

Option three.

Evan Longoria.

This one isn't going to happen this season. As many know Longoria is signed to probably the sweetest contract in baseball. Longoria knows that better than you or anyone else save for the owners of the Tampa Rays.

And Evan Longoria is not happy about this situation, and a situation it is. Longoria has already made his first public noises about his contract (asking for some fat ($) years to be added on), and that follows a dugout fight with B. J. Upton last year on TV.

Let's look at this contract to see just how bad it is.

Evan Longoria will be paid two million dollars this year. Next year he gets a boost to $4.5 million. So this year and next season together Longoria will get about as much as Polanco gets this year. Then the following year Longoria gets Polanco's salary. Yeah, less than $13 million for the next three years of Longoria.

So you're saying, “but he got security signing that deal”.

Did he? We just went through the security. If Longoria suddenly became a permanently D.L. located player that Tampa wanted to unload we just covered all but $4.5 million of the guaranteed portion of his contract, what he has been paid already over the past two seasons and the $3 million buyout.

Now let's look at what Tampa gets.

Assuming Longoria continues to be the the #1 stud at 3B in all of MLB, Tampa has three options on him for 2014, 15 and 16 for $7.5m, $11m and -finally!- $11.5 million. Three option years for what A-Rod gets paid this year. For eight years of Longoria Tampa has to pay him what A-Rod gets in one and half seasons playing for the Yankees.

Would you play that out?

Longoria was 22 years old when he was talked into signing this deal by an agent who must surely have a fat bank account in the Cayman Islands courtesy of Tampa Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, who got filthy rich at Goldman Sachs.

Longoria's contract has to be the worst ever signed by a player. Just look at the $30 million that a certifiable nut like Milton Bradley received from the Cubs. Longoria's contract is a disgrace, a throwback to the pre-free agent days when players were treated like slaves while the owners made all the money.

The clock is ticking on this one and it won't tick longer than the Winter meetings this year. If Longoria went into Stuart Sternberg's box at the ballpark with a baseball bat and knocked him off his chair, grabbed Stuart Sternberg by the collar, showed him the barrel of the bat and yelled “Are you going to renegotiate my contract, yes or no!” he couldn't lose. Jail time would be minimal, embarrassment for Stuart Sternberg would be huge when taken to trial, and no team would boycott Longoria.

Price to make the trade happen? Brown, Singleton and Sebastian Valle. And the two best pitching prospects. Basically the farm.

The best 3B in baseball won't come cheap.

UPDATE: April 7, 2011

Evan Longoria has gone on the D.L. with an "oblique strain". This is one to watch. Sometimes this type of injury can incapacitate a player for months. The amount of time on the D.L. is often related to how happy or unhappy that player is with his current team.     

Option four.

Hunter Pence.

The question with Pence really is: Does he solve the problem? Pence's OPS against LH pitching last year was .820. For his career it's .842. He'll be 28 years old in 2011.

If you think the answer is yes, well, Ed Wade is the GM, Brett Wallace looks like a 1B failure, and Wade loves “Major League ready” players in a trade. So Matt Rizzotti, one of the good pitching prospects and another pitcher in the second tier of prospects would do it. Heck, Wade might take less than that.

But does that solve the problem?

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