No-Mar Dreamin!; Garciaparra Rumors Continue

Anytime that general managers, agents and team owners are all gathered in one city, the talk is going to heat up. This season, big names like Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra are on the tongues of baseball types in New Orleans. Could Garciaparra wind up in Philadelphia? It's not out of the question. Rumors continue, although the names have been changed somewhat from the original trade ideas.

The most recent rumor from the Hot Stove seems to make much more sense for both the Phillies and Red Sox. Boston's greatest need currently is for a quality second baseman to replace free agent Todd Walker. The latest Phillies / Red Sox rumor has both second baseman Placido Polanco and shortstop Jimmy Rollins going to Boston for Garciaparra. Rollins would then be sent to Texas to complete the deal for Alex Rodriguez.

The Phillies for all their wheeling and dealing this winter still have a line-up that is not fully in balance. With both Nomar and Placido in the final years of their contracts, and Rollins and Polanco's salaries set to rise during the upcoming arbitration period, the cost of obtaining Garciaparra to balance the Phillies line-up is not as high as it once was.

Abreu is a walk machine and eventually will be placed at the top of the order where he belongs for the good of the team to become the premier lead off hitter in baseball. This will also serve to compensate should the often occurring sophomore slump be encountered by Marlon Byrd.

As for salary, the deal moves the Phillies payroll up yet again another four to five million dollars for 2003 after one calculating both Rollins' and Polanco's arbitration figures. It would also give the Red Sox an affordable shortstop who would be attractive to the Rangers and give Boston a second baseman whose cost is already accounted for.

For the Phillies, it becomes the Insurance policy to take the pressure off Pat Burrell. In the final analysis the Phillies did not achieve last year because of two reasons. First - there was of no real production on the left side – third base, shortstop and left field - of the diamond in addition to the well known meltdown of Jose Mesa and the strain it placed on the entire pitching staff.

This trade works for both teams. The only negative is if Nomar and or Polanco will not warm up to long term deals with each team. One can only hope that Nomar will remember fondly going 6-for-6 last summer in Philadelphia in the fateful 13 inning game against Boston

With Nomar Garciaparra producing at shortstop, the issue of whether David Bell will be completely healthy next season will recede as an issue. The backups to Bell would still be Tomas Perez and Travis Chapman. If you look at the third basemen around the league, aside from Scott Rolen, there are really no all around standouts at the hot corner.

Here just two of the possible 2004 Fightin' Phils Opening Day Line-Up Cards:

Bobby Abreu RF
Marlon Byrd CF
Jim Thome 1B
Nomar Garciaparra SS
Chase Utley 2B
Pat Burrell LF
Mike Lieberthal C
David Bell 3B
Randy Wolf P

or

Bobby Abreu RF
David Bell 3B
Jim Thome 1B
Pat Burrell LF
Chase Utley 2B
Nomar Garciaparra SS
Mike Lieberthal C
Marlon Byrd CF
Randy Wolf P

Yes, it's likely that Wolf will be the opening day starter unless Millwood signs a long term deal.

The second line-up is in complete balance if all the players are doing well. This could actually be the World Series winning line-up. By flipping Bell into the two hole if he is healthy and Byrd to the eight hole this gives the Phillies speed to score runs on Abreu's extra base hit capabilities.

The second line-up also flips Pat Burrell and Nomar Garciaparra in the fourth and sixth spots in the order. This allows Burrell to see fastballs in the clean-up slot - which is the only slot that he has torn the cover off the ball for the Phillies - and Nomar Garciaparra will be penciled in as the greatest sixth hole hitter in the majors (whose requirements are on base percentage – putting the ball in play – as well as, medium strong power).

This will give the Fightins the greatest lead-off batter (Abreu), the greatest third hole batter (Thome), and greatest sixth hole batter (Garciaparra) in the National League.

The second line-up, if cookin', could leave the Phillies with No Mar Dreamin' for another World Series!

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