The GM Game: A Deal Opens The Door For Damon

In this edition of The GM Game, the Phillies make a blockbuster deal with Baltimore. That deal gives the Phillies more room to manuever financially, opening up the door for the arrival of free agent Johnny Damon to join the Phillies outfield. Can it work?

If Jason were the GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, here's what he would do... Trade Bobby Abreu, Jason Michaels, Scott Mathieson and cash for Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera. Throw in Gavin Floyd if they don't go for it. Spend excess cash on a four-year deal for Johnny Damon, creating an outfield of Burrell, Damon and Rowand. Have Vicente Padilla be #1 set up man.

Well, that's certainly ambitious.

Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard is one of those young pitchers who hasn't really done anything spectacular, but everybody figures that he's destined to be awesome. He very well could be. In 2005, Bedard started 24 games for the Orioles, going 6-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 141 2/3 innings. He had a strong walk/strikeout ratio, walking 57 and whiffing 125. He surrendered just ten homeruns and keeps the ball down in the zone, which would play well at Citizens Bank Park.

Daniel Cabrera is a 24 year old right-hander who has been in the Baltimore rotation for the past two seasons and has shown marked improvement. After going 12-8 with a 5.00 ERA in his rookie season, Cabrera returned in 2005 to post a 4.52 ERA with a 10-13 record. One of the big changes for Cabrera was how he seemed to find his control more in 2005 than he did in '04 when he walked 89 and struck out 76. This past season, he walked 87 and struck out 157 in 161 1/3 innings.

Bedard and Cabrera are two young pitchers that the Orioles are pretty enamored with and would be slow to give up either one of them, let alone both in one deal.

If I'm Orioles GM Mike Flanagan, I say...

Who's going to be in my starting rotation? IF I can get you to throw Floyd into the deal, he could be in the rotation, but let's not forget his struggles in 2005. There are some free agent pitchers still available, so maybe the O's could fill a spot with one of them. You didn't mention exactly how much cash you would include and that would be a factor as well. If I have to go out and replace at least one starter - and an inexpensive starter at that - I'll need cash and since I'm adding Abreu's salary, I won't have that flexibility.

Mathieson could actually be a big part of this proposed deal for Baltimore. He's a young pitcher with a lot of talent and all indications are that he's going to be a pretty good major league pitcher. Of course, he's not ready for the majors now and won't be for at least a year and probably longer.

Maybe this deal could be manuevered to make it worth the Orioles consideration. What if Cory Lidle were substituted for Gavin Floyd? That would give Baltimore an established and relatively cheap starter for their rotation to help soothe the blow of losing both Bedard and Cabrera. As much as I would like to do this trade, I couldn't give up two good, young pitchers without getting some return of pitching other than a prospect for the future and a young pitcher who struggled with the Phillies this past season.

By the way, if I'm the Phillies, I'm not enamored with this deal. Like I said, Bedard hasn't done anything spectacular in his career and neither has Cabrera. If you're dealing Abreu, you need a stud starting pitcher or a boatload of blue chip prospects or some combination of both in exchange. Plus, Floyd could still become a very good pitcher and Jason Michaels would be in the starting lineup for a lot of teams. Then, you're giving up a very good pitching prospect. That's a lot.

It's an iffy proposition, but for the sake of argument (and the remainder of the plan), let's say I accept and the Phillies would be willing to make the deal as well (after all, you're their GM, right?).

Now, I'm Scott Boras and the Phillies call about Johnny Damon. I say...

For four years, you're going to have to get in line - the back of the line. Boras is still thinking he can get seven years and it's likely that the furthest off of that he'll move would be five years. The Phillies would have to at least put in an option for a fifth season and likely would have to guarantee it for Boras (I mean me) to listen. Even teams like Detroit are looking to get in at five years, so backing off to four years probably won't be necessary.

Again, for the sake of argument, let's say that the deal with Baltimore goes through and Damon signs with the Phillies.

Vicente Padilla as my setup man? Yuck! Over the last four seasons, hitters hit .280 off Padilla on his first 15 pitches. That's not the kind of number that you would want to see from a setup man. At that point, I would almost rather include Lidle in the deal with Baltimore and have Padilla and Floyd battle for a spot in the rotation.

Actually, I question every part of this plan, which is not to say that it couldn't be done or adjusted to where it would work better.

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