All Quiet On The Philadelphia Front

Things in this neck of the woods are just too quiet. Granted, this is the absolute dead zone time of the year for baseball, but there are no sounds of life coming from Philadelphia. Things could heat up though after the first of the year.

Wow, there is just nothing going on. Honestly. Nothing.

It's been ten days since the Phillies hit the transaction wire with anything and that was just to offer arbitration to Jason Michaels and Brett Myers and cut Endy Chavez loose. That was an imposed deadline, so that shouldn't really even count in the "making news department". Not only is the transaction wire quiet, there aren't even rumors coming out of the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park offices or elsewhere for that matter. There was some speculation about the Phillies getting in on the Miguel Tejada bidding, but that was just completely ridiculous and died a quick, quiet death.

For the record, the Phillies are talking with Michaels and Myers about deals that would avoid arbitration. Again, nothing.

So, with tons of nothing to work with, let's see if we can read some tea leaves and find out what could hit the wires in the days and weeks between the beginning of 2006 and the arrival of players for Spring Training. Again, this is just conjecture. If any of it is actually a fact, we'll let you know.

The Blue Jays got Troy Glaus from Arizona. You might think that ends their search for a power hitter. Not necessarily. The Jays now have a bit of a glut when it comes to third base / first base type players. Their 40 man roster has Glaus, Eric Hinske, Shea Hillenbrand and Corey Koskie. Plus, there's Lyle Overbay to play first. Hmmm.... The Phillies might have interest in someone who could play both first and third. Someone who could handle right-handers would be of help in spelling David Bell, although Abraham Nunez reportedly has that job and someone who can handle left-handers could find some time spelling Ryan Howard. Let's sniff around, shall we?

Hillenbrand could be the odd man out. He can play both first and third and hits lefties at a cool .325 clip while he hits righties at a .279 clip (at least those were his 2005 numbers.) He's not a great defensive third baseman, but again, Nunez could handle most of the filling in duties there. Hillenbrand has just 7 pinch-hit appearances over the last three seasons and it's not likely that he's ready to accept a part-time role without at least a little bit of a fight and some potential unhappiness. Koskie doesn't hit left-handed hitters well (just .223 over the last three seasons), hasn't played first base and also isn't used to a utility role, so he doesn't fit. Hinske played 100 games at first base last season - his first season on that side of the diamond - and of course, has a lot of experience at third base. Defensively, he was pretty surprising at first, with a .993 fielding percentage and he can still hold his own at third. He hits left-handers and right-handers at about the same clip, but he too, is not used to pinch-hitting. Overbay is a left-handed hitting first baseman, so he's not of interest.

That leaves Glaus. He's owed $32.5 million over the next three seasons with an $11.25 million player option for 2009. Ouch! He would likely fit well into the lineup as an everyday third baseman, but the money is just too much - at least on the surface. Well, lookey here. Pat Burrell is owed $36.5 million over the next three years with no option on 2009. That would mean that over the next three seasons, the Phillies owe Burrell $4 million more than the Jays owe Glaus. Put that money toward 2009 and Glaus would effectively cost the Phillies just $7.25 million in the final year, if he exercised the player option (and he would likely be stupid not to). That makes things look much more palatable, but keep in mind that Glaus received a no-trade clause as part of his agreement to come to Toronto, but that could likely be overcome. The Blue Jays need a corner outfielder and could escape that 2009 big bucks option. Plus, their deal with Arizona hasn't been exactly an overwhelming success with the fans and media in Toronto, so it could help there as well. Would Toronto do Glaus for Burrell straight up? Maybe, maybe not, but it's a starting point at least.

Josh Fogg and a couple of other non-tender pitchers are still sitting out there. Maybe the Phillies will look in that direction. I'm still wondering why they aren't beating down the door to Tampa Bay and looking to swing a deal for Danys Baez. The Mets are doing all they can to get Baez and the Phillies should be, too. He's a good, young reliever and the Phillies definitely need help at the back end of their bullpen. Yes, you could risk a closer controversy between Gordon - the stated choice for the job - and Baez, but that's workable. Baez only makes $4 million for 2006 and is a free agent after that. It's a short-term investment unless something happens and the Phillies decide to sign him long-term. Worst case is that the Phillies offer him arbitration, he accepts and comes back for another year. Or, he could decline and the Phillies get a primo draft pick if they can't sign him. Plus, he's an awesome insurance policy on the 38 year old Gordon's arm and ability to close games. Get the guy!

While you've got the D-Rays attention, ask about Aubrey Huff, too. He plays left, right, first and third and is owed $6.75 million for 2006 and is a free agent after that. Same scenario as Baez on potential compensation and re-signing, except that third base becomes a crap shoot after 2006 because Bell's contract is up and there have been numerous trade scenarios including Burrell or Bobby Abreu. Huff gives you a quality player who could step in at four positions and someone to step in if you find the right deal for one of the corner outfielders. Plus, he hits about the same against righties and lefties, with a little more power against right-handers. A little pricey as a super-sub, but with the flexibility that he gives you, the Phillies should be interested in Huff.

So, there you have it. Not that any of these things will happen or will even be talked about, but at least it's something. If nothing else, it gives something to ponder as we count down the hours to 2006.

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