Phils Have Been Prudent With Long-Term Deals

Joel Sherman of the New York Post is proposing an NBA-style mulligan for teams that have handed out bad contracts. If teams were allowed to dump one contract, the Phillies wouldn't have as easy of a decision as some teams would.

In his Hardball column this past Sunday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post put the idea of financial relief for MLB clubs onto the playing field of proposals. Sherman mentioned that many teams don't have payroll flexibility that would allow them to add players through trades and much of that comes from teams having at least one or two bad contracts on their books.

Sherman harkens back to 2005 when the NBA allowed each team to dump one bad contract from their roster. Actually, the relief to the team came in the form of not having that contract count against their luxury tax. The team still had to pay the contract, but there was no luxury tax penalty for having that contract on their books. Everybody was happy, teams got financial relief, the players still got their money and were also granted free agency.

Sherman is proposing that MLB sort of rob Peter to pay Paul, using money from the arms of baseball that are performing well - marketing, internet and the sky-rocketing MLB Network - to pay off the players, giving clubs a way to get out from under those contracts. Again, everybody would be happy, with teams getting financial relief, the players still getting their money and 30 players being crowned instant free agents.

If Sherman were king - as Bill Conlin likes to say - the move would be done immediately. And if he were the GM of the Phillies, he would dump Jamie Moyer's two-year, $13 million deal. His rationale is that Moyer, at age 46, is unlikely to return to form and the money spent on the left-hander is simply wasted. He believes it's worse for the Phillies to have Moyer's contract than it would be to gain the financial relief from the deals of Adam Eaton or Geoff Jenkins.

You could make the argument though that there is a chance - albeit, a thinning chance - that Moyer could turn things around. The Phillies already know that they're not going to get anything from Eaton. It depends on whether the Phillies would feel a sense of some loyalty to Moyer to give him a shot to turn things around or whether they simply wanted to save the dough. You could also factor in that Moyer has said that if he believes he can no longer pitch effectively, he would retire rather than hang on for any extra amount of time. The Phillies may believe that he could walk away from the remaining $6.5 million for next season once he makes it through this season.

There might be another scenario to consider; Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies are paying Rollins $15 million for this season and next and owe him either a $2 million buyout for 2011 or another $8.5 million. If they were to get immediate relief for Rollins - presumably dating back to the beginning of the season - they would be getting at least $17 million in relief. Much like with Moyer, the Phillies would have to consider whether Rollins is nearing the end of his career or whether he is going to rebound to become at least some semblance of the player that he has been through much of his career. In other words, how much more does Rollins - who turns 31 in November - have left in his tank?

Rollins is hitting just .217 this season and would have to hit somewhere along the lines of .319 for the rest of the season just to reach his career average of .274 this season. Just to avoid hitting under his career-low of .245, Rollins will have to hit at a .267 clip the rest of the way, which is certainly an attainable goal, but not anything that he has been able to do this season.

Keep in mind that the Phillies have Jason Donald waiting in the wings [once he recovers from a torn meniscus] to replace Rollins. Replacing Moyer would be a little more difficult, considering that the Phillies are already looking for more starting pitching.

In all though, the Phillies have done pretty well to avoid getting caught under big contracts. There was a time when deals to Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu were anchors around the ankles of the Phillies payroll flexibility, but the trade of Abreu and the free agency of Burrell solved those problems.

In any event, the MBL Mulligan is just an idea floated by one writer. It's unlikely to ever see the light of day and certainly won't be an immediate move. But it does provide good fodder for fans who love to speculate. Baseball lends itself well to the theory of what if? and Sherman's idea plays right into that love of speculation.

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