Our society today is made up of a bunch of second guessers. Everyone has an opinion in this new age of information sharing. Whether it’s on social media, or a Hot Stove special on MLB Network, the baseball offseason is under the microscope more than ever. Walk around Philadelphia this time of year and see how many times you hear the phrase, “If I was the Phillies General Manager I would ______.” Everyone thinks that if they were the General Manager they could fix the franchise in 5 minutes. Everyone wants to trade this guy, sign another, and always pitch their idea of a perfect trade that would single handedly fix the flawed team and save their franchise.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) depending on who you talk to, the ideas we all throw around are not going to happen. We pretend to understand the culture of baseball, but we are outsiders. To say Ruben Amaro Jr has been heavily scrutinized since the seasons end would be an understatement. The fans are fed up with the fact that a team with a payroll of around $160 million has had two below acceptable seasons. They seem to have closed the book on this version of the Phillies; who look closer to getting their retirement paperwork than to getting another World Series ring for Philadelphia. The Phillies need to find a way to bridge their aging roster with their young talent, and get a team with high expectations back to the playoffs.
Though our ideas are usually unrealistic, improbable, and completely off base; they are fun to offer up. Every offseason, I try to pretend for at least a brief moment I have the power to make decisions for the Phillies. I think about what I would do if I was Ruben Amaro Jr. None of my ideas ever happen, but it is always fun to at least pretend for a few moments in time these moves could actually happen, because I do believe they would make the Phillies better.
Well without further adieu, here is what I would do if I was Ruben Amaro Jr:
A few key points to keep in mind:
– Positions as of right now that seem set due to contracts, commitments, and common sense: Catcher, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, RF. Ben Revere played adequate when healthy last year, but am I 100 % sold there isn’t a better option out there in CF? No. I’m keeping my options open. The same goes for Domonic Brown, who was good last season but is another left handed bat that plays below average defense and seems to have durability issues.
– Maikel Franco could use some time at Triple A to continue to develop. No need to see him until he forces the issue. Bring him to Spring Training and let him play, but let him continue to get at bats every day at AAA. The Ideal situation is that he and Asche both get tons of at bats in 2014.
– Locate areas of need:
– 1. Acquire/ sign a starting outfielder who is a power right handed bat.
– 2. Acquire/sign 7th/8th inning bullpen piece.
– 3. Upgrade back end of starting rotation depth.
– My first order of business is not to locate a player that I would want the Phillies to acquire, but to find the right team that has an abundance of what the Phillies are looking for.
– The target team: The Oakland Athletics. Oakland has a surplus of outfielders. It would be unrealistic to expect the Phillies to be able to acquire Yoenis Cespedes because he is their best position player. Even if he was available, it would take Domonic Brown, Jesse Biddle, and probably two more top tier prospects. The target is 24 year old Right handed Michael Choice. Choice is a high on base percentage, fast, power offensive player who is the odd man out in the Oakland outfield as of now with Reddick, Crisp, and Cespedes in the fold. In his 2013 full season at AAA, Choice put up an impressive .302/.390 along with 14 HR & 89 RBI’s in 132 games. Choice can play all 3 outfield spots, but in a perfect world would play CF.
– My proposal: The Phillies trade 2B Cesar Hernandez, Minor League Pitcher Adam Morgan, cash considerations to Oakland for OF Michael Choice. This trade gives Oakland infield depth and a guy in Hernandez who is capable of becoming their future every day 2B. Adam Morgan is a good prospect, but with Jesse Biddle already in the fold, the Phillies can afford to move LHP depth. The Phillies get their everyday CF with power in Choice, who will give the Phillies 4 really solid outfielders. Even if this deal took Jesse Biddle straight up for Choice, I would entertain it. The wildcard in this case is what Choice is worth to the A’s in a trade, but he is the kind of player the Phillies need to bridge this left handed heavy lineup while not locking into an old, high salary player.
– 2. Sign RHP Chris Perez to a 1 yr/$7 million dollar deal. Perez is coming off of a rough season and has had some off the field issues, but still has good stuff and is only a year removed from having back to back 35 plus save seasons. Motivated to sign a multiyear deal next off season, Perez is worth the risk of paying a bit more for one season.
– 3. Sign former Met Mike Pelfrey to a 1yr/$9 million dollar deal. Pelfrey is coming into his second year removed from Tommy John, and though he’s had an up and down career he is another pitcher with something to prove so he can sign a multiyear deal next offseason. At the back end of the rotation, he provides some talent, and upside as a really good 4th starter in this rotation. Pelfrey has enough talent and enough to prove to wind up the biggest steal of the unheralded free agents in 2013.
– 2014 Opening Day Roster
Starting Rotation: Hamels, Lee, Gonzalez, Pelfrey, Kendrick.
Bullpen: Papelbon, Adams, Perez, De Fratus, Diekman, Rosenberg, Bastardo.
Starters: Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Brown, Choice, Byrd.
Bench: Revere, Galvis, Rupp, Ruf,Frandsen.
It’s time to shake things up. My 2014 Opening Day Lineup:
1. SS Rollins
2. 2B Utley
3. RF Byrd
4. 1B Howard
5. CF Choice
6. LF Brown
7. C Ruiz
8. 3B Asche
9. P Hamels