Winter Meetings preview

Jim Salisbury from the Philly Inquirer has an article up previewing baseball’s Winter Meetings, which kick off Monday in Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at his take on what the Phils are expected/hope to do:

On the local front, the World Series champion Phillies will continue to work on several areas, including adding a starting pitcher and finding an outfielder to pick up all or some of the at-bats that free agent Burrell will leave behind. (Though the Phils have not officially closed the door on Burrell, his return is unlikely.)

Basically the same thing we’ve heard for a few weeks now.

The Phils remain interested in free agent [Raul] Ibanez, but signing him would cost the team its first-round draft pick, not to mention a salary possibly in the neighborhood of $10 million to $12 million per season. Ibanez is receiving plenty of interest and the NL East rival New York Mets remain a strong possibility to land him, as well as free agent closer Rodriguez, who had a record 62 saves for the Angels in 2008.

I mentioned the Phils’ interest in Ibanez a few posts back, but these days it just seems more and more unlikely that he’ll be lumbering about left field next year. His fielding is about as much of a concern as Pat’s, plus he’ll be just as expensive while being older, another lefty bat, and costing a first round draft pick that the Phils can’t really afford to lose, since they won’t be getting any via Moyer or Burrell.

It shouldn’t be any great worry for Phils fans if the Mets land him. He’s a decent hitter, but aging and not worth the money he seems to be demanding.

If the Phillies look for more of a platoon outfielder, they could turn to free agent Juan Rivera. Team officials have met with Rocco Baldelli, a longtime organization favorite. However, it is unlikely the Phils would sign Baldelli because of concerns about his health.

Again, more of the same. We know about these two. They both seem like OK options. Baldelli, while a sentimental favorite of mine, is really not a viable, long-term solution and would almost certainly need to be platooned to preserve his health. A shame to see such potential succumb to illness.

Rivera struggles horrifically with drawing a walk. If you want to replace Pat’s offense, you have to realize that the man is one of the most patient, selective hitters in all of baseball. No, his batting average may never crack .280 again, but can he ever wait for a pitch and get on base. If you’re looking for a decent replacement, Rivera is the antithesis of desirable.

I believe the Phillies would be better served looking to trade for an outfielder, though I’m uncertain as to what moves could work as of right now.

On the pitching side, the Phils continue to try re-sign Jamie Moyer and have had discussions with Lowe. Also this week, the Phils will look to bolster the NL’s best bullpen, and it’s possible the team could finalize a contract extension for manager Charlie Manuel.

Same rhetoric. Nothing new, really. The longer the Moyer discussions drag on, however, the more it begins to appear as though Moyer won’t return. That said, the Phillies seem to have enough to spend on a good starter, whoever it may be.

It won’t be Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets or Peavy, but that doesn’t rule out Derek Lowe and his comparables.

I see it shaking out this way:

The Phillies won’t sign Derek Lowe. It seems his distaste for CBP would overrule any persuasion financially, and the Phils simply don’t have an infinite amount of money to offer. Don’t rule out a Randy Wolf return to Philly, either. People forget: he’s only 30, and a serviceable lefty. That said, Rube won’t emerge from Las Vegas having signed or acquired a Major League starter.

Nor will he emerge with an outfielder. Both of the major priorities are likely to be undertaken and crossed off later this winter. We’ll touch on that after the Meetings have ended.

It’s also worth adding in this table from Jayson Stark’s Winter Meetings preview. It shows the results of a survery of “baseball people,” asking when they think each of they key free agents will sign this offseason. Just for kicks.

Player Earliest date Latest date Average date
A.J. Burnett Dec. 10 Dec. 15 Dec. 13
CC Sabathia Dec. 11 Dec. 28 Dec. 20
Derek Lowe Dec. 20 Dec. 31 Dec. 27
Mark Teixeira Dec. 22 Jan. 5 Jan. 1
Manny Ramirez Jan. 10 Feb. 2 Jan. 18
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Filed under Offseason 2008-09

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