Phillies Should Sign B.J. Upton, Not Much Else
Flaws. Holes. Limits.
That's what the Phillies have at third base and in the outfield.
That's what they need to contend next year.
That's right. Flaws. Holes. Limits.
Quit the hopes for signings and trades and splashes. None are expected before the first bout of general manager's meetings ends Friday -- reports are Ruben Amaro has only feelers, no offers or specifics or anything, really -- but none are the answers to this team's problems.
What are? Flaws. Holes. Limits.
That's what makes World Series winners. Wanna know the average payroll and rank of the last 10? Try $106 million and 11th.
Granted, those sound like teams with talent -- stars on which to build a championship structure of near-stars, role players, fringe guys and fill-ins.
What they're not? All-Star squads or big-money spenders.
That's what the Phillies have become, even if lately it seems more the second than the first. To date, the team has $138 million committed to 10 players. Forget the luxury tax threshold implications; to win, Amaro and David Montgomery will do anything, paying dollars to the dollar if they have to.
Those commitments denote the team's shift from what the team used to be to what it is now.
Back then, in 2008, the Phillies were, in essence, the 2004 Red Sox. Blue collar. Up-and-comers. Little to show. Something to prove.
That changed. Not so much after the first ring as the paydays that followed. That's why Jimmy Rollins is defiant, Ryan Howard is complacent, and Chase Utley will play until he's legless. They're overpaid. The lots of free agent and trade acquisitions are overpaid.
Too much money for too many players, not enough urgency.
That's arguably why the team didn't cash in on the best rotation, arguably, in the history of the game, at a time when pitching was inarguably historically important. Come crunch time, when stars are needed most, there was too much trust and comfort and assurance that someone else would get it done.
Someone. Anyone. So long as it wasn't any one of them.
Why? There were too many of them.
The Phillies can't rehash those mistakes. Go ahead. Sign B.J. Upton, preferably for a lowball figure and before Michael Bourn sets the market in Washington. He's got the pop and quicks the team's lacked from a single outfielder, maybe ever, and actually, you know, possesses the requisite skill set for the position.
Beyond that, what's the point?
Why sign Kevin Youkilis? He's played the same number of games (344) as the all-time career leader in fielding percentage at third (and second) base, Placido Polanco. The organization already decided that the inability of a player like that to stay on the field outweighed his value -- even for a lowly $5 million.
Why trade for David Wright? Forget that you don't have the chips in the farm system. The Mets, the organization Wright's propped up for about a decade, doesn't think he's worth the $120-or-so million he's getting in his next deal. Why should the Phillies?
As for Jayson Werth-in-waiting, Nick Swisher, he'll reportedly be asking for Jayson Werth money.
As for Torii Hunter, dude's ancient. I'll pass. Thanks.
The Phillies have in-house already the talent, and maybe more important, the types to blossom in October. It's hardly scientific, but tell me you couldn't see Kevin Frandsen going Marco Scutaro in the playoffs? Tell me you couldn't see Darin Ruf going Pablo Sandoval in the 'Ship? That's who should start at third base and left field.
Best of all? Both are cheap. CBSSports.com reported late Thursday that Frandsen avoided arbitration and signed for $850,000. Latest news out of Ruf is that he's Rufing as usual, belting homers all over.
Frandsen can platoon at third with Galvis, who's reportedly already working a second new position in as many years. Minus the parts about the back and the sauce, considering how well he fared at second -- a career first for him last year -- the prospects there are hopeful.
Between any, or all, of Domonic Brown, Nate Schierholtz, Laynce Nix and John Mayberry -- with expectations for each in that order -- you're bound to get something out of right field.
Even if 85 percent of what Roy Halladay used to be is the Doc's new normal, the rotation seems set with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and whatever's left of Vance Worley. Jonathan Papelbon's the sheetrock in the bullpen. Spackle the rest.
This team's not far off from contending.
Best of all, that it seems so flawed and holey and limited might be its biggest strength.