When the Phillies declined to make an arbitration offer to power-hitting righty Pat Burrell and then signed lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez to what has proven to be the most lucrative free agent deal signed by an outfielder this offseason, pundits wondered when new general manager Ruben Amaro would snag a right-handed bat. Since Pat Gillick retired at the peak of his general managing game, Amaro has been on the hot seat; besides Burrell, he's also lost Charlie Manuel's pal, bench coach Jimy Williams, over a monetary dispute.
Well wonder no more, punditry, because Amaro has assembled a veritable who's who of potential veteran righties to come in and keep Jayson Werth company. Let's take a look-see at his choices, and gently borrow their 2009 CHONE projections from Fangraphs:
Moises Alou (42): 369 AB, .337 OBP, .442 SLG
Nomar Garciaparra (35): 395 AB, .329 OBP, .420 SLG
Mark Grudzielanek (38): 455 AB, .310 OBP, .363 SLG
Rich Aurilia (37): 378 AB, .313 OBP, .389 SLG
Kevin Millar (37): 450 AB, .344 OBP, .382 SLG
That list doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of home run balls raining down on the crab fry stand in Citizens Bank Park. In fact, it outright stinks. Mark Grudzielanek? Really? But given the already-high Philadelphia payroll (possibly $130 million after Ryan Howard's arbitration) and the fact that the entirety of Philadelphia's starting lineup is set in stone, Amaro's hands are tied. Alou probably has the highest rate numbers but Amaro's number one choice is Garciaparra, who can spell Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz in the infield as they recover from wintertime ouchies. But Nomar is not very committal this offseason, as he is considering retirement:
"We can't be held hostage by Nomar, though he'd be a guy we'd like to bring in," Amaro said.
You know things have gotten desperate in Philadelphia when the general manager is refusing to let a washed-up Nomar Garciaparra hold a gun to his temple. But don't fret, Ruben, there's another, far cheaper option inside the organization. It's your fourth-best prospect, infielder Jason Donald! He's probably (read: definitely) a year away from being ready but hey, there's an economic crisis and everyone needs to do their part. We can't all get that year in finishing school, aka Triple-A Allentown. Giving this guy the 24th seat on your bench between Eric Bruntlett and Matt Stairs won't kill him, and what doesn't kill him will only make him wish he was back in Double-A Reading. Or something.
(That photo provided at no charge by Flickr user ebot)