Nevertheless, Pat Gillick and the Phillies brass appears to be on the verge of heating up the hot stove, or some other overused imagery like that. According to ESPN’s baseball sage Buster Olney, the Phillies are one of three teams – the Astros and Orioles are the other two – in the mix to land slugger Carlos Lee. On Thursday Olney wrote that if the Phillies get Lee it’s a serious 180-degree turn from the team’s stance when dealing away Bobby Abreu.
Actually, it’s the same issue I had with the pursuit of Alfonso Soriano, however, Lee like mercenary Soriano, is right-handed. The Phillies, apparently, are willing to overlook a lot of flaws and financial constraints for simple right-handedness.
Anyway, as Olney wrote:
If the Phillies wind up winning this bidding, it's doubtful that there will be a more glaring example of a front-office strategic flip-flop that costs the team tens of millions of dollars: On July 30, the Phillies essentially gave away on-base percentage machine Bobby Abreu to the Yankees because they wanted to get out from underneath the $23 million still owed to him, in '06 and '07 salary. And now, four months later, they are on the verge of signing another player who is A) roughly the same age (Abreu is 32, Lee is 30); B) much worse defensively, considering his range and throwing arm; C) an inferior athlete -- Lee's thickening body greatly concerns some general managers; and D) much, much, much more expensive, with the team's financial obligation for an impact corner outfielder increasing by perhaps as much as $85 million, if the Phillies' bid takes them over $100 million.
Now, the one real plus that Lee has, in how he fits the Phillies, is that he's a right-handed hitter who will slot in well with left-handed hitters Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
By the way, I think we can safely assume that the Yankees are going to pick up the $16 million option on Abreu's contract for 2008, barring a serious injury, in light of how contract costs have skyrocketed this off-season.
Lee, of course, has four straight 30-plus homer and 100-RBI seasons in a row, as well as two straight All-Star appearances. He also does not strikeout as much as typical power hitters (or walk as much) and has played in at least 140 games in the last seven seasons. This means that Lee, like Abreu, is consistent. It also means that Lee just might be what Gillick thinks the Phillies need to “protect” Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.