Word on the street is that rubber-armed ex-Phillie Kyle Lohse has backed off his contract demands for the 2008 season. Actually, Lohse probably didn't do anything at all. My guess is that his uber-agent Scott Boras saw that there were no teams out there willing to offer the right-hander $10-12 million per season for the next half decade and decided to hold the human yard sale of sorts.
So if you own a Major League Baseball team and have an extra $4-to-10 million sitting around and need a right-handed starter, give Boras a call. It sounds like he will be able to help you out.
Boras shouldn't sit around to wait for a call from one of the Phillies' GMs, however. At least, it seems, he shouldn't wait for the phone to ring if his price for his client Lohse remains in the $4-to-10 million range for a season of pitching. After all, we're three weeks into spring training already and teams are starting to get things set up for when they head north at the end of the month. Yep, if Lohse wants to pitch this season he should call Crazy Eddie to represent him instead of Boras.
Everything must go!
At least that's the way it looks from assistant GM Mike Arbuckle's POV.
"I will say at those numbers we're probably not interested," Arbuckletold The Courier Post. "Let me change that. At those numbers, I know we're not interested."
Last season Lohse made $4.2 million, which isn't too bad for a remarkably average pitcher - statistically speaking. That's not to say the guy isn't without his intangibles, namely, his ability to start and relieve and not complain. Guys like that are hard not to like. But Lohse went 9-12 last season with a 4.62 ERA that was ever-so slightly below the league average. Plus, he's never had a season where he didn't allow more than a hit per inning.
So, should the Phillies shell out $4-to-10 million for one season of average pitching from a right-hander?
Who knows, maybe Kris Benson will come around.
If Lohse isn't your team's cup of tea, there are a handful of free agent pitchers out there that still haven't landed with a team. Maybe they're just waiting for spring training to end? Whatever the reason, Jeff Weaver, the post-season hero for the Cardinals during their World Series run in 2006 is available. He is, of course, a nine-year veteran, former first-round pick and has been to the playoffs with three different teams... that's not so bad is it?
Well, there is the matter of Weaver's 6.20 ERA for Seattle last season. That's a 6.20 ERA in Seattle's pitcher-friendly ballpark, no less. Make that a 6.20 ERA AND 11.66 hits per nine innings.
Speaking of yikes, portly old port-sider David Wells is available, too. Though Wells wasn't that bad for the Padres and Dodgers last season, or the Padres and Red Sox the season before that, Wells turns 45 in May. As it stands now, the Phillies have already cornered the market on 45-year-old lefties.
Clearly the Phillies don't need any help with their high-powered offense, but if they did there are some names out there that are just as intriguing as the pitchers. For instance, one hitter out there has 762 career homers and nearly 2,000 RBIs in 22 seasons, but then he also has been indicted by a grand jury for perjury and might have to spend the pennant race in the slammer.
A guy like that might not be worth the risk.
Another guy who might not be worth the risk either is local boy done good, Mike Piazza. Though he has slugged more homers than any catcher in the history of the game and owns a .308 lifetime batting average in 16 seasons, Piazza, at 39, is probably finished.
Is Ryan Klesko finished? Not yet 37 and with just 122 games played over the past two seasons, Klesko is coming off shoulder surgery. However, the 16-year vet has always been a decent hitter and seems as if he could do pretty well for himself and a ballclub as a part-time first baseman and left-handed bat off the bench. At this stage of his career, Klesko doesn't have any power, but it's hard not to like guys that can hit and get on base.
But if only he had some power and played third base...
Things got pretty busy as they are wont to do during a weekend series against the Boston Red Sox, so this is my mea culpa for not offering any posts for a couple of days. I really wanted to, and certainly had plenty of stuff to write, but duty kind of called.
So what was so interesting last weekend. Well, Tito Francona was in town, which is always a treat. If anyone deserves success in this game, Francona is up there at the top of the list. He certainly has sacrificed quite a bit during a long career as a player, coach, scout and manager.
Curt Schilling was back in town, too. He's gone now and certainly the scribes are much happier, though the TV-types kind of like him. In case anyone hasn't noticed, writers and TV folk are very different. One group works for a living and the other, well... they wear makeup.
Come on, it's a joke...
Anyway, everytime I see Schilling I think back to the June, 2004 series at Fenway when I asked a former Red Sox pitcher (he'll remain nameless, though these days he pitches for the Dodgers and had a really good 2004 post-season) if he knew where the "media-friendly" pitcher was.
"Just follow the cameras," that former Red Sox pitcher said.
As an aside, that trip to Fenway was one of the most fun (in a baseball and work sense) ever. Any trip to Baltimore and Clearwater rates really high, too, but that particular weekend in Boston was really good.
As another aside, trips to Washington, my former hometown, are always a blast, too, though that has nothing to do with the baseball. Put it this way: it's hard not to have fun in Washington.
Anyway, Schilling was up to his old, teasing, preening and flirtatious ways with the local TV types last weekend. He lead them on, danced around and pretended like he had soooooooo many important things to do. But in the end, did anyone really think he was going to turn away from a rolling TV camera? Curt Schilling?
Of course not.
The writers, for the most part, ignored Schilling. That story has been told too many times, thank you very much. Besides, as erstwhile scribe Dennis Deitch suggested, perhaps it was time for a statute of limitations on Schilling stories. If a player has been out of town for seven years, it's only proper to ignore him forever. After all, that's how the IRS works, right?
So yes, Schilling was in town.
Appropos of nothing: Does anyone out there have doubts about that bloody sock?
And David Wells was in Philadelphia, too. In fact, the always chatty and round lefty was in town long enough to kind of, sort of allude to an idea that Phillies' pinch hitter David Dellucci had used steroids. From watching and listening to Dellucci speak about the comments, it was very obvious that he was very hurt and disappointed with what Wells had to say.
Since I wrote it late on Saturday night when most people were out and about doing stuff or inside sleeping, here's a reprint of what went down:
Much ado about nothing?During a pre-game conversation where he discussed everything from his upcoming minor-league rehab assignment, his age, and Barry Bonds’ 714th career home run, controversial Red Sox pitcher David Wells was his typical self. This time, though, Wells brought a former teammates and current Phillie into the mix. While talking about baseball’s steroid controversy, Wells mentioned David Dellucci and the fact that the Phillies’ top pinch hitter has just one homer a season after stroking 29 a season ago for the Texas Rangers. "You see a little bitty guy hitting 30 home runs, what, Dellucci, I guess?" Wells told reporters. "How many home runs did he hit last year? 29. Has he ever done that in his career? How many has he hit this year? So, the numbers have gone down tremendously since all this has come up. I know Dave, I've never suspected him of doing them." After the game, a visibly upset Dellucci cleared his name. “I've been tested. I've been tested this offseason. I've been tested a number of times last year,” Dellucci said. “I leave the stadium after midnight every night because I'm working out. I do that this year, and I did that in Texas.” What Wells failed to mention is that Dellucci hit 29 homers last season in 128 games and 516 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly American League. That comes to a home run every 15 at-bats. This season Dellucci has appeared in 34 games for 40 plate appearances primarily as a pinch hitter. If Dellucci hits a home run in his next time up, he will be averaging one home run for every 16 at-bats.-- John R. Finger The next day, Wells issued a kind of, sort of mea culpa through the Red Sox PR staff. Francona, in a classy move that shouldn't surprise anyone who knows him, offered an apology in person to Dellucci. Still, Dellucci was rightly still stinging from Wells' comment.
As far as the baseball stuff goes, this Red Sox club doesn't appear to be as strong as the one that stormed through Philadelphia last season, which, for me, was one of the best teams I have watched during my years on the job.
The others (in no particular order):
2001 New York Yankees
2001-02 Arizona Diamondbacks
2003 Seattle Mariners
2004 St. Louis Cardinals
2005 Boston Red Sox
Finally, Kevin Roberts of the Courier Post writes my new, favorite blog.