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...
I love the playoffs. I just can’t get enough of it and it will be a drag now that they’re over. Without baseball, sports’ watching on TV reaches its hibernation phase for me. Oh sure, I’ll head out and forage for nourishment every so often, especially when it comes to Big 5 basketball, but for the most part sports viewing is for work.
That means the next time channel 25 (ESPN in these parts) appears on my cable box, the weather will be warmer and the Phillies will be ready to head north.
Seriously, does anyone think I’m going to spend any time watching Chris Berman?
Anyway, the final baseball game of the year revealed a little bit about the Tigers, Jim Leyland, Jeff Weaver, the Cardinals and Kenny Rogers.
It’s a shame when a manager cannot use his best pitcher because the players’ psyche is so fragile that he will not be able to handle the pressure, catcalls or other difficulties of pitching on the road. Leyland would have preferred to use Kenny Rogers and put his 22-inning scoreless innings streak on the line in an elimination game, but he didn’t think Rogers could handle pitching on the road.
Could you imagine Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez not pitching at Yankee Stadium during the 2004 ALCS because they were too delicate?
Then again, Rogers was the guy who attacked a camera man and pump his fist and carried on as if he just got the last out of the World Series following every out during the playoffs. ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote this about Rogers:
Back to Rogers: Does anyone else believe that he planted that brown stuff on his left hand to deflect attention away from the fact that he fits every possible profile of a steroids/greenies guy? I mean, let's say you just returned from a three-week safari in Africa and I told you, "Yo, there's this veteran pitcher in his early 40s with a storied track record for choking in big games, only now he's working on a 22-inning scoreless streak in October and punctuating each start by screaming after every out and stomping around like a crazy homeless guy trying to clear out a bus stop?" Wouldn't your first thought be, "What's he taking?" Instead, we're worried about some mud on his hand? Somebody make this guy pee in a cup, please.
Jeff Weaver's breaking pitches were pretty darned good in Game 5. Better yet, Weaver's outing might have earned him a fairly big contract contract this winter, which is pretty good for a pitcher with the worst regular-season ERA (5.76) to win a clinching game in the World Series.
Not bad for a guy bounced out of New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and then designated for assignment in July with the Angels so the team could create a spot for his little brother.
La Russa didn't outsmart anyone or himself during the playoffs. He didn't second-guess himself or mull over decisions to the point where he turned smart baseball moves into issues of national importance. Simply, La Russa put his players in the position to perform well.
That's his job.
Though his batting order was different every night, La Russa didn't get too tricky during the World Series or NLCS. When he "benched" Scott Rolen, La Russa said it wasn't for any reason other than the All-Star wasn't swinging well and needed a break.
The result: a 10-game hitting streak in which Rolen went 13-for-37 (.351) with five extra-base hits and nine runs scored. During the World Series, Rolen would have been the MVP if he had driven in a couple more RBIs than the two he collected.
Hopefully no one forget about how good Detroit's Sean Casey was in the World Series. His .529 average (9-for-17) and 1.000 slugging during the series kind of got lost in the shuffle.
Finally, Jayson Stark wrote that the Cardinals are the best 83-win team in baseball history. That kind of makes one wonder where the Phillies would have rated amongst baseball's 85-win teams had they made the playoffs.